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” 🙂

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