Thanks to some children around me on the bus, sleeping more than one or two hours was mission impossible.
Not a big problem - driving along the Black Sea coastline at dawn is quite spectacular. At 9 am, after around
18 hours on the bus, we finally arrive in Trabzon. The bus terminal is quite far away from the the city centre
along the road to Rize. And so we decide to get an onward ticket first for the next day. Next, we take a dolmuş
for around € 0.30 to the centre of town, which is marked by Meydan square (there are several names, but we
heard "Meydan square" quite often, although "meydan" means "square". From the square we walk along a road
leading to the beach. After a few hundred metres, we can already see the Georgian consulate.
The consulate occupies the second floor of the building and opens from 10 to 12 in the morning. We arrive shortly before
half past nine, and three other people are already waiting. We seem to be right on time. The consul itself appears
in time, and so it only takes a couple of minutes until it's our turn. We already have a double transit visa for Georgia,
but due to a misunderstanding, the period of validity is too short, so it would have expired before we enter Georgia
on our way back from Armenia to Turkey. Sounds complicated? That's what the consul himself thought as well.
It takes a while to convince him that we really need another visa, but he finally issues a 21 days visa. The procedure takes
a couple of minutes and one picture only, but the fee is around 75 USD - an expensive pleasure, to be paid in Turkish Lira only.
And by the way, don't show the second visa at the border, or you'll be in trouble is what he says before we close the door behing us.
Gosh - don't show the second visa is easier said than done. But he was quite cooperative and put the visa on the very last page of
Picture: The Aya Sofya in Trabzon
And so we got rid off all the cash we had, which means that we would have to look for an ATM before we can find a hotel.
Many hotels concentrate in a small area east of the main square - among them mostly very cheap, more or less worn
hotels (for more details see accommodation below). After catching up on some sleep, we leave the hotel to see what's to see in
Trabzon. The first thing we notice is the rather western fashion, which is not limited to men. All in all, Trabzon appears to be a
surprisingly cosmopolitan city and is sometimes even more modern than Istanbul. We leave the vibrant city centre around
small Meydan square and walk to the Aya Sofya, a very old church outside the city centre. Halfway, we see some ruins of an old
fortress and remainings of the city wall as well as the huge stadium of the local soccer club Trabzonspor - not unknown to
European football fans.
The church is a bit hidden and overviews the coastline. Entrance fee is € 0.6. The first church was built in the
5th century, but in it's present form it's from the 13th century. Especially the frescoes inside, depicting biblical stories,
are very impressive. There's a small separated tower, but unfortunately it's closed to the public.
In Trabzon as well as in other places in Turkey, the coastline doesn't seem to be an appreciated stretch of land that
deserves preservation. The beach is full of waste of every category, with numerous structures blocking the access to the
beach. Additionally, a new motorway is constructed along the coastline. The motorway is not constructed piece by piece,
but it seems to be built everywhere at the same time. It might be a scenic route in future, but the waterfront itself is spoilt.
According to the staff at the hotel, there should be hot water after 7 p.m. A hot shower would have been a nice day after a
night on the bus, but we end up having a cold shower. We opted for the restaurant Kıbrıs next to the
city hall to grab some dinner. A good meal (no kebab this time!) incl. starters and drinks doesn't even set us back € 8 for
the two of us. On the way to our hotel we hear some music and figure out where it's coming from - a dance bar.
Turkish music, performed by a keyboarder and a singer running around the bar as if he would be paid for the distance and not
for the time. Some beefy women and drunken men dance to the music and offer an interesting view. In the bar itself as well as in
other places we notice that there are many Russians in Trazon. And so we experience the nightlife in Trabzon with some
beer and Rakı, the Turkish aniseed firewater. I convince my wife to give it a try - after watching her face, I soon
apologized: Forgive me, I didn't mean to torture you!
Picture: In the centre of Trabzon: Yes, it's the OLD city centre