Samsun

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The largest city on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, Samsun is a busy metropolitan center with a long and exotic history. An 1869 fire gutted the city, however, leaving modern-day Samsun few’ remnants of its past. Famous as the “City of the 19th of May” (On Dokuz Mayıs), the day Atatürk set foot on Anatolian soil and launched the drive for the Turkish Republic, Samsun is now a transportation hub for flight and bus connections. A few quality hotels and museums can make a stay pleasant, but most travelers don’t stick around for long.

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TRANSPORTATION

The otogar, just off the coastal road on Atatürk Bul., is about 2km east of the city center and main square, Cumhuriyet Meydam.

  • Flights: THY office, 8 Kazımpaşa Cad. (435 23 30; fax 431 82 60). Servis buses run to the airport lVshr. before each flight ($3), returning to the office after arrivals. The 23km trip costs $20-25 by taxi. To Ankara (45min.; F, Su 7:30pm; $52-65) and İstanbul (1hr.; daily 6, 10am; also via Ankara; $75-90). 20% student discount.
  • Trains: On Atatürk Bui., 700m east of Cumhuriyet Meydam ( 223 50 02 or 223 22 93). To Sivas (8hr.; Su-M, W, F 8:20am; $4-5.50) and Amasya (2V2hr., daily 7pm, $1.25-2).
  • Buses: If arriving in town, ask to be let off at Cumhuriyet Meydam, where all the bus companies have offices. 10-20% student discount, depending on the company.

DESTINATION

DURATION

TIMES (DAILY)

PRICE

Adana

12hr.

7, 10:30pm

$15

Alanya

17hr.

5:30pm

$21

Amasya

2hr.

6 per day 8:30am-5pm

$4

Ankara

6hr.

15 per day 9am-midnight

$16.50

Antalya

15hr.

5:30, 6:30pm

$24

Bodrum

19hr.

6:30pm

$20

Bursa

13hr.

7pm

$15

Giresun

3hr.

7:30pm

$5

Hopa

10hr.

8:30am

$14.50

İstanbul

12hr.

9 per day 7:30am-11pm

$24

İzmir

16hr.

5, 6pm

$26

Kayseri

8hr.

9am, 3pm, midnight

$11

Malatya

10hr.

9:30pm

$11

Marmaris

21hr.

8, 9:30pm

$20

Mersin

12hr.

7, 10:30pm

$13

Ordu

3hr.

7:30, 10pm

$4.50

Rize

8hr.

5 per day 8:30am-midnight

$13

Sivas

5hr.

5 per day 9am-9:30pm

$9

Tokat

4hr.

5 per day 9am-9:30pm

$8

Unye

1hr.

7:30am, 11pm

$2.50

Ferries: East (Tu 8pm) to Trabzon (12hr., $3.50-40) and Rize (17hr., $5-42). West (Th 6:30am) to İstanbul (30hr., $13.50-50). 20% student discount. The westward boat stops at Sinop and Zonguldak for 30min. each. The ticket office is hard to find: head for the port, 1km west of Cumhuriyet Meydam. Dolmuş run along Atatürk Bul.; ask for “Liman.” Turn right off Atatürk Bul., heading away from the center. Enter the port gates and go to the back of the red building. Climb the stairs and ask for Alemdarzade office (445 16 05; fax 445 16 04). Open M-Sa 8am-6pm.

ORIENTATION AND PRACTICAL INFORMATION

If there is no free servis from the bus company, exit the otogar, cross the main road, and wait under the bridge for the dolmuş ($.30). Ask to be dropped off at Meydan (the square). A private taxi costs about $5. The main commercial street, Kazımpaşa Cad., leads west of the main square to Saat Kulesi Meydam. The brick- paved streets to the side contain many of the budget hotels and good restaurants.

Farther inland, running parallel to the shore, is Gazi Cad., a pleasant street with many bakeries, bookshops, and banks. The next street along is Çiflık Cad. (a.k.a. İstiklâl Cad.). Finally, even farther uphill, still parallel to the shore, is 100 Yıl Bui.

