July 29th early morning I took an Onur Air flight from Istanbul’s Ataturk airport to Trabzon. Trabzon is one of the main cities in the Black sea region of Turkey and I kept it as the base point in my travel itinerary to start venturing eastern Turkey. I had quickly booked the cheapest hotel available in Trabzon after checking in the flight in Istanbul the same day morning and little did I know that it would turn into a nightmare (I suggest you check the booking.com reviews carefully before booking a budget hotel in Trabzon).
After reaching the Trabzon airport, which was pretty small and not so clean, I took a taxi to reach the hotel. The cab ride was pretty cheap here (9 TL for 3 kms approx) and I recommend you taking a cab too from the Trabzon’s airport to the city. It was almost noon by then and hence I decided to have a little lunch break in a local Turkish kebab shop before starting to explore the city. The shop owner was super nice and he confirmed that it wasn’t common to see western tourists in this part of Turkey. Almost nobody speaks English in this part of Turkey and hence body language and gestures is all how I started connecting with the locals (hotel, cabs, shops, etc). Having an internet on phone was really handy for me as I often used Google translate and also started learning common Turkish words to start a conversation (highly recommended). I could already notice the change in clothing from western Turkey and people looked way more conservative too.
The hotel sadly was quite far away from the city centre and hence I decided on taking a “dolmus” (dirt cheap local Turkish mini vans/buses usually for short distance travels and highly recommended). Luckily, I found a free ride from a local Turkish guy (kind of hitch-hiking) and he dropped at the famous Hagia Sophia Museum (also called Aya Sophia by the locals) from where you can get a good view of the Black Sea. AyaSophia is an impressive old church, which is a working mosque now and has a lot of history (if you are in Trabzon, this is a must-see!). After spending a couple of hours, a local helped us getting a “dolmus” (our very first dolmus ride in Turkey!!) to Ataturk square (the main square of the city). Here I booked the next day-trip to Sumela Monastery and Karaca caves with a travel agency located right in Ataturk square. Prices are almost the same for all the tour operators and are normally 40 TL for the entire day tour and does’t include entrance fees to the monuments, foods and drinks
Bars/pubs are not common in this part of Turkey as the culture is very conservative, but still Trabzon being a big city, it wasn’t super hard to find one. I had a couple of nice beers (Turkish Efes beer) in the Efes bar right around the corner of the Ataturk square (next to the Mc Donalds) and headed for good food in the square.
Obviously, I wanted more good kebabs and luckily wasn’t disappointed. I also tried “nargile” in a rooftop place to chill out and it was more awesome with some Turkish tea.
It was super hot even in the night (around 30 deg C) and finally, I decided to head back to the (crappy) hotel, which by the way even didn’t have fans! I didn’t have any energy to complain tot he hotel owners about it after such a tiring long day and just had 6 hours more before I had to start my next day.