We did enjoy Ayvalık. There is very little to do there.
There is some excellent scenery at Şeytan Sofrası – a huge volcanic bay with blue sea, blue sky and little islands. So many islands, so many bays. We think it ranks as some of the best scenery in the world.
Our favourite bar in Ayvalık was shut for renovations so we found another one, the seafront views were not quite as spectacular but it was pleasant enough. We had two excellent meals –one in Ayvalık and one across the bay in Cunda. More expensive than back in Selçuk, but the food was, frankly, much better, and we had a couple of very good reasons for splashing out. Foodwise it is very Turkish. That’s both the menu and the manner of service. Very relaxed – people sit for hours over seafood and rakı.
We enjoyed the market too – Hilary ended up with two new pairs of combats – one was supposed to be for Ashley but they were too small for him. Hilary got a couple of plain t-shirts and we bought some hand towels (needed for the house – we only had one previously which was a bit awkward). We also ended up buying souvenirs in Cunda… A clock and a little bowl, both made from olive wood by a local artisan. The clock is silent in operation which is a good thing and it looks nice on the wall in the back house.
So, why do we like Ayvalık so much more than any of the other resorts here? Well, so much more than any of the others we have visited. It does have an ex pat population (some of them were in the same bar as us on Thursday, whingeing in English), but mostly it is a Turkish resort, set up for Turks on holiday. Not many people speak English. It is low on the pounding nightclubs. You do get hunted for restaurants but it’s people showing you what they have, it’s not hassle. There was a little hassle on the market but not enough to be seriously irritating and it’s normal market hassle, not tourist rip off market hassle. That said, the town does seem to be getting more foreign tourists than it did. We saw small groups being shipped in for the market. We’re not sure where from, possibly Foca or Dikili. What we did not see was any trace of package tourists. We didn’t see people on the market who looked as though they had got lost whilst walking on the beach. We didn’t hear loud foreign voices.
It’s a pretty enough town but not prissy or pimped up. There are real working parts to it. It’s bigger than Selçuk (about half as big again) and lacks the village feel but it does have a proper town centre with proper town centre shops in it. The old Greek stone houses are truly lovely. They have some Ottoman stylistic elements (the wooden balconies in particular). We did once have an urge to live in one but they are beyond our budget – the cheaper ones require expensive renovation.
We’ll certainly be going there again.