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City vs. Town

By Melody Heath

            After only a few hours of enduring the city of Istanbul in Turkey, I headed for the quiet countryside only a bus ride away.  As the sun set my travel companions and I passed through steep mountains covered in trees and blanketed with snow.  After tolerating the intense heat of Vietnam and India, the frigid, crisp air shocks my senses. 

            My two friends and I hopped from one town to the next along the western coast of the Black Sea in northern Turkey.  Starting off in Sinop, we made our way to Inebolu, and finished in Safronbolu before heading back to Istanbul all by bus.  These three towns were as different from Istanbul as they could possibly be.

            Not only were they smaller, but the atmosphere of the towns was completely different.  The mountains and valleys were not full of construction or covered with empty apartment complexes waiting to be filled.  Proud shop keepers displayed their products outside their stores, but didn’t pressure us to buy anything.  Children and teenagers alike milled around during their lunch break and practiced their English by talking to us.  In short, everything was quieter and somehow similar to what I would find in my hometown of Roanoke, Virginia.

            In Money Makes us Relatives, Jenny B. White discusses how the population and urban growth in Istanbul threatens to ruin the city’s unique look.  In chapter two particularly—entitled “Bridge Between Europe and Asia”—she mentions a fear that the new construction will “overwhelm the historic character of the city, its natural environment, and its infrastructure” (23).

            The only way I could understand what White is talking about in her book was to leave the city and see the more historic or traditional Turkey.  Safronbolu is home to more than twenty Mosques.  Located in a valley, it was easy to see each Mosque when we climbed on top of a hill that overlooks the town.  Bread shops and tea parlors dominate the town life, which includes only one traditional Turkish bath. 

            I hope that the people who live in the countryside, which is usually full of tourists during the summer months, can find a way to preserve their communities.  I do not want each of these unique and historic towns to be either replaced by modernist metropolitanism or abandoned for another. 

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