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Kaçkar Daðlari, North Eastern Anatolia: A Hiking Trip

by libralady (1/18/2009)

Part 4

Day 6 and 7 – Travelling, the long journey to Ankara

We woke quite early next morning, to the sound of the river and set about getting our breakfast ready.  It seemed rather subdued that morning, as we really would have liked a few more days hiking and the days had gone so quickly.  But soon we were laughing, and reminiscing so soon.  After a short clamber over the rocks of the river and a little exploring and one pair of wet shorts later (yes I nearly fell into the river!), we made our way back to the Otel.   The time had come to load the car, and begin the journey.  Five adults and five back packs etc packed into a car, as we would say, “no room to swing a cat”.  A quick stop in Çamlýhemþýn we were again on our way.  In the rough guide it tells you about the two dozen or so graceful bridges.  We call them hump back bridges in the UK, but they are built spectacularly and are a regional speciality, many dating back to the 18th Centuary being attributed to Armenian craftsmen.


We followed a tributory coming from Ayder and finishing in the mouth of Fýrtýna Çayi in the Black Sea, all along the river were white water rafting signs.  How I would have loved to raft down this river, although it did not seem to be full flowing, but then I guess it would in the spring after the snow melts in the mountains.  Reaching the road adjacent to the Black Sea, we made steady progress to our lunch time stop at Trabzon.


Before we reached Trabzon, we stopped at a small beach, with a very steep road leading to it, a mosque situated at the top.  We got out of the car at the top of the hill, and made our way down on foot, and to my delight, there were wild fig trees growing.  We started picking the ripe figs and with the hazlenuts we had bought, sat at the beach and had a feast!  We sat and quietly took in the views and the peacefulness.  On the way up we noticed the remains of a Georgian church.  The houses in this area were of very fine architecture and I guess they were old Georgian style houses.  They were in very bad repair and some were three or four stories high, and uninhabited.  The hamlet was Konakönüköyü, a short drive east of Trabzon.


I am not sure what it is when in Turkey, you seem to get a tremendous thirst for Efes!  So having reached Trabzon, a port of call was lunch and then a beer in the Efes bar, over looking the main street.  I am intrigued by the number of Dolmuþ baying for position in the street, horns honking continuously.  I was also quite surprised at how modern the town was.  I had seen photos which do not do the town justice.  A flying visit and we are on our way again, dropping one of our passengers off to catch his plane back to Istanbul.


On our way again, we took the old road as opposed to the new tunnels and once again the views were breath taking.  Mountains rising high above us to the left and the Black Sea coasts meandering along with us to the right.  It was difficult to keep my eyes open, with the motion of the car and the heat.  My husband was asleep most of the journey!


By evening we reached Giresun and were invited to a beach barbeque.  And a feast was once again laid on.  Again the hospitality was much more than could be expected and we enjoyed our beach barbeque.  We checked into a hotel and with a good nights sleep ready for what tomorrow may bring.


After breakfast, we took a trip to the castle with the magnificent views over Giresun and the mountains beyond, then to the boat yard.  There we hired a boat complete with sailor to take us to Giresun Adasý, the only major Island in the Black Sea and located about one nautical mile from the coast.  This island has plenty of mystery and history in equal measures.  From pre-Christian times to Jason and the Argonauts to fertility rituals still taking place on May 20th each year.  We landed on a concrete landing and was greeted by the present day owner of the island.  He led us up the steps and we walked around the island, coming across derelict walls, wine barrels (empty sadly!) which were part of a monastery at some point, old signs, and old bench on which no one would dare to be seated.  Then coming out of the wooded island onto the rocky promontory, there is the huge Hamza Stone, which seems to be balancing precariously, just waiting to roll into the sea.  It is also said to bring youth to the old and fertility to the childless if you touch it.


After a brief swim in the sea we were soon on our way again, collecting our bags from the hotel, we carried on with our journey, along the Black Sea coast, turning off at Samsun, and heading inland towards Ankara.  With night falling it seemed like an endless journey, sleep was difficult to keep at bay.  Finally we saw the lights of Ankara in the distance, and our journey was over.  Although glad you reach your destination, you almost wonder where the time had gone.  Our friend and his wife kindly allowed us to stay with them and we once again cracked open the Efes!  Sitting silent for a few moments, I reflected on our journey.  Kaçkar seemed a long way off now, and our journey home was impending. 


Day 8 – Journey home

After a good nights sleep, a Turkish breakfast on the terrace awaited us.  It was a delight to sit outside in the warm sun, eating and drinking, and I could have stayed there for much longer, but it was soon time to leave for our flight home.


We said our goodbyes, and with a wave, we were on our way to the airport.  Saying goodbye to our hosts was a little sad, but I knew then it would not be the last time we saw him or his family again.  But it was sooner than I imagined.


Joining the queue for our flight, we suddenly came to a barrier.  People ahead of us were moving but we had come to a halt.  The flight attendant told us that we could not fly today.  We had been denied boarding. PANIC!!!!! I had only just started a new job, and it was Bank Holiday in the UK.  Some angry words were exchanged by not just us, but the other 30 or so people who were also denied boarding.  What to do now!!! There was nothing we could do, but accept the situation (again!).  So I called our friend to let him know.  We were taken to the Hilton in Ankara for the night and was to fly the next morning.


On arriving at the Hilton we got settled in to a luxurious room the size of a small house (being paid for by BA I hasten to add!!!), our friend arrived shortly after – never realising it would be so soon before we saw each other again.  So we were treated to a visit to Old Ankara, and managed to buy a rug.  It was nice to relax, and see parts of Ankara we would not have seen otherwise.


Finally our day came to an end, and with an early start we headed back to the hotel, for our BA paid for dinner.  We successfully boarded our plane the next day and I felt sorry for those in the queue behind us who were being denied boarding - a repeat of the day before and no doubt the following day and so on..................  It is seemed like a process this poor flight attendant had to carry out every day.

But despite our delays going out and returning, we had a wonderful time, saw some beautiful parts of Turkey, met some amazing people and were shown what Turkish hospitality is all about!

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