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Things to do This Weekend: Tea Party Done Right

October 15, 2010

We stumbled into the “Rize: Cay’in Baskenti” Festival earlier this week – over in Taksim Gezi Parki – back when it was dry. Out of the many things we were expecting, I am certain that an awesome Samoyed puppy wasn’t one of them.

Rize is a relatively small town on the Black Sea Coast. They didn’t dominate the festival, but merely led it. So lots of other small towns also brought their tourism push to Istanbul. The Black Sea region is known for being, well, not very Turkey. Instead of the Anatolian Steppe it has mountains, forests, and rivers. It is home to populations of Laz, Chveneburi, and Pontics as well as Turks. Even the food is different; more cornbread and fish then lamb and lavash.

So the festival, a whole celebration of the Black Sea Region, was fairly called a success. There are four different brands of tea to sample and enjoy, lots of different handicrafts and the like to buy, and various foods to sample as well.

There is also live music and dancing, of course. The night we went the music trended towards Turbofolk: Laz style, and I don’t mean that as an insult. We could all use a little more electronic Saz in our life.

And instead of your standard, creepy, staged, production, the people seemed to legitimately get into it. Before our aforementioned run-in with PUPPY! we decided that the dad teaching his daughters how to do the ol’ Laz line dance was the most adorable thing we’d seen.

So if you can’t get all the way to the area between Sinop and Trabzon in your time in Turkey, we’d definitely recommend you stop by the Tea Fest this weekend. The food is good, the tea is strong, and the fact that there’s a celebrated minority, complete with books entitled Laz Kapital is awfully different than the rest of Turkey. There’ll be live music and lots of celebrations all weekend, so please, go to Taksim Gezi Parki (the square above the bus stop) and check it out.

And if you have time, go to Trabzon as well. The place is beautiful.

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