Black Sea Travels – Day 8, Ayder to Artvin

Woke up to the sound of cow bells and mooing after a restless night due to our neighbour’s mobile phone alarm going off continuously (ironically until Mark banged our wall and they woke up…). We had heard rumours that at the top of the hills we were on was another yayla town with a better view of the mountains. At breakfast we spoke with the owners and they called a local service minibus for us to take us to the top (we didn’t fancy trying it in our car!). As soon as we had loaded our car with our stuff, the minibus had arrived and we hopped in with some other people making the journey (some hoping to hike over Mt Kaçkar in the following days).

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Black Sea Travels – Day 6, Trabzon to Ayder (via Rize)

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The journey towards Rize began with bright, if cloudy, skies and we decided, after slight rainfall, not to stop along the way at Of (yes, there really is a place called ‘Of’!). However, when we came to Rize, we could see the storms ahead, and so knew our planned stop there would be more than necessary. Mark skilfully found an on-street parking spot and then we headed off to find tourist info. The guides there were pretty friendly and we had two good maps in no time. Then we went back to the Deragh pastanesi around the corner for elmalı poğaça (apple pastry) and hot chocolate. The poğaça was dusted with as much icing sugar as the Kaçkar mountains are with snow – Deeeelicious.

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Black Sea Travels – Day 5, Trabzon

Up early to breakfast – the usual, plus melon and cherry jam. Then off in car (via a new, quick route from the hotel manager – hurrah) to Sumela Monastery, one of the iconic sights from the region. The drive itself was gorgeous as we wound through a verdant yet craggy gorge-like river valley with towering cliffs above us. Much to our delight, the weather was gorgeous too!

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Black Sea Travels – Day 4, Perşembe to Trabzon

A quick breakfast in the car after a lie-in till 9am, then off along the coast again through Ordu and on to Giresun. Drove through Giresun and stopped (after driving around through some extremely hilly back roads and then back down the coast to a very crowded otopark) to go to the castle. We didn’t get to any castle in the end, but we did find a lovely view (below) and some one-eyed cats…

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Black Sea Travels – Day 3, Amasya to Perşembe

Got an early start and were at the car (via bread shop) at 8am prompt to avoid getting a parking ticket (a good job as the ticket inspector was waiting to ‘label’ our car!). Loaded the car and drove up, up, up the hill rising in the centre of town to see the castle on top. Wow! A VERY steep climb to the top but absolutely incredible views from the top.

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Black Sea Travels – Day 2, Mudurnu to Amasya

The day began with the electricity cutting out whilst Mark showered (in the cupboard room…) before we had a lovely köy kahvaltısı (village breakfast) that was soon to characterise our trip: kaşar peynir (cheese a bit like like cheddar), beyaz peynir (feta cheese), black olives, tomatoes, cucumber, local butter and fresh bread with homemade erik (plum) and ayva (quince) jams. Yum yum! Of course, no breakfast is complete without çay (black tea). We ate in a little lean to conservatory style building made of dark wood that thankfully let in enough light to counteract the ongoing powercut!

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