As the winter winds howl, December’s snowfall sits unmelted, and most of our country experiences bitterly cold temperatures, I can’t help but dream of being in a much different, warmer place. It seemed like a perfect time to share more photos from our fall trip to Turkey, to give you and me both a needed mental escape back to the sun-drenched days of summertime.
In the tiny Turkish village of Alaçatı, we found serenity and charm among the town’s blue-shuttered, stone houses, abundant slow-food restaurants, and nearby turquoise waters. Discovering this gem on the Çeşme peninsula was a true delight–a place utterly romantic, storybook picturesque, and absent of foreign tourists. While it’s starting to gain some bits of international press, the town remains primarily a weekend and summer destination for well-heeled Turkish citizens. Which means it’s not flooded by tourists, and English speakers are few and far between. But it’s exactly because of this that we experienced the extra thrill of exploring sights, sounds, and smells of a new place without the benefit of much conversation to guide us.
We mostly spent our days winding through Alaçatı’s maze of cobblestoned streets, finding well-appointed cafés and upscale textile storefronts on the main street, sleepy antique shops farther in, lovely courtyard restaurants tucked into side streets, and vendors selling lemon-soaked mussels here and there. I had read that Alaçatı hotels are famed for delicious breakfast spreads, and our mornings at the Beyevi did not disappoint, with honey and clotted cream, tomatoes, olives, local cheeses, figs, and freshly baked breads. In fact, our epicurean experience here was the most memorable of our two-week Mediterranean trip. This tiny town is somewhat of a foodie Mecca, boasting an abundance of talented chefs cooking both traditional and modern takes on Turkish cuisine. Some favorites: At the locavore restaurant Barbun, we were treated to seven courses of petite, elegantly prepared dishes; at the laid-back Asma Yaprağı, we selected a variety of dishes from a family-style spread laid out right in the small kitchen.
A few afternoons we wandered further afield, outside the village’s pedestrian streets, where we checked out the town’s port. This is Alaçatı’s main attraction and frequented by an international crowd of experienced and amateur windsurfers. We drove through nearby Çeşme Town, known for its castle, on our way to a remote white beach flanked by light aqua waters. And we made the 90-minute road trip to the splendid ruins of Ephesus.
Of all the wonderful places we’ve been, Alaçatı has a certain indescribable magic to it—something you can’t quite put into words and can only partially relay through photos. It captured a special place in my heart with a deep feeling. But let’s just say that Alaçatı’s relaxed vibe means you can happily lose track of time and spend weeks enjoying a simple but beautiful life here. It’s a place I dream of returning to one day…