Dolmush (Taxi Van)
Similar to Istanbul and virtually everywhere around Turkey, the economical way to mmove around Trabzon is by Dolmush (taxi van).
You have to wait though until the van is full or depends on the driver, mostly more than half full as it could almost always pcik up passengers along the way.
We took the dolmush twice from the city centrum to the main bus terminal of Trabzon. It's not really that far, I think only 10 minutes or less.
The dolmush can be found parked right in front of the Ulusoy bus office - just aroundm Ataturk Alani - below the highway bridge where you could see the huge "Trabzon" sign, which is just around up the corner from the Meydan Park.
Fare is TL2
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Getting out Trabzon to Istanbul
Oz Nuhoglu Bus Line:
We did not anticipate difficulty in getting out until we've realized that - yes - it's the Bayram faestival, school holidays and most local families are on vacation - Trabzon is a great destination esp. from cities around the area.
We went to Ulusoy to buy our ticket - alas! - they're fully booked for the following day (September 10, 2010). We went to Varan bus office which is on the other side of the street - unfortunately they're also fully booked. Hah! Decided to check flights online and upsetting to see expensive fares from all budget airlines including THY and Onurair - ranging from TL200 and up. Worst comes to worst we will be left with no option but to take a flight OR take a bus to any destination in-between Trabzon and Istanbul - am thinking about Amasya or Sivas.
Am confident though that he guy at the office made several calls, we're hopeless and more calls and suddenly he finally said that there're seats at a bus, and this one we found out later comes from Georgia which in fact we found out again later from the passengers at the bus that they came from Azerbaijan (36 hours trip to Istanbul).
We immediately purchased the ticket at TL70, leaving at 10:00am and it's already 8:30, so we have to hurry back to the hotel and pack our stuff. We had enough time actually as we returned back to the bus terminal with still time to wait.
It's the normal big bus only that it doesn't have the usual logo/brand name of the bus, just plain blue with a cardboard sign on the glass window in front saying "OZ NUHOGLU" -- that's the bus line name.
The stewardess was a lovely middle-aged lady who is very attentive, serving us tea, coffee, something to nibble and candies several times, and the first time I saw a stewardess who kept on wiping the folding table infront of us where we put our plastic cups. She was so friendly and caring for the passengers (lucky is the husband so I thought) -- and considering that this isn't one of those big bus lines. The passengers are likewise very friendly.
We have to walk though outside of the main bus terminal to another building where the bus was waiting for us -- about 5 minutes walk. It's not stopping inside the main bus terminal garage.
The trip was supposed to be about 19 hours but in contrast with our bus from Dogubeyazit to Trabzon that runs like a funeral car, this one speeds like a sports car, snobbing all other major bus lines along the highway, and running past all cars and trucks. It took us barely 17 hours to get to Istanbul.
Again, in Istanbul, the terminal of the bus is not the main "Buyuk" grand terminal, instead the bus terminates inside the city itself near Aksaray/Yenikapi, we arrived at the wee hour of the morning.
So when you run out of seats at any of the major bus lines, try asking staff at any bus office and they'll hook you into international buses passing by Trabzon to Istanbul.
Trabzon GSM 0532 7618756 / 0532 7618781
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Aydogan Turizm (bus line)
We traveled to Trabzon from Dogubeyazit, and yes, there's a direct bus in fact 2 bus lines.
Aydogan Turizm is the one we took.
We approached the Agri Dagi bus line office just at the end of the Ismail Besikci (pedestrian street) before reaching the bus terminal. The guy there sold us the ticket for which we thought is an Agri Dagi bus because that's his office. It turned out that it was another bus company called "Aydogan", maybe an affiliate or like other bus offices (except for the big popular ones) act as agents for other bus companies that their buses do not go....or it was a part of cooperative effort among bus lines.
Anyhow, it was convenient. Though the bus is unconveniently slower than normal, we've heard something is wrong with the bus or engine or it's an old bus, whatever, it was so slow that I'm blank-faced while watching all other vehicles passed us by including all other bus lines, small cars, old cars, and maybe only donkey can be beaten by our bus in a race.
Don't get me wrong, it's maybe only this particular bus, they may have some other buses in their fleet that runs fast, or maybe it was after all the driver who maybe got used to driving a funeral car. Whatev. Our bus departed Dogubeyazit at 1:00pm, though there is also a 9:00am, and I think another schedule. Supposed to reach Trabzon at 9pm, but because we're so slow, we arrived at Trabzon bus terminal at almost midnight already. And as usual, they have a courtesy minibus service from the terminal to the city centrum.
