In the USA state of Alaska in one of its towns are directional signs with mileages to different cities on the North American continent. There are so many signs that it takes awhile to find the destination on your travel plans. But it is there!
Karamursel on the beautiful Marmara Sea reminds one of the same situation. In Karamursel, imagine the following signs with directional arrows pointing to the following destinations around Turkey. (A kilometer is 6/10 of a mile. Multiply km by .6 to get the mileage.)
KCDI Base - 5 km Yalova - 30 km
Nicea - 30 km Istanbul - 50 km
Troy 275 - km Ephesus - 340 km
Ankara - 260 km Tarsus - 570 km
Bursa - 65 km Mt. Ararat - 1100 km
Haran - 840 km Galatia - 400 km
Cappadocia - 450 km Izmir - 300 km
Miletos - 380 km Pamukkale - 280 km
Now that is exciting! Just going over those names stirs the adrenaline to want to visit these places because of their close proximity.
One of those signs would point to Uludag. The first time I heard that word was at work at the base. After a night shift Able flight was hopping aboard a Turkish bus headed to this place near Bursa. We would be there all that day and then start the day shift at work the following day. The energy of youth, everyone would persevere without much sleep. "What is Uludag?" "A resort," someone replied. "Yes, we will go."
Uludag is the largest, the favorite winter sports and skiing center in Turkey. In Turkish, Uludag means the "Great Mountain." In ancient times the range of which it is a part was known as Olympos in Greek and Olympus in Latin. Mt. Uludag is the highest mountain of the Marmara region. The most suitable skiing conditions are between the middle of December through the middle of March. The average snowfall is 3 meters in winter.
Beth and I were there twice. The first time we went snow was blowing continuous with little visibility. The second time visibility was unlimited with a beautiful clear day. All trips are the same in a way. There was the excitement of the coming adventure and some quick cramming to figure how the destination fits into the history puzzle of that area. Was Alexander, Darius, Constantine, or Hannibal there at one time? Were there any great dignitaries that frequented there?
The second visit was made with our friends Dean and Maryann Williams along with friends Dave and Sherry Dawson.
The bus first headed to Bursa which was 65 km from the Base. Bursa is a center for silk, textiles are another important industry in the city; especially towel manufacturing.
Thirty-two km from Bursa is the ski resort of Uludag. Leaving Bursa we approached the foothills. We began to climb higher and higher. The bus began to creep more slowly up steep narrow roads. The snow was becoming deeper.
On one of the trips the following episode happened. Coming around a corner, we saw a white Mercedes car with a flat partly out in the roadway. Our bus hit the side of the car knocking it off the jack. The driver as the bus went by was jumping up and down fraying at the air with his arms and yelling at the bus. We did not understand his words, but we got the idea from his gestures. He was not happy! Now the two bus drivers must have thought this was great sport. They were merry with laughter and did not seem the least concerned. We hoped these guys were concerned about our safety because we had proceeded into an area where the road was slippery, narrow, with drop-offs. We were all relieved when the resort village came into view.
We did not ski, but we had a great time there. We enjoyed riding the ski lifts, taking pictures, and enjoying the alpine atmosphere. Sometimes we would ride near or over skiers coming down the mountain. At times that day we saw what I would call the novice class of skiers. They would ski a distance and then fall. Of course there were the experts that came barreling down the mountain at full speed. The novices gave my pride room to want to try. But, alas, we ran out of time.
At the end of the day we were all tired, but what beautiful panoramas and vistas we had seen that day. Also walking around town was fun. Inside one of the buildings was a dance floor with disco music and sound activated lighting. Disco hit the scene big in the later 70s after we had returned home. I was not a good dancer, but I did have fun. Imagine someone jumping around in a hot skillet; that was my style.
Finally it was time to climb back on the bus for the ride back to the base. We were tired but were thinking about where and when we could go on our next adventure in this land.
More pictures of Uludag are in the Photo Gallery Page.