When you think of Turkey the first things that come to mind are crystal blue waters off the Mediterranean, magic carpets and grand mosques.
However, there is a part of Turkey that is really quite extraordinary. It includes roaring rivers and waterfalls, highland plains and endless shades of green.
As a Turk myself with roots from the Balkans I had never travelled beyond the capital, Ankara. So, when I got the opportunity to visit a new city, I was extremely excited.
This city is none other than Trabzon, which lies on the Black Sea coast in the North Eastern region of Turkey, just an hour’s drive away from Batum in neighbouring Georgia. A relatively short internal flight from Istanbul to Trabzon lands you in what can only be described as a nature lover’s paradise.
The air in this region is insanely fresh due to the sheer number of forests and green lands that engulf you from all around. With organic produce always readily available; local specialties for food consist of mainly fish dishes, kofta grills and locally produced cream and honey at almost every meal time. Not forgetting Muhlama. (A gloopy yet tasty sauce made from butter, cheese and flour), often served with locally made cornbread.
Trabzon was once an important trade city and a major hub along the ancient Silk Road. Heavily influenced by former empires including the Romans, Byzantines and the Ottomans it is immensely rich in culture. Greek Orthodox churches and monasteries can often be seen. One such monastery is the spectacular Sumela Monastery with it’s breathtaking views, it’s embedded high in the mountains of Machka at 1300m above sea level.
Quaint little villages lie along the coastal road from Trabzon to Rize showcasing stunning views of tiered tea plantations and endless green mountains in the distance. Multiple enchanting stone bridges with crystal clear waters flowing underneath allow access to some of the most glorious plains of countryside I have ever seen. One in particular, called Cat (pronounced Chat) lay in this romantic and incredibly peaceful setting with a wooden cabin in the distance dominated by the surrounding huge mountains. As I took a photo, there was not a sound to be heard. It was utter bliss.
Jaw dropping waterfalls feed the region with their thunderous downpours that trickle into shimmering streams alongside forrest paths. It really is a place like no other. Alpine(esque) highland plateaus scattered all throughout Trabzon are very serene, full of lush green pastures dotted with red roofed wooden houses and cattle grazing freely has to be one the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.
The music of the Black Sea region is also quite unique. Similar to the bagpipes of Scotland, I was lucky to hear someone play the Tulum music on one of the highlands I visited, truly magical. For those that seek a more adventurous trip you can also find an array of sports to participate in from rafting to ziplining, Plus, there are a multitude of hiking trails where you can book guides, and depending on your schedule they can arrange private tours.
I urge anyone that goes to Trabzon to also visit at least one tea plantation. Turkish tea is a big deal in Turkish culture, so seeing where it comes from will most certainly make it taste better whilst drinking it.
I can honestly say that Trabzon is a place for people who live for the organic way of life. It is peaceful, with captivating views of nature that encourage you to just take a step back and allow for it to all sink in.