Monthly Archives: August 2022

Sinop to Amasra

After five nights moored in Samsun we now had a long trip to Sinop, 70nm.  It took us 11.5 hours where we anchored up in front of the city walls in the fishing harbour.  We were woken at 1.30am to a boat hooting its horn and what we thought sounded like fireworks.  This couldn’t be possible it was 1.30 in the morning.  Oh yes it was. A fishing boat was arriving in the harbour and it also had it lights on full blare.  There is no fishing allowed until September to allow the fish to lay their eggs so not sure what the occasion was. 

Sinop castle and city walls were built around 800BC.  Surprisingly at the top was a bar and it actually sold beer.  Not quite what we’d expected.  There is a Statue of Diogenes, an Ancient Greek philosopher who was born in Sinop in about 412 BC.  The monument is 18 ft tall and shows Diognenes standing with his dog on his dwelling barrel 

One of Turkey’s oldest prisons is in Sinop.  It is undergoing renovations so it was closed when we visited.  It was opened in 1887 and closed down in 1997.  The prison was high security with no possibility of escape due to the fact it was within the castle walls. The prison guard would walk along the walkway on top of the walls patrolling the prison.

Sinop Hamam

During our walk we came across two mounds which looked of mud like construction.  Ian spoke to one of the locals and managed to decipher that the mounds were part of the hamam (Turkish bath). 

I mentioned before that anchorages are rare in the Black Sea, however, there is a lovely one just 12 miles north of Sinop.  It was so lovely to be in a bay somewhere.  So much so we stayed a couple of nights.

Akilman anchorage

We spent the next few days hopping along the coast popping into fishing harbours.  We didn’t have much wind, in fact one day it was like a mill pond.

Flat as a mill pond

Konakli, was quite picturesque and we anchored in the middle of the harbour.  Then onto Doganyurt.  A strange place in the fact it’s a small village and yet there was a wide array of shops here, kitchen showroom, bathrooms, car motor accessories, gas, petrol station, taxi rank and three supermarket chains.  Friday was market day with half a dozen stalls.  Although one greengrocer had his stall set out the night before, no worry that it wouldn’t be there the next day.  There were a lot of stray dogs here, not unfriendly but sad to see.  A common sight in Turkey and Europe.  Strays is not something we have in the UK.  It is automatically assumed in the UK if a dog is wandering about on its own it must have escaped from its owner, which is normally the case. 

Cide our next hop, is a tourist hot spot with a long beach lined with restaurants and hotels.  It is the birth place of acclaimed Turkish writer Rifat Ilgaz who was a teacher, writer and poet who produced 60 works. He was born in Cide in 1911and returned there to live in about 1975 however after being arrested in 1981, he eventually returned to Istanbul where he passed away in 1993.  The house we visited was where he was born and raised.  He was prosecuted for some of his work and as a result was sentenced to five and half years in prison, of which due to ill health amnesty did not complete the whole sentence in prison.

We were walking back down to the seafront to get some dinner and we saw a sight you wouldn’t expect to see.  Casually walking along the pavement, not the road, was a donkey. 

Taking a stroll

On the way back to the boat we noticed there was a wedding taking place on the beach and on closer inspection (being nosy) it appeared that anyone could go and sit and watch not just official guests.  We’ve seen a lot of brides and grooms on our travels.  They are often having photos taken in some unusual places. 

We were next calling into Amasra.  We moored up here going East on the Black Sea, but unfortunately the quay side was so high we didn’t get off the boat.  This time we were able to moor up right at the end, alongside and so we had no issue getting off.  Amasra wasn’t what we expected.  This is a big tourist town, with lots of tourists’ shops, pide restaurants and lots and lots of tourists.  The beach was just a mass of people, a very popular holiday resort.  There is an island here which is reached via Kemere bridge.  The one arch bridge was built in the 9th century AD. 