One thing more, serving of drinks only started when we reached Erzurum, which means, no drinks offered for about 5 hours since we've left the terminal in Dogubeyazit.
The fare from Dogubeyazit to Trabzon costs TL45.
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in order to arrive in Uzungol, you have to take the bus of "Of" at first. after getting to Of, you may get on the "Caykara" or "Uzungol" buses to get to Uzungol.
the road may be uncomfortable, but it really worths.
To Sumela Monastery
some minibusses go to Machka from the Russian Bazaar, and they can take you to the monastery. it costed 15 TL to me to go and trun back. but some tour organization firms like Metro Tourism and so on, may take you there and give you some more time to explore around.
those travel agencies mainly locate in the city center called "Meydan".
To georgia overland
As mentioned above, Trabzon has a useful Georgian Consulate just off Ataturk Alani, but for many nationalities, Georgian visas are a thing of the past. As from the end of 2005, EU and a few other nationals can enter Georgia without a visa.
Crossing the border is quite an easy thing to do. From Trabzon, get yourself on a bus to Hopa...there are plenty, leaving every hour or so (takes a couple of hours). Tell the conductor that you are going to Sarpi (the border crossing), and he'll drop you off in a lay-by from where shared taxis leave for the border.
Sarpi is a village split in half by the border...there's not much on the Turkish side, just a parking lot, a mosque and a small tourist office with an exchange office where you can buy laris. The border is quick to cross, as long as all your paperwork is in order, and the Georgian border guards no longer ask for "presents".
On the other side, there are a number of cafes to relax in (Sarpi has the best beach near Batumi, so it's a popular place) while you wait for a Batumi minibus...or you can take a taxi for around 10 lari for the half-hour trip up the coast to Batumi.
Crossing back into Turkey is more of a challenge, as Hopa-bound minibuses aren't allowed anywhere near the border, and you're at the mercy of the local taxi cartel who'll drain you of your every lira if you let them. There are always people crossing on foot, so get together with some regular crossers if you can, and arrange to share a taxi to Hopa. Failing this, if money is tight, take a taxi as far as Kemalpasha (the first town) where you can board a bus to Hopa/Trabzon.
Direct buses between Batumi and Trabzon exist, but they tend to spend ages at the border, so it is far quicker (and cheaper) to do the trip in stages. If things go well, you can travel between Batumi and Trabzon in either direction in four or five hours.
To Georgia by plane
TO GEORGIA - Trabzon is the last major city before the Georgian border, and has a very handy Georgian Consulate, issuing two week tourist visas for $60 without silly requirements such as official invitations. It also offers what I have christened 'Dodgy deal of the century'...visa and flight ticket to Tbilisi for only $89. When you see the Georgian Airlines plane, you understand why it is so cheap, but as long as it gets you there in one piece, it is an excellent deal! You have to be prepared to leave everything to the last minute, as flights only go at 6pm on Mondays, and you can only get your visa and flight ticket that morning...otherwise you'll be charged $60 for the visa, $20 for the nightmare bus journey to Tbilisi, and god knows how much in bribes at the border...I'd take the flight any time! I only heard about this from an advert I found under a pile of out-of-date magazines in the church hostel I was staying in...it only offered this special deal for mondays in July, but I didn't want to go until August...talking with the consul (an old man who really didn't seem to know what he was doing, and confessed to me that he wasn't Georgian at all, but Greek!) revealed that the offer was still valid for August too, and no doubt for September and november had I bothered to ask. Having got the visa and the ticket, the consul's words to me where 'Don't tell anyone about this, PLEASE!'.
$$$ Bear in mind, this was 2001....things have changed...see below $$$
From Trabzon to Erzurum
Trabzon was my first stop in Turkey so I was not familiar with different bus companies, buying tickets from the offices in town or free service buses to the otogar. So when the day came when I was going to ErzurumI just took a dolmush to the otogar from a place close to Hotel Nur. It was 500 000 TL to the otogar.
At the otogar I bought a ticket to Erzurum with Süzer company for 15 000 000 TL. I did not ask around for other companies, but the bus was leaving within an hour. The bus ride to Erzurum took 5,5 hours.
If there was a free service bus from the otogar in Erzurum I did not know about it. I went out to the road to take the local bus. One passed just before I reached the road so I took a taxi to Kral Hotel instead. The taxi was 4 000 000 TL.
