THE BEST OF BURSA: HIGHLIGHTING THE BEST OF BURSA, TURKEY

      A guest post by Kaela La Farge

      Jason and I are always in the mood to explore Turkish cities and towns we haven’t before visited. Bursa was near the top of our must-visit list, and when we ran across The Best of Bursa while planning our weekend getaway to Bursa, we were thrilled to have a convenient resource at our fingertips to help us explore all that the city has to offer. Here, we’d like to share about our weekend adventure in Bursa and how we used The Best of Bursa to help make the most of our short visit to the city.

      JAL_6996We started our adventure by booking our Bursa hotel. Not sure what we were looking for, I scoured Bursa Hotels for Every Style to get an idea of Bursa hotel options and to find the best fit for us. It was convenient to search and book using Booking.com links right on The Best of Bursa. We weren’t looking for luxury; we just needed a cozy place to dump our bags. We settled on Hotel Artıç, a simple mid-range hotel in a great location in the city center. The rooms were clean, basic, and had a great view. For two adventure-seekers with a lot to do, it fit our style and our pocketbook well. Plus, nothing beats an included all-you-can-eat Turkish breakfast.

      To get to Bursa, we took a bus. Travel between Turkish cities is usually easy and comfortable by bus, and seats are easily purchased through local travel agencies or directly from bus companies. During the off-season, bus tickets can often be purchased at the bus terminal shortly before departure as seats are usually plentiful. We enjoyed our bus ride to Bursa and appreciated the snacks and drinks offered by the bus attendant.

      When we got off the bus at Bursa’s large intercity bus terminal, Jason and I realized we did not know how to get to our hotel. Although we knew we could grab a taxi, we also guessed that a city bus could get us where we wanted to go. So I quickly pulled out my phone and checked The Bus to Bursa to find our way to the city center. The bus number we needed and the prices of the tickets were listed right there in the article. We found our way to the city bus ticket booth south of the terminal and for only six Turkish lira we purchased our tickets directly to downtown Bursa. The helpful cashier directed us to bus #38 and we hopped on.

      JAL_7102Before arriving in Bursa, I had reviewed the article titled Top Ten Things to Do in Bursa on Holiday to get an idea of what to do and see in Bursa. Knowing that we wanted to spend our time exploring history and culture, we used An Essential One-Day Self-Guided Bursa Tour to pinpoint the areas of Bursa we wanted to see. This article is an excellent, detailed planning resource even for those who expect to spend more than one day wandering around Bursa. We decided to focus our weekend attention on Orhan Bey Square, Ulu Cami’i (Grand Mosque), Eski Aynalı Çarşı, Hisar (Saltanat) Kapısı area, Yeşil Külliyesi, and Uludağ. Little did we know how much there was to see and experience in these areas of Bursa, and we were thrilled to not miss any of them!

      After getting on the downtown-bound city bus at the terminal, Jason and I once again realized we weren’t sure where to get off. We knew that our hotel was in the city center right across from the Ulu Cami’i. However, check-in wasn’t for a while and we weren’t quite sure where to land until then. So the both of us kept our eyes out for the Grand Mosque, assuming we could start there and use An Essential One-Day Self-Guided Bursa Tour to find our way around. As the bus made its way downtown, we were delighted to see the towering minarets of Ulu Cami’i from the bus window. Before we could get there, though, we were distracted by the beautiful fortress walls we saw up the hill on our right. In the spur of the moment, we decided to take our chances and hop off the bus right there at Timurtaşpaşa. Trekking up to the fortress walls, I realized we had just discovered Hisar (Saltanat) Kapısı, the old citadel gate. We stopped for a cup of tea before wandering the length of the old city walls.

      JAL_7100From Hisar Kapısı, we headed back down the hill to find Ulu Cami’i and its surrounding landmarks. The Eski Aynalı Çarşı, Ulu Cami’i, and Orhan Bey Square are all clustered together in the city center. It was easy to explore the old bazaar and the surrounding shops and landmarks in just a few hours. When lunchtime hit, we sat down in a restaurant to enjoy the famous Īskender kebab of Bursa before visiting massive Ulu Cami’i. The Grand Mosque proved to be as beautiful as we had heard, and I’d recommend reading Visiting Bursa’s Historical Mosques before visiting.

      After checking in to our hotel, Jason and I took in a local downtown mall and enjoyed a cup of Starbucks. By evening, we had already had a full day of sightseeing. Though we were getting a bit tired, our curiosity was piqued by the idea of seeing Whirling Dervishes in the city. We pulled up the article Bursa’s Whirling Dervishes to find out where to go. Through the article, Jason found the name of the dervish lodge and a map to find it, and we decided it would be well worth the adventure. We were not disappointed; we thoroughly enjoyed our experience watching the Whirling Dervishes.

      JAL_7304The next day, Uludağ and Yeşil Külliyesi were at the top of our to-do list. Our first stop was the Yeşil (Green) Külliyesi. Early in the morning, we practically had the whole place to ourselves, and the green-blue tiled mosque and tomb were gorgeous. While we were in the neighborhood, we planned to stop at Anadolu Ceramic Shop described in A Dealer of Fine Turkish Rugs. In a wonderful turn of events, we actually met the owner of the shop, Yunus, while we were visiting the mosque. Once our eyes had taken in all they could of this historical and stunning landmark (it was our favorite of the weekend), we followed Yunus back to his shop. We greatly appreciated his hospitality and enjoyed perusing his shop. We even picked up a few souvenirs, including a Turkish rug. Yunus was thrilled to hear that we were following The Best of Bursa and that his shop was our first choice after reading the article that recommended him.

      IMG_9279After shopping, Yunus helped us secure a taxi up to the Uludağ teleferik, which we had read about in A Summertime Ride Up The Uludağ Teleferik. Drinking another Starbucks as the glass-enclosed cable car sailed upwards, we took in the view of the sprawling city and enjoyed the mountain air. At Sarıalan plateau, we snapped a few photos of the mountaintop and scanned the souvenir stands before catching the cable car back down the mountain.

      After coming down from our mountaintop experience, we grabbed a good meal at an Asian fusion sushi place that we had heard about and headed back to the bus terminal. Our Bursa visit had sadly come to an end.

      All in all, we were thrilled with our experience in Bursa. Bursa’s a fantastic city with rich history, interesting culture, and wonderful people. We were especially pleased at how easy it was to plan our trip and find our way around the city using The Best of Bursa. We didn’t miss a single thing on our to-do list, and we were able to experience even more than we had anticipated. If you are traveling through this beautiful city anytime soon, we strongly suggest checking out The Best of Bursa to make the most of your trip!

      Jason and Kaela La Farge are freelance travel writers and photographers. Recently, Jason and Kaela came through Bursa to capture the city with their pen and camera. They graciously offered to share some of their experiences here on The Best of Bursa. This is their last in a series of three contributions to The Best of Bursa. See their first two pieces, Bursa through the Lens of Jason and Kaela and An Evening with the Whirling Dervishes of Bursa.

      © Jason and Kaela La Farge. Published with permission. Visit jasonandkaelaphotos.weebly.com.