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Erzurum – Soganli Dagi – Sumela Monastery

Trip Details

Road Trip 2008 I
Date: Wed, 20/08/2008
Distance: 382 km
Motorcyclists: Manolis, Ploumisti
Photographers: Manolis, Ploumisti
Authors: Manolis
Translators: Sakis
Map: Trip map

Sightseeing map

First time in our travel that the day began with cloud. The temperature was perceptibly “fallen” for the fact of the season, forcing Ploumisti to swaddle in the blankets. I woke up at 7.30am and I opened the television in order to see some local bulletin of the weather. At 9.30am. we left the hotel for a small walk in the city. Walking to the centre, we passed from beautiful squares and all around green parks. Much impression made us the presence of many military buildings, but also the presence of soldiers. Obviously the city constituted some military administrative centre. We stopped in a small cafeteria that had big variety of croissant. We selected with filling of potato, soytzoyki, leading to chocolate. It was tastily and also the best for breakfast.

Following some of the brown plates (labelling for sights) we reached in a small park that entertained Medresa (old theological faculty) and a well-maintained old Mosque (Pane). They constituted decorations of the city of Erzurum. We took some photographs and took the street of return to the hotel.

The time had reached 11am., when we left, taking the street for Erzincan and Trabzon. The way was comfortable in a region without particular vegetation, constituting - substantially - the continuity of the way of the previous day. In Askale we moved to Bayburt. The street was equally good even if in its certain points we found earth-road, because of construction work. The altitude was increased contrary to the vegetation. The landscape reminded Alpine.

Little outside from Bayburt, the street narrowed. In certain kilometres it became so much narrow that substantially fitted only a car. The minimal settlements that we met, it was found in an all around green, very beautiful landscape, with intense vegetation. In order to be sincere, it was a lot of times where I wondered if we had taken the correct direction. Having covered about 30km. the street led to earth-road, which “climbed” in the mountain and was lost in the cloud that had covered the top! I wanted to believe that the earth-road would be for little. Unfortunately however my affair was not confirmed! We went up meeting continuously more fog and air. At some time, that Ploymisti had remained behind, I stopped in order to take some photographs. It passed enough time and Ploymisti had not come. I worried and turned back. Finally it had happened what I feared… She had fallen down with her bike in a turn! Fortunately she had not suffered something, neither she, neither the motorcycle.

We continued with the earth-road that in its most points was relatively negotiable. We reached in the passage of the top Soganli (2.330m.). The fog was so much dense that we did not see nor in the 5 metres!!! Visibility ZERO!!! We began to ride downhill following the plates for Caykara. We made a small stop. A car that was on the opposite site stopped warning us that the street that followed was not negotiable! It proposed to us not to continue. Considering that we should not take a risk, while we did not have visibility but simultaneously the weather was becoming worst, we returned.

We covered 12km. of earth-road and the rain had just started! From the worse, to the worst. Near to Akbulut, we wore our raincoats while the rain had begun to strengthen. Reaching in Bayburt, we directed henceforth for Trabzon (Trapezoynta), having done the by-pass of 80km. - without result.
After 20km. the things went better. The rain stopped and we went to the “open” department of the horizon! The way was pleasant even if in big departments of the street its quality was not best.

Certain kilometres before Gumushane the scenery became impressive. The street passed through steep mountains, with intense vegetation and tall trees. We stopped in the city for supply. They treated us with tea and they informed us for the existence of an impressive cavern in the region. Unfortunately the time pressed us…

As long as we continued so much more beautiful and fascinating was the way. In Torul we followed course for Trabzon. The way climbed in the mountain, giving the sense that we found ourselves in Alpes!!! All around were green, while very tall firs made their appearance. The temperature had fallen perceptibly! Nothing henceforth reminded us that we were in summertime. The desert of Syria struck as distant recollection…

Roughly in 2.000m altitude we met a tunnel. In its exit, you believed that you came out in an other world, in a cloud! Visibility zero! Everything white! The spectacle was impressive but also dangerously while circulated lorries without lights and we led with driver the lineation of the street! At some points the fog “opened” revealing thus the magic of the green landscape. Landscape that reminded intensely equivalent of Central Europe.
As we went downhill the atmosphere cleaned. In the village Macka we turned right to Sumela Monastery. Despite the fact that the weather was not good, the 15km. of the narrow helical way - up to the entry of the path to monastery - it was from the most beautiful that I had rode up to then. The vegetation was “luxuriant” while the fog that prevailed created a mystic atmosphere. Unfortunately the monastery was closed (open until 6pm daily), therefore we would visit it the next day.

The rain that had begun earlier had been changed in intense rain. We sought for lodging. The prices of the most lodgings of the region were increased. We led to one familial hostel Kayalar Pension (80YTL/two person & breakfast) with marvellous view, but not something more. We selected to eat trout (the region allocated many pisciculture), that it constituted local speciality, but it did not impressed us. Probably because of the way that it had been cooked.
While the night was starting, I sat in the balcony looking at the landscape. The cold and the landscape gave you the sense that we were found in the winter. This alternation of landscapes and temperatures gave a fascinating variety in our travel…