Recently the sun has been setting earlier and earlier. Right now, the average is around 4:00 PM – no joke. Even in the dead of winter, I never remember the sun setting that early in the States. Needless to say, it can feel a little gloomy from time to time being cooped up inside all day, only able to enjoy about 30 minutes of sunlight during the week.
The fact that it takes a lot of planning and reliance on outside transportation to get around, coupled with the gloominess of this time of year, makes it difficult to feel motivated to do much more than collapse and watch TV these days. Luckily, in the thick of an intense grading marathon, one of our fellow teaching mates rescued us for an afternoon adventure in a nearby seaside village. Since we only teach until noon on Fridays, we still had about FOUR hours of sunlight left to enjoy and I swear my body was screaming for the extra Vitamin D.
We all loaded up in the car, put on some ’90s jams, and headed for EskiHISAR (Not to be confused with Eskisehir), about 10 km from our school. The first sight once we reached our destination was that of a large, crumbling fortress – evidently the namesake of the village (eski = old, hisar = village). As we walked a bit farther, we were greeted by long, cobblestone sidewalks along the Marmara coast, boats and ferries of every size bobbing in the distance, and a whole lot of sunshine.
We were walking along the paths, relaxing and taking in the views when we noticed something strange. Apparently, it is a thing in Turkey to have random exercise equipment for public use scattered all over the place. I felt just like a child at a playground, running to each and every piece of equipment to test it out, despite not knowing how to actually use it. They had everything from spinning contraptions to tandem ellipticals. The whole thing made me realize that adults definitely need recess too.
We stopped at the very edge of the fortress for a bite to eat, which for me included some delicious fresh fish (can’t seem to get enough of that here in Turkey) and a steaming cup of sahlep, a delicious warm drink made of orchid milk and cinnamon (it sounds weird, but it basically tastes like a warm cup of toasted marshmallow – and it’s actually good for you!)
It never ceases to amaze me how many curious little pockets of paradise seem to exist here in Turkey. While there are certainly many large and well-known places to travel here, there is just something about the charm and authenticity of going off the beaten path.