There were total eclipses both times we visited Turkey.
That's not coincidental. We are firm believers in
taking advantage of eclipses as excuses to visit new parts of the world.
In connection with the August 1999 eclipse we did the Black Sea and Amasya.
We made Amasya our base for several days around the eclipse date.
Amasya was not then a primary tourist destination but it should have been.
Amasya exposes the ancient, Ottoman period, and modern Turkey. It has
good choice of accommodations and restaurants, a river front promenade where the
town folks stroll on Friday evening, many traditional tea shops, numerous
Mosques (small and grand), and shopping. We purchased our samovar, but
not in one of the souvenirs shops. Instead we got a used (antique)
version in a small samovar repair shop. We learned about the
popular tea-shop game Okey and bought a game set to take home. And we
had our first (and so far the best) Turkish bath experience. We went
to the Yildiz Bath [***, $]. This bath may be the more
genuine item because it is in a residential area on the
North side of the Yesil River, opposite the town center, and away from the
tourists hub. We hope anyone following this recommendation still finds
it that way. We had several good meals in Amaxya including a repeat at
the Amasya Shir Dernegi [$$, **], which if our memory serves us right has
2nd floor balcony seating overlooking the river. (And that is of
course where we were both evenings.) The total bill for dinner for two
was 9600000 Lira, which at the time was the equivalent of two liters of gas.
On a day tour of the mountains area just South of Amasya we
came on the very valley where Julius Caesar wrote "veni, vidi, vici.”
(I came, I saw, I conquered) after the battle of Zela, 47 BC.
It's in the neighborhood of modern day town of Zile. Near Zile is a
small mountain village where we planned to watch the eclipse. However,
on clouds rolled into North turkey on eclipse day and we made a dash
in our rented jeep to somewhere South. We did in fact reach an area
where the sky was clear from horizon to horizon and saw a beautiful eclipse.
As it turns out, folks in the Amasya area also were fortunate to see the
eclipse, albiet while the sun was sneaking in and out of clouds.
For the March
2006 Total Eclipse we went to Cappadocia. (Coincidently the 2006
eclipse patch also went over the same village we visited in 1999.)
See eclipse map on right. We made our base in Urgup, staying five
nights in the "cave dwelling" hotel Yunak
Evleri [**, $$], which is a wonderful experience in itself.
Urgup is conveniently close to all the major sights in the North end of
Cappadocia (e.g., Üçhisar).
And Urgup is the place to be for good accommodations, such as Yunak Evleri.
Unfortunately it is a bit of a long drive (about 2 hours each way) to the
Ihlara Valley in the South end. We found Ihlara area more
interesting. The advantages of Ihlara are that there are fewer
tourists (no tour buses venture here). It is also has more interesting
geological formations. More opportunities for wildness hiking.
And there are plenty of the rock dwellings just as interesting as Üçhisar.
Total Eclipse shadow over Cappadocia. Click to
Princess Island, near Istanbul