The Furry Country: Vienna & Budapest

A New Year’s Fantasy…

Sunday concerts conducted by Hikmet Şimşek hold an important place in our generation’s childhood memories. Colorful memories of the same period include the funny philharmonic concerts conducted by Danny Kaye, which gave me and my peers a taste of classical music. Even though I’m not a real classical music fan, I’m quite familiar with it. Therefore, when my usual traveling companion Melike shared her dream of going to a New Year’s Eve Concert in Vienna, I said “come on!”

Of course, it doesn’t work like that… Vienna is an expensive destination in every respect. But Melike is a hardworking and determined woman even more than me! In summer, at the peak of hot July, when the airlines announced promotions, she immediately called me! During the previous campaign period, international tickets were not on sale, so we had consoled ourselves with Antalya and Konya tickets. This time the bite was big, so we attacked from both sides. Melike was successful again. Tickets to Vienna were out of reach, but we bought two return tickets to Budapest. And she had also looked up the Budapest – Vienna train schedule. Therefore, our plan was ready about 6 months before new year, at the height of the summer heat. We were going to fly to Budapest, taking the train to Vienna, staying here for a short time and enjoying the famous New Year’s Eve concert, and then returning to Budapest on the first day of the year for two or three days, hitting two targets with one flight.

Of course, time flew by… When the beginning of December came, we were a little sad that we did not reserve the accommodation in advance. Because the places were full and the prices had doubled! Fortunately, we and Melike’s sister, who decided to join our trip, attacked from three directions and found suitable accommodations for our budget. Moreover, the airline’s revision of flight schedules gave us the right to change the date of our promotional tickets free of charge. Thus, both the traveling group and the duration of the trip was expanded as 3 days in Vienna and 3 days in Budapest.

Before Going to Cold Lands…

Of course, winter can be harsh everywhere, but we had difficult moments of the cold in central and northern European cities before. Especially if you intend to wander the streets in the middle of winter like us! Also, if you do not have much luggage allowance on your promotional flight and will be traveling with only a cabin bag, planning is essential.

We carefully considered and discussed the things that should and should not pack for an efficient travel suitcase. We acted with the following notes:

  • A lightweight and long (certainly below the knee) fluffy coat that is resistant to all kinds of cold and rain – I bought a long, side slit, black on the outside and bright orange on the inside, which looked good in the photos.
  • Boots that will keep you warm, comfortable on long walks, and stylish enough for night parties (important point: no extra shoes) – I chose medium-sized snow boots with zippers.
  • Heaviest clothes should be worn on the road – I wore jeans and my fluffy fleece
  • A woolen shawl – I wrapped a blanket-type woolen shawl that matches the colors of the coat.
  • Thin underlayers for everyday and 1-2 spare sweaters – I brought 2 sweaters, but one with the fleece was enough.
  • A stylish option for New Year’s Eve – I couldn’t decide and brought two alternatives, but in the end I chose the comfortable one. So there is no need for the second one; decide up front.
  • As for the bags; a cabin type rickshaw suitcase, a comfortable but stylish medium-sized backpack instead of a shoulder bag and a small shoulder bag inside it.
  • Important note: If you don’t have specific shopping goals, don’t think ​​”I’ll buy it there if I need it”. Both Vienna and Budapest are expensive for shopping!

New Year’s Concert…

We had heard that the our dream (especially Melike’s) tickets for the Vienna Philharmonic New Year’s Eve Concert were very expensive. But we had also learned that the concert was broadcast live on giant screens in the city square and the festive streets. That’s why we didn’t bother with the concert first. But as the date approached, we wondered if we could find affordable tickets. Again, thanks to my friend’s determination and effort, we found a wonderful opportunity.

One of the small palace buildings in the city center of Vienna was converted into an event area for concerts and receptions. Small concerts were held in halls that looked luxurious inside and out. Apparently, city residents and tourists dressed up and enjoyed this splendor. The name of the place is Kursalon Hübner. And for New Year’s Eve, we bought a package for a concert between 22.00-23.30 and a fireworks show from the palace terrace with a glass of champagne at midnight for approximately 90 Euros per person.

Indeed, when we arrived at the event area around 21:00, we observed with astonishment that some of the guests came in evening dresses and tuxedos that would suit red carpets. Of course, there were also those who did not care for the atmosphere and came in their daily comfort clothes; some of them tourists. The majority of guests were dressed elegantly like us, but they were not posh like “the bride’s sister” at a wedding. It was very nice that the majority was Viennese of all ages who came to have a pleasant New Year’s Eve.

Unfortunately, the concert hall was not as huge and ornate as in the pictures. The area had probably been divided into concert, dining and dance sections. We confirmed this later when we had the opportunity to see other parts of the palace. Still, the stage was sufficient for the performance of a group of 9-10 musicians and 2 dancers or soloists. The seating consisted of chairs that were not very comfortable, but it was not unbearable. The entrance to the hall was through a single door, after a long wait, under the guidance of elegant ushers who did not rush at all.

The concert program was planned as a potpourri of popular classical music. It was compiled from pieces starring Vienna’s pride, Mozart and Strauss, that could appeal to all kinds of ears. Moreover, the accompanists who appeared on stage from time to time were exquisite… A tenor and a soprano opera soloist sang short arias, separately and together. A young ballerina and her slightly pot-bellied senior accompanist offered visual feasts of dance from waltz to ballet. The abundance of fun and rhythmic pieces did not tire the audience. After all, it was all very enjoyable. We laughed at the seniors in the audience who wanted to share the moment, because they were filming the back of guests rather than the performance. We considered it an advantage to be at the back of the hall and scored all the evening dresses.

After the concert ended half an hour before the new year, the guests were taken to the terrace in front of the hall in an orderly manner. Since we weren’t the only smart ones, we had to wait a long time in the cloakroom line before stepping out into the cold night. But we took our place in a secluded corner on the terrace with our champagne glasses in our hands before midnight. Thanks to our view overlooking a large park in the middle of the city, we had the opportunity to watch several firework shows in a row. Following the serial countdown of our presenter, a short but sparkling show took place right in front of us.

As the terrace got less crowded, we thought the guests were slowly dispersing. It turned out that there was another disco-lit hall with a dance floor and a small stage next door. We were excited to see people of all ages enjoying the music. We accompanied the evening dressed couples for a while. Our sweetest moments were watching the aunts and uncles dancing cheek to cheek, arm in arm wşth their shiny outfits. 

Vienna Impressions & Warnings…

While traveling around a city in Europe, every tourist has different approaches… Some are museum lovers, some are gourmets; some wander the streets, some shop. Some people like to play from every tune and visit the most famous venues of the city. There are now many blogs, travel guides, and tour programs online. That’s why I won’t tell you to see this and don’t miss this in Vienna. It is very easy to do a little research on the internet and make a choose-like model. And that’s what we did… But I can share a few tips that made it easier for us in our short three-day program:

  • You can easily mark the places you want to go on the map. This way, you will save time and it will be easier to spontaneously determine the closest route.
  • You can download your map, which includes the places you have marked, accommodation and transfer points, to your mobile phone so that you can use it offline. Thus, you can access it whenever you want.
  • Like us, you can get a virtual sim card by sacrificing one of you, so you can share the internet service in the group with an affordable budget. The only thing you need to pay attention to is that this data sharing is a bit battery consuming.
  • If there is a museum you definitely want to go to, try to buy your tickets in advance. Tickets sell out quickly in many famous museums in Europe. 
  • Since we are interested in cultural heritage and thanks to Melike’s passionate curiosity, we specifically targeted the museum where the ruins of Ephesus are exhibited. It may not be at the top of the popular museums, but it’s central and it’s easy to buy tickets at the door. Unfortunately, they are displaying the magnificent Artemis in a way she does not deserve. It was a little heartbreaking to see the treasures of Ephesus in a doorway, at the bottom of the stairs, without proper lighting or backdrop that revealed their charm. At least they wrapped up the topic with an exquisite site model and excavation photographs.
  • The city is quite crowded, especially during special times such as New Year’s Eve or even long weekends; There can be many queues everywhere. Consider waiting in line for restaurants and cafes or going to less popular places.
  • In some places, the staff may act as if they are from the palace aristocracy and are doing you a favor. Don’t get angry or just keep it to yourself. Most of the time, the service fee is added to the account. Walk away slowly, pretending that you didn’t leave a tip.
  • Yes, apple pies and schnitzels are amazing! Don’t leave without eating some. The city’s most famous schnitzel restaurant has two branches. One is bigger and you have a better chance of getting a table by waiting in line without making a reservation. We went on December 31, 15 minutes before it opened, at 11.15. We waited for about 20 minutes and ate at a wonderful table. Viennese schnitzel has pork and veal options here. The pork one is more famous and delicious. Portions are very fulfilling; you can even feed three people with two portions or order both for diversity. Do order the recommended potato salad on the side. But the cranberry sauce may not appeal to everyone; I liked it.

