Day 37 – 39: Ordu – Of: The eastern Black Sea coast and its main attractions
The next morning, we had to do some burocracy: we had applied for Iranian visa in the Munich consulate two weeks ago, and their internet page claimed 2 days of express issueing time. We called , and were unfortunately told that we would not get our visa before August. As we need India and Pakistan visa as well (also both from Munich), this timeframe was too long for us. Because of the elections in June, nobody could reliably tell how and when visa were available. Trabzon has an Iranian consul who is known for issueing them quickly, so we decided to give it a try and go there.
Trabzon is a relatively unspectacular conservative city, so we tried to minimize our time here. We stood in front of the consulate when it openend and met Marian and David, the 2 austrian cyclists again. As they were told to get their visa the same day, we decided to cancel our Munich application and also get them here. 7 hours and a lazy Trabzon day later (as it is Ramadan, the city was full of men sitting at empty tables, waiting for dawn), we had the fresh stickers in our passports and a smile in our face. A bunch of foreigners was waiting with us at 5pm in front of the embassy, and we couldn't avoid the feeling that the main reason for a tourist visit to Trabzon is the Iranian consulate.
|Water fountains in front of Atatürk in tropical-humid Trabzon centre|
|Ramadaning men waiting for the sun to go down. No night, no tea.|
|We did not ramadanize, so we bought some tea at a viewpoint above the city (where we also stayed overnight). As we are the only ones drinking it, we had to buy a whole samovar.|
|LOTS of tea in the small pot|
|And coal inside to keep the water warm - you pour it into your glass to dilute the strong tea.|
|The Iranian Consulate - THE main attraction for tourists to come to Trabzon.|
|And again, ramadanizing men sitting around and waiting.|
|The local Dolmus look angry to freighten poor Kalimero.|
But the area has more to offer: after a decent night at a cafe above the city (the tourist information staff gave us the tip), we drove up into the mountains behind Trabzon and visited Sümela, an old orthodox monastery in a spectacular location under a huge mountain face. The thrilling architecture and the wonderful frescos between green hills, mist and low clouds were really wonderful.
|Misty weather and Sümela Monastery.|
|Amazing frescos in the rock churches.|
|This one is approx. 2x2m in size.|
|Unfortunately, many of the frescos are severly damaged by vandalism. Many of the painted figures had their eyes and faces scratched out, which we attributed to some religious conflicts, but other scratches were just the plain name-and-date-vandalism.|
|No difference in people or cultures - Turks did it.|
|And Greeks as well, when they were here. What do you think when scratching your name over a 1000-year-old painting?|
On our way further east in the afternoon, we saw the two Austrian cyclists on the coastal highway and picked them up for some 50km. For the night, we stayed at a former school in green hills above the small city Of.
Kalimero is soooo big.
Of is at the end of a valley where another touristic attraction of the area is located: Uzungöl is said to be a picturesque lake in the mountains, and the family at the Ordu Beach suggested us to go there. Indeed, the spot was very beautiful, but hiking or mountainbiking seemed rather unattractive to us, as the clouds were again very low. Plus, as it was Ramadan and the Eastern Black Sea region is quite conservative, the streets were completely empty. So, we decided to go back down and head further east.
|Cay terraces around Rize.|