August 2022

Going West and discovering the little gem of “Amasya”

Giant Teacup

We left Hopa and headed to Rize.  There are lots of harbours, mainly fishing along this coast.  We went into the harbour at Rize, a short walk from a very large tea cup.  We were greeted with a warm welcome by the coastguard.  We were only staying the one night but while there the petrol station was close by so it was convenient to get some diesel.  It turned out even more convenient when the Coastguard very kindly took us across to the petrol station in their car after they gave us tea. 

Gorele Ice cream

We hopped along the coast to Akcabaat and then to Gorele which is famous for its ice-cream.  Along one side of the town square are stalls selling ice-cream with seating areas.  Lots of the town come along and enjoy an ice-cream.  Görele ice cream has a different consistency to other ice-cream, when it was held up it stretched as though it was stringy.  It was very nice. 

There was another petrol station close by so Ian decided to get another can filled while we were here.  This time he had to go under his own steam, or scooter should I say.

We were getting a bit of a stomp on over the next couple of days ending up in Fatsa.  From here we took a local dolmus (bus) to Boloman.  Overlooking the harbour is Boloman castle, the history is a bit vague but it is thought it was built by the Kingdom of Pontus as a watchtower anytime between 280bc and 63 bc.  In the 18th century, a wooden mansion, Haznedaroğlu Mansion”, was built on the inner castle.

From Fatsa we headed to Terme.  There was a harbour here but it was calm and so we anchored outside.  It was lovely to be out on anchor again even if for just one night.  Ian cleaned the hulls of Cuffysark here, unfortunately there were lots of jellyfish and they took a few bites out of him.

Our next stop was Samsun, we moored Cuffysark in the sailing club and headed off to Amasya for a couple of days.  We’ve been told this was a fabulous place and wow it really was.  This is one of those places that you’ll remember when you look back.  Going to so many places you do struggle sometimes to recall them, it’s our age.  Buses are a big mode of transport here and cheap so we took the bus and arrived in Amasya a couple of hours later.  We stayed in an Ottoman hotel, which we were informed was 200 years old and original. 

Ottoman houses from the 19th and 20th centuries line one side of the river. Above them carved into Harşena Mountain are the tombs of the Pontus Kings and Amasya Castle, AKA Harşena Castle.  The Pontus Kings ruled Amasya from 333BC to 26AD and it is believed they also built the castle.

We decided it was a long way to walk up to the entrance to the castle so we took a taxi.  We came out and saw a bright yellow car, thinking good, a taxi.  There was no driver inside or anyone around then we realised it was just a yellow car not a taxi so there was nothing for it but to walk.  We stopped for a nice cold freshly squeezed orange juice half way down.  The views over the town were worth the walk, down at least!

There are tombs carved into the mountain side that belong to the Pontic Kings. We’d just walked down from the castle and so decided not to go up to them.  But we managed a picture from one of the museums.

We visited the “Archaeological and Mummy Museum”.  Yes, the museum housed the mummified remains of eight people from the 14th Century.  The mummies were an Anatolian Minister and a Governor and his family.  Examinations were made of the mummies and it is possible to determine how they died and estimate their ages.  One of the mummies was “Isbuğa Nuyin”, he was the Emir of Amasya.  He died in 1320 and it was determined that he died at the age of 35-40 and that he had arthritis.  Apparently Egyptian mummies have no internal organs these mummies differ as these mummies do. 

The Sultan Bayezid II Complex is also located here and was built between 1482 and 1486 for the Sultan.  The complex includes a mosque, cultivation (workhouse), water-tank with a fountain, hospital and a madrasah (school for Muslim education).   

The hospital is now a museum.  There were instruments for various medical procedures.  This one was for removing the placenta after child birth.  Ouch!!

The hotel recommended that we go to one of the restaurants up on the hillside as to see Amasya at night is quite spectacular.  So we took his advice and it definitely was.  On our way back to the hotel there was quite a crowd sitting alongside the river.  There were water fountains dancing to music. 

There was even a waterfall here, albeit we believe man made.  Someone had a sense of humour as one of the Ottoman’s was taking a selfie, yes he had a mobile phone in his hand.