  • The streets were beautifully decorated for New Year’s Eve… Lights, food and drink kiosks, security corridors, music points; everything was planned perfectly. It was very enjoyable to spend time on the streets before and after the concert. Mulled wine, punch and various drinks were sold in mushroom-shaped mugs with the Vienna commemoration logos. You could keep it as a souvenir; so I carried one of them home.

Ultimately, my impression of Vienna is this…

You have to see it once; but is it an exciting destination for the heart? No. First of all, it is a cold city with a cold style. I think the most important reason is the scale of everything. All is disconnected from the humanist scale; everything is huge… Roads, buildings, palaces, columns, ceilings, buildings and the city is mostly in neoclassical style. This style seems very insincere and superficial to me. It’s like a pretentious imitation of the legacy of ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia and Anatolia. They look great from a distance but lack the real majestic beauty. If you are interested in 18th and 19th century art, crafts and architecture this will be satisfactory. But if you are from the motherland of these fake Corinthian columns and wall reliefs, it doesn’t impress that much.

But if you are an art lover, Vienna is a museum paradise. It does not contain as much as cultural capitals such as Berlin, London and Paris. But if Klimts, Renoirs and Picassos suit your taste, there is a very satisfactory collection. So, if I ever go to Vienna again, I can stay one or two more days and feed my art-loving appetite.

What about Budapest…

Again, it was very easy to travel around Budapest with the targets previously marked on our map. Important tourist locations are not too far from each other. I am listing the tips and suggestions with comments:

  • I recommend staying in a central location; you can go everywhere on foot. We stayed here; the encrypted key box, easy instructions, the quiet location in the most popular spot of the city and the comfort were satisfactory:

  • Public transportation is very easy. We used buses a few times; There are ticket vending machines with English menus at almost every stop. Payment can also be made via credşt card for the transfer between the airport and the center.
  • Again, I think you should buy your tickets to big and popular museums in advance, famous painters have many adorers.
  • The National Hungarian Museum is a treasure that can be overlooked… We went early in the morning without buying a ticket in advance. There was still a queue but we got in easily. The treasury section is particularly impressive; located in the library section of the palace and the interiors were as impressive as the rare displays. In the divisions about Hungarian migrations, one could argue that “they are definitely Turks” 🙂

  • The Opera House is world famous and has exquisite shows. Tickets are sold out very easily; we couldn’t find any. They also sell a limited number of standing  tickets at 18:00 for every night, but that sells out too quickly too. If you go early and wait in line, it is worth the experience for the wonderful acoustics and the magnificent hall:

  • If you want to visit the famous bridge, I recommend sunset time. The sun sets behind the hills, but if you’re lucky, you’ll be treated to wonderful colors with the Danube river. Moreover, if you walk across the bridge to the Buda side at this time, you can see the wonderful illuminated view of the city and the parliament building. It is possible to see a better view from the hilltop by taking the cable car; definitely worth the wait.
  • We thought we could shop for souvenirs easily in Budapest but we were wrong! In my opinion, Hungarian embroidery and all tourist items were more expensive than their worth. It was obvious from a distance that some of the embroidery is machine work. We can already find everything in Turkey and our defeat against the Euro is very sad… We even had difficulty finding something to buy in the largest market in Budapest. However, if you would like to see all kinds of souvenirs and delicatessen in one place:

  • Red pepper sauce called Paprika, one of the hallmark flavors of Budapest, is very popular. It is sold everywhere; you can buy a more affordable one from the market. It’s not a very different taste for us Turkish people, but it has a nice nuance that lingers on the palate. Moreover, it can also be a nice gift.
  • If you love shopping or are especially fond of vintage stuff, then the hidden gems of the city will make you happy. There are multiple stylish vintage and second-hand stores in the centre. There are a variety of products, from quality used clothes to fun socks, leather bags and fur jackets. We lwere particularly happy with this:

  • We found a shop for original Hungarian products in the center on our last hour.. Horn cups and ornaments, embroidered jewelry and clothes, leather bags and other decorated items made beautiful last-minute gifts with both their designs and inexpensive prices. It’s not exactly marked on the map, but it’s around here:

  • There is a place that offers almost all varieties of street food… You should try:

  • One of the best tastes we had was Artizan Bakery, a bakery-cafe that makes everything. The soup on the lunch menu, the sandwiches/salads that came with it, and the desserts were delicious. Careful because if you’re just as hungry as we were, there’s a risk of over eating:

  • The city is famous for its bars located in abandoned buildings. The most famous, largest and most entertaining one:

  • One night, we went to a sweet bar on our way… There were sweet waiters who gave you a deck of cards and directed us to choose among many cocktails from various flavors. This was a very fun experience; the venue was also very beautiful:


Budapest was a more humane, fun and enjoyable travel route for me. In the center of cold Europe, there are huge buildings, huge streets and huge squares still; but both the architectural features and the city as a whole envelops you with its more humane scale. Especially its sweet roof tiles and shapes, tiny shops, detailed, intricately crafted facades like Hungarian embroidery and exquisite lights. The Danube river, decorated with its resemblances, does create a lasting impression.

Walking through these streets makes you feel like you are in a distant land. But more like being part of an exciting adventure rather than a frightening or disturbing experience. In fact, it feels quite like a fairy-tale to watch people skating from the bridge on the huge ice ring, set up on the edge of the giant square or to walk through the old gate in the city’s largest park and wander among the romantic buildings. Ultimately, in Budapest, even if I did not feel like I belonged, I felt like I belonged to the moment.

The Furry Country…

So you may ask “what’s with the fur?”. From the moment we set foot in Vienna, we noticed plenty of people wearing fur; women of all ages and some gentlemen too. Initially the classic models preferred by older women caught our attention. Then we realized that young girls were also wandering around in furs. First we thought it was probably due to the cold weather. But gradually we concluded that fur was making a comeback in fashion

It didn’t take long for us to realize that every major store had at least one fur on display. When we met a huge fur section in the vintage shop in Budapest, the heart began to want what the eye saw! A variety of second-hand fur clothes, from colorful vests to retro jackets, adorned the hangers.

I must admit that I have mixed feelings about the fur issue. Most of it is thankfully fake fur anyway. But slaughtering a living creature just to look beautiful is not my thing. The moral evolution of our civilization is already at this point too. On the other hand, fur was once essential for a sustainable healthy life with local resources in very cold climates. It may still be valid in some special cases. My real dilemma is what will happen to the furs of the past… For example, the ones made before fur became a moral impasse. And eventually, what should I do with the fur stuff I inherited from my aunt?

My trip to Vienna and Budapest led me to ask these questions once again. The stylish and elegant fur coats seemed more impressive with the cold weather. Finally, I decided to buy a vintage faux fur vest. I was happy, the shop owner was happy and my conscience remained clear. Moreover, I looked fabulous! There is a saying in Turkish from an old joke that tells the story of how looks can be deceivingly powerful even if fraudulent… “Eat my fur!”

Taste It: Chios Island

Going to Chios

Actually, this is not my first time visiting Chios; I had visited for a few days. But it was a short trip and a long time ago. It was a good decision to have a detailed Chios holiday at the end of the official season and beginning of the off season, the best season for me. We had initially thought of a program with hoping on and off to other islands.But then we decided not to spend our time on the road and experience an island to its fullest. This was a very good choice; we have literally devoured Chios with its culture from its museum to its towns, its cuisine from local to fancy, its beaches from its facilities to its pristine beaches and all its roads!