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From Georgian border to Trabzon
Crossing the boarder and arriving in Turkey I wanted to change some money. I waited a while at the empty exchange desk until a man came, but it seemed to be no money there. Finally I changed my last Georgian Lari with a taxi driver and I got money enough for the minibus to Hopa. To Hopa it was
5 000 000 TL (but it could also have been paid in dollars,
3 dollars). In Hopa the minibus did not stop in town, where I could have changed money, but the minibus went directly to a crossroad where a bus was waiting. I had no Lira, but paid
5 dollars to Trabzon. The bus was a medium sized bus, but in Rize it stopped and I was shown to a minibus.
Arriving in Trabzon I did not notice when the bus passed the otogar as it just passed on the big road outside. Having seen a map of Trabzon before, I realised the bus was passing Devlet Sahil Yolu Caddesi, downhill from Meydan Parki and I immediately told the driver to stop, and off I went.
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Bus travel along the Black Sea Coast
Trabzon has a lot of transportation facilities:
Highway is the most popular one: Buses from Ankara and Istanbul go along Black Sea Coast after passing Samsun. Views are great and if you have a car there will be many excellent stops during the travel. Every district and city center has its own beauties.
International airport is another preference for travelers do not like long hours of bus travel.
Additionaly there is ferry connection with Istanbul once a week.
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HOW TO GET RoadThere are...
HOW TO GET Road
There are three road networks, composed of Rize - Artvin - Gümüþhane - Erzurum and Giresun - Ordu - Samsun direction from Trabzon. Transportation to coaching station, 1.5 km. away from city center, is maintained by shared taxi.
Coaching Station Tel : (+ 90 - 462) 325 23 43 - 325 20 81 Maritime Lines
Trabzon Port is 1 km. away from city center. Transportation is maintained by shared taxis.
Port Tel : (+ 90 - 462) 321 11 56 - 321 11 57 Airways
Trabzon Airport is the biggest airport of the region. It is 2 km. away from city center. Transportation is maintained by minibuses besides Havaþ or taxis.
Airport Tel : (+ 90 - 462) 321 34 46 - 326 64 33 - 321 16 80
I used buses from Trabzon to Samsun, Erzurum, Istanbul (a mammoth 22 hours!!), Hopa and Ayder, via Pazar. Almost every destination is offered by various bus companies...you can either go straight to the bus station (a couple of kms from the centre of town) and run the gauntlet of ticket touts on arrival ('where you go, mister?'), or take advantage of the companies' city centre offices, most of which have free minibus services for their passengers to the bus station in time for your bus. To get to Sumela, ask around at the travel agents...the cheapest tour I could find was with the well-known bus company Ulusoy, leaving every day from their Ataturk Alani branch at 10am, returning at 2pm...this allowed more than enough time to climb up the mountain to the monastery and back, and write a few postcards in the cafes at the base of the mountain.
The dolmuslar in Trabzon are unlike dolmuslar in other cities...instead of using minibuses holding 12 or more passengers, they are shared taxis running on pre-determined routes, taking only 4 passengers, and charging much the same as the minibuses in other cities...because they take less time to fill up, you never have to wait long at any of the terminals. Regular taxis are plentiful, although they tend to charge on the basis of how foreign you look, rather then what the meter would say if they happened to remember to turn it on! I preferred to walk most of the time though!
Black Sea Ferries
There are ferries in summer to Istanbul, via Rize, Giresun, Samsun, Sinop and Zonguldak (although my friend seems to think his only stopped at Samsun and Sinop). Leaving Trabzon on wednesday evenings, it takes two days to reach Istanbul, and would be an excellent way to return there, if only it ran all year round...the service stops abruptly in September, and unfortunately I was a week late! Fares are ridiculously cheap...from Trabzon to Istanbul, my friend paid 13 million lira ($10?) for what he thought would be a pullman seat...it turned out to be deckspace only, so it was lucky the weather was good! Cabins are also available for not much more. The food served on board is reportedly disgusting and expensive, so a couple of picnics wouldn't go amiss!!
The bus or the plane leaving...
The bus or the plane leaving from Istanbul or Ankara
It is better to stay in Ankara one night if you go there whith a bus, otherwise the trip is too long
The minibuses get's almost everywhere, they are not expensive
Don't hitchike in this region if you are a lonely girl people might think you are one of the many prostitutes ( their sign is the same as hitchiking !)
The ferry from Sochi to Trabzon
It is cheap and it takes a whole night. You leave Sochi about 10 PM and at about 7 AM you arrive to Trabzon. The port is close to thedowntown, so walking you can reach the bus station.
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