This is a bit of a stretch, but Izmir is the Cleveland of Turkey. It's gritty, and lacks the immediate beauty of the other Turkish towns I visited. But it is home to some of the nicest people I've ever met. The merchants are friendly and not pushy in the least. The restaurateurs are helpful and smiling. Even the seedy hotel proprietors invite you to drink tea with them.
After a few days in Izmir, we hit the road for Ayvalik, where I fell in love. It's the most beautiful town I've ever seen. I had a moment the first time I walked onto the patio and took in the view. As the picture in my previous post shows, the view is built around the church that was converted to a mosque after the Greeks were deported early in the 20th century. (Long story.) I wonder if Ayvalik is one of the few places on Earth where you hear church bells at the bottom and top of every hour and the call to prayer five times a day.
We were in Ayvalik for only four days, but it seems like we did so much: spells on two deserted stretches of water, a memorable walk down a country road, gorgeous archaeological sites in the nearby town of Bergama, olive oil procurement, market browsing, not nearly enough lounging around. It occurs to me that I've never missed a place. I miss Ayvalik.
There are some thoughts rattling around my head regarding life in Turkey and a changed perspective on life in the U.S. But those haven't composed themselves yet, but I'll be sure to relay them when they have.
The Flickr set, almost complete, is here.