2 September 2011

This is a big call but this could be the best place I’ve stayed yet. The hotel I mean.

I’m in Turkey’s pistachio central where baclava flourishes and calories are not counted.

Need more clues? I’m in Gaziantep, the sixth largest city in Turkey and the home to some 180 pastry shops. This town also played an important role in Turkey’s independence in the 1920’s following the fall of the Ottoman empire.

There is a kale or castle and bazaar, famous for its copper workers, shoe makers and multicoloured spices.

To tell you the truth, I’ve probably had my fill of markets and castles for the time being, but these were fine examples, as good as any I’ve visited. And a bustling city centre also – there were people everywhere.

The baclava was very good. I’m still yet to taste it from one of the finer establishments but this on my “To Do” list. It is no more than 20 metres from the hotel.

merCan recommended this hotel to me. It is also in the Lonely Planet guidebook. The entrance was a bit of a challenge to find as it in one of the tiny lanes, up a few stairs, just off the main drag to the kale. This was another park the Family Truckster job and walk to the hotel. I got close and the Turkish coffee I had while I got my bearings in yet another new city was great.

I had made an email reservation at Anadolu Evleri the day before. The email reply to my availability inquiry was prompt, personal and included directions which turned out to be invaluable. I immediately felt welcome.

I pressed the buzzer at the external entry to the central courtyard and was greeted by Tim, my host. “Hello Brett”. I didn’t even have to introduce myself. I had mentioned in my email that I was on a motorbike and my riding kit is a bit of a give away even when the bike is not present.

Tim explained he was a biker also and showed me his secure parking area where his bike was garaged, proudly telling me he had done 100,000 km on it. Unfortunately recent roadworks had included guttering, making access impossible to the Family Truckster.

Tim had a back up plan and after the assistance of his staff to help gather my luggage, my guide hopped on the back and directed me to a nearby Oto Park.

Minutes later I was shown to my room. Wonderful. Tasteful. Comfortable. Understated but not minimalist. Old but not in a museum like way. Functional but not modern. My room is decorated with an old fashioned typewriter and antique cameras. This is a traditional stone house and the central courtyard immediately takes you a million miles away from the bustling copper market barely over the road.

Tim is an excellent host. He informs me he is half Turkish and half American. His English is flawless. It seems there is nothing he wouldn’t do to make my stay memorable. Everything seems so relaxed yet the attention to detail is apparent. He has a rare skill and the staff echo his style. This is very boutique to the point where I feel as though I’m being welcomed into a good friends home and invited to stay the night.

Another great find on my Turkey motorcycle tour. Sometimes it is the stunning landscapes, or the ancient architecture, sometimes the history going back several millennia. And let’s not forget the people and their warm welcome. Each day is a different combination and a bit Forest Gump. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Here are some images from Gaziantep.

Distance travelled today 93 miles (150km), cumulative 5,418 miles (8,719km).