PLEASE NOTE: The currency in Turkey is the New Turkish Lira (I will refer to them as T$s). At the time of writing, US$1 = T$5.87).
I was making my way slowly up the Mediterranean (Turquoise) Coast from Antalya to Istanbul. My last stop was Kusadasi:
It was, now, time to move north to Ayvalik (via Izmir) …
Kusadasi to Izmir:
I found my bus to Izmir easily. For the first time in Turkey, it was a full sized bus. I went to the counter and bought my ticket (T$20). We left at 12 noon. It was comfortable with personal entertainment in each seat. We even got served free refreshment en route (water / tea / coffee / coke with a small snack).
We arrived at the Izmir Otogar at 1:15pm.
Stop Over in Izmir:
I decided to stop over in Izmir for 3 nights. I can’t recommend it … so, I will say very little about it in this blog. The points worth noting are:
Bus Pass / Bilet35:
You will need to get a bus pass because the city buses don’t take cash. What you need is a Bilet35. To get one, you need to walk 100 metres from the Otogar to the Metro Station. You put T$11 into the ticket machine. This gives you 3 trips on any city bus. With the Bilet35 in hand, you can jump on the Metro and take the 10 km trip into the town centre.
The Old Town:
This area is interesting for 1 day but, most places close at 8-8:30pm … then it gets pretty ‘dead’. The nicest thing about the bazaar area is the cheap shopping and sitting in the bazaar cafes people watching with a cup of tea …
Izmir to Ayvalik:
Again, this was a full sized bus. I bought my T$33 ticket from the ticket counter (you need to show your passport) The bus left at 10:30am. It was comfortable with personal entertainment in each seat. Again, we got served free refreshment en route (water / tea / coffee with a small snack). We arrived in Ayvalik Otogar at 1:00pm.
They go ‘around the houses’ on their way into town … but, you get there in the end (T$2.50). I alighted 100 metres from my hotel.
It is a seaside town on the northwestern Aegean coast of Turkey and one of Turkey’s fast emerging (but still largely untouched) tourism destinations. The town is surrounded by the archipelago of Ayvalık Islands (consisting of 24 small islands). You can catch a boat from Ayvalik to the nearby Greek island of Lesbos. The main ‘tourist’ part of the town is around Ulusoy.
The vestiges of 18th and 19th century life are still visible in the streets and the eternal feel of Mediterranean culture. The streets are laid perpendicular to the shoreline, and a grid is created by streets that run parallel to the shoreline (similar to the ancient cities of the region).
Ayvalik houses are characterised by their facades of local volcanic ruff stone. The local architecture has roots in the Ionic and Corinthian styles.
A nice Old Town with lots to explore.
As you can see, the options are ‘sparse’.
So, let’s look at what you can get by booking in advance for the month of October (the other ‘shoulder season’) …
PLEASE NOTE: Booking.com did not work in Turkey whilst I was there. You will have to pre-book from outside of the country.
PLEASE NOTE: HOTELS usually displays prices INCLUSIVE of TAXES. Many search sites don’t provide a ‘private bathroom’ filter so, be careful with some of the cheap hotels and make sure that you read the room details.
AirBnB had no properties listed.
PLEASE NOTE: Other sites (such as Homeaway, FlipKey and VRBO are also worth a look).
GRANDPAckers cannot afford to come here in Peak Season: June to September. You will have to come in Shoulder Season (April-May or October-November). For the best discounts / prices, book at least 2+ months in advance. You may need to ‘get inventive’ and use Turkish hotel search engines. I suspect that HOTELS.COM may have more available closer to October: right now, October may be too far away for some hotels to update their availability.
I used EXPEDIA. I booked a Single Room with Private Bathroom at Hotel Ayvalik Palas. I chose it because of its location:
The in-room wifi signal was weak. The hotel’s wifi, in general, was disappointing and unreliable.
It was all that I could afford on a GRANDPAcking budget. My single room was below GRANDPAcking Standard. But, otherwise, everything else was good.
WHERE TO STAY:
Alas, GRANDPAckers have few options … you will be where you can afford to be … either that, or you will need to compromise on the quality of your room (to get ‘central’ like I did). I would suggest that this is worth it.
Have a look yourself:
EAT & DRINK:
You are lost for choices in all price ranges.
A local 500ml beer is about T$9 in a supermarket. Add another T$1 for the convenience of a corner shop. Expect T$15 for the same in a local cafe. Expect T$20-T$25 somewhere more ‘upmarket’.
