The Foreign Residents in the TRNC
Trip to Trabzon, Turkey
Days 4, 5 and 6
By Margaret Sheard
Day 4 – Thursday 26th September 2013 – Free Day
This was an optional day of free time or a trip to a lake. Having spent so much time on the mini-bus we decided to opt for the free day and just do our own thing.
It was lovely to have a nice leisurely breakfast and at this point I would say that the hotel laid on a magnificent breakfast every day, there was everything you could think of both hot and cold so it was very difficult to choose from this huge selection. After breakfast we had a stroll around the grounds of the hotel to the beach and then back to our room to catch up on some of our cyprusscene work which by now had amassed quite a backlog.
By early afternoon we decided it was time to go out and explore. We had been told about another very large shopping mall in the town so off we went to catch the dolmuş at the top of the road. Definitely the way to travel, costing 2TL each for a one way trip.
We got off the dolmuş right outside the Forum shopping outlet and were amazed when we entered at the size of this complex. We immediately saw Willy and Lena who said they had been there for 2 hours and had only covered a small area. With my sore knee from the evening before I was a little apprehensive at all the walking but off we went to start looking at what was on offer at the hundreds of shops. I did manage to buy a few bits and pieces of clothes but after a while I had grown a bit tired of shopping and so we worked our way to the 3rd floor where there was a multitude of fast food restaurants and snack bars. There was also an ice skating rink for the children where they were having a marvellous time under the supervision of the complex staff.
We ordered a coffee and went out onto the open terrace area where there was a spectacular view of the sea. While sitting there an aircraft was coming in to land at the seafront airport and I managed to click it with my camera, which was just about out of battery charge.
We decided to make our way back and realised that whilst all of the dolmuş vehicles on the outward journey went past the Forum complex, it was a different scenario for the return journey and on asking a young lady which vehicle went past the Novotel, she pushed to the front of the queue and asked each bus driver what their route was, eventually she ushered us onto the right bus and off we went. We had to stand but within minutes someone had given me his seat and a teenager offered his seat to Chris. We do find both the Turkish and Turkish Cypriot people to be so kind and helpful.
We arrived back at the hotel to chill out for a while and then go down for dinner. On speaking with some of the people who had chosen to go on the trip to the lake, they said they had a lovely and very interesting time. We had all chosen to have our free day in different ways and we all seemed to have enjoyed ourselves yet again.
Day 5 – Friday 27th September 2013 – Karaca Cave and Sűmela Monastery
It was a long journey and we were able to see the many changes of landscape as we travelled along. One noticeable activity was the huge amount of road works with widening of existing roads, completely new roads and tunnels through the now approaching mountain area. There was an abundance of pine and cypress trees as far as the eye could see and in fact, as the mountains loomed before us, the scenery was spectacular. We entered the Zigana Tunnel which has been cut through the mountains and were told this was built in 1986/87 and at the time was the longest tunnel in Turkey, it has since lost that status but is still one of the longest tunnels in the country.
As we were nearing the cave we were told about the construction of the houses in the area and noticed they had what looked like tin roofs. This is apparently to withstand the very harsh winters they experience in this part of the area.
Our little bus climbed up and up and eventually we arrived at the Karaca Cave in the Gűműşhane area. The cave was discovered in 1983 and was opened to the public in 1996. There is still work progressing to open up more and more of the magic within the mountain. Unfortunately my sore knee was a bit of a hindrance but I was determined to see the cave so I tackled the long flight of steps and then another long hill up to the entrance. On entering the cave it was difficult to adjust your eyes from the sunlight outside but once a little way inside we were greeted by a wondrous sight. Unfortunately, photography was not permitted inside the cave. I love visiting caves and this one was no disappointment and was well worth the visit with the stalactites and stalagmites of varying shapes and sizes as well as their glistening colours. On leaving the cave we wandered around the small shopping area where there were many souvenirs and jewellery and I could not resist buying a necklace and earring set which was very inexpensive. There was also the local speciality of pestil and köme, a very different type of confectionery, a strange combination of a rather leathery outside case made from fruit pulp and the inner part was made from delicious hazelnuts.
