Cooling Off in the Birthplace of the Ottomans in Bursa, Turkey
The fast ferry from the Yenikapi port in Istanbul to Bursa is a spaceship, skimming across the Sea of Marmara in an hour with scarcely a bump. Stepping off the boat, however, the differences are immediately striking. There is a saying that in summer, Ankara roasts and Istanbul boils. Bursa, however, lives in the shadow of Uludag (the Great Mountain, called Olympos by the Greeks) and is cool, shady and prone to short rain showers. The Turks refer to the city as "Green Bursa" because of its many gardens and also its importance to Islam as the home of the Ottomans and the resting place of the first Sultans. Wandering the streets of Bursa reveals covered bazaars freighted with tomatoes, olives of every variety, and mammoth cheeses. The smell of wood fire fills the air from the many ornate kebab restaurants. Bursa is home to the Iskender Kebab, Turkey's most famous dish and its charm is immediate and infectious.