2011
03.20

SYNOPSIS:

First impressions of Trabzon, which were rather mixed.

The six-hour bus ride from Erzurum on the high mountain plateau – in fact, it is the Turkish city of the highest elevation – to Trabzon at the shores of the Black Sea, took us over some spectacular scenery.  First, there were snow covered mountains with snow as pristine as if it had fallen yesterday.  Only animal tracks and a glistening layer of thin ice on top of it indicated some aging.  Then up and down in serpentines and through some lengthy tunnels we went, to come out the other side in valleys which were distinctly warmer; the snow had melted and some early flowers were in bloom already.  And from there, the way still went down and down and down to the coast which was enveloped in a gray haze.

The cheap hotels to which I usually stick double up as brothels in Trabzon; a real harbor town obviously needs some of those.  So, begrudgingly, I upgraded to the mid-range price level.   For a mid-range, the hotel Anil was a huge disappointment.  No nice hangout lounge, no character, a tiny room which smelled like someone had smoked in there all day and the noisy harbor street right outside.  Three nights in this!  Trabzon is not the town one needs to get to know in any particular detail, but I will be here for three full nights – that’s just the way transportation worked out.  Three nights in this cubicle in which I can hardly turn and which smells like a tobacco factory…  For starters I escaped for a stroll through town.

Trabzon is known for its cheap clothing.  Indeed blocks and blocks of pedestrian zones are lined with clothing and other stores.  Picture Meijer’s and K-Mart’s clothing department mixed in with a bit of GAP and you got it.  Not my kind of a mix.  The haze turned into rain and I turned around back to my lovely room.  My complaint about the smell was answered with:  “Open the window for a while and it will get better”.  Oh, you smokers, you just don’t get it!  But what could I do?  I opened the window and after a while I could not tell anymore if it had gotten better or if my sense of smell had just been desensitized.

I have a lovely flat screen TV and for some news I cruised through the channels.  To my amazement there was not a single foreign channel to be found, but at five different frequencies I had the hard-core Hustler porn channel to deal with!  Where am I?!  This must be a paid channel.  How can this hotel pay for this, right next to the cartoon channel?  Aren’t there any families around?  Is this another one of those “doubling-up” accommodations after all?!  It was way too late by now to change hotels and so I barricaded myself in hoping that there wouldn’t be an unexpected knock at the door in the middle of the night.

Breakfast this morning displayed the expected range of fine hotel guests, from the obligatory Japanese tourist, to a few business men in ties, to the six-member, three-generation family.  (I hope they checked the channels before letting the kids play with the TV…)  After eyeing the clientele, I decided to stay, especially, since my room was full of laundry which needed another day to dry.  I just have to give up on the TV.  No news, no foreign movies.  It proved however very useful as an anchor for my clothes line.

Good night.  Good morning.

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