Monday, April 23, 2007


We arrive in… Trabzon, located in the north of turkey between the black sea coast and the Kackar mountains. It is a big port town that’s been around for quite some time. 746 B.C. to be exact.

A view of those same mountains from up in the plane. (photo courtesy of the files of Maxi Rodriguez)
We arrived on Easter Sunday and just so happened to stay at the Sancta Maria Hostel, a catholic monastery in the middle of Islamic Turkey. It was pretty surreal. While staying here we found out that the last priest who preached here was shot in the back of the head for saying that Allah and the catholic god were one and the same. Now there are secret police at all of the masses.

Ren declared the hostel to be the best place he’s stayed so far. Free kitchen, laundry, a private bathroom in every room and nice mattresses on the beds. Last but not least, the price. The Sancta Maria asks for a donation of whatever you can afford as payment for these plush digs.

view of the Sancta Maria's Church.
The next day we took a dolmus (a small bus/van which can carry up to 7 people anywhere they want.) with our local tour guide, Celine, up to the Sumela Monastery. This particular dolmus had backwards facing seats, so me and Ren were lucky enough to get a nausea inducing ride up the winding roads south of Trabzon into the mountains where the Monastery lives. I’ve had pretty bad cold the whole trip so nausea was a good addition to the list.

After a killer hike (killer most likely because I’m out of shape) up switchback after switchback we arrived at what so far has been my favorite thing we’ve seen/experienced so far! The Sumela Monastery. Back in the Byzantine time it was all the rage to hike up to the middle of nowhere and build a crazy monastery into the side of a mountain.

My first glimpse of the monastery, i was ecstatic due to lack of oxygen (no wonder they built it up here). view of the surrounding area half way up the side of the mountain. looking down on the monastery The biggest downside was that visitors have scratched their names into what is now almost illegible frescos. Some have even stolen the faces. Idiots! quote of the hike: "look, he's being eaten by lions!" ristaino the younger.

by the way...
¿Qué Sucedió a Maxi Rodriguez?

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