There’s lots to see here so more museums.  The Sehzadeler Museum, AKA Princes Museum, is in fact wax works. 

The Hazeranlar Mansion was built in 1865.  The house is arranged in haremlik and selamlık .  A haremlik was the private section of an upper-class Ottoman home and the selamlik, the public area or reception rooms, used only by men in traditional Islamic society.  There is also a model village of Amsaya

Amasya a wonderful town with lots to see and very picturesque. 

Final stop in Turkey and into Georgia

We had reached the last port we were stopping at on the Turkish coast of the Black Sea which was Hopa, a commercial harbour. 

We were visiting Ciha Castle. Up into mountain’s, another road, well it wasn’t a road more of a wide footpath or was probably built for horse and carts but definitely not for cars in particular mini buses. We stopped so far up and then we were to walk the rest of the way.  Ian, for once, had some sense and stayed with the mini buses along with some other sensibly minded people, already sensing this was going to be more of a climb.

We started the walk and then went off the dirt track road.  It got harder and harder with the track being some down trodden greenery and rocks.  I should have realised when I saw the guide with a very large knife in his hand needed to cut his way through that this wasn’t your usual trek.  I kept looking for David and Sarah of Wandering Star, as this walk was definitely one of those that you were told not far and it will be easy.  I got a stone’s throw from the top and where the castle was, but along with some others we had to retreat back down.  We were told later that no international tourists had ever been up to the castle, I now know why. 

Mencuna Waterfall

We next visited the Mencuna waterfalls which were spectacular.  They are about 90metres high and Turkey’s highest.  After our mountain trek earlier we were told this was just a 700metre walk, uphill mind you.  We’d been walking 10 minutes and then saw the sign which said 500metres to the waterfall.  It was worth the walk up though. 

We were heading to Poti in Georgia just for a couple of days.  We were leaving at 6am but we had to check out of Turkey first.  We got our passports back at 2am, so not much sleep. We had just moored up and a guy came up to the boat and said “Hi Ian”. Now Ian was a little taken aback as he didn’t know the guy.  It transpires he was from the port authority and was British and he had googled the rally when he heard we were coming and found our blog.  His name was also Ian, so Ian if you are reading this, Hi, it was great to meet you and chat.

We had a wonderful welcome from the town of Poti.  They put on a concert for us with singing from the elder generation to the younger ones.  It was a very enjoyable evening. 

The next day we were due to go to Batumi, which was just over 45 miles back near the Turkish border.  We weren’t able to moor up at Batumi hence the reason for being at Poti in the commercial harbour.  We had checked the start time for the trip with one of the organisers and told it was 10 o’clock.  Ian being slow in the morning, so I was trying to gee him up to get us to the buses as we’d seen other people leaving about 9.45.  We finally left the boat at 10am, rushing along as the buses were five minutes away.  We arrived and no buses or people in sight, so after a few choice words between us, we came to the conclusion that the buses must have already left.  Oh well it’s our own fault we were late.  So off we went to discover what Poti had to offer.  It turns out that the start time had in fact changed, which we weren’t made aware of and we were 25 mins early. But we had the day to ourselves which wasn’t such a bad thing.

All roads lead to Poti Cathedral which is in the centre of town next to the park.  The location was chosen by Niko Nikoladze , the mayor of Poti, so that it could be seen from every side of the town.  The cathedral was built in 1906-07 and is an imitation of the Hagia Sopia in Istanbul but on a reduced scale. 

We also took a walk down to Poti Lighthouse which was built by “Easton Amos & Sons” an English company in 1862.  It was then transported by steamship to Georgia where is was assembled by British engineers.  It is made of cast iron, is 36.6m high and has a range of 17nm.  There are 160 steps to the top.  Just alongside the lighthouse is a very large cemetery.  Each of the grave stones shows a picture of the departed and some had tables and chairs set in stone/marble for their loved ones to come and sit with them. What a lovely thing.

