No, this isn’t a typo in the title. It’s a pun I simply couldn’t resist. Because, you see, the coastal town at Turkey’s Black Sea where the road turns off inland towards the magical Lake Uzun is called…Of.
Leaving the beach resorts behind, the road winds slowly through the foothills. This is tea country! The area around Of and Rize is where most of Turkey’s tea is grown. Like soft, green pillows, the tea plants cover every available surface. Naturally, there was a tea factory along the way and we stopped to sample the product of the new harvest in a beautiful, rose covered gazebo. I promise you, once you have tasted this tea, you will never touch a tea bag again in your life.
It isn’t all that often that I enthuse about a landscape, particularly not if it involves mountains. I love the sea, the desert and anything that’s flat and wide open. Steep mountains and cliffs make me claustrophobic. Having said that, it seems that most of my recent trpis took me to mountains, and not only to them but also up and down them. I take my travel pleasure where I find it and if I want to see a monastery glued to a sheer cliff, I have no alternative but to climb up and take a close look.
So, yes, again, I was on my way up into the mountains to visit Lake Uzun, another celebrated tourist attraction of Turkey’s Black Sea. The lake isn’t all that big, you can walk around it in about half an hour at a very leisurely pace. It is a natural dam which was formed by a massive landslide which cut off the river bed.
When I finally got there though, I had one of these rare travel revelations which will last a life time. Never have I seen something so peaceful and soothing on the soul as this lake and the surrounding mountains. Green, green and more green wherever you looked. The mountains are quite steep, but they are entirely covered with trees and undergrowth so thick you couldn’t possibly squeeze through. The last time I saw a major forest was in Germany and I was dismayed to notice that just about every other tree was sick. Here however, the entire place exudes health and strength, good vibes which have an immediate effect on your well being.
After circumventing the lake, watching the little boats you can paddle around in and being unable to tear my eyes away from the water and the trees, I just sat on a bench for well over an hour and meditated. No noise to speak of, a few cars which were hardly noticeable but definitely no through traffic. Visitors idling along, taking a break in one of the many cafes or restaurants and everybody had a smile on their face.
In surroundings like these, things are falling into perspective. What seemed so important only a few hours ago, suddenly becomes a very minor affair. No better place to rest your soul and refresh your spirit than Lake Uzun. Don’t miss it if you visit Turkey’s Black Sea coast.
My trip started in Trabzon where I stayed at the delightful hotel Usta Park in the city center.