During my recent visit to Turkey, I stayed in the Korumar Hotel De Luxe in the city of Kusadasi. Though not a huge city, with a population of approximately 50 000, however it is a busy port town and tourism centre. To get away from the crowds for a few hours and get a glimpse of the centres of livelihood in the countryside, we explored two small villages: Kirazli, population 900, a farming town, and Sirince, population 600, a wine village with a growing tourist presence. This post is about our visit to Kirazli, and I will shortly be uploading a second post about the Sirince.
We discovered the village of Kirazli online, and when we asked our hotel reception how to get there, they were a little confused as to why we wanted to go, and where it even was. Kirazli means cherry in Turkish, and is named for the cherry trees that are just about the only thing the village is known for. For a small sum, a taxi drove us to Kirazli and dropped us off in the main street, a dirt road with a tiny convenience store, a bakery manned by the old baker himself, and several streetside cafes, bustling with village men drinking their afternoon çay (tea) and smoking. Our driver promptly seated himself at a table in the nearest cafe and ordered his own çay, while we walked off to explore the village.
We walked past a fish vendor surrounded by customers on one side and at least 10 kittens on the other, both eager to get their hands on the morning's catch. Turning off the main street, we walked through the winding streets of run down houses, painted white on the bottom to keep insects away. No one we met spoke a word of English, but all assumed that we were lost, and tried to point us in the direction of one of the Kirazli's two boutique hotels, one with 5 rooms and one with 8. The afternoon prayer call sounded, and a dog howled wildly towards the minaret of the village mosque.
As we made our way up the hill through the streets, charmingly lined with plants growing in sunflower oil and feta cheese containers, we came to a neighbourhood with several houses that stood out from the rest, with small pools and fresh paint. At the very top of the hill, overlooking the village, we found one of the hotels, the charming Ephesus Boutique Hotel. We rang the bell in the front room, and asked if we could come in for a cup of coffee. We were led into a sunny, circular room with a few tables. At a table by a window sat Mustafa, the owner, in front of a laptop, under a string of drying chilli peppers hanging from the ceiling. He greeted us, and drank çay with us, while telling us in near-perfect English about how he had been a university economics professor in Istanbul, and owned a successful travel agency there, but how since he had retired he had found peace in managing his little hotel in this sleepy village, working in the garden and traveling to Istanbul to take care of his business once a week.
On our way back to the taxi to go home, we stopped in the bakery to a circular loaf of spiced flatbread, and at the convenience store for fresh Turkish delights from its impressive display. Our driver had, by this time, drank several glasses of çay and made at least 5 new friends, who had joined him at his table. As we pulled into the Kusadasi city centre and got out on a busy shopping street, we wondered at the extreme difference between lifestyles separated by a mere 10km stretch of road.
My name is Emilie. I live between Bristol and Prague, travel, drink coffee and explore as much as I can.