After we partied with our friend in Cappadochia we were headed to the Black coast again. We chose Sivas as a middle point between Goreme and Unye. 4-hour ride in a comfortable bus and here we were in Sivas.
The city of Sivas is not very famous though it used to be the capital of the Seljuks state along with Konya. Under Seljuk rule Sivas was also an important center of trade along the silk road and site of a citadel, along with mosques and madrasahs. You can still see some very old structures in the city.
Other than that there seemed nothing much to do. We walked around the old center looking for hotels or hostels. Everything we could find were bleak and characterless hotels with empty lobbies. We had dinner, after all the fasting people. Did you know that people don’t ear or drink till around 8pm during ramazan? Most of restaurants will not serve you food before that. So we had to wait for some vacant tables.
After dinner we tried to catch a night bus to Unye, but all of them were full. We were kind of stuck with those hotels. As the buses go via Samsun and then to Unye which is a detour we decided to take a shortcut and hitchhike straight to Unye to meet some local people and save both time and money.
Showers, tasteless breakfast and off we were. A nice walk through the central square with its old mosques. A bit of communication with locals in our broken Turkish did not bring much. Luckily i noted a couple of towns on the way Unye – Yildizili, Tokat, Niksar, Akkus…It struck me when I saw a bus going to Yilidizili. We jumped on it and took a ride for about 30km away from Sivas.
Not entering the town, we got off at a crossroad and walked ahead to where the road was turning to Tokat. Here was the place for our first try. 15 minutes later we were in an air-conditioned car going to Tokat. We learnt later that getting a ride was quite easy in Turkey. We just wrote a destination name, and showed it to drivers. They stop if they are willing to take you. The driver who picked us up was curious about our trip and we tried to have a conversation using our minimal vocabulary and browsing trhu a dictionary. He took us to the center of Tokat.
Tokat is a nice little town with a catlse on a hill overlooking the center, a nice park old Ottoman houses and old baths /hammam/.
After coffee-mineral water-internet break we searched for a road leading to Unye, and asked people on the way. The next town was Niksar and we found a street leading there. We decided to buy some snacks or fruits & unexpectedly got a bag of grapes as a present. People were very friendly asking where we were from, saying “Welcome to Turkey” and trying to help in any way they could.
From Tokat we were picked up by a drinks delivery van, which brought mineral water and soft drinks to a nearby shop. The driver invited us to go with him to Niksar. We did not talk much as our Turkish was very limited, and he did not speak any other language. He asked though if we ate or want to eat. We answered, we were not hungry. He made some phone calls on the way, and soon we stopped at a road cafe where he was warmly greeted by the staff.
As we had been climbing up the mountains there was a nice view from the cafe.
A table was already waiting for us and he did not accept any No. So we joined him for lunch.
The food was simple but good – menemen (fried eggs with tomatoes) Turkish bread and tea. We wanted to pay for the lunch as a thank but the driver did not accept that either. After the lunch it took us 20min to get to Tokat and he left us on a road leading to the next small town of Akkus.
There were not many cars. It was hot and we started getting bored when a lady came up to us and spoke something in Tukrish. We explained as much as we could that we are going to Akkus and then to Unye. She was saying something and waving in the direction of her house. We did not really understand but guessed she invited us. But we politely rejected her offer.
After a while she came with two kids and brought us apples & pears. We talked to her kids. The girl was speaking a bit of English. Again the lady invited us to her place if we don’t get picked up soon.
It was not the first time people came up to us asking where we were from and where we were going in Turkey. But it was the first time we got invited to a house by a total stranger. It was very hot, and it was really nice of the lady to invite us. But we persisted as our mission was to get to the sea coast. 15min later the girl came with a friend and brought us some pickled chilly peppers and cucumbers.
She asked if Mara has facebook and both girls left.
Soon we got picked up by a guy on a very old car. Considering the road was all twists and turns, i was a bit afraid we might fly over an edge into one of the gorgeous valleys. We finally managed to reach Akkus. Well, we stopped three times and the driver had to pour water on the car’s radiator as it was overheating.
Akkus is very small, high up in the mountains with clouds all around it. Baklava and tea gave us necessary energy and soon we got a ride to Unye which turned out to be a nothing-of-interest type of place. We slept there for 1 night, and set off further along the coast in the direction of Trabzon. The stretch of the coast between Unye and Trabzon was not appealing to us – almost no beaches or places to swim, dusty gray towns and highway right along the coast. 2 rides and several hours later we entered Trabzon.
Trabzon was going to be our home for about a week – Iranian visas, Sumela monastery and long awaited break from constant moving.
Hitchhiking experience in Turkey surprised me quite a lot. The drivers were very friendly and curious about our travels. The longest waiting time was about 40mins, and the shortest – less than 10mins. I am looking forward to see more of the country. Of course, it saves money, but this is not the point. This way you can meet real people, not tour guides, not hostel owners, but simple people and learn about their life. If you understand each other, of course. ;-)