8 Days in Chios

I am writing down the 7 nights and 8 days program we spent in Chios, item by item, so that it is easy to read… By the way, our travel date is October 2023:

Day 1

  • Ferry arrival 10.00
  • Leaving our stuff in our house 
  • Spinach + juice + shopping at the bazaar
  • Settling in at home (14.00-18.00 Solving the crisis)
  • Dinner at Dolphina costs 41 E 🙁

Day 2

  • Coffee at the castle:) (the best Greek coffee with mastic is here)
  • Tour inside the castle
  • Ottoman bath museum
  • The wind mills
  • Dinner at OYZEPI 36 E amazing Seafood 🙂
  • Home break
  • Live music and cocktail at the cafe in the castle; 16 E (2 pieces)

Day 3

  • Archaeological Museum
  • Long hike to the south
  • Dinner at Stou Giorgio; amazing mushrooms! 🙂 40.5 E (mushrooms, meatballs, Greek salad, sausage, honey and cheese fries, white wine 50 pcs) The market is crowded with families
  • Ginger beer in the market

Day 4

  • Car rental (25 E per day)
  • Going to Pyrgi… Coffee break, spoon mastic, sightseeing photo
  • Chios Museum and wonderful exhibition, exquisite view
  • Beach Mavra Volia sea sun beautiful
  • Dinner at Emporios with large portions 54E (squid, zucchini on skewers, potatoes, rusk salad, 3 beers)
  • Passing by car from Armolia on the way back
  • Cocktails at home

Day 5

  • Visit to Olympic village, coffee x 2 5 E
  • Mesta town, 14.5 E coffee x 2 and orangeopita + ice cream mastika
  • Break at the south west beach Paralia Apothika 
  • Meal at Stou Giorgio 40E (pork bake, mushrooms, meatballs, Harmony salad, that) very quiet this time
  • Returning home and walking by the sea

Day 6

  • Breakfast at home
  • Nea Mori Monastery
  • Abandoned town Anavatos, mostly closed with only one cafe
  • Avgonima village on the hill, coffee and dessert 7 E
  • Lithi beach, very windy snack Tria Aderfia 17 E (zucchini flower meatballs, herb boiled, white wine decanter 50 CC)
  • Return home break
  • Fine dining at Vradipus 22E (4 types of mini appetizers: rusk salad is delicious, goat gruyere is delicious, meat with sauce is excellent, fava + 50 CC white wine) liquor is served at the end, the presentation is wonderful.

Day 7

  • Going to Volissos (rocky roads)
  • Coffee at the steep town entrance 7.3 E
  • castle climbing
  • Traveling north, stopping on the way Pitos town
  • North Bay Nagos beach, short swim
  • Meal at Lagkada village fish restaurant 37 E (fried zucchini, french fries, boiled herbs, grilled mullet, meatballs, ouzo for 20)
  • Return & grocery shopping

Day 8

  • Byzantine Museum
  • Citrus Museum 12 E coffee X2 + lemon cake
  • Agia Fotini beach break
  • Return ferry

Critical recommendations for Chios…

Again, instead of writing long paragraphs, I make notes in the form of do / don’t or don’t miss / you know how I will do it if I go again:


  • We stayed in a wonderful place called The Garden; I highly recommend it… It is in the center, right next to the bussy area, but in a quiet place. A wonderful apartment complex built by renovating an old settlement. The buildings are made of stone either original or with a renovated design that remains true to the original and they offer a real Greek island experience. The owners, Fotini and her husband are such hospitable and sweet people that we became friends. In fact, Fotini, who was learning Turkish, even studied together with my comrade Melike, a fresh archeology student. 
  • We made the reservation though But we are very unhappy; because we fell victim to fake accounts. We are very pleased with our accommodation and its owners, but we will not book our next stay through booking. They did solve the problem, but it took a few international phone calls and half a day of stressful crisis.


  • Coffee in the Castle: There are 3 places in the castle overlooking a square as soon as you pass through the gate on the city center side. Two of them are restaurants and one is a cafe. It is always festive and lively, the service is reasonable, the prices are good and the taste is delicious.
  • NO NO NO Dolphina’… Oh my God! I don’t advise at all, or go willingly…It is one of the places recommended on blogs and Instagram accounts. We went there on the first night because it was the most popular of the few seaside taverns. Some of our orders were terrible, some were mediocre, and some were plain good. For example, the calamari was unchewable; I have never eaten anything as bad as this in any restaurant on a Greek island. Shrimp was good, the mussel saganaki was not bad. The price wasn’t bad overall but not worth it; I experienced ten times the taste with that budget or even less.
  • I do recommend the only restaurant near the mills: OYZEPI. It has a very simple but efficient menu system… You either choose seafood or meat, and choose what to drink with it. The rest comes from the appetizers of the day, like a fixed menu. Everything was delicious, from fava to sardines, from fried anchovies to cheese saganaki, from salad to shrimp. Actually, 25 Euros for a menu with wine for two would be enough for us… But when you eat two meals a day, you get hungry. There is also a greed for seafood that comes with being new to the island. We got up to 36 E2 with extra double cheese and salad. .
  • Stou Giorgio is the place to eat! . It is a 5-minute drive from the center and a 20-minute walk away, but it is a family business mostly visited by local people. It has a nave view overlooking Chios. But the main thing is taste! I have never eaten such magnificent mushrooms in my life. It was so good that we went a second time… here are two different menus: 1 – 40.5 E with mushrooms, meatballs, Greek salad, sausage, honey and cheese fries, white wine 50; 2- baked pork, mushrooms, meatballs, Harmony salad, 40 E. But it gets crowded on weekends, you may want to reserve a seat.
  • Another special Chios experience was Vradipus; It is a fusion option that combines Greek cuisine with modern inside the castle and tastes like fine dining. I think whatever you eat is amazing.
  • There is a small fishing town a little north of the center: Lagkada. There were few open restaurants here when we went, I guess there would be a little more in the season. Everything was very fresh and delicious; but the tabby was great.
  • We decided to eat there when we got hungry at the exit of Mavra Volia, the famous volcano beach. It was the most expensive meal we had on the island. But the portions were huge. At Emporios, we paid 54 E for calamari, skewered zucchini, potatoes, rusk salad and 3 beers. Baby squid and fried skewer zucchini were legendary. I had the opportunity to try Chios beer here; I like it.
  • Since our west coast program ended early, we sat down for a snack rather than a full meal in the only open place on Lithi beach called Tria Aderfia, we had zucchini flower meatballs, boiled herbs, and a carafe of white wine for 17 E. It was a good taste / price parity.

Touristic Towns

  • Pyrgi… One of the two most famous towns of the island; a must see!
  • Olimpi… It’s near Pyrgi and it’s a very sweet town, so when in Rome!
  • Mesta… The apple of the island. It’s a bit touristy but it deserves it.
  • Nea Mori Monastery... It is worth it to climb the tapes in the middle of the island and the view is exquisite.
  • The abandoned town of Anavatos… Its magnificence can not be seen from the photographs. It is a very different kind of settlement; but unfortunately most of it is closed to visitors due to restoration. But I do recommend taking it into the program.
  • Volissos… We were expecting just another stone town. But it made us very happy with its hilly roads, castle overlooking the western coast and surprising streets.
  • Avgonima… On the way to Anavatos and the western route. You can stop by for coffee, the whole town takes less than an hour to walk.
  • Pitos is a small town on your way north… A sweet break if you happen to pass by.


  • Chios Museum… I did not expect such a pleasant site; I’m glad we went! Both the modern buildings, the space arrangement, the view and the show content are wonderful. They have shown everything about the island of Chios and Mastika in a very beautiful, compact and enjoyable curation. I think you should definitely go. Moreover, it is on the Mavra Molia road from Pyri! Entrance is 4E but worth it.
  • Archeology museum... Worth going for those who are interested; But it pales in comparison to what we have in Turkey. Entrance 4 E.
  • Citrus Museum… Actually, we did not visit the show 🙂 But it is such a beautiful building and campus that we spent hours there. There is a very cute cafe in its garden; Delicious menu too. It is a private museum converted from an old mansion. A great stopover point on the southern route.
  • Byzantine Museum… We looked through the door and came back. Nothing much, unless you have a very special interes, there is no need to enter (4E)


  • Mavra Volia beach is legendary… It was this place that I remember the most from my first visit to Chios. Because it has a beach made of volcanic black pebbles and a beautiful sea. 
  • A beach called Paralia Apothika in the southwest. We took the southern route for a sea break; 15 minutes away from Mesta. Normally, there is a cable car from the facility on the cliffs to the beach for service; but when we went there was no one there. You can even discover your own private untouched beach if you explore the cliffs on one side of the beach.
  • Lithi beach… One of the most popular on the west coast. Indeed, there is a sweet sandy beach and facilities. But the day we went, we encountered a storm; so no swimming for us
  • Nagos beach, one of the northern beaches… One of the many small beaches facing north. It is located inside a small settlement. There were three or five people; but I’m sure it’s a popular place in the high season. The sea is pebbly but deepens quickly, it is a pleasant swim.
  • Agia Fotini… This is a popular beach with facilities, close to the center. The pebbles are a beautiful shade of beige here. The sea and the beach are nothing special, but we were very happy to find comfortable wooden sun loungers and bamboo umbrellas to lie on in the off-season, and there was even a beverage service.

