As I dived deep into the east of Turkey, my third stop after Van was Trabzon, the capital city of the Trabzon province on the coast of the Black Sea. The historical value of this city is phenomenal as it stood in between the famous silk road where religions and trades once flourished. For me, the sole purpose for visiting Trabzon was to see the Sumela Monastery built by the Greek monks on the side of a mountain. Its location and the sheer awesomeness of its structure made quite a sight to behold. Without further ado, let's explore the inside of the mysterious-looking Sumela Monastery together.
Looking for a complete itinerary for Turkey? One Month In Turkey.
Getting to Trabzon from Van
From Van, I bought a bus ticket through the local bus company and took an overnight bus to Trabzon. The bus arrived at 3 AM in the morning, a little too early for the schedule so I had to sleep at the bus station for a few hours before taking a taxi to the hostel I booked. You can go into the city center by public dolmus as well, but since it was early and I did not sleep one bit on the bus, I decided to take the easy way out and got a taxi instead.
Looking for a guide to Van? A Backpacking Guide on Things to Do in Van, Turkey.
Where to Stay in Trabzon
For an accommodation, there was only one hostel in the area called Adelante Hostel and it was a bit overpriced. The good thing about the hostel despite the price was that the owner will go out of her way to help you out. She helped me find the best route to get to my next destination, Georgia and it felt like family than a usual hostel experience. Since not many travelers go as far east as Trabzon, the place is perfect for when you want to stay somewhere quiet and peaceful.
Getting to Sumela Monastery
I took a power nap when I arrived at the hostel in the morning and as I awoken at 10:30 AM, I went to the kitchen area and met a South African and a German guy who was planning to go to the Sumela Monastery that day. I decided to tag along with them, found a dolmus station and bought a round-trip ticket to the Monastery.
I can not remember where the actual location of the dolmus station was but you can ask the hostel or the hotel staff for the location.
Like all public transportations in Turkey, we had to wait for several hours until the minivan was full before we left. I was slowly starting to get used to it.
The minivan drove us directly to the monastery and gave us 3 hours at the site before taking us back to Trabzon city. It was more than enough to walk around the monastery and the surrounding area.
The minivan stopped at one of the waterfall where you can capture a photo of the monastery from afar. Unfortunately, it was a bit too rainy and cloudy that day so I was not able to capture the photo I wanted like this.
Looking from the outside, you wouldn't expect a small little village inside the mountain like this. I was blown away when I first saw it because from the outside, it looked like a single building than a village.
The greeks built this place, hence the church existant inside the monastery. Unfortunately, they fled to Greece when the Ottoman Empire took over.
The surrounding area was full of nature and short trails you can do. I don't know why but it did not feel like Turkey when I was walking in the area. The humidity and the greeness reminded me of Japan instead.
It took a while before the cloud cleared up a bit and I was able to capture this photo when I was hiking down from the monastery.
It was not just the monastery that attracted me most about Trabzon but also the city center and the easy-going people of Trabzon. We took the dolmus back to the city and decided to explore the city a little bit.
People are so friendly to foreign-looking people like us that they simply came up to us and striked random conversation. At one point, I was trying to order a Kebab and even though the waitresses did not understand a word I was saying, we laughed at the fact and tried our best to communicate anyway. I eventually get the order through after 10 minutes of laughter and confusion.
In the evening, me, the south african guy and the german guy decided to spice up our lives a little bit and joined the break fast (when people started eating during Ramadan) with the locals. When we were standing in line waiting for food, it felt almost like we were stealing their food but everyone was so welcoming that feeling went away in no time.
The food was surprisingly filling, more so than the food in cheap restaurants
After getting our food we sat down at one of the table and the family that sat next to us invited us to join them. The German guy was able to speak Turkish so as a translator, we were able to communicate with them quite effectively. They were super interested in the Asian culture and they continuously carried the conversation with questions and comparisons for hours. It was one of the most interesting conversations with the locals I had in Turkey. At one point, one of the women jokingly wanted me to be her husband for the sole reason of me being an Asian. It was hilarious. At around midnight, we decided to part ways and we went back to the hostel.. full and happy.
I am starting to see the benefit of not eating until the evening during Ramadan now.
Getting To Kars from Trabzon
The next day, my host at the hostel helped me get a ticket to my last destination in Turkey, Kars via an overnight bus. Unfortunately, the depart time was not until 11PM so I spent today catching up on work and friends.
That is it for Trabzon. Next up, we will arrive at the last city of my epic one-month Turkey trip, Kars and explored the Armenian ruins of Ani. Ani was the highlight that made it all worthwhile to come all the way to the east border of Turkey, so stay tuned and see for yourself.
Continue Reading the Next Part: A Backpacking Guide on How to Get to Ani from Kars.
Further Reading for Turkey
Turkey is a country that stands in the middle of Europe and Asia. Empires after empires rose and fall on this land and in order to see Turkey as a whole, you will have to go further than just Istanbul.
Here is a selection of articles and travel guides that you might need to further plan your trip to Turkey:
- Looking for a complete itinerary and travel guide for Turkey? One Month Itinerary for Turkey.
- You will likely be flying into Istanbul when you are traveling to Turkey. Check out my 4 days itinerary for Istanbul.
- A lot of Roman-influenced can be seen throughout Turkey. One of the big ones is Ephesus, a Roman ruin near Selcuk, south of Istanbul. Here’s a quick guide on how to get to Selcuk and visit Ephesus.
- Pamukkale is a popular tourist attraction since the ancient time. People from all over come to bath in these white salt pools along the cascade. It is an incredible sight to behold and if you want to visit, check out my One Day Travel Guide to Pamukkale.
- The southern coast of Turkey boasts a vivid turquoise colored sea, stunning cliffs and the Lycian trail, one of the best long trekking trails in the world that runs along the coast. Check out our travel guide on hiking the Butterfly Valley and Kabak in the Southern port town of Fethiye, Turkey.
- Cappadocia is a big area full of amazing things to do, from hot air balloon to hiking the valleys. Here’s a complete guide on how to spend 4 days in Cappadocia, Turkey.
- Mt. Nemrut and a collection of stone heads of gods atop the mountain are not easy to visit. The question has to be asked, Is Mt. Nemrut really worth visiting? We have the answer.
- It’s time to go off the beaten path with a visit to Van, a city in Eastern Turkey known for its massive breakfast and an Armenian temple on an island. Here’s a travel guide on how to visit Van, Turkey.
- Kars is a city located on the easternmost part of Turkey and along the border with Armenia, there’s an ancient Armenian ruin called Ani that will blow your mind away. Here is a complete guide on how to visit Ani from Kars, Turkey.
- Not convinced by my words? Maybe these photos of Turkey will help! 45 Photos that will inspire you to travel to Turkey.
- Since you are already all the way east, why not cross the border from Turkey to Georgia and make your way to Tbilisi, a vibrant capital city of Georgia. Check out my Georgia Travel Guide to plan your next trip to Georgia.
- For all articles about Turkey, visit Turkey Travel Guide page.
- Looking for more travel guides for the Middle East? You can find more on my Middle East Travel Guide page.
- For more of my travel guides, visit my Destinations page.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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