Hopa, Turkey: An empty commercial port and a trucker’s border town

Photo: Hopa, Turkey on the Black Sea. Credit: Lisa Borre.
Approaching Hopa, the last Turkish port we plan to visit on the Eastern Black Sea coast. Photo by Lisa Borre.

Black Sea Logbook Entry

Date: 7/16/2010
Distance: 32 nm
Sailed from: Pazar
Lat: 41° 24.6’N
Long: 41° 25.8’E

Shortly after arriving in the large but empty commercial harbor of Hopa, we had the Turkish Coast Guard stop by to check our papers and inquire of our plans. They notified the appropriate authorities on our behalf and arranged for the port management to fill our water tank. They also briefed us on the requirements for clearing out of Turkey and entering Georgia, a passage we planned to make on Sunday, 18 July, rather than tomorrow in hopes that the weather would improve. This is one of the rainiest parts of the Black Sea region, and the forecast was for rain and thunderstorms tonight and tomorrow.

The security guards at the gate gave us a lift 2 km into town the following day where we stocked up on provisions and ate lunch at a lokantasi. Lisa savored a pide shaped like a boat with the crust folded over on the edge and topped with mild, crumbly white cheese and a fried egg. The crust, baked in a wood oven, was as good as any she had in Italy. The man behind the counter took one look at David and served him a special assortment of the daily selection, including a stuffed pepper, bean soup, lamb casserole, and pilaf — it was enough to feed any hungry truck driver or sailor for a day. We managed to avoid the shops selling flakey pastries dripping with honey or the special rice pudding topped with hazelnuts but did find a bakery selling the dense, whole-grain cornbread that is a specialty of this part of the Black Sea region.

Hopa does not have much to offer the tourist. It is more like a roadside stop for the many truckers transporting goods across the border between Turkey and Georgia. The number of international truckers in this busy corridor explains why the commercial port had no ships during our visit. We stayed close to the boat and prepared for the next stage of our voyage on the Black Sea: Georgia.

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