Our first real day in Trabzon, well we’re not counting yesterday because we were both knackered and spent most of our day catching up on sleep, night flights are a pain !!
Anyway back to our first day, we’d booked a trip into the mountains to see a monastery, The Sumela Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary at Melá Mountain within the Pontic Mountains range, in the Maçka district of Trabzon Province in modern Turkey.
It’s about an hour or 46km up into the mountains and the drive up was quite pleasant. It didn’t take to long for the temperature to drop and the rain to start, almost a relief after the hot weather in Denmark !!
We stopped just once on the way up to take pictures at a waterfall, nice to get out of the minibus for even a short time. The road up gets very narrow and also quite steep with sheer drops, it’s amazing how the drivers manage to get up without accident.
Once at the top there was a little confusion about how long we had or where we needed to get back to so we stuck with a family from Saudi Arabia, Abdul, his wife and daughter. Lovely family and as they spoke the language they were also very helpful.
From the carpark it’s only about 300m to the monastery steps, but it’s an unmade path that winds round the mountain and is in itself quite lovely, there are also places to get a good view across the forested hills.
The steps up are steep and crowded, we realised early on that British reserve wouldn’t work so we went with the elbows out strategy and were soon pushing our way through the doors at the top.
As you emerge through the portal your faced with the inner courtyard which is down another steep flight of steps, there are rooms of to the right hand side, guard rooms, library and stores. At the bottom is the bakery, dining room and of to the right the accomodation. In the centre built into the steep cliff is the church, it’s beautifully painted both inside and out, although it’s been neglected and vandalised over the years you can still see how amazing it would have looked.
We spent about 45 minutes checking out the monastery out before heading back to the tea rooms at the bottom of the steps. We met up with Abdul and his family and chatted until it was time to leave. We found the mini bus and as we still had time we walked further up the path to get photos of the monastery from a distance, impressive looking place !!
Once back in Trabzon we asked if we could get out in the centre, firstly because we’d not been there yet but also because we needed to eat and felt there’d be a good choice. As luck would have it we were dropped if right opposite the Tourist Info. We wandered in and got a few tips on what to see and do with our next day off.
The helpful man suggested several museums, one of which was local so as we still had time we walked in it’s direction. We found it easily enough and paid our tiny entry fee to go look around.
The museum is a mansion was built in the beginning of the 1900s as a private residence for Kostaki Teophylaktos, a notable banker of Greek origin. It is known that the architect was of Italian origin and many materials used in the building were brought from Italy. However, the name of the architect is unknown.
As Teophylaktos went bankrupt in 1917, all his properties were confiscated, among them his mansion. The building was acquired by the Nemlioğlu family.
During the timespan of Turkish War of Independence (1919–1923), the mansion was used as the headquarters for the military in the region. In 1924, it was prepared for the first visit of Mustafa Kemal, the founder of the Turkish Republic, to Trabzon. Between September 15–17, he and the First Lady Latife stayed in the mansion.
In 1927, the building was nationalized by the Governor of Trabzon Ali Galip Bey, and served until 1931 as the Governor’s House. Between 1931-1937, it was used as the inspector’s office.
The Kostaki Mansion was assigned in 1937 to the Ministry of National Education, and was used for fifty years long as a vocational high school for girls. Finally, in 1987, the building was handed over to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to be transformed into a museum.
So basically it’s a huge slightly neglected but otherwise beautiful grand house full of stunning furniture and objects. The areas are roped off to help preserve them but the access is still quite generous and as museums go it gets my vote !!
Well after that we found a great buffet for dinner, lots of vegetables, salads and bread….just love Turkish food, especially the olives and soft cheeses 😉
The walk back to our hotel was both needed and interesting and now we have a much better idea of what to do, where to go and how to get there, one more day then it’s back on the bikes so we’d better make the most if it !!
Ok, day two in Trabzon, let’s take a little tour of the town. We start with a short walk up to the main shopping street, past the Tourist Info and just under the bridge we find the Dolmus that will take us up the hill to Boztepe. It’s listed in the guide book and on the local tourist map as “the view point”, guess it’s not hard to see why….
