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    • Day 36


      September 6, 2022 in Turkey ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

      Von der Meerenge ans richtige Meer: Ayvalık ist eine Küstenstadt mit interessanter Geschichte. Eine Busfahrt über ein kleines Gebirge und am Schluss durch eine Landschaft voller Olivenbäume bringt uns dahin.

      Das heutige Ayvalık wurde 1600 von griechisch-orthodoxen Siedlern gegründet. Durch den Anbau von Oliven und dem Handel mit Oliven-Produkten kam eine grosse Wirtschaft ins Rollen. Im Osmanischen Reich bekam die Stadt eine Sonderstellung: Ausser einigen osmanischen Beamten durften sich keine Muslime hier niederlassen. Aufgrund der Unruhen in Griechenland (Vorboten einer Revolution) liessen sich immer mehr Menschen aus den umliegenden Inseln in Ayvalık nieder. Während des Griechischen Unabhängigkeitskriegs wurde die Stadt zerstört, danach aber wieder aufgebaut; ein zweiter Aufschwung folgte.
      Nach der Niederlage Griechenlands im griechisch-türkischen Krieg erfolgte dann ein Bevölkerungsaustausch: Die griechischen Bewohner der Stadt wurden mit den türkischen Minderheiten der ägäischen Inseln (vorwiegend Kreta und Lesbos) ausgetauscht.

      In der Altstadt von Ayvalık finden sich aufgrund dieser Geschichte Herrenhäuser aus der "Griechischen Wiedergeburt" neben Häusern im osmanischen Stil wieder. Viele Gebäude sind zwar schön restauriert, aber es finden sich auch regelrechte Ruinen darunter. Speziell sind die beiden Moscheen, die wir besuchen: Sie sind eigentlich umgebaute griechisch-orthodoxe Kirchen. Das sieht man ihnen von aussen ziemlich gut an; der Grundriss erinnert ebenfalls an die ehemalige Nutzung. Dass eine Moschee einen Uhrturm hat, ist jedenfalls ziemlich ungewöhnlich.
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    • Day 38


      June 6, 2023 in Turkey ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

      Nach dem wir in Akcay die Nacht verbracht haben (Kein schöner Ort, deshalb auch keine Bilder) ging es in aller Frühe weiter Richtung Izmir. In Ayvalik hatten wir einen tollen Zwischenstopp.

      Geceyi Akçay'da geçirdikten sonra (güzel bir yer değil, bu yüzden fotoğraf yok) sabah erkenden İzmir'e doğru devam ettik. Ayvalık'ta harika bir mola verdik.Read more

    • Day 42

      Greeks in turkey

      October 28, 2023 in Turkey ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

      I stumbled upon this old town which I have to tell you about; and I stumbled upon this (presumably) 2000 year old turtle which I have to show you.

      So, after Troy, these greeks being such vehement builders, I went to Assos, which isn’t too far away from the campsite I stayed at. Assos was a major city, founded 1000 to 900 bc, and Aristotle also lived there after moving from Athens. The remains aren’t as big as ephesus (apparently, I will see) but many things have been recovered. What’s amazing about it, is that you start all the way at the top of the city, and go down towards the sea where the entire city used to be laid out. I can tell you, that’s really quite steep, and big, but also quite a feat: they cut out parts of the mountain to build certain buildings, like the market.

      The town itself nowadays is really dependent on tourism, but it’s nice enough to walk to the archeological site.

      A bit further up down the road, towards the sea, you come upon very small towns with lots of mini markets that don’t sell anything — there is so much produce here, olives, pomegranates, fruit, but nothing is sold in the useless shops — thousands of shady uninviting restaurants, “glamping” sites, and bungalow campings. Just only tourism there, and where there was nothing to being with, tourism cannot bring anything. It’s a dull street devoid of any identity, and all campings are now closed or asked way too much to sleep in the tent — one didn’t even understand I wanted to sleep in my tent. In the end, I just slept on a seemingly abandoned plot of land with olive trees. There was a guy in a car who went fishing there, though — who spoke perfect english (how nice that change was)— who said that there were a lot of Pakistani etc immigrants that tried to come ashore in the middle of the night there.

      Oh, it turned out it wasn’t that abandoned, as just as I was packing, a group of 20 people came to work on the place. I wanted to disappear.

      No worries though, I either did or they couldn’t care less, and 80 km further I sort of stumbled upon this small city Ayvalık: this city is not Turkish, it is a greek city inside Turkey. Small cobbled streets, lots of restaurants and bars (with alcohol, which you don’t see that often), and Synagogues that were converted to mosques. Really bizarre. The reason? https://www.middleeasteye.net/discover/turkey-a… The population exchange after the fight for Turkish independence and the establishment of Turkey. It was all religious, and it has very weird consequences.