  • Banks: Many with ATMs on Gazi Cad., running parallel to Atatürk Bul., 2 blocks inland.
  • English-Language Bookstore: Dünya Kitabevi, 60 Şevketiye Cad. (»239 08 49; fax 233 97 53), on a side street off İstiklâl Cad. Periodicals include the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Time, and the Economist. Open M-Sa 8;30am-9:30pm, Su 11am-8pm.
  • Laundromat: Nurpak Kuru Temizleme, 56/B Bahariye Cad. (234 53 67), on a side street off istiklâl Cad. Turn right off istiklâl Cad. when you reach the Lee Cooper store. Wash and dry $1.25 per kg. Open daily 8am-midnight.
  • Pharmacies: Many are in and around Cumhuriyet Meydanı.
  • Hospitals: Devlet Hastanesi (230 33 00); 19 Mayıs Üniversitesi Hastanesi (457 60 00); Büyük Anadolu Hastanesi (435 17 85).
  • Internet Access: On İstiklâl Cad., including CEN NET Internet Cafe, istiklâl Cad. No. 99 (231 26 49). $1 per hr. Open daily 9:30am-midnight. There are slower connections, but a more central location, at Karteksan Internet Cafe, 4/1 Orhaniye Geçidi (431 83 07), 150m down Mevlevihane Cad., running east from Cumhuriyet Meydanı. $1.50 per hr. Ping-pong $.80 per hr. Open daily 8am-llpm.
  • PTT: On Kazımpaşa Cad. Mail services 8am-noon and l-5:30pm. Phones 24hr.

Postal code: 55060.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Most of Samsun’s budget hotels are conveniently located just west of Cumhuriyet Meydanı, along the roads leading to Saat Kulesi (Clock Towner) Meydanı. For more upscale hotels, head to the establishments in Cumhuriyet Meydanı itself.

Otel Guclu, Pazar Mah., Pazar Cami Sok. No. 4/A (431 17 17 or 431 36 50). A good choice right in the center, with modern facilities and friendly staff. New rooms with baths and TVs. Breakfast included. Singles $10; doubles $16.

Otel Necmi, Kale Mah., 6 Bedestan Sok. (432 71 64; fax 432 20 29), near the PIT, in the clothes bazaar. A good budget option, with 17 small but clean rooms. Each of the 5 floors has a toilet and shower. Singles $6.50, students $5.50; doubles $12, students $10; triples $19, students $17; quads $25.50, students $22.50.

Divan Otel, Necipbey Cad., 20 Meserret Sok. (fax 431 36 71). Comfortable and friendly. 22 clean rooms with bathroom (and towels). Ask for a room without a TV for a cheaper price. Singles $7; doubles with TV $14; triples with TV $17.

Deniz Otel, Kale Mah., 42 Bankalar Cad. (431 58 78), around the corner from Divan. 20 basic rooms. Each of the 4 floors has a shower and toilet. The top floors have a lovely sea view, which only partly justifies the price. Singles $7, students $6; doubles $17.50, students $13; triples $22.50, students $16.

Otel Şirin Bahar, Meşarat Sok., opposite Büyük Camii. A cheap, basic option for those on a very tight budget. Singles $3; doubles $5. Eli Körfez Restaurant, Körfez Mah. No. 15, Kurupelit (457 52 91 or 457 53 29), 13km west of the Samsun town center. Take a minibus marked “Atakent-Kurupelit-FAKÜLTE” (15min., $.30), which departs when full from the dolmuş hub on Atatürk Bul., near the Büyük Hotel. Widely renowned for some of the best pide dishes in Turkey, Körfez sits on the sea, with a splendid view of Samsun’s entire coastline. Try the karışık yumurtalı pide ($3) with a şeftali su (apricot juice; $1). Live music from 9pm.

Cumhuriyet Lokanta, Saathane Meydanı Şeyhhamza Sok. No.3, 3rd fl. (431 21 65). This excellent restaurant, owned by Bülent Kaptan (former president of Samsunspor Football Club), serves a tasty kara lahana dolma (vegetable dish; $1.50) and a variety of kebaps (from $1.25).

