Situated on the Aegean coast, Kusadasi (written as Kuşadası with Turkish letters and also known as Ephesus Neopolis or Scala Nuova before the 20th century) is one of the most important resorts of Turkey. While its permanent residents are around 50 000, during summer the rather large resort bustles with tourists, reaching about ten times as many people.
The water is very salty but crystal clear, while the beaches are rather narrow, especially near the town center (eg. Ladies Beach - Kadınlar Denizi) - this means that it can get very crowded during high season (and I wasn't impressed by the quality of the sand either). Because of the rather long distances (the resort has more than 10km in length) and the fact that the best beaches are actually outside Kusadasi, getting from one place to the other can get difficult. So you can have either a quieter beach OR enjoy the attractions of the town center - shops, restaurants and especially the Bazaar. There are always the local minibuses (the "dolmus"), but they have fixed routes and you'll have to get informed regarding them. Regarding the personal car or a car rental - the petrol is really expensive (around 3.8 TRY = almost 2 euros).
I mentioned the Bazaar and with this occasion I'd like to say something about Turkish shopping. Everyone wants to get the most money from you (even for some doubtful products) and almost everything is negotiable - it may be hard to get rid of some persistent salesmen without buying anything. You can find all sorts of things for sale, from leather, hand-made carpets and jewelry to trinkets and traditional sweets. For me the plethora of "original imitations" (as one salesman named them :) ) didn't impress me at all (since they were anyway overpriced), but among the products worth buying I'd name the sweets (from dried or candied fruit to the traditional Turkish Delight [Lokum] or the delicious Baklava), the (denim) jeans (best prices) and the Pashmina (Cashmere wool) or silk textiles, such as the shawls.
The food in turkey - ok, but I didn't find anything especially delightful besides the sweets - and the restaurants in the resort are all overpriced. With this occasion I'd like to say hello to friendly Ali, really nice guy, from the "Rip-off"... I ment "Two-Brothers" restaurant [1. Sk, in front of Melike Hotel] - sorry Ali, but I owed the restaurant some advertising for the money.
So far this was my overall impression about Kusadasi - a little too large and crowded for my tastes, with mediocre beach(es?) and overpriced restaurants. But, next comes the good parts.
The resort wouldn't be so special if it didn't have a rich history, near many important archaeological sites of Anatolia/Asia Minor, such as Ephesus, Priene, Dydima or Miletus. A more complete list can be found at kusadasi.net, while some of the places I've been to will be presented in future posts.
There are also interesting places inside the town worth visiting and I'll mention them below, along with some personal photos (taken from the entire album) and the location on the map :
- The city walls - There were once three gates. One remains today.
- Harbor/Kusadasi Cruise Terminal - this is the place to see some of the finest cruise ships, but also some military ones from time to time.
- The Öküz Mehmet Pasha caravanserai is near the docks and has "Turkish nights" shows. Close by one can find the Kaleiçi Mosque, built in 1618 for Grand Vizier Öküz Kara Mehmed Pasha.
- Guvercin Ada - the peninsula at the end of the bay, with the 17th century castle - symbol of the city. Nowadays it's a relaxing place with a restaurant and beaches.
- Yılancı Burnu - a second peninsula beyond Güvercin Ada. Possibly the location of the original settlement of Neopolis. Some walls are visible but excavations are underway. There are beaches and beach clubs here.
- The Atatürk Statue looking over the city. It can be easily seen from the docks, but there's also a great view of the port if you're willing to get there.
I'd also like to mention some places nearby, but I didn't go there myself:
- Aqua parks such as Adaland - "the biggest waterpark in Europe" (don't mind wikimapia... it is actually still in Asia :) )
- Dilek Peninsula National Park - simply the idea of National park seems fantastic for a nature love, especially contrasting with the crowded Kusadasi.
Next ... some of the very interesting archaeological sites in Anatolia, as soon as I have the time for a blogpost.