When cycling started to get popular in England and France in the late 19th century, people were stuck in the cities. Transportation to the countryside was expensive, but the bicycle offered a relatively cheap alternative. There was an extensive network of back roads beckoning the cyclist to explore.
I see a parallel in Turkey today. There’s an incredible network of deserted back roads, deserted partly because cars and petrol are rather expensive. People don’t travel around in private cars like in North America.
Another similarity is the outfits many women wear in the cities. The Victorian England costumes are every bit as ridiculous as the ugly heavy raincoats that are forced on many Turkish women.
In Britain and France women wanted to cycle too, and it started the revolution of “rational dress.” Wow, Turkey could certainly use such a revolution.
Can I hope for a bicycle revolution in Turkey? In Trabzon I spotted bike racks, quite a rarity in this country.
What? How’d I end up in Trabzon? Every once in a while my bicycle takes me to the city. Actually I’m going to try and blame this one on friends. Kurt’s arrival and departure got me to İzmir and Antalya. Sage’s arrival and departure got me to Ankara and Erzurum. Ferda pulled me to Trabzon to spend ramazan bayramı, the holiday at the end Ramadan, together.
In addition to the city center and the 900 year-old Ayasofya church, we headed to the relatively nearby tourist highlights of Sümela Monastery and Uzungöl. In Trabzon itself (merkez) I liked the downtown pedestrian area. The city had a relaxed feel and a pleasant climate. I felt quite comfortable. It was perhaps my favorite Turkish city. Much smaller than Antalya, Trabzon had a similar vibe, but a bit more seriousness about it.
At the end of our stay we visited Ayasofya, not to be confused with Ayasofya in İstanbul. Complete with a seaside backdrop it reminded me of the old Spanish missions in California…
There probably aren’t too many tourists who make it to Trabzon and don’t head up to see the cliffside Sümela Monastery. The site is unfortunately low on information, and the paintings have been heavily vandalized. The Greeks built it, but why? My best guess is for seclusion like in Athos. Also unfortunately, since no one’s offered to pay Zane to fix the wordpress-flickr portrait photo plugin, the following three photos I chose probably won’t load for you.
From Sümela Monastery Ferda and I headed directly up to Uzungöl where we celebrated the official bayram. Uzungöl is a holiday destination full of young Iranians on rented bicycles. I saw more signs in Arabic script than I’ve seen anywhere else in Turkey. Ferda and I spoke with a Kurdish Turkmen from Iraq who studied in Copenhagen and spoke Arabic, Turkmen, Turkish, English, Danish, and Kurdish. The setting here was also spectacular — these are the Doğu Karadeniz Dağları after all — but oddly for a holiday destination there wasn’t a beer to be found in the entire town.
Food. How ’bout some food to end with? Haha, three more portrait photos!