By now, everyone knows that my dream is to travel around the Black Sea region of Turkey. I have heard stories about lush, green mountains and wood houses that resemble the Swiss Alps. I am eager to meet the locals that apparently have a smile on their faces every day of the week. Each month with fierce determination, I save money for my traveling fund. I am also in the process of gathering information to plan my month-long itinerary for the trip.
The Black Sea of Turkey in Photos
So, one morning I logged onto Twitter and Ugurcan Karayel from “We Make Soap” was proudly showing off his Black Sea photos. He had recently been to the area so I excitedly typed up an email which asked him lots of questions. Ugurcan happily obliged and agreed for me to show his photos and answers on the Turkish Travel Blog.
Hi Ugurcan. I was excited to see the photographs of your holiday in the Black sea region. Did you visit this region independently or did you go with an organized tour?
I went to the region with my mother and she has a friend that owns a hotel and restaurant so we stayed there. The hotel is called the Dere and it is located on the edge of a fast flowing stream in the Firtina Vadisi region of Rize. The owner of the Dere Hotel and Restaurant is called Seckin Yenicirak, who together with his family runs the business. He is also a photographer and often takes part in producing documentaries. Seckin also very kindly organized a guide called Ahmet to show us the beautiful sites of the region.
Which places did Ali the guide take you to see?
He showed us all around the Firtina Vadisi Region. The name translated means Valley of Storm. The valley has six smaller streams which all flow into the main river which eventually flows into the Black Sea.
We also went to see Camlihemsin town which is in a mountainous area with a reputation for being one of the most attractive locations in the Black sea region. The locals mainly survive by bee-keeping and making honey or working in the tea fields. Next on the agenda was Zil Kale which translates to the name of Bell castle.
Ayder plateau and the highlands was another destination at 2600m altitude. Everywhere I went in this region; I smelled a sweet scent from all the flowers that are in abundance. We continued further into the highlands, to come across stone houses built by the local people. Even though it was summer and the middle of June, I saw ice on the mountains but I never felt cold in an uncomfortable way. Last but not least, we visited the Waterfall of Polovit.
I never see the Black Sea region mentioned a lot in foreign tourist brochures. Did you spot many other tourists?
Yes! I saw one tourist who was climbing up to the Zil Castle and there was some other travellers climbing up the Ayder Plateau. The place called Ayder Yaylasi is the most touristic place in that region. If you are traveling independently, transportation is easy and frequent. There are official tours that cover this region as well. Generally though, there are not many foreign or local tourists and this amazed me. Considering how beautiful the area is, I did expect to see more tourists but looking on the bright side, this means that region will remain authentic.
What is your favorite memory from the time you spent there?
We were making our way back to the hotel and were driving slowly so that we could still take in the sites of the countryside. All of a sudden we turned a corner and a beautiful waterfall came into view. Surrounding the waterfall was yellow mountain roses accompanied by the most vivid green plants and smooth rocks. I just stared at the amazing site in front of me and it reminded me how precious Mother Nature is. It would be impossible to create that scene artificially. Beautiful sites like that were so significant on my visit and I will do everything in my power to make sure I return to the region again.
Tell me five recommendations of sites to see and things to do when I visit the area
1. Watch the locals working and collecting tea leaves in the fields. At the end of the day sit down with them and enjoy a tasty cup of Turkish tea.
2. Visit Ayder plateau and explore the beautiful countryside in that area. Don’t forget your camera to take pictures of the waterfalls, stone and wooden houses and also to capture amazing photographs of life in the Black Sea region.
3 – Treat yourself to Mihlama which is a dish specific to the city of Rize in the Black Sea region. It is a melted cheese recipe that is traditionally accompanied with bread.
4. Listen to the local music. It is authentic, Turkish folk music and even more surprisingly includes using the bag pipes. If you feel confident enough, get up and take part in the village dances as well.
5. Of course, I will mention the Dere Hotel and restaurant which was an experience that I could never forget. Unique, original and the perfect accommodation for when you visit the Black Sea region.
Many thanks To Ugurcan. If you use Twitter, you can follow him at We Make Soap