Visiting the Black Sea from Istanbul can be done as a day trip, and it is a lovely one at that. Because my sister doesn’t drive and I didn’t want to drive, we booked a daytrip with a local company. Due to the dearth of tourists scared off by the 2013 unrest, it ended up being a private tour for us – score! After we were picked up at our hotel, we were driven over to the Asian side. Once out of the Istanbullu outskirts, it was a pleasant drive through greenery. It was a breath of fresh air to be out of the city for a bit.
Of the two or three companies that offer this day trip, it seems that they all do the same things. So if you do this day trip with one of them, here is what you can probably expect:
1. The first stop was a village called Sile. Normally, it is a fishing village but during the summer months, it is packed with tourists and Turkish people who have holiday homes out here to escape the city heat. Our stop was near the coast, above the sea. The vantage point showed the Sile Lighthouse which was built in 1859.
2. The second stop, our driver threw us and our guide out at the side of the road. No, he wasn’t abandoning us but instead, we walked down a short trail to an Ottoman village called Kabakoz. I quite liked its air of isolation and history – it just felt like it had been there forever. There were a mix of homes that look lived in and others that looked abandoned for decades. We saw a few houses with shoes hanging from their laces on the outside of the homes – it’s an old tradition of letting visitors know that strangers are welcome in this particular abode.
3. Lunch! And what a lunch it was! More so the view of Kilimli Bay than the food, though the food was decent enough (the usual chicken and fish options, fries, salad, fruit). But there is nothing like looking out at the deep blue sea, breeze through your hair, and the warmth of the air around you. And again, the lack of tourists made for a delightfully people-free atmosphere! Though, I felt sorry for the owner and servers – they obviously didn’t have a whole lot to do which also meant money making opportunities were lower than usual. It was a reminder that political situations do not happen in vacuum and they definitely have a trickle-down effect. After lunch, we wandered down the bluffs to check out the views before we were on our way to our swimming option.
4. Kilimli Beach isn’t a place where one finds many tourists on a usual day, so when we went, I think my sister and I were the foreign contingent for the day. We didn’t swim but we did spend some time wandering up and down a quiet section of the beach. The water was lovely and I amused myself by looking for some shells.
5. After the beach, you’ll probably be taken to Goksu River, not far from the sea. The river was lovely and we saw a bit of wildlife including birds and turtles. Along the river bank, it seemed to be like one of those summer camp commune type places. The area is called Agva and supposedly, the population swells to 15,000 in the summer.
On our trip, the long drive back to Istanbul was broken up by a stop at a café. The place was pretty with its mountain forest setting. Like every other part of this day trip, while the café wasn’t the most exciting or relaxing time I’ve had, it was still lovely. The whole day, in fact, was good and quiet; it was a breather from the hustle and bustle of the city, and it was a chance to breathe some fresh forest and sea air.