The Lightness of Summer: Turkey’s North Aegean Coast
One photographer finds joy in the simple things as summer plays out across Turkey's North Aegean Coast.
22 July, 2020
Though everything seems to have changed so fast in my country, Turkey, there's a place that remains exactly the same. It's a place that has brought me joy and peace since childhood: my parents' summer house on the North Aegean coast of Turkey.
There are so many familiar scenes here. Oak trees dance on the winding roads to the Mount Ida; pink bougainvillea climbs towards windows; tavern keepers set out chairs for the evening; children chase a ball on cobblestone lanes; women sell mountain thyme on the beach; fishermen repair torn nets. Like memories, these moments are so comforting.
Formerly inhabited by Greeks, Cunda Island is home to historic stone houses with pastel-coloured shutters and fish restaurants serving Aegean mezze with raki. I make my way to the shoreside Taş Kahve, a traditional coffeehouse, and order Ayvalık tostu, a toasted sandwich, along with homemade lemonade. This is my happiest corner on this island. I watch old men playing cards at the next table as they chat about the rising prices of groceries.
After reading parts of Homer's Iliad and the Odyssey, I journey around the Bay of Edremit, to the hillside town of Assos, where Aristotle once lived. The views here are conducive to deep thought. I imagine the sun-warmed rocks of the Temple of Athena being assembled by many pieces of legendary stories I've read. From here, I look down to the ancient port and the sea, as it changes from dark blue to green. I see snaking roads and the old city of Assos bathed in honey-hued sunlight, and I'm taken in by the beauty of this town.
Nothing here happens in a rush. I let myself be seduced by the slow way of Aegean living, and I flow with the lightness of summer.