July 2, 2003
En route: Frankfurt - Toronto
The person in front of me has tipped her seat way back, so I have to do the same not to be blowing into her hair every time I exhale. This is a 747, but coach. Much narrower seats than coach on the Turkish Air flights. Also, this flight is absolutely full. The Kayseri - Istanbul, Istanbul - Frankfurt flights were half empty. Even the Europeans are not traveling in large numbers. Sad. War and recession combined, I guess.
Was I going to write about last night’s marathon supper on the roof terrace of the Kayseri Hilton? We didn’t eat that much, but the whole meal, start to finish, took three hours. The restaurant wasn’t ready to open at the announced hour, but an hour later. However Ellen and I didn’t know that when we sat down and ordered a bottle of wine. Nor did we realize that we were sitting in the outside bar and not the restaurant section. So we sat and sipped our wine, ate nuts from a fancy bowl placed on the table, and tried to order food, and then that was when we were told that we were in the bar. So, starving hungry, we moved, taking the wine with us, but leaving behind the bowl of nuts. Mistake. Now we had no food, and nothing ordered either. We waited. And waited. We continued to sip wine in extreme slow motion. As we sat there, the sun set, the stars came out, and the city lights came on. (When we first reached the roof, we had looked for shade - it took a while, but we certainly got it.) The food was good when it finally came, but by then we were talking about eating the centerpiece (a pot of tiny-leaved basil, very fragrant) and we were giddy with wine, hunger, and thirst. I ate the famous Kayseri-style manti - little ravioli with a tomato sauce and red pepper and yogurt. Good, but I like Kamile’s Ortahisar version better. Hers is fresher tasting, and more subtle. This had the faintest touch of Campbell’s about it. But the first course, the collection of mezes, was excellent - varied, fresh, and interesting. The hotel is a new one; they may still be working out the kinks in service. We were tired and hungry, and could have used a little more solicitous attention. But the beds were comfortable and the oceans of hot water a treat.
What else do I want to remember about yesterday? The smell and colors of the spices in the bazaar. The cool dark library feel of the stone Selçuk mosque, five minutes before the call to prayer. The serpentine path for water to run to or from a fountain in the garden of the restored Ottoman-era house which held the ethnographic museum. The faces of the gate lions from Kultepe. The village mosque’s minaret, rising over the treeline at the Kultepe site, like the tower of a fairy-tale castle. And maybe my favorite moment was looking at the road space between the foundations in the Assyrian traders’ settlement at Kultepe and looking into the distance and seeing that the present road, winding over the hillside, lined up with the ancient one.