"" Writer's Wanderings: Port of Call - Trabzon, Turkey

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Port of Call - Trabzon, Turkey

This twelve day Black Sea cruise was port-intensive. Out of the twelve days there were eight ports and two days of cruising through scenic historic areas (the Dardanelles and Bosporus) where we were out on deck to hear the commentary. That left only two days at sea where we really could completely relax. Knowing that, we had chosen which ports we wanted to be sure and tour and/or get an excursion. Trabzon's main attraction for an excursion was to the Sumela Monastery up in the hills outside the city. When we researched it, we found that there was a lot of walking and climbing and not always on good ground. There were also reports that you may or may not get all the way to the old frescoes. Add to that the high cost of the ship's excursion and we opted to explore the city instead.

The shuttle bus dropped us off near the center of town and we walked to the square where we found an information booth and a gentleman who spoke excellent English. He gave us a map and pointed out where we were and suggested we take a walk to see the old city walls. We started off and immediately noticed a McDonald's on the corner. We filed that information away for later as we wanted to find some free WiFi.

The town became a little more run down the further we walked and we wondered if it was a good idea to continue on. Any time we feel uncomfortable, we turn back. Just about that time we met up with several others from the ship who were out walking as well including one lady who was alone. Brave soul. She asked if she could walk with us and we set out in the direction our shipmates said they knew the wall was and assured us it was okay to continue.

We passed by a store selling olives. I have never seen so many olives in one place before. I had to take a picture. The proprietor just smiled at me. It probably wasn't the first time his olives were photographed.

A little further on, a man sitting outside his shop smiled at us and asked, "Deutscher?" I remembered I was wearing a t-shirt with matryoska dolls on it. Bob smiled and said, "No. Speak English?" The man shook his head and Bob extended his hand for a handshake. That got a big smile and a nod from him and we walked on. Hopefully we were making inroads with international relationships.

Next was a bakery that featured baklava. Bob felt he'd missed something in Istanbul by not getting it so he went in and managed to get the baker to understand that he only wanted two pieces. He ended up with three since they sell it by the kilogram. He looked triumphant when he came out of the store with his package of Turkish baklava.

We eventually came up a hill and discovered an arched opening in what appeared to be the old city wall. Sure enough when we passed through, we saw more of it that didn't have apartment dwellings built right against it. As this point our brave lady said she was going to walk back since we wanted to head for the market area. I'm sure she made it back okay. There was no one left behind that afternoon.

In researching for this post, I found it difficult to date the walls. The only reference is that they were rebuilt in the Byzantine era which would have preceded 1453 when the Ottomans took over. I'm guessing the walls were pretty old.

Following the wall toward the port area, we saw the huge market across the street and noticed more shops and vendors down the alleyways we passed. There were obviously a lot of fish vendors because the smell of fish hung heavy in the air. The fish booths we saw mostly had the same fish. All were displayed in an unusual way--with the bright red gills pulled out. If anyone knows what kind of fish they are, please leave a comment. I've looked all over and can't find a way to identify them. Anchovy is a popular fish but these are too big for that.

McDonald's was a disappointment. Bob couldn't get on the internet there but right next to the restaurant was a money exchange where he managed to unload his Russian rubles for Turkish lira. I guess he's become an international money changer too.

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