23/11/2010

Western Black Sea

Last summer, we had a leisurely drive on the Western Black Sea coast of Turkey. From the popular coastal town of Amasra (which was a bit too crowded for our liking), we drove towards the east on twisty windy roads with lush green mountains on one side and the sea on the other. The air was "like lemonade" as we say in Turkish -- a constant 23C wherever we went and a spooky mist hanging in the air. A breath of fresh air from the sizzling hot July weather of Ankara! For a change, the Black Sea was calm and as blue as the Mediterranean too.



In the afternoon, we stopped at a coastal village at the foot of Mount Küre: Kurucasile. We checked in the unpretentious Ural Hotel right on the beach. It was obvious that they had seen more glorious days but the rooms were reasonably clean and the staff was helpful and friendly. More importantly, they had a lovely terrace where they served fresh fish and raki in the evening!

After checking in, we had a walk around town. Kurucasile is famous for its traditional wooden boat-making. The industrious, sea-faring people of this town have made boats for centuries -- even war ships for the Ottoman Navy at one time. As you walk along the seafront, you can hear the incessant tock-tock of hammer. Makes an interesting stop to chat to the boat-makers.



Along the seashore, Kurucasile looks like a sleepy town. As we walked inland from the sea, however, the sounds of hammer ceased and we found a modern town.



As a pleasant surprise, there was a wedding party in this street later the same evening, complete with fireworks and the traditional Turkish drums and "zurna".

The next day, we got up quite early and Aylin went for a run along the seafront. After a filling breakfast on the terrace, we drove towards Inebolu. Needless to say, there were a few surprises on the way! From the road, we saw an almost secret bay and a sign that said "Gideros". Without hesitation, we took the dirt road and descended for several hundred meters, to where the road ended. We left the car there and took the path down to the sea.



Gideros, it seems, is a Genoese name and this bay used to be a popular hiding place for pirates. It's surrounded by hills covered with oak, chestnut and pine trees, and the water is crystal-clear like a pond. There are two really rustic fish restaurants by the water. We made friends with the old guy who runs one of them with his family. As we had snacks and a drink, his extended family arrived from a nearby town. Aylin fed ducklings with the two grandsons (See the video in the Turkish entry titled Karadeniz. Use the menu on the right).

After Gideros, we stopped several times to appreciate the scenery. In this particular stop, the midday call to prayer echoed in the valley:

video

After a late lunch in the bigger coastal town of Inebolu, we turned inland and drove over mount Kure to get to the city of Kastamonu.



Kastamonu was a little drab and unhappy, to be honest. But there were several Ottoman buildings to explore. The clock tower on a high hill is one of them.






 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


After a short stop in Kastamonu, we drove on to Ankara. Kastamonu itself was not much of a lure but its surrounds were terrific. Mount Ilgaz is an attraction in itself. A ski center in winter, it is a also nice escape from the heat in the summer. Unfortunately we couldn't stop there as it got dark and we still had a considerable distance to cover before Ankara, which gives us something to look forward to next time!

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