For the first few years of traveling and organizing travel in Turkey, I thought, “if this is so beautiful even with all the crowds, how would peaceful Turkey be?”.
I did not, however, begin the search till 2012 -13. A friend of mine from Istanbul had on one impulse decided to take a flight to the east of Turkey, that’s when I had last heard of her. Then one day I got a postcard of a beautiful lake with a mosque on the backdrop. Without reading much into it and taking the mosque out it felt like a scene from the Swiss Alps perhaps. I kept the postcard in my drawer but the image stayed in my mind.
I was in Istanbul later that year and in one corner of a corner café, I saw the same lake and the mosque hung on the wall. I asked the owner of the café about it, and he mentioned Uzungöl. I like the way the Turkish pronounce some words, and Uzun Göl struck a chord with both it’s sound and its sight in the frame. I was already feeling tired of the overcrowded historic sights of the country and the tour had started to feel more like a lesson in history rather than a walk through the country. I knew where I was headed next.
Like in the east Europe trip, the trip to Turkey was going through a change in my mind. It needed more of the countryside and needed to feel away from the crowds at least for 1/3rd of the tour. I planned for the North East that Autumn of 2013, and what an Autumn in Turkey it turned out to be!!
5 things about the North East
- The airport to land is Trabzon, on the Black Sea.
- The Kackar mountains and the foothills are where all of the Turkish tea comes from.
- Uzun Gol is 2 hours away from Trabzon but the journey needs to be lived rather than just taken.
- The Sumela Monastery is a masterwork of construction not to be missed.
- At least spend 4 – 5 days here if you want to truly experience the North East.
For the Autumn to be seen in its colors the Kackar mountains and the foothills turned out to be a perfect place. The extra bit was that I hadn’t been there before so it impressed me even more. My father, the founder of the company always said that when people finish their meal, you don’t need to ask them, “how was it?”, just look at their faces and the plate that is left behind. In the North East, I did not ask the people, I think I knew how they felt the first day we spent on the journey from Trabzon to UzunGol.
It was only when I returned from the North East with my group did I realized how much the people loved it. I remember, it was a Sunday in Istanbul and the traffic was comparatively less. We were at a red light and then I heard a voice in the coach, “Istanbul feels so crowded and touristy after, what we have seen”.
5 more things about the East
- Kurdish is spoken wildly as you further go south, staying with the East.
- Contrary to popular belief, the Kurds are lovely people.
- Kars, Ani, and Lake Van are some of the gems of the East.
- You will be very close to the borders Armenia, Georgia, and Iran, giving the land a very distinct feel in culture.
- The absolute void of tour groups and foreign tourists make this a heaven to travel.