Istanbul is such a big, fast paced city that it can often feel tiring to live here. At least for me, someone who is used to much smaller cities. When my two American friends suggested that we head to Trabzon for the weekend I was immediately very excited, knowing that clean air and mountains awaited.

Flying with Pegasus air the flight costed us about $220 Lira round trip, each way being about 1.5 hrs long. Arriving at Trabzon airport we had no real plans beside visiting the Sümela Monastery on Sunday, so today was our to do as we please. The flight in was actually quite nice, providing a great coastal view of the black sea and some rugged Turkish mountains. Landing in the city we decided to walk the 5km from the airport to our hotel and the city square. The walk was a nice breath of fresh air but provided no real views, it would be wise to take a cab unless you want the exercise. Upon arriving the hotel we initially planned to stay at was full, but fortunately there seemed to be an abundance of hotels. We ended up staying at Otel Elif, which for only 40 Turkish Lira a night provided us with very nice rooms and complimentary breakfast. Would highly recommend this hotel to anyone else! I would also recommend to traveling to Trabzon to buy a Trabzon Sport scarf. This is their home football team, and the people of Trabzon love them. As soon as I got it every local was excited to talk to me and thought it was awesome I was supporting their team. The scarf is a ticket to instant friends and premium service.

Saturday was spent browsing the different shops and enjoying a good lunch and dinner. Trabzon is known for their fish, so make sure you try at least one fish dish while there. On Sunday much more sight seeing was accomplished. In the morning we travelled with ECY tours to the Sümela Monastery. The bus ride there took a little over an hour, with several pit stops for taking photo’s, and buying souvenirs. Several sections of the bus ride provided a great view out the window, as you were mere feet away from a large cliff with no barrier. Navigating the bus through some of these roads was certainly no easy challenge. Once you arrive the monastery you hike uphill approximately one km to the entry gates. On the hike we were treated an old man sitting under the rocks playing some kind of fiddle. A very strange sight to see in the mountains. Entry to the monastery costs only 8TL, and if your a student you can buy a museum card for only 15TL which will get you into all official Turkish museums.

The Monastery itself was a work of art. Beautifully carved into the mountain side it blended in well to the nature, while still being an impressive man made structure. Inside the stone walls you can poke your head out the side of the mountain and look way down below, which provides you a unique view. Access to all areas were not open, but you could walk through what looked to be about one half of the monastery. It was fascinating to see the old works of art that had been painted in colour onto some of the stone walls of places. Despite the weather being damp and cloudy the monastery was still a beautiful trip I would recommend.On the drive back we spot at a small restaurant and gift shop where we were presented with a large menu. After trying to order our chosen items, the waiter informed us through hand signals and a few words of english that our only real options were tavuk (chicken) and köfte (Turkish meatballs). The food was was ok and our waiter was very disinterested at best in serving us. It was the only option for food however so I was happy to wolf down the köfte as I was so hungry from the mornings actives.

For our last evening in Trabzon we decided to try a very new experience. Myself and my four travelling companions decided to visit a Türk hamamı (Turkish Bath). Fortunately there was a hamamı right in the city square, so we elected to try there. Upon entering the building we immediately felt the hot air hit us. Speaking no Turkish, and the shop owners speaking little english they directed us to change into towels upstairs, and then come back down to the main room. Still now knowing what to do we all entered the sauna, only to be quickly corrected by a Turkish man that we should first bath ourselves in the marble room. To bath ourselves we ran water into large marlble cauldrons, and then with a silver bowl you scoop the water from the cauldron and poor it down your body. This was a calm and relaxing experience. After we bath ourselves we once again entered the sauna. After several minutes of sweating a man, wearing the same towels as we were signalled he wanted one of us. Assuming this was time for our scrubbing and massage, my American friend Jake bravely volunteered to go first.  When it was finally my turn I followed the man to a marble bench where he instructed me to lie down. The wash consisted of being scrubbed with a very rough brush, being soaped and shampooed, and then a very short, but strong massage. After the wash we relaxed for a bit longer in the bathing room, and then finally all met up again the hamamı entrance, where after being bathed you can lounge around on couches while drying off and enjoying a coke or water. Although slightly confusing and awkward at times I left the hamamı feeling clean and refreshed, and happy about an amazing weekend spent in Trabzon.