September 27, 2022

By Peri Sualp…..

Last week we went to Sarikamis with a group of our friends for skiing. Sarikamis is one of the provinces of Kars city which is located in the Northeast of Turkey. It shares part of its close border with the Republic of Armenia. 

Sarikamis is located on the plateau, on the slopes of Mount Camurlu at an altitude of approximately 3000 meters that presents tracks suitable for all kinds of winter ski sports. The quality of the snow is so rare that it is called crystal snow; the same quality of snow found in famous Alpines. I must admit that the skiing experience on the wide and very long slopes surrounded by pine trees was superb. The whole white view of Sarikamis plateau from the top of the mountain was not only astonishing but also so calming. Among the nine very long slopes there were cute cafes at different levels of tracks that offer drinks and snacks of all kinds. 

Recognizing the softness of the snow,  I decided to try snowboarding that I had been looking forward to for a long time. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had so I couldn’t stop and so I finished my holiday snowboarding instead of skiing. Along with the winter sports there were also nature sports like trekking, orienteering but we couldn’t try those. 

One day we went for an excursion of the region. Kars region holds lots to see and explore but as we had only one day, we chose to see Ani ruins, Cildir Lake and some city tour. We started with Ani ruins that is a very important archeological site under the protection of UNESCO. It was one of the first settlements of Armenians in around 1000 AD and it was located on the ancient Silk Road. Being among the ruins of this very old city makes you try to imagine the life back then. The people who lived there, what they did, how they felt, their worries, loves. To be honest, it felt very sad. 

Then we went to Cildir Lake which was totally frozen. It felt funny to walk on the frozen water at first. There were horse sleighs touring on the lake. It was fun. Then we had super delicious yellow carb fish that only comes from Cildir Lake at the local restaurant by the lake. 

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Finally we went to Kars city center, toured by our minibus but we had no time to see other things such as the Russian Cathedral, Stone Bridge, Catherina Mansion, Castle of Kars and some other museums such as Cheese museum. Did you know that Kars is famous for its cheese, butter and honey? Certainly we purchased lots from local producers to bring back to Cyprus – (but don’t tell anyone, they all spoiled as mum couldn’t keep them cold so we ended up only with the honey!).

At night we went to eat the region’s famous goose meat. Some liked it but some of us hated it. I might have liked it if the poor stuffed goose was not staring at me! Honestly I felt sick after tasting a few bites.

I highly recommend the region if you like to explore new and different places. There are different ways to go to Kars. Apart from planes and buses and regular train, there’s also another fantastic way to go – the famous Orient Express. It takes off on its journey from the capital city of Turkey, Ankara. Those who had the experience of travelling with the Orient Express says it was fantastic but bear in mind that it lasts 24 hours and it is almost impossible to find tickets.

One last note about Kars/Sarikamis has to be about our hotel. Kayi Snow Hotel. It wasn’t so good but so so. I am not even going to mention the problems my mum had to suffer up to now due to our hamam visit.

The owner of the hotel, had his own photo printed on one of the biggest walls of the lobby together with his gun and the poor lion he killed in Africa! It was totally mind blowing! Mum and I went crazy but as the hotels in the region were totally booked and we had already paid for the trip, unfortunately we had to stay there.  I wouldn’t recommend the Kayi Snow Hotel if you are sensitive and an animal lover. 

That’s all from me for this week, you all take care until next week. 

Ps: I kept saying ‘cars’ to ‘Kars’ so everyone kept making fun of me. You had better be careful! 

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