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Turkish Black Sea

Turkey spans continents, it defies expectations (mostly by surpassing them), its cuisine is constantly impressive, and then the separate regions within this vast varied country are themselves myriad, from the thriving cultural hub of Istanbul to the Azure Coast, from the interior splendours of cave-like Cappadocia to the historical highlights of Ephesus. You can now add another to the mix: Turkey’s Black Sea.

From Istanbul, hop on a flight to the far east of Turkey (not far from the border with Georgia), to Trabzon on the Black Sea Coast, to experience a different side of this land that beguiles more and more. Trabzon is the gateway to a mountainous region of winding roads running alongside flowing rivers (great for white water rafting), with iconic stone bridges, and steep ascents which zig-zag up mountain sides to reach summits above the clouds. We are now in the region of Çamlıhemşin, heading to the mountain top lodge Plato’da Mola in Pokut, above the Kaçkar Mountains (an extension of the Caucasus). It is bizarre – it does not feel like Turkey – more like Austria or Bavaria, making for an almost surreal experience. A fairytale land, so picturesque is the landscape, and the wee wooden cabin lodging of Plato’da Mola exudes a gorgeous warmth, the local dog welcoming you on arrival and the smell of amazing home-cooking floating around.

This is a walker’s paradise, and there are trails over and across the mountains with dizzying views and epic valleys opening out below you. At certain points in the day, the clouds gather below you, blanketing all in a feathery white. It creeps in like something from another movie, not the “Heidi” you’ve been enjoying, more like “The Fog”. Then it dispels and that clear blue returns. At these points, head back to the lodge and enjoy some local lamb stew, and a bottle of Turkish wine (surprisingly good), and watch it all from your pew at the top of the world. Then, as night descends, you feel like you can simply reach up and grab a star, so clear and close do they seem. This remote perch is well worth seeking out.

Our perennial roving reporter Anton (ping him here) celebrates his return to the Sounder with this classic from the vaults [for which a wee apology is due. Ed.] and we look forward to more missives from up high and far out.

Then, as night descends, you feel like you can simply reach up and grab a star, so clear and close do they seem.

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