Turkey Day 5: Bergama to Ayvalik

Friday, January 09, 2015

I wished we could have stayed longer at this lovely sanctuary of a pension in Bergama, with its adorable host Iden and our dormitory with a disco shower head in the bathroom - the hilarious shower head had coloured lights that turned from blue to green to red, and also flashed from time to time! But it was already time to say good bye to this town with the formidable ancient Acropolis ruins in the hills. If you have the chance to travel to Turkey, make sure to stop by Bergama and the ruins of Pergamum. The ancient Greek city dates from three centuries before Christ and it's immense, with so many layers. It's hard to imagine just how it would have been like in its hey days. Just as impressive is how they managed to bring up all those materials and water up the hills for all its inhabitants, all those years ago. 
We took the local bus to Ayvalik, a smaller village off the Mediterranean Coast. There are even more cats here, possibly due to the mild seaside weather and the fishing boats along the ports of the village and its surrounding islands. Greek influences can still be seen in its architecture, and its people, who are more fluent in Greek than in English, for example. 
Ayvalik is full of little passageways and empty abandoned houses. After three days, I still had trouble finding my own way back to the pension. Under the hazy smog blanketting the village, small clusters of people in tea houses - mostly men - stared at you, unsmiling. That's the eery charm of Ayvalik. When the weather warms up, Ayvalik is a favourite summer destination for Turks, more than foreigners. 
We spent three nights in Ayvalik, on the third floor of a pension with a view of the sea and the islands. Our room was nice and spacious, the host also nice but not overly welcoming. We never really got to see her during our stay, though, and she left us to amuse ourselves in her house and village. The morning sun was surprisingly hot, but quickly cooled down from mid-afternoon. By the time the sun set, we were snuggling our scarves tighter around our necks. Then we would retreat to our rooms to cosy up in blankets and have Tavla competitions (also known as backgammon, one of the oldest board games in the world) until we can no longer keep our eyes open..


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