.Other Notes:

  • Each restaurant comes with a large set of water and bread, which costs approximately 1.5 E for water and 0.5 E for bread per person.
  • We are very happy to stay in the center and in a unique place. We were able to go everywhere easily (the longest distance on the island is 1 hour) and we were happy to come home every time.
  • There are usually ferries to the island in the morning and evening (35-40 minutes from Çeşme). In order to use the day efficiently, departures in the morning and return in the evening are generally preferred. It gets crowded in season; But off-season entry and exit is easy.
  • We spent the first two days on foot to enjoy the centre; We rented a car for the last 5 days (25 Euros out of season is the best we’ve paid so far). I would recommend it, especially on these last days, unless you choose to stay somewhere else or come with your own vehicle. This way, when you check out from where you left off in the morning, you can put your belongings in the car and enjoy the day wherever you want.

What should we buy from Chios…

I don’t think there’s much need to think about it: MASTİKA! Fifty shades of mastic, to be more precise… 🙂 You can buy the mastic pure, so I can put it on everything at home. Or you can try options such as tangerine or orange. Or you can try the jars with all kinds of jams (I bought the peanut jam just out of curiosity). Of course, there are also masticTurkish delights, mastic drinks, and mastic desserts. But we were surprised that nobody tried to make mastic pudding! You will have to eat it in the form of a paste with a spoon (sometimes in ice water).

As for alcoholic beverages… There are also Ouzo varieties here; We chose the bottle we had drunk at a restaurant and liked. But Chios does not have a deep-rooted ouzo culture like Lesbos. I liked the Chios beer very much; I advise.

Pyrgi patterned bags are number one in souvenirs… Of course, there are various variations of these. Keychains, mirrors, mugs and all sorts of odds and ends. I prefer the souvenirs I can use; That’s why I bought a cloth bag. There is a gift for everyone’s taste and budget.

The sum of it…

As I told you, we had first planned a tour of the islands with my companion Melike. But after a busy summer schedule, we wanted a more relaxed pace before heading into winter. We did not want to spend most of our time on the road, as ferry services became less frequent as the official season ended. In short, it seemed more attractive to Chios upside down.

And that’s what we did!… I think there is no road or geography of Chios that we haven’t seen at least once. We spent the first two days in the center and digested the island culture with all its streets and museums. We did the southern route twice, which is well deserved as there are very popular destinations here. In one day, we crossed from the middle to the west and explored the hills and west coast. We devoted one day entirely to the north, which was a good idea. We encountered a completely different face of the island nature. The dense stony terrain here has a different fascination. We reserved the last day to complete the bonus and enjoy the seaside.

Thanks to its proximity to our lands, Chios is one of the islands that we Turkified to a certain extent… When the transportation is so easy, of course there are many Turkish visitors. Accordingly, you can sometimes see tactics stolen from our water-savvy tourism professionals… Such as offering paid water and bread to every table. In some faces you see the sadness, remembering the time when we were all together, and in some you can see the tiredness. For example, the man sitting at the place where we rented the car, originally from Gökçeada, was telling us how he escaped from the Turkish military. 

But the real issue is, will we meet on our common ground or will we fall apart from our differences? One of the two things that touched me the most was the temporary special exhibition at the Chios Museum… The feeling of being in limbo described by the Greek immigrants who came to the island from the mainland after the war. In other words, the sadness of being neither from here nor there was depicted. The other impression is the way our hosts embraced us… One is the accountant son of a carpenter father from an Egyptian immigrant family. The other is a big-hearted woman, a Macedonian immigrant with Spartan blood. The two met and fell in love while studying at university in Piraeus. The man’s eyes shine as he looks at his wife; the woman lights up the room with her smile. The doors they made with their own hands and the breakfast basket they carefully prepared for us also tell the story. They sent us off with the words “Stay one more night with us”… I will go to Chios again just for this feeling of “if you combine your dreams with your effort, you can build a palace”. But I will also eat the squid, the shrimp and the octopus! 🙂

The Secret of Long Life: Ikaria

Departure to Ikaria

I had heard good stories about İkaria for many years and finally I set out to visit. There is no direct passage from Turkish ports to Ikaria which is one of the Greek islands near Turkish mainland. Therefore, some detailed planning is required. But it is not very difficult; because, thanks to our neighbor there are frequent, comfortable and economical ferry services between the islands at an optimum schedule.

The easiest jump to Ikaria is from the island of Samos; Kuşadası port is the closest to it from the Turkish side. I had bought a ferry ticket to Samos online ( before, but ticketing and check-in was done by Meander Turizm, right next to Kuşadası port. For the Ikaria visit, I tried to buy online again; but the ferries from Turkey to Samos arrive at two different ports and the ferry from Samos to Ikaria has a different port (yes, there are 3 ports in Samos and two in İkaria). I had a hard time navigating the ferry-to-ferry crossing puzzle. Then I decided to ask Meander Travel who also organizes Samos tours. Thanks to them, they solved it fast and professionally. Moreover, it did not make much of a difference on the price I would have paid for the combined tickets if I bought them myself! We also wanted to stay overnight in Pythagorion on the way back to Samos too. In the end, the ferries were like this:

Departure: Kusadasi – Samos (Vathi Port) morning departure; bus transit to the port of Karlovassi; Samos (Karlovassi Port) – Ikaria (Evdilios Port) afternoon crossing

Return: Ikaria (Evdilios Port) – Samos (Karlovassi Port) departure at noon; by bus crossing first Vathi and then Pythagorion; the next evening Samos (Pythagorion Port) – return to Kusadasi

Meander Travel location: 

Meander Travel English site: 

Meander Turkish site: 

The ferry ride was smooth and enjoyable as expected; We didn’t realize how time passed because of the excitement. But we waited a long time at the passport control at the entrance to Samos. As we were not one of the first to jump into the port via sitting in the back of the ferry and waiting for the saute as soon as we approached, we were able to enter the island after waiting for about 1 hour in line. I cannot say that you should be smart about this; because while waiting for the bus, there is not much to do in Vathy at noon except to sit at the port and drink cold coffee. So we did; we relaxed a bit by taking advantage of the sea breeze in a cafe close to the bus stop. But first we checked the bus times; although the tariff is not very variable, I recommend you do the same because there may be changes and special circumstances from time to time.

It takes about 1 hour by bus from Vathy to Karlovassi and you can enjoy the ride as the road passes through a pleasant route by the seaside. Since we arrived a little earlier than the ferry hour, we cooled off with Frappe again. There are not many places to wander in Karlovassi anyway. Also, many shops are closed at noon due to siesta. When the giant ferry, which departed on time at 16:25, arrived early to the port, we thought it was not our ride. But it turned out that this huge blue ship would be our vehicle, jumping between the islands and carrying passengers to many destinations including Mykonos. We were very comfortable on this huge ferryboat with multiple floors (only for 2 floors of vehicles), air-conditioned saloons and huge indoor and outdoor terraces, and we enjoyed watching the northern shores of Samos and Ikaria. We arrived at Evdilios just in time.

We had made a reservation for car rental in advance… I would definitely recommend it because there are limited cars on the island and it’s not worth the risk of being empty handed or getting a junk ride. We took our vehicle from the office, which is within walking distance of the port, and set out for our house in Therma, on the south side of the island, about 1 hour away. No extra payment was required to include the second driver. During the holiday, we were comfortable using the narrow and winding roads of the island in this way.

