Erzurum

We passed a War Memorial where I was not clear what war they were commemorating - I don't think the guide knew. And on past the Cobandede Bridge, which has a length of 220 meters, built by the Seljuks on the Aras River in the thirteenth century and was on the old Silk Road - it has been extensively restored, but it looked as if the government were unsure as to what to do with it.

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Kral Hotel

The plus point is that it is very close to the city centre Although a bit run down, it is perfectly acceptable for one or two nights stay. The hotel appears to have been grander once, with a large reception on the ground floor, now abandoned for reasons unclear, and the current one is up a floor. There is a small lift which is not very efficient The room was fine with reasonably cheerful décor and furnishings

The breakfast has to be commented on, as there appears to be no kitchen and they set out pre-served plates of food under cling-film plastic wrap. Most of the items under the plastic appeared to be bits of plastic too - butter, jam, bread rolls, etc. It was so bad that I did not open mine,, and went to a very good local cafe for my breakfast. The owner asked me why I had not eaten his breakfast and looked shocked when I told him. The hotel is not bad (not withstanding the breakfast), and have no idea if there is anything better in Kars. But Chris thought the rolls and pastries served separately with the breakfast were really fresh and tasty!! It is not the Ritz, but they are not charging Ritz prices

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Caj Kebap

Cag kebabs appear to be donor kebabs cooked horizontally rather than vertically, but apart from that appear to be donor kebabs. After a few weeks in Turkey you realise that you can have kebabs many ways. This restaurant is in the city centre area and is clean, bright and airy. As in most of these types of restaurants, you can see the chef toiling over the rotating kebab and carving it as he goes. As a kebab restaurant it is a good choice and is easy to find. Note the use of a domestic hair drier to fan the embers

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Erzurum

In 1821, during the last major Ottoman-Persian War, the Ottomans were defeated at Erzurum by the Iranian Qajars at the Battle of Erzurum. In 1829 the city was captured by the Russian Empire, but was returned to the Ottoman Empire under the Treaty of Adrianople (Edirne), in September of the same year. During the Crimean war Russian forces approached Erzurum, but did not attack it because of insufficient forces and the continuing Russian siege of Kars. The city was unsuccessfully attacked (Battle of Erzurum (1877)) by a Russian army in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78.

However, in February 1878, the Russians took Erzurum without resistance, but it was again returned to the Ottoman Empire, this time under the Treaty of San Stefano. There were massacres of the city's Armenian citizens during the Hamidian massacres (1894–1896). The city was the location of one of the key battles in the Caucasus Campaign of World War I between the armies of the Ottoman and Russian Empires. This resulted in the capture of Erzurum by Russian forces in February 1916. Erzurum reverted to Ottoman control after the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918.

In 1919, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the key founder of the modern Turkish Republic, resigned from the Ottoman Army in Erzurum and was declared an "Honorary Native" and freeman of the city, which issued him his first citizenship of the new Turkish Republic. The Erzurum Congress of 1919 was one of the starting points of the Turkish War of Independence.

Little of medieval Erzurum survives beyond scattered individual buildings such as the citadel fortress, and the 13th century Çifte Minareli Medrese (the "Twin Minaret" madrasa). Six kilometres to the south of the center of Erzurum is an important skiing center on the Palandöken Mountain range.

The city walls are being extensively renovated at the moment, and much of the surrounding area has been cleared of housing to give the site "breathing room". We manfully climbed the minaret tower and gazed down upon the city. Where ever we went traders were complaining that they were not getting tourists this year with the bad press Turkey has been getting with its internal problems

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Arzen Cafe

This was a serendipitous find. Close to our hotel, and serving coffee and the most delightful cakes - fresh and from first class ingredients. It was just what I needed. We even returned the next morning for breakfast as I was put off by the hotel's plastic breakfast. Around half the group ended up in here at one time or another.

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An incredible massacre memorial wall. This seems to refer to the Armenian Massacre here in either 1915 or 1895. From the soldiers uniform, it looks more like the latter

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Continuing on for an overnight in Kemaliye

On to next town - Kemaliye

Back to Overall Itinerary for Silk Road Trip 2016