The views from here and slightly further back down the road are amazing, I especially like the view from Trazbons Hollywoodesque sign, shame about the rubbish.
We carried on walking back down the hill, stopping to photograph more views, mosques and rooftops were in plentiful supply and look very colourful.
After walking for quite a while we hopped back on a dolmus to get back into town, a quick coffee in Maccy D’s and we were off again, but wait, panic !! Where’s Naomi’s camera ?? Back to Maccy D’s, grateful to the lovely family that were looking after it until our return….love turkey !!
Ok, back on a dolmus and across town to the Hagia Sophia Museum.
The Church of Saint Sophia (Greek: Ἁγία Σοφία, meaning “Holy Wisdom” Turkish: Ayasofya), formerly the Saint Sophia Museum, is a former Chalcedonian (Greek Orthodox) church. It dates back to the thirteenth century when Trabzon was the capital of the Empire of Trebizond. It is located near the seashore and two miles west of the medieval town’s limits. It is one of a few dozen Byzantine sites still existent in the area. It has been described as being “regarded as one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture.
Lovely little place, tranquil despite it’s location and beautifully decorated with vibrant paintings. The views from the rear of the garden show just how busy this location is !
From here we walked back towards the ancient city walls, stopping on the way for lunch. The local delicacy is kofte, they were very cheap, very tasty and the people so friendly, fantastic !!
Approaching the city walls and fort we of course stopped for more photos, we crossed the road into a park and found a tree house, statues and a clock, all worthy of a photograph….such a wonderful space in a busy city !
Crossing the busy road to continue on into the city we crossed a bridge, and more surprises awaited us, the views from the bridge were stunning and not what we expected at all. A beautiful park, it stretches right the way back under the busy overpass, the water runs through the middle and there are plenty of places to stop and relax. The view of the other side is equally good, the old wall flanks the right side while on the left are old houses, in the middle more park, more formal here but just as good.
We continued our walk past more mosques, busy shopping streets, urban decay, quirky alleys, neglected tired buildings and frantic bazaars !!
I think the photos will show what a vibrant, exciting city this is, it’s given us a few surprises but I think we like it, the people are so friendly here, especially the guy in the cafe next door, his name was Ishmail and he refused to take payment for our teas and water on our way back and never fails to great us with a cheery hello and a handshake. I’m looking forward to our trip through this wonderful country and hope to meet more people like him !!
We were up and away early for our first bike ride in Turkey, we said farewell to the two guys that run the Bulvar Palace Hotel, a cheap, no frills basic hotel in the old quarter about 1.2km from the centre. It was clean and despite the shared bath and erratic water supply we liked it. The guys were friendly and looked after us and our bikes without question, top guys.
So check out complete, breakfast done we set off, I little nervous but after a km or two we were back in the rhythm and rolling along quite nicely. The road out of Trabzon was busy and to start with there wasn’t a shoulder to ride on but we were soon on a bigger road and the shoulder was plenty wide enough. The surface was smooth and relatively free of debris so we managed a good pace.
We passed by the Haiga Sophia museum we were at yesterday and then we just seemed to have the road all to ourselves for a while. We passed this sign a few km later and suddenly realised just how far from home we are, and we’re going the long way round…gulp !!
We passed forts, boats yards and plenty of hazelnuts while riding and after about 50km we stopped for a drink. We got chatting to the owner of the stall, Ardem, and next thing you know he’s plying us with food. Hazelnut and Walnut spread, cheeses, bread, tea and water….such generosity, we even had to force him to take money for the coffees and water we already had !!
We were going to stop at Basikduzu but we’d got ther by 10.15 so we pushed on a bit further to Gorele but yet again we were far to early. We pushed on yet again and finally came to rest at Tirebolu but not before some tunnels and fantastic roads that just seemed to go on forever. What with the sea to one side and mountains on the other we’d had a great first day and yet again had sampled Turkish hospitality…long may it continue !!
Day 2 of cycling in Turkey saw us up and away early, stopping only for some bread to add to our cheese and fruit we bought yesterday. We headed out on the D010, not much choice here….correction, no choice at all !!