5 Days in Ikaria 1 Day in Samos

Instead of writing long sentences, I am summarizing the gross 5, net 4 days (roads eat half a day or more) and the net 1 night 1 day program in Samos so that it is easy to read… By the way, our travel date is July 2023:

map of ikaria

day 1

  • 9:00 – 11:30 Kusadasi – Samos ferry ride & passport control
  • 11:30 – 13:30 Cold coffee break at Vathi port in Samos
  • 13:45 – 15:00 Vathi – Karlovassi bus ride (5 E / person)
  • 15:00 – 16:15 Karlovasi cold coffee break
  • 16:25 – 18:00 Samos Karlovasi – Ikaria Evdilios Ferry ride
  • 18:00 – 19:30 Car rental from Evdilios & departure to Therma
  • 19:30 – 21:30 Dinner at Agios Kirykos (Seafood & Island Goat Cheese Roast – 3 people 60 E)
  • 21:30_ 22:00 Transfer from Agios Kirykos to Therma (15 min) & settling in the house
  • 22:00 – 23:00 Ikaria beer on Therma beach (award-winning but eh)
Therma  at night
İkarian beer
Therma at night 2

day 2

  • Enjoying the sea in the morning in Therma thermal waters (hot springs in a natural cave-like recess) and in the bay
  • Breakfast at Kritikos Estiatorio on Therma beach
  • Driving to Seychelles Bay (1 hour horse)
  • Walking and sea break from the parking lot to Seychelles Bay
  • Visit by car to the next town and a cold coffee break
  • Driving to Icarus Rock and greeting to Icarus from the rock (entering the sea)
  • Continue on the south coast – cooling off at Paralia Xilosirtis beach
  • Dining in the same place at Arodou Tavern (Seafood, island cheese, fries & legendary local wine – 3 quiche 63E)
  • Return to Therma and the bloody moonrise course

day 3

  • Enjoying the sea in Therma thermal waters and the bay early in the morning
  • Journey through the mountain roads in the middle of the island from Therma to the north coast
  • Arrival in Raches town and breakfast & dessert (Amazing sweet & organic purchase from women’s co-op)
  • Raches Town tour (not very sweet at noon, 1-2 hours is enough)
  • Armenistis car ride (30 min)
  • Great snack at Mouragio Tavern in Armenistis (fries with fries, fried cheese, fried zucchini, yellow pan bread & Mamos beer)
  • Transition to Nas Beach, parking the car and going down the stairs & enjoyment at the beach (very strong current and wave, it’s better to play in the sea than swimming, but it’s very nice & there are people who hang out naked, it’s free)
  • Transfer to Karimalis Vineyard for sunset and dinner (vegetarian fix menu & 1 glass of wine 35 E/person – they make everything from their own produce, a sweet team especially the host lady and our Spartan waitress)
  • Night cruise to Therma & Full Moon

day 4

  • Early departure from home due to pests and calming in thermal waters in Therma
  • Coffee break at Kritikos Estiatorio on Therma Beach (two sunbeds cost 10 E)
  • Transition to Evdilos port and town tour (1-2 hours is enough)
  • 14:30 embark on the ferry and transfer to Armenitis
  • Room rental at Kirki Rooms family business in Armenitis (small double room 40 E with no view – clean and very pleasant seafront communal terrace)
  • Sea break at the small beach of Armenistis
  • Fabulous meal at the Mouragio Taverna in Armenitis (wonderful roast honey cheese with kadaif, roast zucchini, delicious hot yellow pan bread, kiddo stew with noodle rice, amazing scalloped caviar & local white wine – 2 people 38E)
  • Enjoying the terrace & sleeping pipe at the hotel

day 5

  • Enjoying the sea at Armenistis small beach
  • Transfer to Evdilios at noon and vehicle delivery
  • 14:30 ferry ride to Samos Karlovassi port (approximately 1 hour)
  • Karlovassi – Vathi bus ride (approximately 1 hour – 5 E/person)
  • Bus ride from Vathi to Pythagorion (approx. 20 min – 1.7 E/person)
  • Settlement in Hotel Pegasus (a medium-sized clean and well-maintained hotel that remains retro with old furniture – double room 80 E for 1 night)
  • A pleasant tour in the streets of Pythagorion & delicious ice cream (everyone is very stylish and well-groomed here, also the weather is very positive)
  • Shopping at the bazaar (there are boutiques with beautiful original designs and stores with affordable linen/silk dresses)
  • A wonderful dinner at Mermizeli Restaurant (a delicious modern twist on traditional Greek cuisine – Salad with Mermiz, grilled swordfish with amazing basmati rice, garlic bread, grilled vegetables with local cheese called castle & 20 ml Hera Ouzo – chance to meet the owner Maria – 2 people) 65 E)
  • Return to hotel and lay down pipe

day 6

  • Get up early and go to the ancient ruins of Pythagorion Heraion (taxi 13 E) sightseeing in the area (entrance 6 E / person) & salute to the goddess Hera
  • Visit to the monastery of Panagia Spiliani and the holy cave behind it (taxi 14 E from Heraion)
  • Walking down the monastery and arriving at the beach
  • Enjoying the sea by the ruins of Pythagorion
  • Pythagorion castle museum, basilica and other ruins tour
  • Cold coffee break in the bazaar
  • Shopping & transfer to hotel, meeting
  • Pythagorion – Kusadasi journey by 18:00 ferry (approximately 1.5 hours and if the sea is choppy it is shaky)

Critical advice for Ikaria…

Again, instead of writing long paragraphs, I make notes as if I go again, how would I do it / don’t or don’t miss it / you know:

  • Armenitis is our favorite for accommodation in Ikaria. Therma was also beautiful, but the north sea is a bit more pleasant and northern towns are a bit more comfortable and relaxed as they are used to tourists.
  • We said that you must make a reservation when renting a car. And please follow the advice given to you, not google maps! Some of the mountain roads guided by our navigation were dusty dirt, even rocky, and we were able to proceed very slowly. In general, the coastal road from the north and south of the island is popular, some of the ones that pass through the mountains in the middle of the island are good and some are not.
  • Dinner at Agios Kirykos one evening in the south is recommended. We couldn’t reach the archeology museum, you can try it too. In addition, there are jumps to other islands from here… We are planning for next time.
  • I recommend you to swim in Therma thermal waters and this sweet little bay in the morning. It’s a pleasure to spend half a day there. Actually, it’s not bad for a stay, but it’s a bit far from other locations. But that hot water in winter or autumn would be great!
Therma bay
Therma termal waters
Therma termal waters
  • Seychelles Bay is the most famous place on the island… Everyone writes, draws and tells about it. Yes it is very beautiful; But I don’t think I will die if I don’t see it again. Also the hiking road is a bit rough, you can’t go with slippers; You have to climb down from pretty rocks to the tiny cove. And the main problem is that there is no shadow except for the rock that creates a huge cave. But it was already crowded when we went at noon. The water is truly exquisite and the colors are turquoise & fifty shaed of blue… But you have to go early in the morning or in the afternoon; noon time is tough,
Seychelles Bay 1
Seychelles Bay road
Seychelles Bay 2
  • Many people have written that there is nothing important to see in Icarus Rock… I don’t think so. As the mythological story that gives the island its name, the energy is very intense here. White stones like marble, natural rocky structures are very impressive. Also, a festival area was built in front of the Icarus rock; it would be great to come across an event there.
Icarus Rock
  • On the south coast, Paralia Xilosirtis beach is a modest but delightful place that can be overlooked. The sea is very pleasant, there is a pier-like extension where you can jump into the water from the natural rocks. And there is a shower at the top of the stairs leading down to the beach! This is a rare comfort in Ikaria, which is famous for its natural beaches. We saw plenty of families here compared to other tourist-filled beaches. It is obviously a place preferred by the islanders.
Paralia Xilosirtis
Paralia Xilosirtis roof
Paralia Xilosirtis view
  • You must eat at Arodou Tavern at the same place! We chose seafood and local wine which was amazing. But it is famous for its goat meat, so we will try it next time.
  • Near to the north of Adanon, but inland towards the middle, the town of Raches is still on the must-see list. If you have time, the festivals of this place are famous. We couldn’t catch it… In fact, as an island, Ikaria is famous for its local festival nights where people drink and dance every night until the morning. The biggest of these is held in Raches. This is also at the top of the next time list!
  • Armenistis is one of the places we enjoy the most for a pleasant sea break, for accommodation, and for a taste stop.
  • Kirki Rooms family-run accommodation in Armenitis is convenient and comfortable.
  • You should definitely eat at Mouragio Tavern in Armenistis. Everything is delicious!
  • Nas Beach is at the top of Ikaria’s magnificent list too… This is also a piece of untouched nature. There are facilities above where you park, but there is no facility downstairs, only an elderly man who rents sun loungers & umbrellas. Famous for its sunset; it would be really nice to end the day here.
  • We especially wanted to experience a winery.. At Karimalis Vineyard, the vegetarian fixed menu is a feast of taste. The sunset here is also magnificent.
  • Since the town of Evdilos is the port of entry or exit to the island, you have to pass through. An hour or two walk on the streets is enough here.

