Turkey's Untapped Black Sea Coast
We did an insane amount of driving after landing in Ankara, in central Turkey. Well, Asif did, since our rental car was a standard! We drove treacherous winding roads through the mountains to get to our first stop, Amasra, which took around 6 hours with our speed barely hitting over 50 km/hour. Amasra is a beautiful and small seaside village with cute markets and warm hearted people. Our hotel was nestled away from the busy streets and looked shady on the outside! Once we stepped inside to an ultra modern and chic room, we knew we had Alhamdulillah been rewarded by the crazy drive. We then took off to Inebolu, another small town around 4 hours away. The roads zigzagged through the mountains and brought us through many small villages that we wouldn't have otherwise seen. Cows and horses wandered on the roads, men sat outside of cafes and sipped tea, and kids played along the roadside. It felt tranquil and homey. Needing to use the bathroom ASAP, we stopped at a random village and came across a very well English speaking Imam who told us about an upcoming road closure and even wrote out directions and how to ask certain questions in Turkish. He was a God send, and had we not come across this village, we had not known to take a detour. Inebolu itself was not anything spectacular, but we had to rest and at least had the chance to dip into the Black Sea the next morning before driving to Sinop.
Sinop by far was our most favourite spot (to the point where Asif wants to name our first child after this town!). It's a larger seaside town and major harbour in the area. The city is secured by a fortress which has now somewhat fallen apart, yet many walls remain standing and completely covered in vines. Seaside bazaar stalls, yummy restaurants, and boats line the harbour and we actually had time to walk around and discover the town before moving on, since we spent two days here. We made a road trip to Erfelek, a village an hour away with gorgeous mountain hiking trails and 28 waterfalls. It was there we made more friends and were invited to lunch, given a gift, and Asif had the chance to ride a horse around! It was refreshing and beautiful, as the area looked lush and almost like a rainforest compared to the immediate coast.
The drive to Samsun was much better as a brand new coastal highway had been created, and we could finally drive Highway-2 equivalent speeds! We made it to Samsun, the largest city on the Black Sea Coast, with a population of 500,000. Driving here was a joke, as it is in most Middle Eastern countries. Thank God our hotel was close to where we entered the city. After enjoying a yummy chicken kebab dinner, we wandered a GIANT indoor bazaar area, got tempted by ice cream, and walked around a amusement park before calling it a night. We had an 8am flight the next morning to Antalya, a city on the Mediterranean Coast, and that meant waking up at 5am. Ugh!
So here we are in Istanbul again, waiting for our flight to Antalya. We just enjoyed breakfast and my first REAL cup of coffee in a week! Alhamdulillah it's been an amazing trip, tiring though, with all the driving. We are truly looking forward to the Med coast and the chance to explore and chill at the same time. The people have been amazing here, they treat us like family despite being strangers...in stark contrast to North America where we barely smile at others passing us by. And our Turkish has improved significantly since the first day. In fact, Asif is getting so good he's even correcting my pronunciation! :)
We're so glad we chose Turkey as our honeymoon spot...and InshaAllah the Mediterranean Coast (Akdeniz in Turkish) will be as rewarding.