We were now off back to Hopa in Turkey.  By the time we arrived back at Hopa we had made the decision to cut short our participation in the rally.  Unfortunately, we didn’t obey orders, yes they were the words used, although we had informed the necessary person of our intentions and reasons.  Orders and obey don’t belong on a sailing rally.  The programme was very busy, plus a few other things and so we decided to do the return journey along the Black Sea coast solo and take things at our own pace.  We are glad we’d spent a month with the rally as we saw some places we wouldn’t have done on our own and we had the pleasure of meeting a great crowd of people.  We appreciate all the hard work that goes into putting a rally like this together and we thanked the organisers for doing so and we wished the group all the best for the rest of their trip.  

August 2022

Black Sea – reaching the end of the Turkish coast

Chained together

We were due to leave Tirebulo at 8 o’clock, we were just contemplating getting up when we could hear, “Cuffysark”.  I obviously got up, and there was Dusk with our anchor hooked up on their anchor.  This is bound to happen at some time when there are so many boats moored up together in med mooring style.  Med Mooring is where you drop your anchor and then reverse up against a quay and tie up on the quay.  It can be quite easy for a chain to lay across someone else’s’ as boats are moored up close together.  Dusk didn’t take long and we were off the hook!

We attended the Sis Dag (Fog Mountain) Cultural Festival in the Salpazari district of Trabzon, that has been held for 200 years, 2022 was the 201st such festival. Sis Dag is over 2,000 metres high.  Villagers from all around flock to the area where there is a market, music, dancing and lots of food stalls.  There were cows wandering around too.  There is a traditional dance where it starts with people dancing in a line holding hands and it gets bigger and bigger and ends up around the hill side.  Many of the villagers are in traditional costumes.  On the food stalls there are piles and piles of loaves of bread which we believe is sour dough and they are big and heavy. You could certainly build your muscles up carrying a couple of these.  The fog did come in during our time on the mountain. 

You do have to smile at times with how the Turkish deal with situations.  On our journey to the festival we go through a town and there’s a car blocking the road, the driver had just popped into the shop.  The bus driver hops out of his seat, gets into the car, expecting the keys to be in the ignition, absolutely they were, moved the car out the way and off we went on our journey.  No drama no road rage, problem solved. 

The journey was up some very steep dirt track roads.  Unfortunately, the bus we were on wasn’t too happy with this and as a consequence was damaged.  So off we all get and also those on the other bus.  There was a café just around the corner, so off we went.  Ian jokingly asked one of our fellow Turkish sailors, “do you think they’ll have some beer?”.  No of course not, we are in a very dry part of Turkey.  So of we go, order our tea, when we discover someone had eagle eyes and had found they did sell beer.  This small café in the middle of nowhere did a roaring trade that afternoon and it made the time we were waiting for another bus much more pleasant. 

We are nearing the end of the Turkish coast on the Black Sea and our next port was Trabzon.   We arrived and had a tour of the city first visiting the Hagia Sofia, yes there is also one in Istanbul.  It was originally a Greek orthodox church which was converted into a mosque in 1584, then in 1964 into a museum.  In 2013 it was back to being a mosque again.  

We also visited the Ataturk Pavilion, which was a lovely building.  Ataturk thought so too and as a result the city gifted him the house which he only stayed in a few days.  The Pavilion was opened up as a museum after his death. 

Trabzon is home to the Sumela Monastery which sits on the side of a mountain.  It was founded in the 4th century by two monks names Barnabas and Sophronios, who came from Athens and built a small church here. The monastery was expanded during the Byzantine Empire and was used until 1923. 

Now we’ve been to a factory where they convert the leaves to tea leaves for your cuppa.  This time we visited a tea farm.  The tea leaves are on bushes and it is just the tips of the bushes that are cut.

The following day was a bit of a different activity with zip lining and water rafting in Firtina Creek.  Ian joined in with this. I sat and looked after a few people’s bags, not my thing. 

We went up into the mountains and visited Zil Kale, the views were stunning.  The landscape is amazing here. 

We had one more Turkish port to visit and then we would be off to Georgia.

August 2022