Now the Black Sea coast from Trabzon to Samsun may not be the most beautiful bit of coast but it’s certainly not dull, lots going on so always something to keep your mind active. Add to that the tunnels, lots of them, over 8km of them in today’s 95km ride. I guess it takes the hills out but man some of them are scary on a bike and there’s no choice. One of them was particularly bad and we hit a pothole, my rear pannier fell of and I didn’t even notice. Thankfully after we emerged into the light a car stopped us and told me. Luckily it was only about 100m in and undamaged !!
We stopped for a picnic breakfast after about 20km, cheese, bread and fruit, oh and I got the trangia out and boiled some water for a brew, Nescafé, ahhhh !!
Apart from that we stopped in Giresun for a coffee and kunefe ( a local sweet ), very sweet and very nice, we won’t be having to many of them though as we’re both trying to lose weight !!
I guess Giresun was trying to promote it’s local produce with these odd little places, shame they didn’t finish them, I guess it wouldn’t be Turkey if they did !!
There were a few great little bays along the route, and even some that weren’t strewn with litter, one of my pet hates, just can’t understand why people can’t use a bin or take the rubbish home, oh well !!
So after lots of good roads, wide shoulders and sometimes little traffic we arrived in Ordu, a very together looking place, a real holiday vibe about it. It even has a cable car up the mountain, and yes of course we went up, fantastic view….
They even have a spot for paragliders to take of from so we stood and watched for a while before heading back down for food, I must admit that we also both had our first beer in Turkey, it won’t happen often as like I say we’re watching our weight.
Ordu is perhaps the most together place we’ve seen since we landed and if your thinking of heading to the Black Sea Coast you could do far worse !!
The ride from Ordu to Unye would have involved one of Turkey’s longest road tunnels, at over 4km it was certainly one we wanted to avoid ! Lucky for us then that we could take the coast road round the headland through Persembe, Mersin, round to Yalikoy and Bolaman before rejoining the D010 for the last 25km into Unye. It added considerable mileage to our route but to avoid the tunnel we thought it was worth it.
As it happens it was a great ride, our first bike lane got us out of Ordu and onto the coast road, now much quieter roads take us along the coast and although there are still tunnels there very small on this road. The sea is never far away and little coves appear through the trees and brush giving tantalising vistas.
Despite there being no shoulder on this smaller road we were never troubled by traffic but there were more hills and it was hot and muggy.
We did meet other cyclists, a German couple Bert and his wife Ricky, they were travelling from Istanbul to Armenia, we had a brief chat, took photos and carried on. A couple of Km later we took a side road for Jason’s church…
Lovely little place by the sea so after a few photos we had a quick cup of tea before cycling back up the hill to the main road. We stopped again only a few km later, primarily to use the toilet at a gas station but yet again we drank tea and bought water, we’re not in any rush so may as well relax now and again.
The further round the headland we went the longer the hills seemed to get and as we approached Yalikoy Naomi ran out of steam so we stopped for lunch. A roadside cafe, doesn’t look much but the food was fantastic and so cheap, £8 for what you see on the table and that includes drinks !!
After lunch Naomi felt much better and we pressed on to Fasta, now only about 20km from Unye, it was busy going through the town so we took to the wide pavement for a while. As we crossed a side street a guy in a cafe called to us to have tea with him, he seemed pleasant so we sat and drank tea for a while. He showed us his photos of Capadoccia a place we said we were going to. We drank more tea, and Naomi took his American 32″ wheel street cruiser for a test ride, can’t see her doing the whole trip on one but she certainly enjoyed it !! After that we tried to pay but Mahmut wouldn’t take any money, another example of the generosity of the Turkish people.
Here he is in a selfie with Nao and myself, thanks Mahmut !!
From there into Unye it went ok, good to have some interesting stuff to look at though as we were both getting tired by the end. We found a hotel in Unye without to much trouble, showered and went out for a walk. We took a stroll to the end of the pier and got talking to Turguy, he owns a boat and runs short trips round the bay. Despite not wanting a boat ride we were invited on board, given coffee and left to chill out and relax, more genuine hospitality, this country is amazing !!
So what a day, what a week, it’s been fantastic so far and tomorrow we head south into the hills, direction Capadoccia !!
For now though I wish you all well and hope you continue to read my blogs and look at the photos !!