      Im in a hotel again btw. I like the balance between no comfort, and comfort 😅
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    • Day 100

      100 days Transeurope

      September 6, 2020 in Turkey ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

      It's been 100 days now, since we started our "Covid-postponed Americas Substitute Trip" how one of our warmshowers host once called our bike tour now.
      We had a short day to Ayvalik where we were going to stay. In Akcay, we stopped for breakfast at the beach, before flying to Ayvalik with strong tailwinds from Eastern directions. This time, we didn't mind the highway as we could go really fast on the smooth surface.
      We liked Ayvalik straight away. It's a good sized town with an old center with tiny streets, markets and stone houses. The harbour is also nice with all the bars and restaurants. It's touristy, but in a good way, mainly Turks and in Corona year only half of the normal amount.
      Tara, an American lady immigrated to Turkey some 30 years ago, welcomed us in her home. She loves animals and has a dog and 9 cats. We spent the afternoon exploring the old town and taking a ferry to the peninsula Cunda which was also really cool. At night, we cooked dinner while Tara introduced us to some good Turkish wines.
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    • Day 106

      Ayvalik, Balıkesir, Türkei

      December 23, 2022 in Turkey ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

      Am nächsten Tag machen mir Halt Ayvalik und parkieren auf dem Parkplatz der Migros. Auch hier findet aktuell kein Tourismus statt und die Türken sind mehrheitlich unter sich. Die vielen schönen Hotels und Restaurants lassen aber erahnen, dass hier im Sommer der Bär tanzt. Auch hier finden wir ein schönes Restaurant mit wunderbarem Panoramablick. Da wir in Fethiye fast ausschliesslich selber gekocht haben, geniessen wir es, aktuell wieder vermehrt auswärts essen zu können.

      Auf unserem Spaziergang durch die zweite Gasse in Ayvalik sind wir erstaunt, die Häuser sind total verfallen und Ruinen. Schon krass, vorne Geschäftige Strassen und Läden und schon 20 Meter weiter hinten ist alles verfallen. Besonders beindruckt hat uns der Autofahrer, der sein Auto unter einem baufälligen Haus parkiert hat, wo jeder Moment ein riesiger Steinbrocken vom Dach zu fallen droht!

      Die Nacht auf dem Migros Parkplatz war bedeutend ruhiger als die vorherige und früh morgens machen wir uns auf den Weg Richtung Canakkale. Nach einer wunderbaren Fahrt der Küste entlang sehen wir kurz vor Canakkale ein Schild Richtung Troja und entscheiden spontan, ein Abstecher zu machen.
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    • Day 104


      November 11, 2022 in Turkey

      The next morning, Mujdat prepared some traditional Turkish breakfast called Kahvaltı, with fried egg, self-harvested olives, cheese, and a salat. I love Kahvaltı. :)) We then went back to his van, where the motorcycle is parked. Mujdat also plans to travel south with his van during winter time, apparently that's a thing in Turkey. Wearing a helmet at least, Mujdat showed me around the area of Dikili first: We went outside the city to the village where he was born and where his family still owns some land to grow olives. Then, we went inlands into the Kozak region on a narrow winding road up the mountains.
      Along the way, we stopped somewhere near Nebiler to go for a little hike to a remote cave and waterfall. We were the only people walking this way. You had to follow up the stream of a river, and after just 20min of walking on a little hiking trail we found a pretty nice little cave with beautiful stone formations. The shallow water inside the cave was warm from thermal activity in the underground. After taking some pictures and exploring the cave, we continued our hike along the river. We had to cross on stones and fallen trees a few times. At some point, we heard a really weird sound near by, like a grunt of a bear. We stared at each other, confused, and weren't sure what to do. Mujdat said that he has no idea if there's bears in this area, also, we couldn't look it up because neither of us had reception on the phone. We decided to slowly continue and soon heard the sound again - this time it was clearly coming form the other side of the little hill and sounded more like an engine. :D I think we both freaked a little for no reason before. :D Continuing our hike, we soon arrived at a beautiful waterfall where we also spent some time, before heading back to the second waterfall near the motorbike. After about 1.5h of hiking, we continued our trip up the Kozak mountains.

