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Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Ayvalik
July 5th 2006
Published: July 5th 2006
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Now, I know that I only updated my blog a couple of days ago and not that all that much has happened but what the heck.

OK, from having having a gale force head wind I rounded the corner at Edmerit and had a gale force tail wind. Normally I would consider this a boon and, ofcourse I much prefer a tail wind to a head wind any ol' day, but it still makes cycling on a dual carriageway kind of tough. Especially with the truck traffic that goes past and being caught up in their wind tunnels... But, I almost flew up the hills and probably would have been in Ayvalik by midday had I not had yet ANOTHER flat tyre. This really was bordering on the ridiculous. There I was yet again wheeling my bicycle to the closest petrol station, which, although not a PO petrol station but Opet, was only 500m away. Thank goodness.

I had "repaired" my puncture the day before so really, all I had to do was swap inner tubes. I did kind of make a fatal mistake in turning my wheel inside out (please don't shake your heads. I know, I know, what was I thinking???) to try and locate the source of my puncture that ended up being a thorn which was so deeply embedded that I had to pull it out with tweezers. When I tried to put my tyre back on well, it just wouldn't go back on because I had somehow (!) twisted the rim out of shape. Um, can I just say in my defence I have learned from my mistake.

As with all mistakes (read problems), you can either ignore them and hope they go away or you can do something about them. Well, I couldn't very well ignore this blunder as I without a tyre I couldn't move. I asked the station attendants, who by the way kept a clear berth and did not even attempt to approach me for chai or anything, if I could leave my bags and bike there so I could catch a bus into town and buy a wheel and come back. They did not like this option. Instead, one of them rang the repairers and got them to come to me. Now that's service eh?

So, 10 minutes later, two guys pull up in a pick-up and went to work. One straightened out my tyre, repaired what was my repair of the inner tube (he looked abhorred at my attempt to fix my spare, the patch of which he just peeled off like a bandaid - ooops) whilst the other fixed my current puncture and then, before you know it, the wheel was back on and I was 10 lira poorer. You will be happy to know that buying a new spare inner tube was a priority on arriving in Ayvalik.

I treated myself to tea and the best baklava I've tasted when I arrived in town. I thought I deserved a little treat. And boy, was it a treat. The baklava was sweet and only slightly syrupy (is that how you spell it?) with just the right amount of crunch and filled with pistachios. I had three slices and he would have put more on my plate if I had not stopped him. It was also interesting to watch the Greeks who had obviously come over for a day trip try and pay for their sweets. They were trying to pay in euros which confused things from the start. Then they were claiming they were being overcharged. Things finally got settled but it took a good 5 minutes of non-stop going over what was ordered, how much it cost etc. When I went up to pay I said, "How much?" Followed by "I only have euros". I had to assure the owner I was only joking given his last customers. I only had Turkish liras for which he was very grateful. I aim to please. I complimented him on the baklava and apparently there is a pastry shop in Istanbul and his that is known in Turkey for its baklava. (Obviously because when I went today for another treat they had all sold out. Creme caramel it had to be then.)

I also went looking for a pansiyon that was listed in the guide book as being one of the "best pensions on the Aegean". And, because the guide book and the pension were true to their word I'm here for another day. More on the pension later.

There's not much in Ayvalik except for a ferry service to the nearby Greek island of Lesvos, some beaches and absolute charm. Ayvalik was a Greek town until the 1920's which saw an exchange of the population due to the Turkish-Greek war. The old town has retained a lot of the old Greek merchant houses, some in quite a state of disrepair, and most of the Orthodox churches have been converted to mosques but, walking through the cobbled streets, it is this that lends the town its charm. Trucks making their way through these tiny lanes selling produce, men playing backgammon or cards, children playing football, cats everywhere, washing hanging out to dry. I have taken a multitude of photos in these lanes. Maybe to the point of overkill.

I have been a little indulgent here in Ayvalik. Not only with sweets but I have also bought myself a new shirt. All my clothes, the white ones in particular, have taken on that grey tinge that no amount of washing seems to take out. More importantly though I just wanted, for at least a day, to feel clean and not grotty. I have achieved this. Plus, it's sale time and this girl loves a sale.

I also went in search of being "de-feraled". (Read on if you're a woman, go to the next paragraph if you're a man). I know that the Turkish women are quite keen on waxing as I see all sorts of waxes in the supermarket and so went in search of a "salon". It took a little bit of effort to find but "Disney" I found. Don't know where they got that name from but... I tried to bargain but they had a fixed price list so there was no budging. The girl took one look at my legs and said for my thighs "no problem" shaking her head in a no fashion. For below the knees she nodded quite vigorously and said "problem". I know, I know that's why I'm here!!!! She and another girl went to work and, before you know it, I was hairless. They were swift workers indeed. The only disconcerting thing was their giggles at my underwear. Thank goodness I won't see them again...

Back to the pansiyon. It lives up to it's reputation. It is beautifully and tastefully decked out, clea, and has a view from the terrace overlooking one of the churches/mosques with the bay below and the the surrounding islands which is absolutely exquisite. And last night was the first sun set I have enjoyed since my travel began. Normally I'm tucked up in bed or at an internet cafe. I really should make more of an effort to get out more I think.

Anyway, I love it so much here that I have stayed another day. Bergama bound tomorrow it is though. Maybe.



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