We decided to go with the smallest, most remote seaside village we could find in our Lonely Planet Guide within a 3-hr travel radius of Istanbul. Kiyikoy on the Black Sea Coast -- population ~2,000 -- with allegedly more fish, frogs and tortoises than people, and with nary a detail on Wiki Travel and Google Maps, sounded perfect.
We weren't disappointed.
We took a long metro ride to Istabul's central bus station, then 2 buses on to Kiyikoy. True to the old adage that the journey counts for as much as the destination, we had some hair-raising entertainment(?) on our bus ride when our driver and a rival bus company driver got into a loud scuffle at one stop, got separated by their colleagues, then came storming back to each other, armed. I wasn't keen on the odds, given our driver's big stick was up against the other driver's kitchen knife. Thankfully they got separated again, properly this time.
We got to Kiyikoy in the late afternoon, and used the rest of the daylight to soak up the view from our lovely cliff-side boutique abode, Hotel Endorfina.
The next morning, we set out to walk around the little farming and fishing village nestled behind the old city walls. Sadly, there were quite a few of these gutted stone and wood houses below, as locals moved out into the "suburbs" dotted with more modern but far less charming concrete houses.
A lovely unmistakeable perfume of food being smoked wafted through the air. We followed our noses into a little alleyway between 2 houses and found this coven of women cooking peppers, eggplant and claypot stews on a wheelbarrow full of coals. My enthusiastic gestures of "smells very good!" got the women to chuckle and beckon me closer for a better look.
Onward to the water. We watched 2 boys take potshots at seagulls. I wondered if this Old Man of the Sea down below approved.
Making our way down to the beach from the cliff, I heard a gentle cling-clanging chorus behind us. I turned to find a flock of sheep about to overtake us! Would these count as salt-marsh lambs, y'think?
Their shepherd stopped for a few minutes to chat. Well. That is to say, from behind me he yelled "JAH-PAHN! JAH-PAHN! JAH-PAHN!" until I turned around and yelled back "SINGAPORE!"
He pulled up alongside, replied, "Ahhhh. Singah-puuur. Singah-puuuuur....uhn...", and then moseyed on, possibly wondering where or what the hell Singapore was. We saw him again the next day, somewhere in the middle of the village, again with his flock. No hollering of nationalities this time, just a smile and wave to each other.
We decided to join these buffalo in the river...
...though in a paddleboat. Below, the view from a few kilometres upriver. The tortoises and frogs didn't disappoint. We even saw a few jumping fish! Twas all very summertime, and the living is easy...
All that exercise sent us prowling for lunch. I'm pretty sure the eatery we ended up at didn't have a name. But it's on Kiyikoy's main street, peppered with leathery fishermen sipping tea and playing tavla, and run by this handsome gentlemen on the right. I had a good feeling about the place when the big burly guy who runs ATV tours at our hotel popped in, started bantering with the owner and poking about the tiny kitchen to see what was being made.
Hearty chicken kebab in fluffy turkish baguette aside, of special note was this corbasi (soup) below.
"Meat or lentil," the owner asked in Turkish.
"(something I couldn't understand)?"
The owner points to his head, then to his gut.
He then showed me a box of thin-sliced tripe.
I wasn't quite in the mood for tripe, so I said the other thing, before fully realising he might have meant "brain".
Luckily, it was just little flecks of meat. Maybe face or cheeks then. And a loose scattering of rice. And -- a amazing little addition I'm going to start using creamy soups when I get home -- a spoonful raw minced garlic. So stinky, but soooooo diabolically good.
I quite like this town.