So what can we buy from Ikaria…

First of all, know that Ikaria is quite expensive in terms of shopping and gas compared to the more easily accessible islands like Samos… But this is understandable as there is an additional cost for everything that comes to the island from outside. In particular, things such as clothing and accessories are both more diverse and cheaper in Samos, the neighboring island. But still, you can come across specially designed products in some boutiques on every island.

ikarian evolution

What we liked the most was the Ikaria lifestyle-themed products in Raches. Since our budget was limited, we bought products such as coffee mugs and glasses as souvenirs. I fell in love with a design necklace and bought it in a store run by a lady who was a fan of Istanbul. But we spent more time and money in the boutique we entered next to the Mouragio Tavern in Armenitis. As well as having very tasteful and selected textile products, we were especially  impressed by the charm of the owner. When we were at the beach in the morning, our eyes had drawn to her elegant features, silky gray hair and tattoos on her back at her mature age. While we were curiously looking at the clothes on the hanger in front of the boutique showcase, we were more excited when we saw her inside. Fortunately, we bought one the linen dresses, not one of the silk and floral-patterned dresses… Because when we saw it on everyone’s back in Samos, we said, “The municipality is giving out this dress for sure”; so the name “town dress” remained!

If you don’t mind shopping, storing and transporting food and beverage, I definitely recommend you to buy Ikaria goat cheese and local wine. We had the opportunity to taste a variety of goat cheese in every meal. But it was the fried cheese we ate in Agios Kirykos, which is engraved in our memories with golden letters. They had grilled the goat cheese, which resembled halloumi but had a salt-free flavor, and poured a balsamic sauce on it. Goat cheese fried with kadai in Mouragio competes with this. But if I was served this fancy I would compete too! Our experience (emphasizing that we are not wine gourmets here) has been that the carafes we drank at the restaurants (we tried all of them red, white, rosé) left a more pleasant taste than the branded wine in the vineyard. But we couldn’t find them to buy in the market. So if you do let me know!

And the secret of long life…

The island of Ikaria is the second longest-living place in the world (the first is the Japanese island Okinawa). İkaria was also famous as the exile island of Greece during the communist hunt. Let’s not forget that it is also named after the mythological character Icarus. Apart from these three data, we also have geographical and terrain information and a lot of observations… 

İkaria is a rugged island with 4 different types of soil (we can say that it is a rock type, one of which is slate and shines brightly on the south-west coasts) with plenty of mountainous / hilly and steep slopes meeting the sea. There is also an abundant supply of clean water. There is also goat meat and goat products in its cuisine as well as seafood.

From the combination of all these, I draw the following conclusion… The islanders primarily eat healthy natural and high quality food, that’s for sure. They walk profusely to move. There isn’t much of a choice anyway, entering the house is uphill, leaving the house is downhill or the other way round. As we understand from the graffiti we see on the walls throughout the island, the sickle and hammer are still in fashion. Therefore, although not really communist, there seems to be a sensitivity about social balance and social justice. Well, we can also call the Ikarians the descendants of Icarus, the ascended human. Ikaria is the island of festivals where food and drinks go together and all kinds of island people of all ages play and dance until the mornings… In other words, it is a place where art is made not for art but for society and where enjoying life takes the lead. In the meantime, it does not hurt to swim in thermal waters.

In conclusion… The tools of modern life and consumer society, especially in cities, do not improve our lives while making us more civilized, comfortable, or even smart. Under their shadow, they suck our blood and feed off our energy. I’m not saying it’s totally useless; but it looks like we took it too far! I think the secret of long life is to embrace and share what is best for us and show the middle finger to those who do not serve it. This is the İkarian way!

As they say in Vulcan…“mene sakkhet ur seveh” meaning “live long and prosper” 🙂

The Beaches of Dilek Peninsula National Park

Dilek Peninsula…

First of all, precise information: The national park, located at the last point where Dilek Mountain reaches the Aegean Sea, within the borders of Aydın province. It has an area of 27,675 hectares. 10,985 hectares of this area belong to Dilek Peninsula, which was declared a National Park on 19.05.1966, and 16,690 hectares to Büyük Menderes Delta, which was declared a National Park in 1994.

The Dilek Peninsula section of the National Park, opposite the Greek island of Samos, is the last point of the Samsun Mountains extending towards the Aegean Sea. The highest point of the peninsula, which has an average height of 650 m, is Dilek Tepe (Mykale), from which the National Park takes its name, and is 1237 m high. The National Park takes its name from this hill.

Panionion, the sacred gathering center of the Ionian city in the 9th century BC, the ancient city of Thebes, Ayayorgi Monastery, the historical Doğanbey Village (Domatia), Karine, Hagios Antonios Monastery and Zeus Cave are also within the borders of the National Park.

It is of international importance due to its rich biodiversity, endangered species and endemic species. The National Park is a protected area under the International Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar), the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Habitats (Bern), the Convention on Biological Diversity (Rio) and the Convention on the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution (Barcelona). Dilek Peninsula – Büyük Menderes Delta National Park is an Important Natural Area as it is an Important Bird Area, an Important Flora Area and an Important Mammal Area.

Source: Wikipedia

Kuşadası Municipality National Park page:

Going to the Beaches

Technically, our Eski Doğanbey village is within the borders of the National Park. There is even a National Park Visitor Center at the entrance of the “Anatolian Side” of the village. There is general information about the peninsula, a huge model to help you visualize, and an informative exhibition about the creatures of the region. The building, which was used as a hospital and school in the past, has been restored and turned into a museum, and there are also meeting rooms and a cafe.

Also on the map, the Eski Doğanbey Village and the National Park Beaches are back to back… In other words, our village is exactly in line with one of the beaches in the north of the peninsula, on the southern slopes. There is even an exquisite hiking trail where you can go up to the mountains from the village and pass through the wonderful flora of the region. The other end of the 20 km track leads to the side of the road going to the beaches.

I shamefully admit that in the decades I’ve been here, I haven’t walked all of it. I took long walks on the dirt road that leads through the village to the western end of the peninsula; I walked to the delta past the old winery ruins here. I gathered flowers, sage and thyme from the mountains. I went up to the cliffs watching the village from above like a great wise grandfather and the thin waterfall called Şorlak, which flows through it. I even climbed the hill overlooking the village and the delta and shouted to the mountains as if I was the queen of these lands. I made similar walks from the back; I climbed the road up the beaches up to a point. But I never made the whole journey. Because it is not a commuting distance; there must be a vehicle waiting for you on the opposite side for your return. There have also been some tourists who were lost on the way; it is better if you have an expert or a guide with you.

Therefore, the most comfortable and conventional way to go to the beaches is to take a car and return back to Söke and cross the peninsula via a huge U. This journey will take approximately 45 minutes. While driving through (or around) Söke towards Kuşadası, there is a left turn; From here, you can go to Davutlar via Ağaçlı Village. From there, you can reach the official gate of the National Park Beaches from the summer residence town of Güzelçamlı. You pay a small amount of fee at the gate (in my last visit, the entrance with a vehicle was HGS or cash was 35 TL).


After entering the National Park, there are several beaches in a row. The first of these, İçmeler, is the most popular as it can be reached on foot or public transport. Therefore, it is the most crowded in the season. It makes sense to drive as there is quite a distance to the next beaches, but trackers and cyclists dare every now and then. There is also the opportunity to take in this turquoise-colored landscape with the view of Samos / Samos island and photograph it on the pleasant viewing terraces by the roadside.

Since Aydınlık Bay next is one of the biggest beaches, there are two entrances and exits from both the east and west ends. In between, there is a closed area where the Gendarmerie station is located. Karasu, located at the end, is also a beach where you can spend the day with pleasure, with wooden sun loungers, bamboo umbrellas and picnic tables.

There are facilities on all beaches including İçmeler (wc, cabins, showers, buffets) and all the ones after İçmeler are pebble beaches. Going forward after a point on the peninsula is illegal and the road is closed.

