In the land of apricots

As the view from our window transitioned from a very sandy mountainy landscape to apricot orchards, we knew we were about to reach our destination. Malatya is known as being the capital of apricots, exporting tons of them worldwide. I definitely had an apricot overdose during my brief stay in Malatya, even if, as they said, the harvest hadn’t been quite good that year.

A massive apricot in the middle of the city
A massive apricot in the middle of the city

After such a long train ride, we were definitely looking forward to some fresh air and being able to stretch some legs. As well as some food. As we made our way to the city centre to meet our friend at whose house we were staying, we managed to get a quick glimpse of the city. Very spacey is how I would describe it, refreshing after over-urbanised and stuffy Ankara. Whilst there are not many sights in Malatya, it was still quite nice to walk around and explore the city. My favourite was definitely the bazaar, especially the metalworking area and the apricot market.

Blacksmith is all his splendour
Blacksmith is all his splendour
Too many apricots to count
Too many apricots to count
Or types of apricots
Or types of apricots

We made a quick stop at a very nice café called ‘Nostalji’, an old and squeaky mansion, which as the name suggests, offers a glimpse of the past, before heading home (as in our friend’s home) for some good old Turkish breakfast. All our breakfast items had been sourced from the local villages and were definitely much more delicious that our normal breakfast in Ankara. I just couldn’t get enough of that cheese.

Thoroughly enjoying being spoiled
Thoroughly enjoying being spoiled

Some good rest and a good scrub later, we were on our way for more exploring again. We headed to Aslantepe, an archaeological site about 6 km from Malatya and one of the primary reasons why I wanted to make a stop in the city.

When the Phrygians invaded the Hittite kingdom in Boğazkale about 5000 years ago, the Hittites fled the area and some of them resettled near the Euphrates River. Excavations are still in progress so there is not much to see yet but it did offer an amazing view over the city and the apricot fields surrounding it. We then sat down for a tea and of course, some apricots, with the security guys and had quite a good chat until it was time to head back. It still amazes me how people around here are so casual and wouldn’t think twice about inviting you in for a tea or even a feast.

A brave soul guarding the city's entrance
A brave soul guarding the city’s entrance
The throne room with drawings made from plants
The throne room with drawings made from plants
Never ending orchards with the Euphrates River in the background
Never ending orchards with the Euphrates River in the background

Back in Malatya, we thought it would be good to finally taste some real ‘çiğ köfte’, fine wheat rice mixed with tomato paste and other spices as well as pomegranate sauce and which happens to be one of the easiest and cheapest meals you could ever find here. Vegan too. And it was absolutely out of this world. Definitely had too much to eat that day. Who’s complaining though?

Yummy çiğ köfte accompanied with some ayran. It's as Turkish as it can get.
Yummy çiğ köfte accompanied with some ayran. It’s as Turkish as it can get.

As the sun rose the next day, it was already time to say our goodbyes and continue on our adventure. We had just enough time to roam around for a bit before taking our bus to Adıyaman, from where we would be making our way to Kahta where the famous Mt. Nemrut stands.

image
The local mosque
Perfect place for the young and old to hang out
Perfect place for the young and old to hang out
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