Episode 5: Kars-Trabzon

Last Turkish stops: Kars-Trabzon

Before our departure for Kars, we enjoyed the Kahvalti one last time in Van:
Delicious breakfast of more than a dozen of dishes: goat and cow cheeses, grilled vegetables, soups, delicatessen and fried specialities (sigara boregi: cheese cigar, very addictive…) and of course a lot of sweets.
Daniel fell in love with some kind of heavy and humid chestnut cake which fills you up for the rest of the day, Magali found a nick name for the cake “the stomac plug” (yeks!). Bad idea! We didn’t see coming the numerous passes to reach our next stop and the “Schumacher” behaviour of the minivan driver. You can imagine how we felt arriving in Kars!

Kars is a peculiar little town of about 70’000 citizens, it kept influences of Russian occupation (1890 to 1920) with basalt stoned baltic style buildings. It is also a perfect base to visit Ani, the fantastic ancient ruins, located 45km away.

After a few days in Kars, we decided to stop in Trabzon on the Black Sea Coast. People seem to enjoy life and the nice weather, here in Trabzon. We were quite glad to come back to the Sea level after having spent the last 3 weeks in Iran and Eastern Anatolia where the average altitude was close to 1600m.

The day after, we visited Uzungöl, also called the Switzerland of Turkey by locals. We couldn’t miss it!
We didn’t read our travel guide before leaving for Uzungöl “…with its lakeside mosque and forested mountains that recall Switzerland, Uzungöl (Long Lake) remains idyllic, but be prepared for more than a few tacky hotels (there are currently 1500 rooms here) and a growing number of visitors from the Gulf States, where they never see rain or green grass…”

A short, but pleasant, hike under the rain was our punishment.


  • Konak Hotel, nice little hotel in the center of Kars, staff nice and helpful, a lot of eateries close by.
  • Horon Hotel, super central and quiet, but staff not uber friendly and a bit unpersonal, on the expensive side for turkish standards though.



best kept secret tip

Don’t miss Ani, even if a bit out of the way, it is totally worth it. We visited on a beautiful and sunny day, we will never forget it. Allow half a day to take the big tour of all monuments on site.

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