We then retraced part of the route we had travelled on the outward journey and returned to an area where there were many trout farms and this is where we stopped for lunch at a lovely restaurant where we sat outside under a covered area with a fast running river right alongside, it was a wonderful setting and we all sat down at the long table which had been prepared for us. Before long bowls of salad and baskets of bread arrived followed by the main course of trout and then coffee. Some of the group wandered over to look at the tanks containing the various stages of the raising of the trout, while others lingered to look at the river and the surrounding area.
During our meal I said to Chris that I thought the waiter looked a bit like Jason Statham and he agreed. I thought that the waiter had probably never heard of Jason Statham and so we joked with him that we thought he was a look-alike and he immediately replied – Transporter, so maybe he has had this comment before. It was quite a funny interlude and I think he was flattered. With everything going on and the staff being so busy we didn’t manage to take a photograph of the Jason Statham look-alike but found him on one of the group photos we had taken, so apologies for the quality of this image.
After lunch off we went again to Sűmela Monastery, we travelled through breathtaking scenery and eventually stopped at a photo-shoot area where we had a view of the magnificent Monastery which was founded in the 4th century and is built high into the side of the Black Mountain (Karadağ) at an altitude of 1200 metres. How they managed to get all the materials there for the construction all of those centuries ago is a mystery to me, but they did and we were witness to a wonderful sight.
The mini-bus proceeded into the Altındere National Park which is in the Maçka region in the Trabzon Province of modern Turkey. This was a lovely area to drive through and we could see the lush vegetation all around us. There was a stream flowing down alongside the road with the water gurgling and cascading over boulders and stones creating frequent mini-waterfalls, it was a beautiful sight and this little stream continued all the way to our destination. I would imagine it started somewhere much higher up in the mountain. In fact during the whole day I was amazed at the number of water courses there were, no wonder the area was so green and fertile.
When we arrived at the Monastery, I had a choice to make as there was a walk which involved navigating your way over tree roots for about 300m followed by many steps up to the Monastery and then down into the building. At this point I decided it would be too much for my poor damaged knee and so I opted to sit at a picnic bench and admire the scenery. It wasn’t long before a few people returned having given up the feat but although Chris was also struggling with his hip which he had strained, he made it as far as the Monastery so at least we have some photographs and they do show what a magnificent structure it is. It was unfortunate that neither of us managed to go inside, but maybe another time if we manage go back to that part of the world. The stout-hearted folk who managed to do the whole tour started to reappear looking very tired and breathless from their arduous journey but they all said it was worth the pain.
We climbed aboard the mini-bus and it was back to the hotel for a shower, change of clothes and down to dinner, which was fish! (something that looked like whitebait). Well it was Friday!! Not many could face fish again after the huge trout which had been consumed at lunchtime so a lot of us opted for soup, salad and a dessert. Most of the group retired to their rooms after what had again been a tiring but most interesting and enjoyable day.
Day 6 – Saturday 28th September 2013 – Return to North Cyprus
So our trip was over and some of us spent the morning packing while the more energetic went into town or had a swim or a last walk around the grounds. Chris and I decided to have a leisurely breakfast then pack and catch up with a bit more cyprusscene work before vacating the room at 12 noon. We then had 4 hours before the mini-bus arrived to take us to the airport which was only a short distance from the hotel. This last bit of time was spent doing some last minute shopping at the outlet mall near the hotel and I did manage to find a few items to add to my wardrobe.
Our return journey to North Cyprus took a little longer as this was via Istanbul but there were no problems, again everything went like clockwork and we eventually arrived back at Ercan Airport, tired but very happy with our experiences in Trabzon and Georgia. I always say it is lovely to go away and see new things but it is also so nice to come home.
Thanks to Willy and Lena Lindh for organising this brilliant holiday and to the rest of the members of the group for their wonderful company.