After the first two weeks in Turkey and seeing the family and friends, Elif and Mina arrived at the beginning of our third week. We spent the first night in Istanbul and the next day Mustafa drove us to Ayvalik as the girls wanted. The new roads and the bridge crossing the Izmit Bay cut the travel time to about four hours, a good deal less than what it used to be.
We hit a little traffic leaving Istanbul, but after that it was mostly smooth sailing. The surface quality of the roads was excellent and the traffic flowed without a hitch. We took a short detour to Susurluk for a lunch break at a roadside facility. After that, the next stop was Ayvalik and the weather was very cooperative. Baki, the housekeeper had everything ready for us and we settled in and went out later on for dinner at the Sehir Klubu restaurant on the water.
Next few days we traveled to a few places. Although they will come in a separate post, we visited the olive grove Ergun purchased as a revenue source for the ASKEV Foundation a couple of times, went to a vineyard and winery on the hills, met the Kesebir family in their store. All enjoyable, but this post will be about our stay at the Melin House and jump to Mina’s birthday dinner at Ayna (Mirror) Restaurant.
The house was highly enjoyable as usual, an expertly restored traditional Ayvalik stone house. The garden was lush as ever even in October. The greenhouse had a minor redo and had the small ornamental pool removed. That also made it more suitable for concerts by the visiting musicians at the Ayvalik International Music Academy. I saw photographs and the video of the last conference and the space was highly suitable for the purpose. You can watch this video and the concert which was dedicated to my sister Binnaz Melin.
Skipping a few days, I would like to jump to October 18, Mina’s birthday. Ergun’s friend Ilhan was taking us to different places and he made the reservation for dinner at Ayna Restaurant. We had been to Ayna many times and were greeted with a warm welcome again. It mostly looked the same except for a couple of olive-wood pieces missing from the wall and a larger mirror there. The name Ayna means mirror in Turkish, fitting decor of course.
We enjoyed a variety of food and a little wine to drink. As I was talking to Ilhan, I noticed a person paying his bill and recognized him as our friend Tuba’s father Zeki bey. I turned around and saw his wife, Akasya hanim sitting with a couple. I got up and went to their table and found out the couple was Tuba’s sister Banu and her husband. They live in Ohio! As luck would have it, we met them in Ayvalik. We chatted a little and they went back home.
At our table, it was time for the birthday cake and Ilhan had ordered a cheesecake, Mina’s favorite. It was indeed a good cake, after she blew the candles and cut the first piece, we all enjoyed a piece. Thus was Mina’s 13th birthday we celebrated in Ayvalik as we did her 10th. Many happy returns of the day Mimi!
Here are some photographs from our travels, the Melin House where we stayed, its gorgeous gardens, and the birthday dinner at Ayna. Note the last birthday photograph of all of us in the mirror and Mina taking the photograph. We were at and in Ayna in more ways than one!
One of the photographs shows the front of the house on a narrow street. Since there was not enough space to capture the entire facade in one shot, I took many photographs and stitched them in post-processing. The total correction was not possible due to the extreme angles being covered at such a small distance. But the almost fisheye look seems to fit the facade of the stone house.