My personal preference is to leave early in the morning on weekdays and go to the farthest beach. Settling down at one of the seaside tables with my thermos, freezer and picnic basket. Especially if I find one in a tree shade, there is no one happier than me. If I lay my loincloth on the wooden chaise longues; I could spend the whole day here. I either have my book in my hand or my companion next to me with the most beautiful waters of the country stretching from blue to turquoise in front of me. And off course, the national park boars next to me!


You may have seen wild boars in many national parks; but here the situation is a little different. Because there are families of wild boars that are used to the crowds coming to the beaches, they do not run away from people. They even set up their homes next to easy food. The puppies are especially cute… You can spot them with their stripes, spots and squeaky sounds. Beware of their parents though; it’s not a good idea to be so intimate with them. No matter how humane they may have been, the boar can knock you down with a single move. In addition, it is useful not to leave the food in the open; they can also plunder your table. For example,  last time they stole our corn and plums! They can quickly sweep away leftovers, watermelon peels, or whatever is left on the table.

Both the nature and the waters of this park is so untouched that not only pigs but also you can come across other wildlife . In all these years of my trips, apart from rabbits, foxes, turtles, squirrels, various birds and fish, I have aslo encountered a very special creature. Two years ago in 2021, while enjoying an ordinary swim, I was standing in the blue water up to my knees… I felt something on my leg, on my ankle. It was like someone was holding me. I looked down and a little octopus was strapped to my leg! Far from being afraid, my heart was filled with joy; I even felt grateful that this beautiful creature deemed me worthy of a hug. I slowly lifted my feet to take a closer look and to show that I was not a rock but a living creature. He didn’t let go; tightly wrapped. I took a few calm steps in the water; then he left. I like to think that it is a hug from the dear waters of the Aegean.

Back to the village…

National Park beaches are not open 24 hours and accommodation is not allowed. According to the season, it closes at 6-7 pm and the gendarmerie patrols to ensure that no one stays inside. There are also very charismatic mounted gendarmes patrolling throughout the day. After all, exit we must… We get in our car and set off with one last drink from the natural spring fountain next to the trail, one last pose on the viewing terraces and goodbye to the piglets.

We take the same way back to the village.This time, we slow down as we pass through Ağaçlı, where we had not stopped before. Because the huge flatbreads and pancakes here are famous. One time, we even finished the giant bread we bought to eat at home on the road!

Alternatively, as you pass through Söke, you can go through the Kemalpaşa neighborhood with preserved and restored old houses. Or you can satisfy your hunger in one of the skewers & steakhouses in the industrial zone. Home-cooking at Meltem Restaurant in Güllübahçe on the village road is also an option. Personally, I prefer to go home and sip my soft drink in the windy courtyard. But tastes and colors are indisputable.

Delta of Büyük Menderes & Karina

Down the village…

Our village – Eski Doğanbey – overlooks one of the most spectacular deltas of both the past and the present: the Büyük Menderes Delta. The gigantic gulf where the fertile waters of the Büyük Menderes River now meet the Aegean in divided channels. It is bounded on the north by the Dilek Peninsula, the Mykele (Dilek or Samsun Mountains) and the Dilek Peninsula National Park, in which the village is located. On the south side, there is Akköy village and then the summer resorts that reach Didim after the tip of the peninsula. 

Köyden Büyük Menderes Deltası

The ancient wisdom of Ionia, one of the most magnificent of ancient civilizations, echoes in these lands. In fact, the present Bafa Lake was a part of it until the deep gulf waters extending all the way inland were filled with alluvium brought by the river. There are even traces of early humans in the caves of the Latmos mountains above the ancient city of Heraklia by the lake. Miletus, the crown of the bay and the science center of the period; Priene, one of the first grid-planned cities and the temple of Apollo in Didim, the oracle center, where all of them were connected by a sacred way… These are all long stories in themselves. Of course, there is the connection with the other Menderes delta in the north and the legendary cities of Carian civilization in the south. Surrounded by old harbors and sacred areas connected to ancient cities, this region now houses one of the most fertile lands of the country, Söke Plain.

In the valley, agriculture is still the most important income for the people. In other words, it is an area where reeds and fields flooded by rains intersect, the soil is half loam, half sand, and some places are swamps. So there’s no chance of running to cool waters from sandy beaches here! On the contrary, with the sandy barriers in front of the delta, this is a natural fishing oasis. In other words, the water of the region is as fertile as the soil. Therefore, it is not possible to swim in the delta; you have to travel a bit further. 

The road is beautiful…

If your intention is to swim in the Aegean; then you go downhill from Eski Doğanbey with the blue in front of you. You have two options at the end of the road… You either turn to the left, that is, to the village, and proceed towards the interior of the plain from where you cross the plain from the middle and ride towards the promised beaches in the south. Or you can turn right and pass through the brand new village of Doğanbey, which does not have “New” in front of its name and go further This road takes you to the west, towards the tip of the delta, on the southern slopes of the Dilek Peninsula.

After a while, leaving the village behind, you can find Abdül’ün Yeri on your left, one of the oldest fish restaurants in the region. Now Abdul’s son Deniz and his beautiful family run it. I still have not forgotten the flavor of the fish soup that my mother ordered from Deniz’s mother when I came to the village in my teenage years. But the only disadvantage of the restaurant is that it is not on the seafront.

As soon as you pass Abdül’s, a dirt road enters the fishermen’s bay right next to it. As soon as you enter, you will see many boats moored in this small harbor operated by the fishermen’s cooperative. Some are released in the shallows at sea, some are pulled to the shore and repaired, and some seem to be left to their fate. In the fishing season, you can find and buy fresh fish here every morning. Just do not expect services such as sorting and salting; There is a “do your own thing” attitude. But if you say that you want the full service, then the route is to the other side; you have to go to the Fisherman Serdar of Güllübahçe. Or if you want it all on your plate, then you continue on your way to destination Karina.

But wait; The road is not over yet! In fact, it only gets better… As you taste the thyme scents on the right and see the reeds on the left on the edge of the delta, you may start to smell the sea salt. There is a dirt road that turns left from one of these bends that is a bit difficult to detect for those who do not know it. This road leads to a hot spring that emerges from a semi-cave-like area in the secluded bay. (I don’t think everyone should know about it anyway) In summer the temperature is not that hot, but you can enter the water with a tranquility that calms trembling teeth in cold seasons.


You may say that it took too long to get to the water and you could be right. But I learned about these places through many years; a few detours is nothing. However, I have endless respect for those who want to cool off with the healing waters of the Aegean in the heat of summer. That’s why the final destination is Karina. From there on, there is no vehicle access & no pedestrian entrance either; because the last Turkish border western outpost is in Karina. It is actually about 10 km from our village.

And it really is where the road ends… Don’t be surprised when you take the last corner and see the dead-end sign; A little further on, there are parking places next to the rows of restaurants. But if you visit at the most crowded time, like the holidays and the popular hours of the weekend, then you have to leave the car a bit further. You can finally leave your towel in a corner throw yourself into the water.

But be careful not to jump right in! Because the sea is shallow here because it is located at the very end of the delta, near the dunes. You will have to walk on the silvery fine sands, through the scattered seashells, or the tiny hermits that appear and disappear from time to time. To swim here means as soon as you think you are in deeper waters you feel it rising to knee level again and again. But fear not, those cool waters will embrace you eventually.

In The Old Days…

When we first came to the village, there was nothing in Karina except the one gendarmerie station. And there were the stone ruins of fishermen’s shelters and boats moored to the shore. One summer night when I was in high school, we decided to sail with a few friends, my mother and our host, Sebo with dreams of jumping into the deep sea. And we couldn’t light the barbecue so we threw the small eggplants into the sea to make a wish despite my mother’s objections.

Now, Karina is a popular stopover, where rows of fish restaurants offer local and fresh flavors of Aegean cuisine. They all have simple wooden table chairs by the sea; you can settle in any one. You can taste calamari, shrimp, appetizers with fresh herbs, local fish varieties and soft drinks now where we could only have a picnic. In fact, until a few years ago, only fresh village cheese was available; now there are many kinds.

Recently, the local fishermen hosted a pelican whose wing was broken and stayed here during the migration season. I think it is a miracle that the head of one of the tourists who found it interesting was not pierced by the giant beak of this giant bird during its stay here. But this place is a miracle in itself… Depending on the season you come, it is possible to see colorful flamingos, various herons and different kinds of birds on the edge of the delta. In fact, there are wooden observation towers at the entrance of Carina and at the intersection of the village road.

My favorite routine is either to come early in the morning and wash my face in the sea when there is no one around; or to come in the evening and set up at one of the tables and play in the waters while the sun is cooling. It is not possible to see the sun set on the horizon here, but those colors will take you farther. Especially if the moon rises from the waters of the delta; you will be mesmerized. Because here, a starry night with a yellow moon is magical. 

My Acquired Hometown: Eski Doğanbey

The Hometown Issue…

My acquired  hometown: this is the personal meaning of Old Doğanbey Village for me. Because, like many other people living in this part of the world, I am a nomad. I was not born here, my parents are not from here. In fact, I did not grow up here… Or rather, my childhood was not here; but this land has been home to my heart. I did not go to school here, but here I read the great novels that left traces on my heart. I did not fall in love here, but I cried out many of my love aches to this wind, I left my pain to this sky. I didn’t get married here, but I wore out my loves here. I didn’t work here, but I found inspiration here; I wrote and drew here. I even worked for this place; with the Old Doğanbey Friends, I tried so that our village would not be spoiled and not fall victim to contempt, indifference, or profiteering. I mean, I didn’t grow up here in the sense you know, but I grew up with this sense of belonging. Here, I inherited both the healing energy that penetrated the soul of the village from generations ago and the home my mother created. Now I am trying to live worthy of this legacy and share it with other souls who can see, hear and feel it.

To summarize briefly…

Eski Doğanbey is a unique place where people connect with themselves and nature. Here you can feel the energy of people who lived in harmony with the land, grew olives on the hills or fished in the bay. The first traces of the settlement dates back to 7th century B.C. but the more well-known part of its history is the stone houses and terraced olive groves built by the Greek inhabitants. The old name of the village “Domatia” means rooms in old Greek. Eski Doğanbey is an ancient Greek village whose original texture has been preserved. In other words, it is an extraordinary place with its old genuine stone houses, some of which have regained their former glory, while others are still in ruins.

When we look at recent history, with the migration that started in 1924, the original Greek inhabitants were replaced by Turkish families from Thrace and the Balkans. The new villagers, who made their living mostly by fishing from the sea and agriculture from the plains instead of olives and olive oil, left the breezy foothills of the mountain and established a new settlement 2 km downstream with the support of the state: Doğanbey. Some of the structures were battered to search for gold, some for materials for new houses, and some succumbed to the cruelty of the time. Except for a few families staying in the village, life fell into a long silence. It sprouted again in the late 80s early 90s with the rediscovery of those who fled the city.

Eski Doğanbey Village is a quiet corner close to the center of both the old world and the new Aegean. Here you can retreat to solitude or socialize easily in nearby places such as Kusadasi, Didim, İzmir or Bodrum. Located within the borders of Dilek (Büyük Menderes Delta) National Park in Söke district of Aydın, the old village is located at the foot of Mykale (also called Dilek / Samsun) mountains, 2 km up from Yeni Doğanbey Village; overlooking the magnificent view of one of the largest deltas of the Aegean Sea..

My Old Doğanbey Story…

My past with the village begins in my middle school years… Since my classmate’s family were interested in traveling, cultural heritage and such hidden gems, they discovered the Old Doğanbey Village in 1989. We are on holiday in Didim with my yet unbroken family at that time. Being aware of this discovery, my mother, who is fond of “shabby” in her own words, and my father a “bohemian at heart”, included the village in the excursion to the Miletus city. Since there was no public transportation or even asphalt roads to teh village at that time; we climbed the slope on the back of a tractor. But Eski Doğanbey was love at first sight for all of us individually. Guided by one of the families who did not move to the new settlement, my parents bought one of the ruins with a loan. 

We could afford to have our house renovated a few years later, when my parents get divorced and my mother can save money with a second job after retirement. Then I’m in high school; I can hold a hammer, trowel, sandpaper; therefore, in the summers, I work in the construction. Our nest is in a narrow street just behind the village square in the old center of the village, which I call the “European Side”. We make our home with our own labor over a long period of time. We transform the barn downstairs into a living room, adding a bathroom and a room upstairs, and renovating the kitchen, which we still use from the courtyard.

Meanwhile, I blow the excitements, disappointments and cries of revenge of my first loves to these mountains. When I go swimming in the sea near the hot water spring on the Karina road and get sick, I swallow vitamins and antibiotics in the fountain of the village in secret. I learn the results of the summer university exams in that house; My dream is architecture and my construction site experience is already in place. I discharge the pains of being eighteen two hours away in Bodrum with my friends and then read “The Name of the Rose” on the ridges of the Samsun mountains. I come every summer while I am studying at the university and I also attempt to write my master’s thesis about here. Lots of sketches, detailed images of the village in old films; whatever you want is in my archives.

As the years pass, I get caught up in the beat of business life; I set my heart in other places during the holidays. But I accompany my mother’s arrivals in the spring and returns to the city in the fall. My mother becomes a part of the group with the neighbors, founding an association for the revival of the village. The association is established in order to protect the village, to make life easier and coordinate the services that did not reach the village at that time. My retired banker mother works as a treasurer for years there; they do a lot of work, from the construction of old-fashioned roads to bringing water from the mountain. We have senior architects, urban and regional planners, academics, art historians, artists, and various intellectual neighbors among the village residents, so I am assigned to run errands. 

Over time, my mother’s health deteriorates; the comfort of the house, which we cannot reach by car, and the village slopes challenge it. When a house that can be reached by car and where my mother can live without climbing the stairs is available on the opposite side of the village which we call the “Anatolian Side”; she rolls up her sleeves. We sell our old house and build a new home in this one. Again we collaborate; our neighbor Architect Sibel Gürsel and her husband Oğuz Söğüt help out. I’m also an architect now; so I support remotely as much as I can. This way, my mother does not leave the village, although she is able to stay less each year. The last summer she visits, she calls my father to visit… And twenty years later, the three of us breathe the familiar breeze together for the first and last time.

The next year, I bid farewell to both my parents to other lands and come back here to mourn. Then, I realize that I have always burried my heartaches here; when my heart was hurt, I always fled here. Whatever the wounds, my heart always healed here and new seeds of joy sprouted here, I bloomed here.

That’s why Eski Doğanbey later became my hometown. Like those before me, I may migrate one day; but I wish it will always stay this beautiful.

Tips for those who want to come to the village:

Eski Doğanbey is half an hour away from Söke center, 1.5 hours away from İzmir by car, and 2 hours away from Bodrum. It is recommended to use a private vehicle for transportation. However, it is also possible to use public transport from Söke bus station. You only have to tell the driver that you will go up to Old Doğanbey when you get on the minibuses that say Doğanbey.

It is advantageous to use private transport to get around, as the village is located in an unpopulated natural reserve area. The village is located on hiking trails where there are bird watching opportunities as well as other natural beauties. Büyük Menderes Delta is not suitable for swimming, it is a wetland where mostly fishing is done. However, it is a 10-minute drive to Karina, located at the far end of the delta, where you can swim and enjoy fresh fish caught by local fishermen.

You can also go to one of the many exceptional beaches with clear waters and beautiful natural views of Dilek Peninsula National Park with a journey of approximately 45 minutes – 1 hour. The beach side of Dilek Peninsula National Park, of which Eski Doğanbey is also located within the boundaries of, is on the northern side of the peninsula. There is a walking trail of about 20 km from our village to the beaches, but there is no vehicle road. The entrance is closer to Kuşadası and you pay for access to the beaches during the day (vehicle or pedestrian) and accommodation is prohibited.

There are very important traces of ancient civilizations in and around the Büyük Menderes Delta… Ancient cities such as Priene, Miletos, Apollon Temple & Didima, Magnesia, Ephesus and the House of Virgin Mary are among the many attractions nearby. I will also mention some of them in my articles…

When I can’t go to the village, our house is rented in two entries: the big house as the “White Mansion” and the small house as the “Tiny Stone House” in Airbnb. Thus, I can afford for the upkeep and the maintenance of the houses. Moreover, I usually make friends with the guests when I find the opportunity; these friendships open new doors to other worlds for me. Here are the details:

White Mansion:

Tiny Stone House:

You can read more detailed information about the village here:

The closest beach to the village: Karina… With my words!

A detailed and beautiful article written by Arzu Aksaya in 2021, on her blog page

By Zeynep Atılgan Boneval, the illustrated Journey Therapy blog post:

A short but concise presentation of the Municipality of Söke, Eski Doğanbey:

Eski Doğanbey in Sour Dictionary–1919970?p=1