It has to be said, that the Trakya Development Agency which kindly invited me to a five day trip to Thrace has put up a very varied program. From cities, mosques and palaces to vineyards, luxury hotels and beach resorts, we were also treated to a glimpse of rural Turkey in a tiny village and a train station which was once stop on the route of the Orient Express and where Agatha Christie, a frequent traveler on the train, used to get off, stretch her legs and have tea in the station café.
On our way to this old Greek village, some 35km from Tekirdag, we passed the hills of Nisantepe, a center for hang gliding with fabulous views of the Sea of Marmara and Marmara Island, famous for its marble quarries.
No hang gliding for us that day because the club was closed but we fooled around and pretended!
A ferry runs from Tekirdag to the island which is certainly worth a visit on another occasion.
Then onwards to Usmakdere. The purpose was , among other things, to ‘meet the locals’ and I can tell you that our merry group of seven was the entertainment for the day for the locals.
First stop was this ancient tree with a man sized hollow trunk and an old man who has only too happy to talk about the tree and to pose for us.
Next stop was the café in the village center where we were treated to all sorts of herbal tea, among them sage.
Just about everybody assembled around us and we got into vivid conversations using sign language and the help of our guide. Around the village is really cultivated wilderness for lack of a better expression, pomegranate and other fruit trees, vegetable gardens, a small river and the main attraction: the former house of the Greek priest which is in picturesque shambles but in the process of being restored.
Everybody was so friendly and welcoming and one lady even allowed our friend Farruk to pick two pomegranates which are his favorite fruit.
We were waved good bye by this happy trooper on his ancient bike.
Karaagac Train Station
Close to the city center of Edirne lies the Karaagac Train station, a great example ofTurkish Neo Classic architecture.
After the Turkish War of Independence the station lost its function as a major stop on the Istanbul-Paris line run by the Orient Express. Today the building, houses the rectorate of the University.
Crossing through the doors, you come to the back where the rails once ran and find a gleaming locomotive which lent itself to much posturing.
And the station café is the place where Agatha used to have a tea break, and so did we. This is the second time that I have followed Agatha Christie’s footsteps during my travels in Turkey, after sleeping in her favorite room in the refurnished Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul.