From Assos, featured in our last video, we move further along the coast. This area is popular with local tourists during the summer months and all along this coastline there is a good mix of accommodation from basic camping to luxury and boutique hotels. We are still in the province of Canakkale as we move along this stretch of the coastline to reach our destination of Akcay in the province of Balikesir near the city of Edremit.
In the distance you can see the Island of Lesvos or Lesbos. We saw it from Assos and it will stay with us for some time yet. It is the third largest island of the Greek Islands. As we have previously seen from Geyikli and Tavakli, this region is known for its olive oil. You will see plenty of olive groves along this coastal route. The quality of the olive oil here is particularly good.
Our first stop is Küçükkuyu which is still in Canakkale. After this we move into the province of Balikesir where we will pass through Altinoluk, Zeytinli and on to Akcay. Much of this suburban holiday housing and tourist accommodation will now be with us as we move down this long and busy stretch of coast.
At Kucukkuyu there is the Adatepe Olive Museum. This interesting olive oil factory, now a museum, also tells the story of Refika, a legendary woman of considerable beauty who lived in the village of Adatepe which we will visit later. Greeks and Turks used to live side by side here until the troubles of the 20th century. Refika is reputed to be a much loved singer adored by Greeks and Turks alike. She would sing at weddings and during the olive picking season in the fields of olives where she would work and sing and enchant the locals. Sadly as a result of the population exchange agreement between Greece and Turkey she had to leave. The memory of her still lives on in Adatepe village.
The museum is full of the tools and equipment of the olive oil trade along with soap making. There is also a shop which sells local olive oil, soaps and souvenirs from this region. You can find out more about the olive museum by visiting http://www.adatepe.com which also tells you about the village of Adatepe.
Küçükkuyu town blends into Altinoluk which itself blends pretty seamlessly into Akcay. The Ida mountains lie behind us and legend has it that Zeus watched the battle of Troy from an altar near here whilst the Goddess Aphrodite found healing water at Kucukkuyu. Our next stop is Zeus Altar high up on the hills overlooking the coastline. Kucukkuyu was settled by the Yörüks or nomadic Turkmens and later refugees from the Balkans. Today the economy is based on olive groves and fishing as well as a significant contribution from tourism.
At Kucukkuyu there is a new ferryboat terminal which offers a service for those wanting to visit the Greek island of Lesvos. It doesn’t run every day but take a look at their website for the most up to date service times.http://www.denturege.com
So, onwards now to Zeus Alter.Up on a mountain hillside overlooking the Aegean coast and near to the village of Adatepe we need to park up and then walk the 800m up an incline to the large rock from which there are some magnificent coastal views below. To get there and back you are looking at a walk of just over 1.5 km but take your time. It’s worth it for sure and it is a very pleasant walk through pine forest.
If you don’t fancy the walk there are often horses for hire by locals which will make your journey a little easier and provide for a good photo opportunity. When you get to the Alter look out for the strange trees nearby adorned with ribbons made of plastic and other materials. Apparently people make a wish and tie their decorations to the nearby trees much as you would make a wish by throwing a coin into a wishing well.
And now on to the village of Adatepe. Not exactly coastal but coastal enough for us to include it here. Set up high in the mountain behind Zeus Altar is this beautiful village with its ornate stone houses. Once a temporary home to Paris, the son of King Priam of Troy the tales of Homer’s Iliad and the ancient civilisations of this region are a reminder of the times when both Turks and Greeks lived peacefully together.
The old stone houses here are protected by law and are accepted as an important cultural and natural heritage. Of the original villagers there are now only around 17 families left. Busy in the summer months it becomes tranquil and quiet in the winter season when all the affluent home owners have gone back to the main cities. Property prices here in this village are extremely high even by Turkish standards since the cost of restoration using traditional materials is expensive. Add to this the desirable location factor and you can start to understand the inflated prices that you would need to pay to live here. Around 400,000 euros for a property here would not be that unusual.
The stone paved streets and beautiful houses set this village apart from other less affluent villages nearby. With the small souvenir shops, boutique hotels and cafes and restaurants this is a popular destination for tourists and it can get quite crowded in peak season.
Our next stop is Altinoluk which was once known as Papazlik. This busy coastal resort can get pretty lively in the evenings. We are now in a much more commercial environment. Tourism plays a big part in the economy here and with it come all the trappings of a full blown tourism industry. Turkish people often have second homes in the form of holiday villas and Altinoluk is full of holiday homes and summer houses. There are tour companies operating from here which run safari trips into the mountains and hills of the Kazdagi National park and Shahindere kanyon.
Finally we are at Akcay where the main road takes us on to Edremit and Burhaniye. With its shopping centres, restaurants and commercial outlets we are now getting close to Edremit city, the main city of the region. You will see some familiar brands here including Koctas the DIY company, a partner of B&Q from the UK. We are going to try and stick to the old coast road though and make our way to Oren Beach and this popular resort which will then take us on to Ayvalik.