When I went to Trabzon last year I figured that traveling to this Turkish town is more about exploring its surroundings than wandering in the center. I’ve already blogged about Sumela, one of the most enchanting monasteries I’ve ever seen. Today it’s time to highlight another nearby gem, the Uzungöl Lake.
I took a shuttle minibus. It was late November but the vehicle was as packed as it could get. Packed with locals. It took me about a minute to realize I was the only foreigner and the only person who spoke no Turkish. I mean I knew how to say hello, thank you and ice cream but I didn’t feel like this could help much.
To be honest I haven’t really known where I was going. I went for this trip to run away from something more than to run towards Trabzon. I saw a picture of a pretty lake on Google Images and I decided that spending my Sunday there could be a nice idea. Guess what, I was right.
There is a picturesque lake with a cute village of the same name on its shore. High mountains rise and shine in the background. In the fall everything is enveloped in a dreamy mist. Let me tell you something more. The road from Trabzon leads you through a green valley (yeah, it’s green in late November, too). Tea grows everywhere on the roadside. You can drop by a tea factory on your way and have some (I drank like gazillion cups and chewed some leaves I stole from the bush when no one was looking). All of this is only 99 km away from the centre of Trabzon. Perfect distance and a perfect place to spend lazy hours. Isn’t it all one needs on Sunday?
The place is touristy. There are investors coming, there are restaurants, there are parking lots, there are souvenirs. People from the village sell their honey. No one speaks English though. The place is touristy but everything is targeted at locals and I loved it. For me this local feel only added to the natural beauty of the lake. It made the day more real. It was like a game in which you play a local.
In this game everyone is nice to you and treats you like a big baby. Or perhaps like an odd bird, a girl who came to Turkey alone and she didn’t even travel to Istanbul or Cappadocia, she came to Trabzon. Everyone who asked about my trip seemed to be puzzled. Most of these conversations were powered by the bad, the good and the ugly of Google Translate so I’m not entirely sure what I answered.
What did I do during the day? I circled around the lake several times. I kept taking photos until I couldn’t move my fingers anymore. I talked to people using Google Translate, which is a funny thing to do for someone who makes a living translating. I ate too much honey. I thought about local tourism and development.
I’m sure that if I return in several years, no one will pay that much attention to me. I won’t be the only foreigner, even in November.
I hope Turkish tourists will never stop going there for their weekend getaways. They reminded me of something that people who went global so often seem to forget. We must explore our own countries, our own regions, surroundings of the place where we were born and raised. I’ve neglected exploring my homeland lately. This should change, no matter where I live and how far it is from Poland. No excuses, ladies and gentlemen, no excuses. Take a look at some photos instead.