Turkey´s Black Sea Coast

waterfallOften overlooked by visitors in favour of the more popular holiday resorts on the Aegean Sea or the Mediterranean, Turkey´s long stretch along the shores of the Black Sea is worth a visit for those who like something out of the ordinary and wish to escape the somewhat nerve wrecking hustle and bustle of the tourist centers.
Green, lush, fertile, full of pine woods, historical monuments, mountains, waterfalls, tea plantations, serene lakes and white beaches… from Samsun to the border with Georgia you will find something for every taste.
Trabzon is the second largest city in the area, with a commercial port and an international airport. Although the city has some interesting sites like mosques , museums and pedestrian zones for shopping, it´s more important as an ideal starting point for excursions into the surrounding countryside.
Most posters and ads for Turkey travel feature two spectacular monuments: Ephesus and the Sümela monastery. Sümela is located some 60 miles from Trabzon and there are several companies which offer day trips. Much easier than driving there yourself, because it´s high up in the Pontic mountains and the access road gets narrower and narrower.
The last stretch needs to be negotiated by foot, on a rather slippery path over rocks and tree roots. Hiking shoes are a must for this trip.
Founded in 386 under Emperor Theodosius and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the monastery is glued to a steep cliff at an altitude of 3900 ft facing the Altindere Valley. Streams, waterfalls and dense pine trees make for an impressive landscape and one really has to marvel how construction was achieved.
More steep stone steps lead to the entrance to the monastery proper which over the centuries has been expanded and reconstructed. The most important parts are the rock church with well preserved frescos, monks cells and the kitchen. Pick up point for the return journey is at the foot of the mountain which means a steep descent along a river which ends in a pretty rustic restaurant where one can have a well deserved rest and replenish strength with tea, coffee and delicious snacks.
The Black Sea region is very fertile which is due to the fact that it rains a lot, especially in the winter months and even at the height of summer the temperatures are considerably lower than at the Aegean Sea or the Mediterranean. This climate favours the cultivation of orchards, cherries, peaches and hazelnuts being the most outstanding. But most eye catching are the countless tea plantations in and around Rize. It´s the center of tea production which, of course is Turkey´s national drink.
Hill after hill is covered with the green bushes and numerous factories are nearby. You can watch how the tea leaves are harvested, then dried and you can sample tea endlessly. Don´t forget to buy a bottle of the spicy and refreshing tea cologne.
Near Rize lies the small town of Off, which is the turning point inland towards a very different landscape which more resembles Switzerland than Turkey. Among pine covered hills, small streams and waterfalls, many wooden chalets dot the hills, some of them converted into boutique hotels. chaletIt´s the road to Turkey’s smallest but most romantic lake: Lake Uzun.
Formed through a landslide which blocked the river, the lake can be circumvented on foot in about 1 hour. The lake has become a popular tourist attraction due to the beautiful location. You can hire a bicycle and ride up into the surrounding mountains and woods, or float around the lake on small paddle boats.
The most outstanding landmark is a mosque on the shore of the lake which is reflected in the motionless water.
Despite the lower temperatures in the summer, the cool breeze coming off the Black Sea and the much cooler water, the region is a popular beach holiday destination because of the white sand, the absence of tourist traps and the beautiful surrounding landscape. One highlight is the peninsula of Amasra in the western part of the coast and much closer to Istanbul. The Turkish ministry of tourism has recently announced that developments of beach resorts near Samsun have been planned until 2024 so there will be a good chance of more hotels and beach facilities.
The people of the Black Sea coast are very traditional which means you can often see them wearing local costumes and several venues provide music and dances. Add to this the rich food, much based on fish, particularly anchovies for which Trabzon is famous and a visit to this region will give you a new insight into Turkey.

Article kindly submitted by www.glamourgrannytravels.com

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