Day 7: The peak at Unye

Unye was the first city we visit on the Black Sea. It’s a peaceful small town that barely sees any tourists throughout the year, besides few Turks who want to get away from Istanbul’s tourists during the summer.

Our day started with a walk around town, a visit to the local fresh market, and a ride to Unye’s old castle, dating back to the Pontus era. The minibus dropped us at the bottom of the hill, and we started our way up to the top. On the way, we met a lovely old lady, that told us a 20 min story, in Turkish, that to the moment, we have no idea what it was about. Then she sold us a kilo of hazelnut, for the most expensive price, and in a plastic bag that smelled like puke. PUKE. But the story sounded very exciting, as far as we were able to tell.

And the walk up continued, till the top. Pushing ourselves (mainly them pushing me) through rocks, 3o2ess again (it was Houssam’s turn to get a taste of it ­čÖé ) and sliding slopes. But the view at the top was worth every second of. We could see 360 degrees around us, we could see all of Unye, it’s mountains and its shore (Uzunkum – the longest beach on the Black Sea). And when we couldn’t climb any higher, we jumped up and reached our own top.

Lunch was very well received, along with a nap in the restaurant’s hammock, if it wasn’t for a HUGE bug, I may have been still there till this moment.

At the end of the day, we grabbed our luggage and headed off to Sinop. Farewell our Unye!

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Day 6: On the way to Unye

And we left ├žaml─▒hem┼čin…

We took the minibus to Rize and there we took the bus to Unye. We discovered on the way the rituals of enrollment of young men in the army: their family and friends gather at the bus station to bid them farewell; the young men start singing a local song, and throw the soldier-to-be in the air, the women in the family start sobbing, and the rest who don’t get the throw him at the bus station, follow the bus he’s on, speed up, and suddenly stop in front of it, giving a mini heart attack to the 56 passengers on board. Then they throw the poor guy in the air.

We reached Unye, after a 6-hour bus ride, at 3 in the afternoon. We checked into our hotel, Sebil Hanim Konagi, a charming old hotel, in the middle of the town. We put our luggage, freshened up, and hit the shore of the Black Sea. It certainly isn’t a place for swimming, but more for walking and fishing. And so we did.

We walked on the sand, hit the outdoor public gym, played some basketball with some Unyian boys and walked around town. At night, we stopped by Iskele, had a delicious Black Sea fish dinner and went to bed with a big smile on our faces.

Day 5: The Fern forest

We woke up in Moyy mini hotel to the most colorful breakfast. It was almost too beautiful to be eaten! Then U─čur Biryol, our guide, met us and drove us to the starting point of our hike. And there, and to our surprise, we discovered what moyy meant. Moyys are tiny wild strawberries (the size of a pea!) but has the concentrated taste of a fully grown ripe strawberry.

We passed through fern forests (foug├Ęres) that looked like something out of King Kong movie. We passed by the river, old houses, tea plantations and met the most theatrical characters. And then, it was lunchtime… We stopped at a house where the owners, a young married couple and the wife’s parents, served us mushroom and lentil soup, mushroom pizza, omelet and bean stew. And no good meal in Turkey is ever over without our friend: the ├žay.

The hike continued with a slower pace; a pace dictated by the home grown shitakee mushroom pizza, and the sudden narrowness and steepness of the path. As much as it sounds fun now, our lives were at stake! And the 3o22es didn’t help ­čśŽ

The day ended with herbal tea (thyme, melissa, ginger and few other herbs we didn’t get), chocolate brownies and a warm comforting dinner.

Day 4: To Karadeniz

We left Istanbul through Sabiha Gokcen airport early in the morning. We landed in Trabzon after an hour 45 min flight. Then we took the bus to Pazar, and from there we took the minibus to ├žaml─▒hem┼čin. The minibus ride was an adventure on its own. Men and women from the village started shouting and cursing, objecting to the amount of luggage we had. We just replied: No Turkish ­čÖé

We arrived at the breathtaking┬á├žaml─▒hem┼čin towards the afternoon. Moyy miniotel (www.moyyminiotel.com) was more than a compensation for our troubles. The 2 sweet ladies that owned this mini hotel greeted us with an unbelievable meal. Then one of the ladies drove us to a far point in the village suburbs, between the mountains and we came back walking. No need to say it rained cats and dogs; actually a specific dog called: PASHA.

Pasha walked with us all the way back to Moyy, to make sure we arrived safe and sound. Some theories say that he was sent by the owner to show us the way. It’s debatable…

Day 3: To Bebek and back

While we woke up to a breakfast of simit, b├Ârek and tea by the sea (Thank you Tang├Âr), the rest of the day was spent in Bebek. The beautiful residential area, where I always get the most delicious Basil olive oil, always offers long peaceful walks by the sea. We walked by fishermen, aligned to be the first to capture the clusters of small fish (3ana2id el samak).

The day ended at Ece Aksoy, where chili jam stood next to pumpkin salad and street style k├Âfte. Tang├Âr and G├╝her also joined in.

Day 2: Sight-seeing in Istanbul

After a copious meal in Beshiktas, at an old man’s restaurant (who reminded too much of the soup Nazi), we headed to Sultanahmet area. The queues were unbelievable, so we headed to The Grand Bazaar, The Egyptian Bazaar (my favorite!), and then to Dolmabahce. There, Rabih was attacked by a fierce dog that tore his shorts, and that I heroically chased away. Phew, once again I saved the day.

 

After walking around in Ortakoy, and a nice Kokore├že lunch, we freshened up and Zeinab and I headed to Mikla, voted the best restaurant in Istanbul. We had a 7-course-meal, where each course was better than the one before, met the loveliest Norwegian couple, and laughed for 3 straight hours, while the boys watched the Bayern vs Chelsea game.

After that we met up and danced the night away at Aperetivo, where the The Bayern/Chelsea match still Haunted us ­čÖé

Day 1: Kicking it off at Istanbul

While the trip’s aim was to visit the Black Sea in Turkey, the journey of the 4 friends started in Constantinople, the beautiful city overlooking the Bosphorus. The first day, Zeinab and I arrived, followed by Houssam and Rabih at night. It was raining like I’ve never seen rain before. We could see the water level rising by the minute.

We landed in the morning of the 18th of May, 2012. After a quick visit to Milka, we saw the Basilica Sisterna, drowned in the rain, and then ended the night at a restaurant in Haydar Pasha with Tang├Âr and beautiful G├╝her. Rabih was generous enough to buy us 10 train tokens, for a train that ceased to exist. Thanks Rabih!