Fri September 3 - Sat September 4. Ordu to Trabzon, Sumela Monastery, Rize, Ikezdere and Sivrikaya.


From Trabzon, you take a road south, up into the mountains. You come to a national park, pay the entrance fee and drive further south and up. then you come to a combination tourist shop/hotel/restaurant area, and that's where I shot this photo.


Now we've driven up the curvy, switchback road and are about at the same level as the monastery.


We have parked the car, walked the fifteen minutes or so to the base of the monastery, paid TL 5 million each, and Sharon and Tara have started the climb up to the monastery main level.


This is a look at the vertical front of the monastery.


Tara and I pose separately in one of the arched doorways.


This painting of Mary and Jesus were on the ceiling and were not defaced, but most of the paintings on the walls were.

Sharon's jacket matches the blue on the doorway. She fits right in, as she usually does wherever she goes.


View up the misty mountain from inside the monastery courtyard.


Overview of some of the paintings in the courtyard.


We spotted this bird, a Dipper, on the way back down from the Sumela Monastery. Sharon had her binoculars and watched the bird sort of cough a couple of times, and then spit up what looked to her like a big worm.


At the famous Tea Institute and Botanical Garden in the coastal town of Rize. They served us free tea in a wonderful tree-shaded garden overlooking tea-planted hillsides on two sides.


Sharon contemplates different types of tea.


Looking across a valley at the rows of tea plants, growing on the mountainsides.


Come here if you want Rize Cayi. Which Sharon did.


Closeup of two young girls clipping tea leaves into burlap bags, actually attached to one arm of the scissors.


Beachcombing at our last Black Sea lunch stop before heading south, and up into the high Kackar (say KOTCH-kar) Mountain Range.


We saw a wonderful bird, the Hoopoe, fly over us from the forest to a garden, as we stood admiring this Ottoman-era inspired bridge. Tara spotted it. We love the Hoopoe, a bird with a crest that it can raise when alarmed or excited. Tan with black and white trim, the Hoopoe makes you look twice to be sure it's not a butterfly.


This man's name is Murat. I like to call him Murat the Liar. He told us many things so that we wouldn't drive to the next higher hotel in the mountains, which we wanted to do. He said the other hotel was concrete, had prostitutes, people would shoot off guns, and they drank alcohol. On a 2-1 vote, we paid for this place, then drove further up the mountain toward Sivrikaya. The higher hotel, near Sivrikaya, looked fine, and we saw no prostitutes nor heard any gunfire. Murat's hotel was nice-looking, but barely adequate. It had no TV, the sheets and blankets on the bed were clammy, and to demonstrate the hot water, he sprayed water all over the toilet and bathroom, then left.


Sharon wanted a picture of this nice crocus.


I loved the moody feel of this scene, with houses and villas sprinkled all over the mountainside, reaching up to the mist.


We reach Sivrikaya to this wonderful scene of a young father walking hand-in-hand with his son as they look back at an old, old woman and man loaded down with hay. I pretend that he has hired them to carry the hay, but I believe otherwise.


The old man gives us a warm, inquiring look.

This young lad told us that our bird guide Mustafa Sari was still further up the mountain, after we had driven about 5 km up a steep, narrow, twisting, rocky road. We needed to find him to see if he could find us any of the high mountain birds we are after - like Caspian Snowcock and Caucasian Black Grouse. Sharon finds it odd to see the words "Caucasian" and "Black" together.


We learned that these people live down in Sivrikaya except for one month a year, when they move up here to their mountain "homes" to cut hay for their farm animals. The girl at right has graduated from high school, and will attend a preparation course in the city of Bursa to help her get a good grade in the test taken by all Turkish students, which, together with the quality of high school they attended, will determine the quality of university they can get into. Could you follow that complicated sentence? Anyway, she spoke excellent English.

We showed these two happy hay-cutters that we were here to see Mustafa. We showed them his name, printed in our book, and I expected them to be mightily impressed. They said (translation from daughter Tara), "He's not so hot. He's just a man cutting hay like the rest of us." We all laughed at that.


And finally Mustafa (center, brown cap) and his son (red and blue cap) show up. We learn that the bird to go for is the Black Grouse, although it's not the best time of year to see them. We're to be here at 4am tomorrow morning!


I get a great kick out of little Metin, lower left, who clearly worships his older brother, in the red and blue cap.


I love this picture. It makes me think a little of the Little Rascals, which I used to watch as a kid in Versailles, Missouri.


The little girl Pinar waves, as Metin peers over the bottom of the picture.


This is one of the summer homes. You can see sky through many cracks on the inside.


The woman with the scarf loved Sharon.


Everybody loved Tara's translation. Mustafa daydreams what he will do with the TL 100 million ($67) we will pay him to guide us tomorrow morning.


When the mist lifts a bit, we can see about twenty or thirty structures at elevation 8397 feet, as I recall on my GPS. The stuff that looks like smoke rising from the houses is just that.


We stop at this man's restaurant on the way back down to our hotel. He fixes us lamb, chopped on his tree trunk chopping block, and Tara peels tomatoes. This man told us that his grandfather, who sold sheep for gold over the years, accumulated 500 kilos of it (That's over a half ton!!!), buried it, then died suddenly without being able to tell anyone of its whereabouts. He told Tara that if she got a metal detector and helped him find it, he would split it with her. He said all this with a twinkle in his eye, and when I tease him about it (through Tara), he says, "No, no,I'm s a good Muslim and I never lie." I think he is practicing for work in the field of used car salesmen.


The wood stove feels wonderful, as we prepare for the drive down to our hotel in the rain.


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