Turkey Black Sea coast travel guide and destinations


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Trabzon: Texas in Turkey

PART 3: Trabzon: Texas in Turkey

Between Akçaabat and Vakfıkebir the road passes by the first two of the countless fortresses that sprinkle the seacoast from here westward. They were built in the 13th and 14th centuries by the Byzantines and the Genoese to protect the naval lanes between Constantinople and Trebizond. The fortress of Akçakale (formerly Cordyle) occupies a pretty peninsula of its own. This is where the adventurer Kalo-Johannes landed in 1429 in his bid to capture the imperial crown of Trebizond by a military coup. The fortress at Cape Yeros offers a final distant view of Trabzon across the bay.
Vakfikebir is known for its excellent butter and cheese which constitute the main commodities offered for sale at the colorful Monday market. The real source of the dairy products, though, is the inland town of Tonga. which calls for an excursion up the scenic Foldere Valley.
Tonva has an unparalleled reputa¬tion as the last remaining bastion of old-fashioned, gun-toting, hard-drinking Black Sea wild men. Descriptions echo Xenophon's comments on Politic mountain tribes 2400 years ago and gain support from a terrible blood feud between two leading Tonga families that decimated the towns population for generations. "No Tonyalı has ever died of natural causes," assures a taxi driver in Giresun. "One half makes guns, the other half uses them," explains a teacher in Akçaabat. "It is worse than Texas," says an imam in Vakfıkebir. "Clan spirit and code of honor," claims a Trabzon Univeristy professor.
In the town itself, one is surprised to find a delightfully open, friendly and proud people. A strong sense of local identity is immediately apparent, underlined by the strange dialect of Greek heard on the streets.
The old violent scores are said to have been brought to an end in 1980 with the help of military authorities; and when asked, no one has ever heard about gunsmiths, although an inordi¬nate number of hoe and shovel manufacturers exist in the villages of the district. The guns they are said to make out of steering columns and other unlikely metal implements may be quality-tested in the freer climate of the yaylas above the town. It is also in the gorgeous setting of these highlands
that one gets to know and love the intense, direct, courteous and sometimes deadly style of these mountain people.

The Kadırga Festival, the most famous of all Black Sea festivities, takes place in one of the yaylas, a bad 25 kilometer drive up from Tonya. The magnificent treeless mountaintop is located at 2 100 meters, at the juncture of the territories of Tonya, Maçka, Torul and Görele. People from the four districts gather there at the third week¬end of July for three days of wild revelry. Some of the celebrations suggest a ritual origin in ancient and forgotten hostilities related to the delicate issue of yayla demarcation among the various communities of the mountains.
Back down in Tonya, a great idea for the serious walker might be to undertake the two-hour hike across the hill to the parallel valley of Şalpazarı to the west. As the name ("Shawl market") implies, this used to be the main center for traditional textiles in the Trabzon area. Some handlooms
still manufacture the brilliant orange red waistcloth (kuşak) which forms an integral part of the traditional Tonya attire. Today, only elderly women wear this costume made up of a black silk dress with black lace borders and an elaborate black headpiece. The young find the coastal keşan more "fashionable", but add a local touch by the brown-and-black peştemal that is rarely seen elsewhere. Near Şalpazarı, the local communities of Çepni Turks also have their own very distinctive traditional attire which is seen commonly in villages like Doğancı and Dorukkiriş

PART 1: Hazelnut Country
Stately Houses
Texas in Turkey
Birds, Castles, Lost Churches
Ordu to Unye
The Flatlands
A Historic Metropolis
PART 10:
PART 11:
The Tail End

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