Smiley at Uzungöl
Zorlu Grand hotel (0462-326-8400) was our choice of hotel in Trabzon. No hotel that I can remember can be in the middle of a city yet be so quiet. The minute you step into the hotel you cross into a different level of service. In the lobby one can see many artifacts and the design is very tasteful. This is a five star hotel located on Kahramanmaras Caddesi only a few hundred yards away from the city center. The mountains plunge into the Black Sea so all the cities and towns have grown into the mountains.
In the vicinity of Trabzon one must see the SUMELA monastery built into the mountains. Walking gear is a must. The view and the scenery are such that one must see to appreciate it. After Sumela one can also go toward the Zigana Tunnel. The Zigana road passage is the only link between Black Sea and the Eastern Anatolian Plateau at one time in the past. Now, there is a wonderful tunnel, slightly longer than a mile in length. The Black Sea side of the tunnel is always rainy and the other side is sunny. One can drive as far as Gumushane. We had to wear double layer clothing on one side of the tunnel and short sleeve shirts on the other side. Make sure you get Rose Hip tea and marmalade from Gumushane.
From Trabzon one can drive west toward Akcaabat (known for its meatballs, although
fish almost as good) and Vakfikebir. If you are a bread fan, they still make
bread the old fashioned way, in stone ovens. Driving east one reaches the coastal
city of Rize. This area is known for
Rize Fabric (Rize bezi) and honey with bee's milk. The Bible talks about the Twelve Tribes of Israel who have disappeared to the north in a land flowing with milk and honey. I am pretty sure that is where the 12 tribes ended up.
Our intention was to stay at Dedeman hotel very nicely located on the waterfront before reaching downtown Rize. The hotel was full that day so we drove to Cayeli. The settlements along the Black Sea are about 10 miles apart. Hotel Cavusoglu in Cayeli gave us a pleasant surprise. A three star hotel, right on the waterfront, the hotel has been in service barely a year. The entire crew projected an image of professionalism at every level. Hotel dinner is also something to talk about. We used this Cayeli hotel as our camping ground and we drove all the way to Artvin using the coastal highway. Hopa is the last major town on the coast before you reach Sarp border crossing into Georgia. The close you get to the border the more beautiful the scenery.
Every place we have been to we met the nicest people. Fresh water gushes out
of the mountains everywhere and the mountains give you all the hues of green.
Once in Cayeli, one must go toward the mountains. Hemsin, Camlihemsin are the better-known places. You simply climb the Kackar Mountains to get to Camlihemsin. At the top there are thermal waters for those wishing to remain there. Ayder Yaylasi (Highland) attracts visitors from every corner of the globe. Ayder honey is also very famous. We were told that there are still other Yaylas (highlands) but one would have to walk to get there. Those into mountaineering that should an interesting thing to do. Make sure you get a local person who knows the area very well if you wish to go and explore the uncharted territory.
Although part of Trabzon, Uzungol is closer to Rize than it is to Trabzon. The winding hinghway takes you to this breathtaking place high up in the mountains. Again one must see to really enjoy it. There are bungalows along the lake for those wishing to remain there overnight. Coming from Cayeli toward Trabzon we discovered a Hotel Surmene at Surmene about 6 miles from the highway. At the end of 6 miles you are on top of Mount Zarha and the view is to kill for. This is a two star hotel but well worth a visit. The road is very steep so unless you have four-wheel drive it might be difficult.
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