Istanbul, Cappadocia and Ephesus are three cities in Turkey synonymous with tourism; Planetware.com and touropia.com seem to share that idea, each ranking all three cities in their ‘top 3 cities to visit in Turkey’ list. From the perspective of a student in Bilkent, I know that students love going to Istanbul, Izmir and Fetihye a lot to soak up the sun, water and the party atmosphere atop boats and cruises over the azure blue Mediterranean Sea. To be quite honest, I had never heard of the tourist traps in Trabzon let alone the name of Uzungol. All was made clear to me recently by a very close relative and also shaped the theme of this post: a holiday in Turkey very similar yet very different to one in Pakistan.
Recently, my mother’s sister, Sadia Iqbal (whom we youngsters lovingly call Bibijano, and I shall continue to call her by said name) went with with her husband, Nasir Iqbal (otherwise known as Nasir Khaloo to me) and three children (2 boys and a girl; Shayan, Raiyan & Raahima, respectively) for a vacation to Turkey to cool down (given the hot climate of their current home: the UAE). Bibijano & Raiyan were kind enough to send me loads of information including photos, videos and audio notes.
Tranbzon, A ‘Nathia’ Away From Home
Instead of the usual south west, we’ll be travelling in the opposite direction; towards the north east, to the hilly and lush green coastal city of Trabzon! The city touches the Black Sea and used to be Turkey’s trade link with the Persian Empire during the Ottoman era. It became a War Zone during the Russian’s Caucasus Campaign as it was invaded and plundered by Russian soldiers in April 1916. The city has, since then, recovered and progressed and is known for a very different reason now; it is one of Turkey’s best kept secrets. It isn’t visited as often as Istanbul or Capadocia, it barely makes the top ten places to visit in Turkey in most cases. Yet its great sizable mountains, hill stations, lakes and coastline make for a pleasant trip for the average tourist (if you’re an avid football fan like me, Trabzonspor is currently home to the legendary Peruvian, Oscar Cardozo).
The first time I heard of the city, I was when I was undergoing preparations for moving to Bilkent University. My mother was in the lounge researching ‘her beloved Turkey’ on the net (her love for Turkey is legendary) to know more about the cities and what they had to offer tourists, that’s when she looked at Google Images and exclaimed: “This Trabzon looks so much like Nathia Gali!” This statement was reiterated by Bibijano and her family when they returned from their vacation recently. For those of you who’d like to know, Nathia Gali (or Nathia) is a hill station located towards the north of Pakistan and is visited by people of all ages, heights and backgrounds, be it people from the nearby small valley-town of Abbotabad to the metro-cosmopolitan city of Karachi towards the very south of the country. Nathia Gali. The hill station is visited year round for its pleasantly cool weather in the hot seasons and playful snowfall during the cold ones, and boasts of gargantuan mountains and vegetation laden valleys (sound familiar?) touched by mist and fog, it seems to hold a special place in the heart of the average Pakistani. This similarity is what brought me to write about this post in the first place, so that my fellow countrymen in Turkey know that if they miss Nathia Gali, there is a ‘Nathia away from home’ (which is far better in my opinion), and its name is Trabzon!
Tourism Within the City
Below are some of the photos taken by Bibijano, all photographs taken whilst in Trabzon on the journey to and experience in Uzungol.
Bibijano had a little to say about Uzungol, so I attempted to compile a mini-video for your consideration. Since Pakistani’s love speaking in Urdu (though not as much as the Turks love speaking in Turkish, unfortunately) I have added subtitles for whenever Urdu is spoken for your benefit. Enjoy..
In what can be considered a direct continuation to the video above, here is a more light hearted and humorous video of Bibijano taking a video of first Shayan and then Nasir Khaloo trying the Boxer Box, along with a voice over narration from Bibijano explaining the story behind what happened. The results are rather intriguing (Nasir Khaloo managed 885, Shayan managed — watch and see)! Perhaps you’ll try your luck at the Boxer Box when you visit Uzungol.. Be sure to mention it to me though!
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