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Edirne, a corruption of Hadrian (he of wall fame) had a long history and one of successive invasions. It stood in border territory where historically Europe and Asia had always met. For centuries different powers had clashed here and pushed each other back and forward, most notably the Ottomans who had moved in in the 15th century and as if to make a point briefly (for a 100 years that is) made it their capital. Most recently however it had swayed to and fro in the Balkan Wars (1912-13), then the Greeks seized it in the aftermath of World War I. With Istanbul consequently compromised and declared an International city, the untenable situation forced the Turks under Ataturk back to war again, eventually kicking the Greeks out and retaining Thrace for Turkey. It was a defining moment in the creation of the Turkish state. Today Bulgaria lies only 18Ks away and Greece a mere 5Ks from the city centre.

I must admit it hadnt been this volatile past which had been the initial impetous for my sojourn to out of the way Edirne, but for once my uncommon visit to the local tourist office proved a boon. I learned of many more interesting diversions than I had been aware of and the wars were the source of just some of them. After being dropped late at the deserted Otogar I made my predicament known to the coach driver and was most grateful to be gestured back on board and run into town. The grand mosques for which the town is known were immediately apparent and all the more impressive for being lit up. By now I was making a point of not frequenting the lodgings recommended, if they were in the guidebook they were by definition popular therefore probably overpriced by now and perhaps full. I settled for the first pensionhouse I came across, where for the 2nd time in a day the business was conducted in German and I impressed the landlady and myself how proficient in it I was when I really had to be. They probably werent used to Westerners but still managed to subtly rip me off, but I wasnt in the mood for squabbling over pennies. I found a town of discernibly European extraction and a cheap köfte restaurant with Fulham v Charlton Athletic on their tiny portable.

Posted by andyhay 00:00 Archived in Turkey

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