      We drove through endless pinetree forest, if I remember correctly it's even the largest connected pinetree forests in Turkey, with stunning views into the valleys. Not many people living up there in a few little villages that are all spread around the area. Mujdat still has relatives in some of the villages, so we stopped in Kaplanköy and went for a Turkish coffee and çay under an amazing 100+ year old tree. Funnily, Mujdat's uncle and some other people he knew were also sitting there enjoying a coffee, so they joined us. I didn't understand a word, but Mujdat translated anything interesting for me. :) Apparently, the Kozak people owning some land in the region were rather wealthy people, since pine nuts are pretty expensive on the market. However, for many years now, the pinetrees have stopped producing and they haven't figured out the reasons yet.
      After almost an hour, we continued our trip up the mountain (by that, I was already a little worried that we won't make it back in time for me to continue cycling the same day..), but it was just such a beautiful area. We stopped in another little village soon again, where we visited an older lady who's also part of his familiy. It was really hard to convince her that we really had no time to stay unfortunately, she wanted to invite us for food but Mujdat said, it would take hours to leave again if we accept the invitation. :D So after a quick talk, we went through the neighbours garden to a viewpoint of the area. It was already past 2pm and I had to start riding by 3pm, otherwise I wouldn't make it in the daylight. So we decided to head back to his place. :)

      I'm usually not this much in a rush, but since I had to plan a day or two in advance for finding couchsurfers or people through warmshowers to stay with, I didn't want to change plans all the time. Turkish people go above and beyond when it comes to hospitality and I didn't want to cause any inconvenience in changing plans. ;) Also, winter was slowly catching up on me, so if I wanted to make it to Istanbul still, I had to keep on moving.

      I started cycling to Ayvalık just shortly past 3pm, where I would stay with a gril called Seda through couchsurfing. I was pretty hungry when I left Dikili though and beakfast seemed like a long time ago. Being in a rush, I just bought some sort of baguette and ate it while cycling. :D Fresh bread is incredibly tasty in Turkey, so I didn't mind having plain bread.

      The ride was pretty easygoing, 38km, almost no elevation but partly along the main road again. It wasn't busy though. I arrived in Ayvalik with the most beautiful sunset I've seen along the trip. I locked my bike near the harbour and joined a crowd of people who were also amazed by the colours and taking pictures. Seda lives right next to the harbour, in a beautiful loft-like appartment with her three cats and a beautiful stunning view onto the water from both the living and the bedroom. :) She insisted on me having her bedroom, since she and her boyfriend, who came by later, mostly sleep in the guest room anyways. Seda and me got along super well from the start, she's such a fun person and with a lot of stories to share! She's the daughter of a police officer, like me. She told me that she had to move every couple of years within Turkey since her dad's relocation. Apparently, depending on the rank within the police, officers are being relocated every three years to prevent corruption and maintain an authority. Very different to Germany..
      We ordered some pizza and chatted until late, while Seda was packing for her travels the next day. She was going to the Greek islands for a week but offered me to stay in her place anyways - second time in Turkey I'm having an appartment for myself. :D Since I had plans for the next six days, I was continuing my trip the next day though.
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    • Day 171

      Selçuk —> Ayvalik

      September 4, 2023 in Turkey ⋅ ☁️ 29 °C

      We started the morning with a bang and experienced our first ever earthquake! We felt the room shake for about 10 seconds and then Gab received a message alert that there was an earthquake near the coast about 21km away and measured 4.6 on the Richter scale. Thankfully there was no injuries or broken things!

      We left our town and headed north towards the town of Bergama, where we visited a government-funded carpet initiative. We explored the warehouse of the company which provides over 2000 women with jobs to produce carpet which is then sold throughout Turkey. We were able to watch the women weaving on the loom and Gab even tried it out! The women who create these carpets have been using this technique since 5BC! We learnt that some wool carpets can take weeks or months and some carpets made from silk can take over 5 years to make depending on how big they are! We also learnt that the different colours of the wool are created from different plants or nuts such as walnut, pomegranate and onion skins! It was so impressive seeing so many amazing carpets and thinking of how much time and effort has been spent on creating the beautiful pieces.

      We then travelled to the seaside town of Ayvalik where we had lunch and then checked into an old ottoman mansion which would be our accommodation for the night. It is a two storey building with bricks and wooden elements with old furniture which was previously a French consulte. After checking in, we headed to the seaside to board another boat for an afternoon of drinks and swimming! Lots of fun!

      We went out away from the harbour and stopped in a swimming spot where we enjoyed plenty of time in the sun and water with our new friends. We went back to the harbour and unfortunately one of our friends Amy had cut her toe very badly on a clam/something else under the water and so needed to go to the hospital to get it checked out. The rest of us went out for dinner, with the local cuisine being a toasted sandwich which we enjoyed by the sea. We went back to the mansion to have showers and play cards before Amy joined us later in the night with her toe still attached to her body!
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    • Day 172

      Ayvalik —> Çanakkale

      September 5, 2023 in Turkey ⋅ ☁️ 29 °C

      We started our day with a short stroll in Ayvalik to see the local Planeterra project, the G Adventures funded community outreach program.

      This particular project is called cop(m)adam which directly translates to ‘stickman’ for men or ‘garbage lady’ for women. The focus of this project is upcycling used products such as old fabric, chip packets and bottle caps to create new products such as bags, pencil cases and cups. It was very cool to see some of these products and know that some of our tour cost is going towards another great initiative from G Adventures.

