Guest Author - Rachel Schaus
Bolu, Turkey, is a beautiful area located approximately half-way between Istanbul and Ankara. This area is known to have been inhabited since before the Bithynians settled there in the 8th Century BC.
Bolu is the place to go to experience all four seasons. The mountains bring beautiful Denver-like weather, along with fabulous snow and skiing conditions. The trees show all the colors in the fall, and by the time you are dead tired of keeping the fire stoked, spring has arrived in all her glory!
Because of the rich valleys, produce is abundant, and farm fresh milk and eggs are available from quaint Turkish farms. In fact, just stop along the major road which meanders through Bolu, and the farmer's trucks are waiting to sell you organic honey, fresh produce, dairy products, and dried goods. Fresh Kefir starters are available from just about any Turkish drug store.
Key times to visit Bolu for festivals are the second week of May and the middle of July. July 17 is significant for the area since the revered founder of modern Turkey, Ataturk visited that day.
Common outdoor activities for tourists are the Turkish baths in hot springs, trekking, skiing, and cycling. We've done trekking and skiing in Bolu, but have yet to try out the hot springs in Bolu.
In February, 2013, our family took a ski trip to the Kartalkaya ski resort. We drove from Ankara to Bolu, and stayed in Sakintepe, a small family-run hotel/resort. They have cabins for rent with in-floor heating! Visit www.sakintepe.com and mention this article and tell them Rachel sent you for a small discount.
The next day, we drove from Sakintepe to Kartalkaya, about a 45-minute drive. About half-way up the mountain, make sure to rent skiis, poles, and any other equipment you may need. It's much cheaper than waiting to rent up at the top.
Once you arrive at Kartalkaya, enter the main hotel entrance, and purchase day tickets. We had brought our lunch and snacks, so we found a corner to rest mid-day for our meal and restroom break. Our oldest was able to rent a snowboard, so he and another friend spent the day snow boarding, while the rest of us stuck together to downhill ski. The Turks were gracious and helpful, the ski lifts were well-run, and we enjoyed a fabulous outing, even though it was blizzarding!
Enjoy Bolu, and feel free to share your experiences there with the rest of us!