with Rod Oram


B to B 2024

B to B 2023

Tour of NZ 2023


Tour Aotearoa

Saffron, lemons and figs

Sep 26, 2023

Day 58. Monday, September 25. Rest day – Safranbolu

I had an office with a view this morning as I caught up on recent days’ blog posts. It was a table in our hotel garden – and that’s Lorna and Jo, an English couple who are members of our crew. Meanwhile in the alley below, Ryan, our mechanic, was open for business.

Done writing by lunchtime, I strolled a few hundred metres into the heart of Safranbolu’s old town for lunch, a Turkish bath and a stroll around. This is UNESCO’s verdict on the city:

“From the 13th century to the advent of the railway in the early 20th century, Safranbolu was an important caravan station on the main East–West trade route. The Old Mosque, Old Bath and Süleyman Pasha Medrese were built in 1322. During its apogee in the 17th century, Safranbolu’s architecture influenced urban development throughout much of the Ottoman Empire.”

The surrounding area grew wealthy quickly on the Silk Roads trade and its cultivation of saffron, hence its name. And hence its building splurge in the 13th century, with many of the edifices still standing. All up, it has preserved more than 1,000 of its old buildings.

After lunch, my top priority was a visit to Cinci Hamam, a bath house built in the 17th century, for a traditional clay scrub and soapy massage, augmented by a sauna. The processes peeled off layers of sunscreen and camping grime conventional showers had failed to do over past weeks.

Here are a few photos from my stroll around town. The second and third are of the caravanserai; and the last but one is of a couple who run a home-made pickle and condiments shop, including very refreshing just-made lemonade. When I ordered a second one, they served it with three fresh, juicy and sweet figs.

In between, they spotted my Bikes in Schools t-shirt with its NZ web address and asked me lots of questions about our tour…and showed me photos of their mountain biking son.

All of the above made for a perfect rest day. Tomorrow we’re back on our bikes for our last four days’ riding to Istanbul.