Traipsing through Trabzon

My guidebook describes Trabzon as a “love it or leave it” city on the Black Sea. After my weekend there, I definitely fall into the “love it” category. Somewhere between enjoying my first bite of misir kuymagi (a scrumptious local delicacy) and gazing upon the glowing face of Ataturk that illuminates the hillside after dark, Trabzon captured my heart.

We arrived in Trabzon somewhat later than expected, but managed to join the other Fulbrighters we were meeting for a late breakfast. Along with the traditional kahvalti trappings, D.L., the local Fulbrighter and our generous host for the weekend, ordered misir kuymagi, the aforementioned scrumptious local delicacy. Misir kuymagi is essentially cheesy grits, and while I cannot say that I have ever really enjoyed grits before, there is a first time for everything. Leave it to me to embrace my southern roots while in Turkey.

The other famous culinary offerings of Trabzon are hamsi (anchovies) and akcaabat kofte (garlic-y meat balls). We had to substitute mackerel for anchovies since the restaurant where were ate dinner was out of hamsi, but one small fish is as good as another for a girl from landlocked Kansas. Despite the infinite number of tiny bones in the mackerel, it was delicious.

I suppose that I should mention that in addition to food, Trabzon is famous for its distinctive woven silver jewelry and Trabzonspor, which was the first of just two football teams from outside of Istanbul to win the Super Lig (which I guess is like the Turkish Superbowl).

The tourist highlights of Trabzon include the Aya Sofya Church, the Black Sea, and Russian girls. We enjoyed 2 of the 3.

The Aya Sofya Church was built in the 13th century and is a fine example of Byzantine architecture, sporting an impressive dome, New Testament frescoes, and Viking graffiti (seriously). The church has seen many incarnations, from church to Russian weapons depot to museum. Today, it is a working mosque.

Aya Sofya

Aya Sofya

Fresco in Aya Sofia

The English translation of the Turkish description of this fresco is literally, “Jesus and his bros.”

Aya Sofia Lighthouse

Did I mention the bell-tower-turned-lighthouse? No? Well, here it is.

Viking Graffiti

As promised, Viking Graffiti on the outside walls of the Aya Sofya

6

We walked back from the Aya Sofya to the city center via the Black Sea coast. In Trabzon, the coastline is rocky, and it reminded me strongly of the coastline along Lake Superior’s North Shore. Despite the gray sky and the cool air, it was a lovely walk.
Black Sea Coastline

Tanker on the Black Sea

Leave a comment

Filed under Trabzon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s