So we continue our journey. We leave Akcay, not along the main highway, but by turning off towards Zeytinli village.
Zeytinli, is 15 minutes away from the center of Akcay. A river runs out into the beach by the promenade and the sandy beach is picturesque with its holiday homes and it has an air and a feel of the 1980’s about it. In Turkey people with young families tend to buy their holiday homes in their mid 40’s and then grow old with them. Zeytinli expanded rapidly in the mid 1980’s and has kept its older style. Everything is very relaxed and peaceful. There are few hotels on the beautiful sandy Zeytinli beach and plenty of places to eat and drink.
Zeytinli has an annual Rock Festival around August September time. It is normally held on the beach and features some very well known Turkish artists. Check out their Facebook page at facebook.com/zeytinlirockfest/https://www.facebook.com/zeytinlirockfest/
Moving along the coast road we stop off at one of the holiday villa sites and take a look across the bay to where we have just come from. That extensive busy coastline is now behind us with its imposing Kazdagi Mountain range in the distance.
If you get to spend any time here there are numerous tour companies that will take you into the hills on a safari tour of the local mountains, along with their small villages, waterfalls and creeks.
Had we have continued along the coast road we would have passed through Edremit and then on to Burhaniye but instead we are sticking to the coastal route. There is not a great deal between here and Oren which is our next destination and the coastline is now less commercial and mainly holiday villages for those lucky enough to own a summer holiday villa.
Ören is a delightful holiday resort with a long and wide sandy beach. With it’s golden sands and blue flag status, pine forest and parks along the seafront, it is a very popular destination in peak season. From early July until the end of August when the crowds start to thin out you should book your accommodation in advance to avoid disappointment. For some strange reason the holiday season in Ören opens late and closes early.
Gift shops and restaurants and a peaceful environment and good quality housing give this tourist resort the edge on many others along this coastline. It is easy to see why people fall in love with Ören.
Set back off the beach you will find the ruins of Adramytteion, the remains of a settlement that became known under its modern day name of Edremit. Unfortunately there is not a lot here to see. The ruins sit in a grassy garden which is fenced off and very little information is offered as to the history of the settlement.
There is also a statue of Pegasus by the ruins. Pegasus the mythical winged horse was used as an icon for the city of Adramytteion. In Greek mythology Pegasus is believed to be the son of the mortal Medusa and Poseidon the God of Sea.
So moving away from Oren now and out along the coast towards Ayvalik we pass more holiday villages, a small marina or fishing harbour at Gömeç and the scenic village of Pelitkoy with its small sandy beach. Pelitkoy is about 2km from the main Canakkale – Izmir highway. It takes its name from the word Pelit which means oak fruit in Turkish, hence the name, Oak fruit village.
You have probably noticed in our videos that although the climate in the Aegean is warm, the winds can be quite strong, particularly in August.
Continuing out of Pelitkoy we pass olive groves that lead right up to the beach front. Here people laze in the shade under the cover of the olive branches and gaze out to sea as they relax by the beach. A great place for a barbecue too.
The road now takes us to Ayvalik.
At first glance, Ayvalık might seem to be just another town along the coast. However, it does have some interesting architecture and history. There are many Greek buildings with ornate windows and soors and the antique quarter is well worth a visit. Many of the houses on the hillside have been turned into small guest houses and some of the mosques here were originally Greek Orthodox churches.
We are still in the land of olive production which is why you will see many shops selling olive oils and soaps. This seaside town with its offshore islands and nearby Lesbos have been the home of settlements since ancient times. This part of the Aegean coast is surrounded by low lying hills and pine trees and olive groves. After this we will soon leave Balikesir and move on towards the province of Izmir.
This whole region has a rich history as you will have seen from our previous videos. There is evidence of human settlers having been here since prehistoric times.
Until the population exchange of Greeks and Turks in 1922 almost the entire population of this area would have been Greek. Following the Turkish War of Independence the 1923 agreement for the exchange of populations saw Muslim Turks from Mitilene and Crete replace the Greeks and likewise Greeks from Ayvalik replace the Turks in those locations which would have included Lesbos.
Ayvalik is heaving with tourists during June, July and August. Hotel prices are pretty expensive here and parking and traffic jams can be a problem. May, early June and September are the best times to visit.
Ayvalik has over 2.5 million olive trees covering some 33,000 acres. Many of these trees are very mature with some over 500 years old.
When you walk along the sea front in the city centre you will see a host of small yachts and pleasure craft all wanting to whisk you off on a boat tour around the islands. You are spoiled for choice here there are so many. There are also a couple of diving boats with tours and diving equipment for hire.
This seafront area of Ayvalik is the perfect place to grab a beer and chill out.
Up on the hill overlooking Ayvalik there is a stone tower. Some sort of folly or vantage point it is fairly modern and not anything of any historical significance but use it as a marker to head on up for some beautiful scenic views of the town.
If you head out of town towards Izmir and follow the signs to Satan’s Feast or Şeytan Sofrası in Turkish which is 8km from Ayvalik you can see all of the islands of Ayvalik spread out before you. The views from this vantage point are spectacular and the evening sunsets are legendary. It has become very commercialised of late but head up there an hour before sunset and you won’t regret it.
The hill on which we stand to watch the sunset is a round table shape which was formed from volcanic lava deposits from a now extinct volcano. A footprint was preserved and kept in an iron cage with the local belief that it was the footprint of Satan. Some visitors will make a wish and throw their coins in the direction of the Devil’s footprint but for the most part people are here for the spectacular scenery and the amazing sunsets.
At night as we look over the illuminated bridge that joins Cunda to the mainland it might be worth mentioning the Cunda Uygulama Hotel which sits on a rock with a commanding view of the bridge and Ayvalik beyond. There are many government run Uygulama Hotels in Turkey and this is the flagship hotel. They are placement training centres for students studying the hospitality industry and it is students who run and operate the hotel under instruction from their teachers. They provide a very good service at a reasonable price. Whenever we are in Ayvalik we always try to book this hotel. The evening buffet meal is particularly good. For more details visit their website at: www.uygulamaotel.com
From Ayvalik you can catch the ferry to Lesbos, the neighbouring Greek Island. The crossing takes between 50 minutes with a high speed ferry and around an hour and 15 minutes with the slow ferry. The crossing operates regularly during the week and there are plenty of tour operators opposite the main road by the ferry terminal. If you prefer to book online try www.bilet.com or www.feribot.net. Both sites are in Turkish and English.
Alibey Island , known more commonly as Cunda Island.
The island of Cunda sometimes referred to as Alibey Island was known to the Greeks as Monschonisia ~ The perfumed Island. Today Cunda Island is a popular tourist destination with its old Greek style houses, boutique hotels and fine restaurants. The seafront promenade is the perfect place for an evening stroll and the gift shop markets are popular with souvenir seekers.
In 2011 we passed through here and took some photos of a dilapidated building which lay neglected and damaged by earthquakes and which would have been a Greek Othodox church. We took these photos. In 2012 this building had the good fortune to attract the attention of Rahmi M. Koc one of Turkeys most successful businessmen and due to his leasing the building for 49 years and fully restoring it to its original glory it opened in June 2014 as a museum of Industrial heritage. If you visit Cunda Island be sure to visit the Taksiyarhis Museum. You can find out more about this at http://www.rmk-museum.org.tr which is in both Turkish and English.
The rest of this video shows you the interior of the building much as it might have been before it fell into ruin. Your entry fee helps support this important project.
Cunda Island has a typical Aegean resort town. It is easy to get there from Ayvalik by bus or by ferry services. There are frequent bus and ferry services to Cunda Island from the town center of Ayvalık.
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