      We then made our way to the ancient city of Troy to explore the historic town. This site was originally excavated by Heinrich Schliemann in search of the ancient city of Troy which features in the legend which is captured on Homer's Illiad Odyssey. Schliemann discovered the site and then left with many of the treasures overseas in the 19th century (some of which have still not been returned to Turkey).

      There are in fact 10 different ‘cities’ at this site which span around 3500 years of civilisation starting back in 3000BC (during the Bronze Age). This makes the archaeological site quite unique! Since then, after war or natural disasters, the city was rebuilt on top of the old one giving many layers to the city. The legendary city of Troy where the wars occurred was probably the 6th city - though we will never know whether the legend of the Trojan horse was in fact real or not! No wooden horse has been found from this story.

      We saw the mudbricks which have been discovered from the various cities and explanations about clues as to each civilisation. In the 12th century BC, the Greeks came to Antolia (modern day Turkey) and the city became Greek after the so-called Trojan war in this period. Hazal told us about the different layers and the techniques used by archaeologists to inspect the layers and understand more about these ancient cities. We also saw how much of the site was destroyed by Schliemann when he initially discovered the site.

      It was really interesting exploring the different layers of the city but unfortunately the "replica" Trojan horse was under repair so we didn’t get to see it (though we did take a photo of its head!)

      We had a quick lunch on our way to our next town for the night, Çanakkale, and arrived around 4pm. We freshened up before heading out for dinner, first with a surprise visit to the Trojan horse! This is the exact horse used in the movie, Troy, and is on display along the harbour for all to enjoy.

      We then went out for a nice dinner of lentil soup, pide, wine and beer before going to get bubble waffles for dessert which were so yum! We ate them as we walked back to the hotel to go to bed to rest up for our last full tour day tomorrow.
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    • Day 3


      September 25, 2023 in Turkey ⋅ ☁️ 29 °C

      After a decent sleep in and some breakfast, we had a group discussion and decided that instead of catching public transport for the next two days, we would pay the money and get a personal van. This cost us about 220 Lira each, but saves us time and effort, as we don't have to wait around for buses, and don't have to carry our bags around everywhere for the next two days. This also meant we can go on our own schedule a bit and give ourselves sleep ins. Well worth the money. Eventually, though, we left Canakkale and headed toward Troy, about 30 minutes out of town. I was very interested by this site as there is plenty of ancient history involved and even plays a key role in much of the Ancient Greek religious beliefs. Another massive interest of mine. Given that we had a tour guide with us too, really added to the experience, he was able to explain the history of the site and provide some context of the importance of it. I had read a book that touched on this place and it's history but he had gone into a much detail and refreshed my memory from the book. Although a complicated story, the town of Troy has had 12 different instances of existence, each time the new city being built on top of the old. The main story of Troy that many know from the movie is the 7th Troy and existed in about the 11th century BC, but the first Troy goes back to about the 20th Century BC. This story goes back to a key moment in Homer's book The Iliyad (Illium was the old name of Troy). In summary, it talks about a stolen wife and a corresponding 10-year war between Greeks and people from Troy. The battle only ends when a Trojan horse is presented to the city of Troy. Thinking it was an acceptance of defeat, the city of Troy celebrated all night until soldiers emerged from the horse, opened the gates, and ransacked the city. The Oddesey then follows the story of a soldier known as Odysseus after this war as he tries to return to his wife. Another interesting and key piece of literature for ancient Greek religious beliefs and discusses how the gods will interfere in regular humans' lives. Having angered Poseidon, he interjects and forces him on another 10 year mission to finally return home. We were here for about an hour and a half before continuing our journey toward Ayvalik.

      Shortly after we arrived, we headed to the port for our boat trip. It was us about 220 Lira each, so maybe $10, and we got a huge boat, capable of holding probably a hundred people. For just 17 of us. It was a lot of fun, we brought drinks with us, and just drank, swam, and talked for a good few hours. Unfortunately, we ran out of drinks with about an hour left, but we still had fun, and it was a great opportunity o meet everyone.
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    • Day 101

      Party boat trip

      September 7, 2020 in Turkey ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

      To fully enjoy the Turkish coast, we went on a boat trip around the bays and islands of Ayvalik today. We wanted to go on a small boat, but the few ones going out were booked for private groups. So we ended up on a really big one, not particular what we like. The good thing was that there were maybe 45 people on the boat that usually has a capacity for about 300. Meaning we could basically run around and chose and change seats whenever we wanted. The tour itself was better than expected. We stopped at 4 different islands for swimming and they served an all-you-eat fish, pasta and salad lunch which was actually very yummy. All of this cost less than 10€, so we definitely can't complain! The only real downside was crazily loud techno music. For some reason, the dj thought it was a party boat which none of the passengers thought...
      We spent the evening having dinner in Tara's yard again and also enjoyed some interesting discussions about basically anything.
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