Uludağ: The ski capital of Turkey
The excitement begins before you even leave home, the heart already thumping as you pack ski suit, goggles, and snow boots. Then you set out, for the irresistible attraction of this snow queen veiled in white. Antiquity’s legendary Olympus, Uludağ today is a modern mountain town, whose arms are wide open to welcome you. One way or another you will reach her, either over a winding trail through snow-covered beeches or on a cable car affording spectacular views.
To the slopes
Only two-and-a-half half hours from Istanbul, the Uludağ Winter Sports Center is an amazing place. Not only is the whole area abuzz with activity, nature is conversely quiet and peaceful. The immaculate white of the mountain slopes offers unmatched pastoral views, while the rise and fall of the undulating mountain ridges reach straight into the sky. The footprints you leave along the picture-pretty mountain trails are blotted out in the time it takes to down a cup of coffee. All the while, the softly falling snow lends new contours to nature, creating fresh new landscapes and inviting you to other pastimes. Following a snowfall, the pistes are reconditioned for skiing. When it stops snowing and the sun shows its friendly face again you can enjoy the open-air cafes. Blanketed in snow six months a year on average, the mountain offers winter sports to mid-March. One feature that distinguishes Uludağ from its rivals in Turkey is that it is laced with ski runs on all sides. You’ll have no difficulty finding one appropriate to your level of skill, whether you are a pro or a true beginner. The Alpine discipline is common here where you can take a teleski or telesiege to the top of the run and slalom down. The pistes are suitable for international competitions, the lifts world-standard. And the pistes right in front of the hotels and in the immediate area are so easy even a child can use them. You can also rent good ski equipment and get excellent professional instruction here on Uludağ throughout the season.
Holiday in the mountains
Skiing at Uludağ, a gleaming mountain town almost 2,000 meters above sea level in a sea of white, goes back to the 1930s. Offering just a single accommodation facility in the early years, the mountain today boasts a wide array of alternatives from bed and breakfasts all the way to five-star hotels. And health experts and search and rescue teams are on the job 24/7. All the ski runs on this mountain are suitable for winter sports and most of them are easy to boot. South to southwest winds prevail on the extensive ski area, and in January and February the snow cover hovers around three meters under normal winter conditions. The powder snow seen throughout the skiing season from Dec. 20 to March 20 is ideal for winter sports. And the mountain’s star-rated hotels offer every comfort imaginable. From suites with fireplaces to restaurants offering world cuisine, every detail has been carefully planned for a privileged winter holiday. Whether in the hotels or right next door, the boutiques offer a variety to please shoppers of all stripes. There are even alternatives for those not enamored of skiing: Restaurants with cozy fireplaces, hiking trails, even night clubs. Skiers returning at dusk bring the scent of snow back with them. Following a hot shower, first a brief nap is in order. Or, if you don’t want to miss even a minute of the lively entertainment this mountain has to offer, you can head straight for the cafes. Extend the time spent sipping a hot drink around a glowing fireplace right up to an open-buffet dinner in one of the many restaurants. And don’t forget to don your most fashionable finery! As the night progresses, you can prolong your pleasure in one of the night clubs. If you are one of those who don’t limit your holiday dreams to a single season but say “There’s nothing like a winter vacation,” then Uludağ definitely has something to please you. Which will it be? A chance to escape the urban rat race and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature, or a chance to find big city comfort on a mountaintop? The choice is yours.
A few hours in Bursa
Bursa is within easy reach thanks to Turkish Airlines’ regular scheduled flights. As long as you’re here, why not set aside a few hours to see the first Ottoman capital? After seeing the Ottoman houses and shopping at the village market of Cumalıkızık, “the raspberry patch of the sultans,” you can branch out to Bursa city center. The Great Mosque, the Green Turbeh, the Covered Bazaar and Koza (Silkworm) Han are some of the must-sees among the historic monuments that preserve the Ottoman spirit here. Famous for its legendary spas, Bursa is also the home of “İskender” kebab, the secret of whose taste, rumor has it, lies in the quality of the meat and butter used. A sweet break shall definitely be in the end of your Bursa tour. Don’t forget, the candied chestnuts and “Kemalpasha” pastry served here are out of this world! What’s more, Bursa was built on very fertile land, therefore, the ingredients grown on this land are plentiful, forming a very rich cuisine. Although the regional cuisine of Bursa is very rich and varied, it has remained under the shadow of “İskender Kebab” the most popular dish of Bursa. Throughout history, most of the famous travelers have visited Bursa and wrote in their journals about the diverse dishes with high regards. What they have written in their journals gave us valuable information on Bursa cuisine. The impressions of Evliya Çelebi during a trip he took to Bursa in the 1650s: “The local markets are very clean. Fruit compote is unique to this realm. The white bread tastes as good as the white bread from the Tophane bakery in Istanbul. The breads are only found in this realm. The white pastry is like a rose. They have wonderful kebabs due to the fleshy animals they breed. Helva with musk is wonderful as well. There are 40 different varieties of pears. Various grapes, apricots, cherries, and chestnuts are matchless. In addition, there are seven different types of mulberries.” Try it, I’m sure, you’ll love them.