Saturday, 17 November 2012

More action on the Evliya Çelebi Way

The September ride on the EÇW came and went, and was as fabulous as ever.  Ercihan took us by new tracks, paralleling the 'official' route as written up in the guidebook—Evliya Çelebi Ways looks to be a better name than the singular Way.  Varying the route when repeating it annually on horseback adds interest for the regulars, though walkers with backpacks would doubtless prefer to keep to the known route; few, I am sure, would want to take detours for the sake of it.

At last, at last, after several months patiently waiting, I am delighted to report that the metropolitan municipality of Bursa is now putting up signposts along the Way.  This year we are concentrating on the section of the route in Bursa province, and will hope to continue in Kütahya etc next year.  The signposts are not intended to be as frequent as the waypoints that can be downloaded from the website, but indicate to the local people that the route is a reality, and because they are often located where the Way meets main roads, might inspire drivers to leave their cars for a while.  The route will not be marked with the red and white flashes on trails such as the Lycian Way, which was established before the era of GPS.  Instead, the guidebook, GPS waypoints, and signposts that indicate the distances between villages should be adequate to enable everyone to follow the route.

Once the signposts are up, we intend to visit the villages to try to arrange homestays, so that tents will not have to be carried, and can then produce some programmes for walking trips on the Way which tourism agencies will be able to sell.  We will also be going to the big tourism fair in Holland in February 2013.  Soon, we hope, some money should begin coming into the villages as travellers stay the night and eat there.  Bursa municipality is putting a lot of effort into making the Way well-known to the city folk too. The municipality will run the Turkish website,

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Riding the Way again

Tomorrow, 16 September, the fourth Great Anatolian Ride on the Evliya Çelebi Way will set out from  Hersek köyü on the southern shore of the Gulf of İzmit, and will end in Evliya's ancestral city of Kütahya.  Ercihan will take the lead as ever, with Susan close at hand.  This is the third Ride organised for equitourists, who will be partnered by Ercihan's fabulous horses from his Akhalteke Horse Center in Avanos.
Come and join us soon.  Remember, the Way is for walkers and bikers too, the waypoints can be downloaded from the website, and the guidebook is available in English and Turkish. Check out for details.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Evliya and Orhan Pamuk

              . . .       this was the one thing we could do to combat the exhausting tedium of this world; 
         because he had known this ever since those monotonous years of childhood and school, he had
         never in his life considered withdrawing within four walls; that's why he had spent his whole life
         travelling, searching for stories down roads that never came to an end.

This is how Orhan Pamuk describes Evliya Celebi in *The White Castle* [Beyaz Kale], published in 1990, translated by Victoria Holbrook.

Searching for stories down roads that unwind endlessly, stopping in remote places to listen and learn what people have to say: Evliya knew that there could no greater antidote to tedium than this. No room, however well stocked with learned tomes, could offer anything like the enlightenment that comes from travelling attentively.

Evliya liked motion for its own sake, especially the rhythmns of horseback travel -- an elevated view of the world, but also an immersive one, responsive to the need for water, food, relaxation, a roll on the grass after sweating, the flicker of a fire after sundown. Take to the road in search of beatitude, as Jack Kerouac did, but know that there are old ways, much older than the speed of cars, from which revelation comes.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Evliya Çelebi Way in the Press again: Time magazine, History Today and the International Herald Tribune

Here are details of three recent articles on Evliya Çelebi and the Way. Unfortunately the first two cannot be read in full directly from the sites where published, but they will surely show up somewhere on google eventually. Or you may find hard copy of the magazines at the dentist... The third is immediately accessible.

'Back in the Saddle: The Spirit of Turkey's Greatest Adventurer Rides Again', an article by Pelin Turgut on riding the Evliya Çelebi Way, in Time magazine 23 January 2012, written when she accompanied a group of equitourists on the Great Anatolian Ride in September 2011:

'Evliya Çelebi: Traveller's Tales', an article by Caroline Finkel giving background information about Evliya's life and work, in the British popular history magazine, History Today, November 2011:

'Doing it the Evliya Çelebi Way', an article by Andrew Finkel on the Evliya Çelebi Way, in International Herald Tribune Latitude blog, 13 December 2011:

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Evliya in Brussels at the Yunus Emre Center: Professor Suraiya Faroqhi

Evliya in Brussels


Paris, 14-15 November
Hosted by UNESCO, a major international two-day conference on Evliya took place in Paris between 14-15 November. See the INALCO website:

Brussels, 12 December
After a long and sometimes exhausting year of events celebrating his 400th anniversary, Evliya finally made it to Brussels. The historical Evliya never came this far, of course, despite the fantasy sections in which he claims to have accompanied Tartar irregulars on raids as far as the cities of the North Sea, including what appears to be Amsterdam.

But on 12 December, thanks to the Turkish Studies programme of Ghent University and the Yunus Emre Centre in Brussels—formerly the Istanbul Centre there—Evliya was the talk of this European capital.

Introduced by Yunus Emre Centre director Ebru Costa, and by Hilmi Kacar, founder of Turkish Studies at Ghent, the event was moderated by author and journalist John van Daele. A panel of Evliya experts introduced a packed auditorium to our equestrian traveller. Renowned Ottoman historian, Suraiya Faroqhi, spoke eloquently yet learnedly on the ways that Evliya’s Seyahatname has, and has not, been read over the years. Evliya’s manuscript first saw the light of day in printed form in von Hammer’s Englished version of the first volumes, while the earliest printed ‘editions’ in Turkish were short selections that gave Evliya the reputation of merely writing fantastic tales. Although reliable editions of the manuscript are only now starting to appear, Evliya became widely known throughout Turkey during the 1970s as the ‘hero’—alongside his noble steed Küheylan—of a popular cartoon series broadcast on Turkish television.
The Evliya Çelebi Way project’s own Mac suggested that Evliya deserves serious consideration alongside William Shakespeare as one of the world’s greatest authors. Yeliz Ozay of Bilkent University spoke of how Evliya characteristically varied established traditions when reporting ‘wonders’ and ‘marvels,’ showing how his literary artistry defies definition in terms of fact and fiction. Guneş Işiksel from the College de France in Paris followed Evliya to Africa on his travels there, and evaluated his status as one of the earliest historians of sub-Saharan peoples and cultures.

After a short break, the auditorium packed out again. After a brief welcoming by the Turkish ambassador to Belgium—HE Ismail Hakkı Musa—van Daele sparked off an animated discussion of the possible relevance of Evliya to today’s world. The audience quickly picked up the theme, which was pursued for well over an hour. Mac managed to squeeze in a reklam for the Evliya Çelebi Way project and guidebook, assuring all that walking or cycling were real alternatives to taking to the horse. Everyone was pleased to adjourn for a koktayl and meze reception: rumours of future Evliya events to be hosted by Turkish Studies at Ghent circulated freely.