One of the advantages of living in a country versus visiting it for a holiday is that you can slowly explore and absorb the land that you’re in. You don’t have to plan to see everything all at once and can gradually discover the culture, language, and sights without haste. As visitors, we would’ve overlooked a long bus ride trip to see not-as-popular parts of Turkey, but as residents, we took advantage of a group tour organized by Urbndervish’s employer and discovered a pleasant province in the Black Sea region.
Slipping into the rear of the charter bus just a minute before departure time, we readied ourselves for the journey ahead. What was advertised as a three-hour trip was actually a five-hour trek. Thankfully, the bus was not packed, so we spread ourselves out and took comfort in knowing that we had enough snacks, activities, books, and diapers to reach our destination.
Venturing north of Ankara, we watched urban landscapes disappear and reappear and saw brown plains turn into densely green forests and mountains. Our first stop was the Münire Sultan Sofrası, a classy restaurant serving local dishes. Instead of the typical lentil soup easily found elsewhere, we ordered their tomato-based, brown lentil soup with vermicelli. Complimented by spinach- and potato-stuffed breads, we left satisfied and hopeful about our food prospects for the weekend.
In the streets surrounding the restaurant, we saw historical mosques, traditional guesthouses, and artisans of various handcrafts. Walking through town, we passed through a drumming procession to invite guests to an upcoming wedding, beautiful tree-lined streets, and a rug weaver’s workshop.
We stopped at the Liva Paşa Konağı Etnografya Müzesi, where photographs, artifacts, and mannequins transported us to the region’s past. Thereafter, made our way up two sets of tall staircases to reach Kastamonu’s iconic clock tower.
Our last stop for the day was the Mahmut Bey Camii, a simple mosque made using an overlapping construction technique that requires no nails. Built more than 600 years ago, it was humbling to pray in a space that has witnessed centuries of worship in the humble village of Kasaba.
By sunset, we arrived at Iskir Resort Town in Daday and checked into our rooms. In spite of a cot for Lil’ Z and a playpen provided for Moulay, the room still felt comfortably spacious and peacefully serene. We swiftly slipped into the dining room for an amazing dinner spread that included an appetizing array of desserts, veggies, homemade bread, and fresh fruit, and then returned quickly to our room to settle the little ones down to rest.
With an unfortunately early departure, we didn’t have a chance to enjoy the resort grounds. We had to quickly grab a breakfast of freshly baked breads, fruit-based marmalades and molasses, sesame seed paste, and a small bowl of cereal paired with the non-dairy milk I carried along. As soon as Lil’ Z and I finished our last bite, we dashed to the bathroom and were the last to board the bus again. One of the resort managers came aboard to distribute complimentary bottles of red wine to all of the passengers. We politely declined, so the manager rushed off and returned with homemade rosehip marmalade and local garlic for our parting gift instead.
We appreciated their kind gesture, especially since Kastamonu is known for its garlic. Regretfully, we didn’t have more time to enjoy more of the resort’s kind yet professional hospitality, their varied and enticing meal spreads and some of the recreational offerings like horseback riding and mountain biking.
We were warned that the day’s itinerary would be intense, so we strapped on our sneakers and braced ourselves for a strenuous day. In the Pınarbaşı municipality, there are three main attractions and they were all on our agenda for the day. We met our local guide at a mosque in town and headed to the Horma Kanyonu where we walked over suspension bridges and anchored paths to penetrate the beautiful canyon.
We stopped for lunch at a small family run restaurant where they generally serve a fixed meal of fruit, salad, meat and rice. For us, they ordered a potato-stuffed bread instead.
For our last stop, we walked through another forest to reach Ilıca Şelalesi. After sleeping through the last two hikes, Moulay decided to sit this one out with Urbndervish. So, Lil’ Z and I had a lovely long walk and talk through the woods. When we finally reached the waterfall, Lil’ Z wasn’t content to view it from a distance. She saw the rest of our “team” climbing down over rocks to sit by the pond, and I didn’t want to dim her bravery. We persisted over the slippery rocks and leaves to sit on a large boulder and savor the beauty around us.
Our weekend adventure was an opportunity to step beyond our usual urban boundaries. While we want nature appreciation to be a part of our family culture, actually immersing ourselves in the natural world is not always easy. We need a bit of hand-holding and guidance and this trip did both without totally sanitizing the experience for us. Even though our last nature walk resulted in checking for ticks and Lil’ Z bawling “I don’t like nature!”, this time around she had to admit, “Nature is kinda cool sometimes”.