Location: Basilica Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey
Tired with the city life in Istanbul, in the middle of the week, I decided to go to more quite place. My interest is to see Edirne, a small city in European part of Turkey, around 250 kilo meters to the North West of Istanbul. Edirne (pronounced: ee dir ne) has Adrianople as its former name, was known as the second capital of Ottoman Empire, after Bursa and before Istanbul. It’s in the border where three countries meet, Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria. To reach there, using the bus is the most convenient way, since train is only running on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I just hopped on the tram from Sultanahmet where I stayed in, went to Aksaray, and took Metro to Buyuk Otogar from there.
Buses are running frequently, probably every half an hour operated by company of Ulusoy and Metro. For one way, I paid 25 Turkish Lira for two and half hours journey. The bus is comfortable. It was cleaned and equipped by television on every seat. I met very nice Turkish young lady named Elis on my way there.
On the way from Istanbul to Edirne
Elis and me at Edirne Bus Station
I was reaching Edirne on 2 pm in the afternoon. It was cloudy, and the weather is still too cold. Remember, I’m a tropical girl. Bus station in Edirne is 6 kilometers away from the city center. To get my hotel, Efe hotel, I took ottobus taxi for taking me to city center where my hotel located is. The hotel was nice. It was old, but clean. And the most important thing is, the staffs are friendly and speak English. Edirne is not the most famous tourist destination. Compared to Istanbul, It will be a little bit hard to find people speak English around.
My first thing to do is to visit Selimiye Mosque. This mosque is located in city center, not far from Efe Hotel where I stayed in. I just need to walk for 5 minutes to reach this place. Beside it’s one of UNESCO Heritages, It’s a land mark of Edirne and also one of the masterpieces of Mimar Sinan, the most famous architect from Turkey. It’s also considered as one of the most achievements in Islamic Architecture. I can find the statue of architect Sinan in front of the mosque. The mosque itself completed by museum called Selimiye Museum. Inside, I could see collection of pictures, calligraphies, wooden carves, and animation of students learning to read Quran. There was no entrance fee to enter this place.
Inside the mosque, it’s decorated by some calligraphies words taken from Quran. Like other general mosque, it’s also equipped by mihrab for Imam. In the left and right sides of mimbar, the writing of Allah and Muhammad in Arabic are there as its decoration. In the middle of mosque, there is one place like a small fountain where people can use the water to drink or their ablution. At a glance, this mosque is similar to Blue Mosque in Istanbul. I spent the time there until dark.
Selimiye Mosque. The land mark of Edirne. UNESCO Heritages. The masterpiece of famous Turkish architect, Mimar Sinan.
Saraclar Caddesi is one of neighborhood you must visit in Edirne. It’s pedestrian walks with paving blocks cover the streets. Wooden bench can be found for every some meters, enable pedestrians to have a rest after a long walk. Or just sitting and sightseeing. In the left and the right sides of street, there are many shops selling the clothes, accessories, shoes and many more. Some of them are the branded ones. Restaurant, coffee shops and bars are also there.
I keep walking down the streets and reached the last pedestrians. I entered the main road to continue my journey to Karaagac. As I said, there are no many tourists found on the streets. Some people kept looking at me, wondering what I am doing in the small town like Edirne. I felt like an alien getting around in a place where I’ve never been before. I’m totally stranger here. I don’t found any Asian faces and I don’t speak any language they are talking. Even, in a big restaurant, I didn’t find any food written in English on its menu.
The horses are waiting for passengers in Saraclar Caddesi
Apparently, people in Edirne are generally friendly. Even, compared to Istanbul, Edirne’s people are nicer. Even tough, nobody speak English, I didn’t find any difficulties anytime I need a help to fine some places. I just asked them in English, wrote down some places I would be going to, showed it to them, they answered my question in Turkish, and showed me the right way to go. I thought it was quite fun, and I like this place.
Eski Mosque, considered as Little Selimiye Mosque
Going to the down town was like entering another world. Another world that I just saw on the movie or on the book I read in my childhood. Instead of vehicles, the horses are everywhere. No matter where I was, I could hear its noise and step sounds of its feet. Some tractors passed with the farmer on it, ready to start to farm. In the corner of the streets, at the small coffee shop, a group of old men with hat on their heads, playing cards or just talking between them. I felt like opening the book of of Karl may, jump in its page and being one of its creatures.
On the way to Karaagac
There are two famous rivers I passed on my way to Karaagac. The first one is Tunca River with its ottoman bridge as its connection. Not far from there, Maritsa or Meric River, still with its Ottoman bridge to connect the down town to Karaagac. On the river bank, there are some cafees where you can have a drink while enjoying the scenery or just listening to the flowing water of river. I stopped there, having seat for half an hour while enjoying a cup of hot Sahlep.
Meric or Maritsa River
Karaağaç (pronounced kaa raa aa ach), the only Turkish territory west of Maritsa River, which forms most of Turkish-Greek land border. The large Karaagac rail station has been built in 1890 as the last stop in Turkey to Europe. Now, the function of this rail station has been changed and used as administrative building of Trakya University. Like its neighbor, this sub urban also is equipped by pedestrian streets. Wooden house are dominated the area. For taking my own picture, I asked some students to do that for me. I spoke in English, they answered in Turkish, gave my camera to them, and taaaaa daaah… I was in the picture. Coming back to city center I hopped on the bus, using my 2 Turkish Lira. Once I needed to ask the driver to stop the bus, I just said, “Stop.. Stopp please..” The bus was stopped in the next 100 meters, allowed by laughing by all passengers.
The old railway station. Its function had been changed to become Trakya University
I took the lunch in Salaclar Caddesi, at Mado restaurant. Again, I found that there are no food written in English, finally I was ended with Kebab since I don’t have any idea what I ordered. Weather was still cold, and the rain started to come which made me uncomfortable to leave the city center too far. I just decided to continue to walk around like crazy. Enjoying myself being stranger. Without friends. Without anybody speak the same. Without anybody come from the place where I have been. But, there are something that I can’t describe more by words. I felt so free as a bird.