"My soul is elsewhere, I'm sure of that. And I intend to end up there." -- Rumi

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Trabzon, Part 3

For our last full day in Turkey, Julie and I got up early again (for us), and bought tickets on a bus to Sumela Monastery, about an hour inland from Trabzon.  As pretty much all things seemed to happen for us in Turkey, the tickets were purchased no problem; the bus was clean and modern and left on time.  We drove through some astoundingly gorgeous countryside and mountians, and eventually stopped on the side of one of those mountians so we could take pictures of this:

Sumela Monastery

After a few minutes, the bus drove us a little further along, then dumped us out to hike the rest of the way.  I was a little unsettled, because the broken-language communication I received was that the bus would meet us at a restaurant... down at the foot of the mountain   It had been a bit of a long ride to get up here... but Julie scolded me into worrying about such problems when they arose. :)  It certainly was a shame to not be giving this experience my 100% full attention...

Final trek up to the monastery.
I really enjoyed getting to walk the final part of the way up the mountain.   The day was so beautiful and the views just stunning... it was awesome to be able to take it all in at your own pace.  Also I'll admit to getting the very faint stirrings of being on a pilgrimage or some such, silly I know, for less than a half-hour walk up a path.  But still.  It was a lot cooler than just arriving by bus, that's for sure.  And back in the day, those people that actually made it to Sumela must have really, really wanted to get there.

View from the top.
Exterior of the monastery wall.
Inside the compound
Restored frescoes inside
Weight of the world... :)
Julie with restored exterior frescoes
 You are just plain going to have to forgive me for all these photos, because it's not like I could ever pick just one.  Finally, reluctantly taking our leave of Sumela, we began figuring out how the heck to get back down the mountain.  Turns out there was another path that offered a more direct, if steeper, way back to the town proper.  Unexpected bonus that we got to hike through some of Turkey's gorgeous wilderness -- and downhill, even!  Life is good, folks.

Looking down at a waterfall.
At the bottom, we emerged right onto a restaurant next to a river.  A restaurant that served beer!  Hooray!!!  And another really, really good Turkish meal was pretty much all it took for these two Americans to seal the deal with their Turkish love affair.  The whole experience of seeing the monastery, running fingertips over ancient walls, feeling your heart work and muscles move as you moved through scenery too incredible for words, and coming out to this amazing meal and yet more friendly Turkish people... I cannot WAIT to go back to this country!

As we were leaving to catch the bus, our waiter stopped me and pinned a little souvenir to my sweatshirt... a charm with a tiny dolphin and a blue bead painted with the Evil Eye.  :)

Back in Trabzon, Julie and I crashed like stones, napping in our crappy hotel room for something like three hours.  When we woke up, it was the perfect time for another little hike, this time up to the top of Boztepe Hill, just in time to watch the sun set over this amazing city.

I wasn't sure precisely where to go, but once again -- luck was with us, and a cute little Turkish kid attached himself to us for no particular reason and guided us safely up to exactly where we needed to be.  I gave him a lira. :)

At the top of the hill, we found a cafe and ordered Turkish tea... and this is what came:

The pot sat on top of the hot water jug, staying warm, and when the tea in the pot got low we could fill it with more fresh hot water.  Without a doubt, the coolest tea-drinking experience of my life, and one more little thing to make me fall ever more in love with this city and country...

Night falls over Trabzon.
And then, finally, it was time to head back down the hill.  We were trying to meet up with a friend of ours, James, and had left a note at his hotel to meet us at the Efes Pub that night at 8:00.  But sadly James had already left Turkey that morning, so Julie and I just had a couple beers and went to get dinner at one of Ataturk Square's many outdoor cafes.

Ataturk Square at night
Last dinner in Turkey! :(
 And then, finally, nothing for it but to head to the hotel for a last drink out of empty water bottles and a moderately early night.  There is not one single thing I would change about this vacation.  I loved every second and fell utterly for this city and its incredible people.  I can't wait to see what else Turkey has to show me.  Until next time!

The next day, we pretty much had time for a quick walk-around to pick up souvenirs and snacks for the trip, and then grab the bus back home.  Our bus ride from Trabzon back to Georgia was uneventful, and we crossed the border with a minimum of fuss.  In Trabzon, we had bought bus tickets to Batumi, so were kind of surprised and annoyed when our tour bus never picked us back up on the other side of the border!!  But, once again things work out for the best, as we met Arthur and Tigran, friends from Armenia vacationing in Georgia.  We rode the local bus back to Batumi, and then they asked us out for a beer.  We guided them to a place we knew nearby, on the water.

Tigran and Arthur with Julie
One beer turned into many beers and kinkhali, and two new excellent friends.  I couldn't have asked for a more perfect ending to our trip!

Home again (almost).  Sunset on Batumi Harbor.
Eventually we got a late-night marshrutka and a taxi back home to Poti.  I simply could not have asked for a better vacation to close out the summer!  And Georgia welcomed me back with open arms... the next post will be full of weddings and supras and shenanigans galore. :) 

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