Imagine a city covered with different colors of trees, fresh rivers born from fountains on gorgeous mountains, waterfalls that make you want to just sit and watch, fresh summer breezes and of course loads of fresh tea - just to cozy up to the whole situation a bit more! Sounds like a utopia right? This city that I've just described, believe it or not is in Turkey; it might sound weird to some of us since Turkey is mainly known for its sun, hot weather and beaches and not that much for its mountains.
This amazing country offers lots of places to visit throughout the whole year and not just in summer! If you can't stand this heatwave, (the struggle is real) you should visit Rize, located on northeast Turkey, and specifically on the eastern Black Sea coast! The sea is still gonna be there, but this time it will be a cold one! This multicultural city has a population of Laz, Hemshin, Turkish and Georgian people. Rize has an ancient history, which dates back to the 13th Century BC. This spectacular city hosted civilizations like Miletus, Persians, Pontus, Roman Empire, Byzantines, Ottomans and many more! The name of the city is actually Greek, meaning "mountain slopes"; it is no doubt on spot, since the city's spectacular location on a narrow strip of flat land between the mountains and the sea, proves it right.
Picture © Credits to CanY71
Why you should visit this place is a very "unnecessary question"; you will understand why, after visiting it. If you are into wooden houses, gorgeous nature and fresh waters, there is no place you rather be! The whole humid, mild climate and the fertile soil create the perfect conditions for growing tea and even fruits like kiwi! As you suppose right, the city is covered with tea plantations! The black tea and the green tea are one of the main sources of income here. It is also known that Turkish people have the highest per capita tea consumption in the world! We also have a great part of the world's total tea production. Now you can properly admit it.. the tea is produced in Rize!
Of course, there is a traditional way of "tea making". Turkish people use two stacked kettles which are called "çaydanlık" in Turkish, while preparing the tea. We basically boil water in the larger and lower kettle first, and then add some of that water (depends on how much tea you will consume) to the upper small kettle, where we put the tea leaves. You should add more water to the lower kettle since you have to dilute the tea with it. Depends on how strong you want your tea to be, you can add more or less water. As a result, you will get the perfect red color, which we call "tavşan kanı", literally translated as the "rabbit's blood". People tend to enjoy it with or without sugar and unlike England without milk. Turkish people drink approximately 5-10 cups of tea every day -sky is the limit guys-.
So, make yourself a cup of tea and let's explore Rize together!
Picture © Credits to isa_ozdere
So, if you are looking for a hotel with the best view of mountains, plus great restaurants, hot springs, souvenir shops etc. you should definitely check out the "Ayder yaylası". "Yayla" in Turkish refers to a high meadow and Rize's most popular one is the "Ayder yaylası". The place offers the best view of the dense forestry and a number of waterfalls nearby. Not only nature, but also the local cuisine will amaze you. You can eat trout, taste its famous rhododendron honey and traditional dishes like soups, pilafs or meatballs made from all anchovy, cabbage soup, pide (pita bread with various toppings or fillings), muhlama (melted cheese with cornmeal and butter) and sütlaç as a dessert (rice pudding). As a souvenir, you can buy lots of handmade stuff such as wicker baskets, churns, socks, copper works, bags and basically everything made of wood! Last but not least, Rize's locals love dancing and composing music- once you're there make sure you attend the folk dance "horon", and listen to kemenche.
If you want to check out a medieval castle, you should visit the "Zil Kale"! This 14th Century castle sits at the edge of a cliff overlooking the Fırtına Creek, located in the Fırtına Valley. This gorgeous castle has outer walls, middle walls and an inner castle. Unfortunately, the wooden parts of the inner castle were damaged badly due to the common, heavy rains in the area. It is also known that this castle has a church and a chapel. Not to be missed are also its garrison quarters!
Picture © Credits to Explora_2005
To conclude, here's my last suggestion; the "Fırtına deresi" or in English, the Fırtına Creek! Get ready to relax while listening to the calming sound of the creek. You can also enjoy the traditional food in many restaurants here and also do watersports like rafting! Don't forget to check out the well-preserved Ottoman stone bridges as well!
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