>I know this may be a 'long shot', but has anyone on the list ever visited the towns of Safranbolu or Amasya, near the Black Sea in Turkey.
Richard, I've been to Safranbolu. We've driven to Safranbolu from Istanbul and then down to Ankara, not the other direction. It's a charming city, and is on the itinerary of a food tour I'll lead in Turkey this fall. It's known for the saffron fields surounding it and the quality of its lokum (Turkish delight), a type of candy. Many of the historic wooden mansions in town have been restored, so do some walking and have a look around. You might get there on market day. If so, be sure to look for spoons make out of a hardwood they call simsir. They make great presents are extremely functional in the kitchen.
We stayed in a hotel that once was a mansion. I'll never forget the magnificent breakfast, not only for the food but for the lovely and serene setting. The large room was almost completely taken up by a pool that was/is used simply to keep the building cool in the summer. Does the trick! Tables were placed in the small area (~8 feet) between the walls and the pool. The name of the hotel is Havuzlu Konagi, which means mansion with a pool. It's operated by the prestigious Turkish Touring and Automobile Assn.
Joan Peterson http://www.ginkgopress.com