TFR – Travel to the Black Sea –
September 2013 – Part One
by Ralph Kratzer
Day 1 :
On Monday, 23 September 2013 , it was necessary to rise early for my girlfriend Heidi and me.
Shortly after 8am a minibus was waiting for us at the Karaoglanoglu Lemar-Supermarket car park to bring us together with Willy Lindh, the organizer of the trip, his wife Lena and two other members of the TFR, to Ercan Airport.
We there met other TFR-tourers who were also participating in the trip to the Black Sea. The check-in went smoothly, the exit checks by border police were not a problem, although I had some concerns because my passport had been renewed the previous month. But my worries were unfounded!
After a stop in Adana, which some of the travellers used for a lunch break, we went on to Trabzon on the Black Sea coast.
Despite poor weather forecasts no rain awaited us, but only a slightly cloudy sky and, in comparison to Cyprus, much cooler temperatures. The climate of the Black Sea differs significantly from the Mediterranean climate. From time to time there is summer rain, and in the winter – especially in the nearby mountains – heavy snowfalls can occur. Generally the average temperatures over the year are around 10 degrees Celsius cooler than in Cyprus.
This climate has a positive impact on the vegetation of the region , but we’ll get to that later.
After landing in Trabzon our guide of Thalassa Tours, Sercan, waited for us with our bus to take us to the hotel. Everything went smoothly so far and this did not change during our entire trip. At this point, right at the beginning of my report, I want to express gratitude to the local organizers and especially to our Deputy Chairman Willy , who organized the trip perfectly.
More information about Thalassa Tours under: http://www.thalassatours.com/eng/index.htm
Our accommodation for the entire week, the Novotel Trabzon, left nothing to be desired. Located directly on the Black Sea shore, with a remarkable park, private beach, Spa, large modern rooms with every comfort, good food and excellent service.
I will not tell too much about the city of Trabzon at this point. Anyone interested in this – please visit the following links:
Only so much of my own impressions: the Eastern Black Sea metropolis of 250,000 inhabitants lives, next to tourism, mainly from fishing and the export of hazelnuts. The area is considered to be the largest hazelnut producer in the world .
I was impressed of the cleanliness of the city. Later I learned that it was not always like this. In the last few years the mayor and his administration carried out significant improvements. An example for other countries and regions, who are still struggling with the problem of litter …
Another plus point of Trabzon are the diverse and often very cheap shopping facilities. In addition to the bazaar and numerous shops in the shopping streets of the city there are huge shopping malls, so-called factory outlets, in the suburbs. Not only women’s hearts become weak there, even I had to suppress my shopping spree sometimes violently.
After the long journey most of us fancied a cool beer or a glass of wine. Now the disillusionment came … In the city of Trabzon, as now in most cities of Turkey, alcoholic beverages are available almost nowhere, neither in restaurants nor in supermarkets. In the hotel there was beer and wine and other spirits, but do not ask for the prices! Therefore, dear readers in Cyprus, UK or Germany: never complain about higher prices for beverages where you are actually living. Compared with Turkey you live, in terms to get a fine drink, in paradise!
So, after dinner we bit the bullet, treated ourselves to a beer at the hotel bar and were then ready for bed rest.
Rested and strengthened by the sumptuous breakfast buffet at the Novotel , the TFR group, now reinforced by members who had travelled in from Germany and Italy the day before, boarded the tour bus to explore Trabzon.
The first destination we headed for was the manor house of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, beautifully situated on one of the numerous hills, Trabzon is built on. The villa was built in 1890 and originally belonged to Constantine Kabayanidis, a Greek origin banker from Trabzon. After the founding of the Turkish state in 1923 it was confiscated and became state property, later on owned by the municipality. The house was handed over as a gift to the country’s revered father, but he himself lived there just for a few days during a visit to Trabzon and then passed it to his sister as a present. The villa is left almost in its original condition and still equipped with all the furniture of the past.
For a short video please click the following link :
Again, as previously in the Atatürk Villa, our guide Sercan had interesting and sometimes amusing explanations of the eventful history of the church in his repertoire.
The historically interested reader will get detailed information by clicking the link:
The Boztepe , one of the many hills of Trabzon, was our next destination. From here we had a wonderful panoramic view over the entire city and its outback. The cameras of some members were near to overheating now …
By now it was early afternoon, and many in the group had rumbling stomachs … so time for a neat lunch. Our driver steered the bus to a restaurant right on the Black Sea, where we could enjoy a speciality of the region, Akçaabat Köfte.
The mood in the tour group, members of the TFR from 6 different countries of origin, was outstanding. A good climate, which it was hoped would last for the whole continuation of the journey.
Strengthened by the meal it went to the last day’s stage, bazaar and city centre of Trabzon.
The bazaar was, in my opinion, passed a little bit too fast. But we should still have enough opportunity on our program free day to explore it again.
Arriving in the city centre, the Meydan Square, our guide Sercan gave us the crucial tip: he showed us one of the few pubs where beer was still served. While some fellow travellers went off into the city centre for shopping, Heidi and I went directly into the Efes hell! There we met three English friends of the TFR, Carolyn, Ian and David, who had come to the same conclusion as we had.
Two beers and a funny conversation later, my girlfriend and I boarded one of the many “Dolmus” minibus taxis of the city and chauffeured for little money right to the front of the Novotel . The “Dolmus” system in Turkey is always fascinating for me, it works smoothly, is fast and costs a ridiculously small amount of money. If I think back on many of my subway or bus experiences in Germany… expensive, complicated, and rarely on time!
After dinner with our friends of the TFR and a nightcap it was time to go to bed because the next day we had to get up early. Our trip to Batumi in Georgia was on the plan!
Continuation of the travelogue tomorrow!
Tip: To read a different travel story of the Black Sea trip, written by Margaret Sheard, please click the Cyprusscene-link here!