Our very nice hotel, Novotel, was equipped with a pool, spa, direct access to the public beach, and next to a large outlet mall, among its many attributes. It’s also located eight or nine kilometers outside the city of Trabzon. This means it’s a 40 lira ride via taxi to the city. Trabzon may be a small city of 250,000 people but taxis are expensive. Far more expensive than in Istanbul. Especially when you consider that for the trip to and from Sumela Monastery we were charged 35 lira each for my wife, our son, and me. And it’s an hour drive up the mountain.
For our final day in the area we took a taxi into town to explore at a leisurely pace.
The Church of St. Sophia is often touted as one of the Trabzon’s main attractions. It’s on the west side of the city. We didn’t bother to go. It used to be a museum. It’s no longer a museum. The current AKP-led government converted it to a mosque a few years ago.
(Something you ought to know about Turkey: the government controls all the mosques. They build the mosques and they determine who serves in the mosques. They approve the Friday sermon read out in every mosque across the country. You can’t just build your own mosque or church or synagogue. A new church hasn’t been approved for construction in several decades. It’s not a theocracy so much as a state with a large religious branch of government.)
If you want to see the Church of St. Sophia in Trabzon, there’s no way to find out it’s opening hours or if the many mosaics and frescoes are on view. They’ve allegedly been covered with curtains.
So rather than drag ourselves and the kids to one end of the town and back without a guarantee of being able to get a look inside, we decided to save ourselves the hassle.
Instead, we went to Ataturk square, ate lunch, and visited the Trabzon Museum. It’s just off of the main pedestrian street Uzun Sokak. The museum, in an old mansion built for a wealthy Greek businessman in the late 19th century, contains many artifacts found in the region, including a bronze statue of Hermes that was flattened.
When we had finished exploring the museum, we stopped at a pharmacy to buy some contact lens solution. Stephanie had forgotten to pack her case. We were low on solution anyway, and all of the solution packages come with cases. Unsolicited, the pharmacist gave our children some balloons.
Then we walked down to the seaside.
The kids played on a playground in one of the parks while Stephanie and I sat and drank tea. When it was getting close to dinner time, we walked back up to the square and hailed a taxi to take us back to the hotel (for roughly 40 lira).
We’re glad we came to see that area of the Black Sea coast. It’s quite beautiful. But I think our next trips will be much more laid back. My wife and I are thinking Bodrum and Antalya, and being lazy on a beach.