Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ayvalik and Pergamon

I landed back in Sofia at around 3 pm on Thursday, got back to the apartment around 5, and left the house again with BH to go to Turkey for the weekend. It was quite a rush, but the sleeper car was great, and it was definitely worth the chaos to come back to Turkey.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to visit Istanbul before during my language seminars in Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria. This time, however, Andie, Katy and Jenn, three friends from Korea, had other plans. When we arrived, we met them on the Asian side of Istanbul and immediately started a roadtrip. This means I went from car to plane to bus to train to boat to car again. It felt like that John Candy movie.
We started out at around noon, and started driving south toward a city called Ayvalik, which is on the Aegean coast. The road trip itself was an experience, with Katy deftly dodging cars and doing a great job with navigation. Katy’s teachers had told her of a great place for toast, so we stopped halfway for a snack. I got lamb pizza. 

As we continued to drive, we, of course, started to wear down. All of us were a little crabby when we finally got to Ayvalik, and had some difficulty finding our hostel. Once we finally arrived, however, we had time to look around and enjoy a good dinner. After a few beers, we all crashed and woke up the next morning to enjoy this fantastic spread:

I really do enjoy Turkish breakfasts. A nice combination of vegetables and proteins, and the olives are amazing. If anyone reading this plans to go to Ayvalik, I recommend the Mavi hostel. They were really kind, and even though we had booked for two days and changed it to one at the last minute, we were able to work it out.
Ayvalik really is beautiful. Although it isn’t that large, it is right next to the Aegean, and you can see one of the islands of Lesbos out in the distance. The red Turkish flag also looks great with the sea in the background, even if it is a little too nationalistic for my taste. The weather was pretty nice, and we just enjoyed exploring the city. 

I had expected a Greek population, but apparently that moved out long ago. Now it is an entirely Turkish city. After looking around and eating another fantastic snack of toast, we went back into the car and drove off to Pergamon.
The car ride from Ayvalik to Pergamon was fantastic. Rolling hills with olive trees which then turned into evergreen forests. I kept thinking about the time I was in the Czech Republic with my family and I was reading in the backseat, and my mom continuously yelled at me to look out the window. It took me a couple of years, but I can now appreciate scenery. 
 Pergamon was an ancient Greek city, that is now in modern Turkey. The ruins that we saw were magnificent, and I now feel compelled to visit Greece before I leave Europe. 
 The above pictured amphitheater could hold 10,000 people! I ran down to the bottom and, unfortunately, sang "I Like Big Butts" up to Katy, Andie, and Jenn who could hear me easily. Crazy. The tour of Pergamon was followed by a nice dinner of kebab. We were going to then drive back to another city to crash, but I fell asleep in the car and woke to a change of plans. Back to Istanbul! All this travel in the weekend, I was excited to get to Andie and Katy's house and just crash. 

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