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A Black Sea Adventure

Exploring some of Turkey’s natural parks and cultural gems within the Black Sea Region


By: Sarah Joanne Robinson (images courtesy of Sarah Joanne Robinson & Carrie Bozym)


Rolling down a country road somewhere north, in the Black Sea region of Turkey, the lively bus filled with Turkish teachers and their three American counterparts (myself included) suddenly pulled over next to a grassy area. Clueless as to the reason, I sat perplexed as the group energetically filed off the bus dancing to an obviously favorite Turkish song that blared over the sound system. Lining up on the grass, they threw their arms around each other and formed a semicircle. While my two colleagues joined the line to dance in the grass, I jumped off the bus and started filming. It was a moment to remember.


This impromptu moment captured the spirit of the five-day trip I took over the recent Eid holiday (Bayram) following the end of Ramadan. For this American teacher about to leave Turkey, it was the perfect chance to see some of the country’s natural parks and cultural gems with locals who know the best places to trek, eat, sleep and sightsee —a rare opportunity that only a fool would pass up. I would also get my fill of Turkish culture, both from the places we visited and the group we traveled with. The dance in the grass was a great example, as well as the many, many times we stopped for çay and shared communal meals.

Glass Terrace at Çatak Canyon, Incekaya Aqueduct above Tokatli Gorge, Under Safronbolu, and the saffron of Safronbolu


DAY 1


The trip began when, in typical Turkish fashion, we caught the bus at midnight and drove through the night to Lake Gölcük, our first stop, where we walked around the lake in the dawn’s early light. It felt good to be out of the city. Then it was back on the bus for the drive to our first lodgings at Yenice Forest that reminded me of America’s national parks.  After a lovely Turkish breakfast in the dining hall, we set off for day-long trek through Şeker Canyon. This ended up being our longest day, approximately 10 miles on the trail.


DAY 2


The day began with a leisurely walk along a rushing stream down a road flanked by towering rocky outcroppings, then back on the bus for the next destination, Safronbolu, a UNESCO heritage site that was a traditional caravan stop on the spice road known for its well-preserved Ottoman architecture.


We swam at the bottom of Ilica waterfalls, walked the boardwalk trails through the gorgeous Horma Canyon, and visited our second glass terrace at Çatak Canyon. Our last hotel was my favorite: Globe Mountain House where we literally dined over a babbling brook, a perfect setting for our last supper. 


DAY 3


We swam at the bottom of Ilica waterfalls, walked the boardwalk trails through the gorgeous Horma Canyon, and visited our second glass terrace at Çatak Canyon. Our last hotel was my favorite: Globe Mountain House where we literally dined over a babbling brook, a perfect setting for our last supper. 


DAY 4


On our last day, we visited lovely, historic Amasra, where we walked through the old town and enjoyed breathtaking sweeping views of the Black Sea and the scenic, mountainous coastline. It was a lovely end to a most memorable trip.

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