İtimat Balık Lokantası, Cumhuriyet Cad. No. 64-66 (420 05 24). 300m east of Cum¬huriyet Meydanı, along the coastal road. The fish meals are well worth the long walk from the center. Salmon $5; Efes $1,50.

Oskar Restaurant, Belediye Meydanı (431 20 40), near the watchtower. With your back to the Büyük Camii and facing the watchtower, take the road in front of you and turn right at a vegetable store. This large establishment with a pleasant wooden interior serves kuzu tandir (roasted lamb; $3) and beğendeli kebap ($2.50).

Sarnıç Cafe, Bankalar Cd., Anakent İşmerkezl Kat 1 (435 78 56 or 435 78 69), at the bottom of the main Anakent Shopping Center. A very pleasant, air-conditioned cafe with köfte and doğum günü. A great atmosphere, despite the shopping center location. O

ENTERTAINMENT AND NIGHTLIFE

Samsunspor Football Club plays from late August until May at the On Dokuz Mayıs Stadium. Tickets are available at the stadium the day of the match ($1-3).

Konak Sinemasi (Cinema) (431 24 71), Iskur Ham, just above the northeast corner of Cumhuriyet Meydanı. Shows the latest Hollywood films, with Turkish subtitles.

Ata Kum Beach, 6km west of the city center. Since Samsun’s beaches are better left unvisited, take a dolmuş here for a relaxing dip.

C Bar (233 35 97), on Dr. Damll Cad. 300m down İstiklâl Cad., on a small side street by the Turkmaz Ayakkabı shoe store. A kicking combination bar/club. Tuborg beer $2.25. Open daily 9pm-4am.

Collo Disco, Atatürk Bul. No. 629 (432 49 99), adjacent to the Büyük Samsun Oteli. Though pricey, this Is one of only a handful of quality clubs along the Black Sea. Beer $4. Cover $4, includes one drink. Open F-Sa 9pm-4am.

SIGHTS

Samsun’s Archaeological Museum is famous for a well-preserved Roman floor mosaic: depicting a battle between the Tritons and the Nereids. It also has some other intriguing exhibits. Quite small, it can be toured in under an hour. One of the most gruesome exhibits is from the excavation of pre-Roman ikiztepe, including a dramatic display on the ancient practice of skull surgery. A hole was drilled into the skull to remove evil spirits and avoid dementia. Its practice was widespread in the ancient Middle East. Apparently nearly half the operations were successful. You can see two of the skulls have clear holes, and the hole of the third has been partly healed and covered over. Look out for the excellent coin exhibition, including Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Selçuk, and Ottoman monies. Jeweliy, kitchen utensils, and amphorae ancient storage pots also used as containersdating from 7th century BC are on display. Most exhibits have explanations in English. (»431 68 28. Open Tu-Su 8:30am-noon and 1-5pm. $1, students $.40.)

Samsun’s Atatürk Museum is next door to the Archaeological Museum, between the coast and Cumhuriyet Meydanı. Its photo exhibits are extensive, but the museum itself is not particularly gripping. Although nothing to match Anıt Kabir, it docs provide a glimpse into Atatürk’s personality and the reverence in which he is particularly held in Samsun. (Open Tu-Su 8am-noon and l-5pm. $1, students $.50.)

DAYTRIP FROM SAMSUN: THE KIZILIRMAK DELTA

Dolmuş run from Samsun to the town of 19 Mayis; from there, the Delta is a 5km walk. Local buses run irregularly throughout the delta. Camping is available, but it’s very limited and extremely expensive: $30 for a permit.

Although Samsun itself has a limited number of attractions, it is a good base from which to explore the surrounding countryside. The Kizilirmak Delta, 35km from Samsun, is a coastal plain of 50,000 hectares, containing marshes, wetlands, rivers, and swamps. The delta is home to an astonishing array of wildlife: of Turkey’s 420 bird species, 316 have been recorded in the delta. In recent years there has been an effort to encourage eco-tourism in this area. At the moment, unfortunately, there are few organized tours, and travelers intent on traveling the delta should treat it as a daytrip from Samsun, setting off very early in the morning. The director of tourism in Samsun offers one at a high price; try to bargain it down.

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