Mina is now 1o years old, time flew, and she has become a graceful girl. This year, many things came together and we were able to celebrate first Ergun’s, then Jan’s, and finally Mina’s birthdays in Turkey with family and friends. A couple of days after Elif and Mina arrived in Istanbul, we were on our way to Ayvalik to spend a few days and have a special birthday for Mina.
Trip To Bergama
The day started with a trip to Bergama. Where Bergama has grown once stood Pergamon, the ancient city on the Aegean coast of Turkey. Mina wanted to see the old city and write a short report upon her return to Salt Lake City. We arrived in Bergama on a very pleasant, but quite windy day. The first stop was the Red Basilica or temple to Serapis. The ancient ruins and the site is being restored to provide a richer experience of the monumental sized temple to Serapis, an Egyptian god. The walls of the temple soar to the sky flanked on both sides with rotundas, apparently used for worship.
To The Acropolis
Jan and I wanted to take the cable car to the Acropolis on top of the hill. As Mustafa, the all-around great help from gardener to chauffeur dropped us at the cable car. We quickly learned that due to the wind the cable car was not running. We climbed back into the van, and we all drove to the top of the hill.
Halil The Liberated Sacrificial Lamb
The string of small shops displayed souvenirs, small gifts, cards, etc. Tourism in Turkey has significantly slowed down in recent years, and other than a small group of tourists from the far east, we were the only strangers there. Jan and the girls climbed the steep hill to see the ruins of the old city while I stayed behind with Binnaz and Ergun to enjoy a cup of coffee. There we met Halil the sacrificial ram who escaped to his freedom at Acropolis. The merchants took a liking to him and kept him as a pet, feeding his favorite foods, pomegranate, and hot green peppers! A couple of merchants from the city were up there trying to make contact and market their stores to the few visitors. If you are in Bergama, look them up: Selim Yasar and Sen Naoe (I hope I got the names right!) You will see them in one of the photographs in the gallery.
Lunch At Bademli
The next stop was a town about 30 miles up the road, Bademli, and a very restful restaurant on the Aegean waters. We chose what we wanted to eat and settled on the table right on the water. An olive tree was reaching out to the water as if a pair of thirsty lips and a few other rather old and stately trees stood like monuments to old times. Several of them were aged around 600 years or more. We enjoyed the location as much as the food, it was a serene and pleasant experience. After making a short stop at a fishing village down the road, we returned home to Ayvalik.
Dinner At Ayna
Mina’s birthday continued with a dinner at Ayna (mirror,) a small but very good restaurant on the island of Cunda. Ergun had already made the reservation and they also invited Emel and Erdogan to join us. When Mina first met Emel smoking a cigarette she nicknamed her “auntie choo-choo,” and they were delighted to see Mina again. Very good food, good wine, good service, the good conversation brought us to the special birthday cake Mina wanted, a delicious cheesecake. Of course, we brought the leftover cake home for breakfast!
Happy birthday Mina, many, many happy returns!