You should get your Breakfast included in your hotel room rate. If not, expect to pay an average of T$20 each for a cheap local Breakfast with tea / coffee.
Expect to pay an average of T$25 for a cheap Lunch with fruit drink.
Expect to pay an average of T$40 for a cheap Dinner with a Fruit Juice / Small Beer.
A public bus trip to an attraction within a 1 hour drive should cost about T$10 each way.
Many ATMs charge between 5% and 10% in the main tourist towns. In these lesser known places you should pay 3.5%.
MY ADVICE: Use one of the bigger and better known nation-wide banks for the best rates. I used Garanti several times.
INTERNET / WIFI:
Your accommodation ‘should’ provide good wifi.
Back in Selcuk, I bought a new TurkCell SIMcard for T$100 and a 1 month Promotional Package for T$25. The latter came with 2GB of Facebook / Twitter data, 3GB of Internet data, 300 minutes of talk time, and 200 free SMSs.
I went to TurkCell in Marmaris to top it up. They had a 4GB 1 month package for T$35. I chose their 6GB package for T$40 that included:
- 6GB standard internet;
- another 2GB bonus internet;
- another 1Gb bonus internet;
- 500 standard minutes of Talk Time;
- Unlimited TurkCell-TurkCell Talk Time at the weekends;
- 1,000 SMSs;
- Lots of other stuff that I didn’t understand.
I paid a T$2 fee.
HEALTH & SAFETY:
The first thing that you notice is the number of smokers; there is still a large % of smokers here. They even smoke in ‘no smoking’ areas without anyone complaining. Not a surprise when you can get a 20 pack of Rothmans ‘Click’ for T$11.
There is no reason to feel unsafe. As always, exercise normal levels of caution … don’t make yourself an obvious target.
WHEN TO GO
Summers are dry and hot due to the domination of subtropical high pressure systems … while winters experience moderate temperatures and changeable, rainy weather due to the polar front.
These climates usually occur on the western sides of continents between the latitudes of 30° and 45°. Seasonality is moderate.
Peak Season is June through September. Shoulder Season is mid April to May and October to mid November. Rainy season is December through March.
WHAT TO DO:
Read About – GRANDPAcking Costs if you don’t know how to interpret my figures.
My costs are broken down into:
- Cost of Existence: The basic costs of just being there
- Cost of Living: The additional costs that make being there fun
COST OF EXISTENCE (COE):
I did not EXIST within GRANDPAcking standard: I had a Single Room.
My accommodation was T$138 / US$25 per night.
I already had my working and topped up TurkCell SIMcard.
I have apportioned T$28 for my Turkish eVisa.
I averaged about T$53 per day on food and water.
My COE worked out to be about T$150 (US$27) per day.
COST OF LIVING (COL):
I LIVED to GRANDPAcking standard.
In / Out Costs: My public transport costs were T$51.
Living Costs: I averaged about T$43 per night on drinks.
Entertainment: I spent T$50 on an Island Hopping Day Trip.
Equipment: I needed to replace some broken items and take my laptop to a repair shop.
My total COL was about T$236 (US$43) / day. This was 83% of my budget.
COSTS FOR 2 GRANDPAckers:
Again, costs are broken down into Cost Of Existence (COE) and Cost Of Living (COL).
COST OF EXISTENCE (COE):
Accommodation: I have booked you into the cheapest hotel that I can find near the Old Town. Breakfast is included (which is normal in Turkey).
Transportation: I have budgeted a return bus trip on a local bus each week to somewhere within a 1 hour drive.
Communications & Fees: I have budgeted a TurkCell SIMcard and 1 month promo package. I have included the cost of 2 Turkish eVisas.
Food & Water: Your budget averages about T$131 (US$24) / day for 2 people. This is to eat Lunch and Dinner in Cheap Restaurants.
Your COE is about T$289 (US$53) / day. This is 1% OVER budget.
COST OF LIVING (COL):
This leaves you nothing to LIVE on.
Ayvalik Old Town has ‘character’. To afford a month here you will need to:
- Come off-season (e.g. in mid April – May or October – mid November);
- Get a cheap AirBnB / Holiday Home (if you can find one) at a discounted monthly rate and buy in groceries to eat at home.
There are cheaper holiday destinations … but Ayvalik is definitely worth a visit.
Could you afford to retire here on a GRANDPAcking budget? NO.