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Old 04-10-2012, 06:40 AM   #47
asilindean OP
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Joined: Jul 2009
Location: Timisoara, Romania
Oddometer: 133
Day 9 - Trabzon - Sumella Monastery – Giresun 200 km

Turkish customs – we spend there almost 4 hours for a 5 minute job. We were the last to leave the port. First went all the passengers, then all the cars, then us. They tried to imply that something was missing from my green card. I disagreed. They let us go.

The 2 guys from Moscow

Ildur from Kazan

Waiting in customs

We had a very tasty breakfast in Trabzon center and then took a short walk around the square.

The initial plan was to visit Sumela Monastery and found some accommodation around there. Since here we had all our bookings in advance, since we did not know the schedule of the ferry we did not planned in advance. We were free to stop whenever we wanted. Or, keep riding :)
The road to Sumela was a twisty but good 2 lane road going in the mountains south of Trabzon. Being Sunday the monastery was very crowded but beautiful. The monastery is close to Macka, about 30 km south of Trabzon. From Macka there are another 17 km to the actual site of monastery. Before that you will pass entrance of Altındere National Park (Milli Park) where one must pay a small fee. With the bike you can get as near as a few meters to Sümela itself, where there is a car-park in front of Hagia Barbara Chapel. Also you have to pay the entrance to the monastery itself.

The position of the monastery is what makes it spectacular; I believed that it would be quite a challenge to enter there without the approval of the defenders.

The story of the monastery is something like this: built in the fourth century, before the Roman Empire split into east and west, by two Athenian priests, Barnabas and Sophronius. The fell into ruin numerous times throughout its history, the best moments of its existence being under Byzantine and Ottoman rule.
The last century was the worst for Sumela. It was abandoned following the chaos and inter-ethnic violence at the end of World War I. In the recent years Turkish government has stepped in to restore and protect the monastery and to turn it into a museum.

Lots o people and indeed a very humid atmosphere.
When we were about to leave the monastery we met an very nice and helpful tourist guide from Uzungol – Ekrem who give us information about the area. We also met a couple from Greece coming here on a Scooter. Amazing.
Initially we planned to sleep around the Sumela, but being still early and wet, we decided to get back to the coast and find accommodation there. So we ride another 150 km and find a hotel in Giresum for 90 TL. Giresum it’s a very pleasant little town with a fortress up the hill (Kale) and a university. We eat some local fast food (delicious) had a beer on the hill and went to sleep.

A few words on the coastal road from Trabzon to Samsun: It is an excellent 4 lane road with a spectacular view of the sea and of the mountains. It will be part of the Black Sea Costa Road when the ring shall be completed. Not in my life time, but nevertheless.
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