Oren's bright blue beach.
The Northern Aegean is synonymous with emerald green forests, ancient ruins and small coastal towns. But it also boasts magnificent beaches and olive groves. If you are looking for a holiday with a difference, look no further than Oren and Bergama.
A hidden gem: Oren
Hidden among more popular tourist destinations of Assos, Altinoluk and Akcay, Oren is an ideal place to spend a relaxing and yet entertaining vacation. Unlike the nearby holiday hotspots in danger of turning into concrete jungles, Oren is still a place where you can enjoy peaceful walk under the shade of pine and plane trees.
Oren is best known for its splendid beach. The two-kilometre long beach is covered in blue and white umbrellas under which people of all ages retreat from the summer sun. The beach is kitted out with chaise longues and cushions, and music is played in the background. Oren's clean waters have been awarded a blue flag. The beach offers a wide range of activities: sporty types might enjoy a game of beach volleyball while others prefer a restful game of backgammon. You can also rent pedal boats, canoes and jet-skis. Windy Oren is also ideal for windsurfers. The Burhaniye Yacht Club offers classes and holds races every year. Oren's waters are known for remaining cool all summer long.
Bergama's surprisingly colourful stone houses.
Breakfast in a "yoruk" tent
Oren and the surrounding region are also renowned for their olives and olive oil. The olives are grown using traditional methods passed on from father to son. The annual Olive and Tourism Festival is held in August.
One of the most popular things to do in Ören is to have breakfast in a "yoruk" nomadic-style tent. These tents are pitched all over Oren and are filled with authentic furnishings and comfy cushions. A traditional Turkish breakfast including homemade jams is served. You can also purchase local olives, homemade tomato paste and noodles. The tents are also a great place to enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of ayran, a yoghurt drink.
Due to its location on the coast, Oren's kitchen includes plenty of fresh seafood. Although nearby Ayvalik and Cunda are better known for their wild greens, the people of Oren also prepare such dishes.
An old, deserted church on the Oren-Ayvalik road.
From Oren to Bergama
From Oren, pass Ayvalik and Cunda "famous for their olive oil, beaches, churches, monasteries and old houses" and make your way to Bergama. Bergama is best known for its ancient ruins, local architecture and traditional Aegean way of life. Turkish and foreign tourists alike flock to the ruins of Pergamon perched above the city to take in its temples, amphitheatre and stunning view.
The secret side of Bergama: Stone houses
As you wander through the sad, mysterious streets of Bergama, you get the strong sensation that every home has a unique story to tell. The cobblestone streets are lined with houses whose architecture displays a mix of Turkish and Greek building traditions. Although most of the stone houses are strong, simple, colourful structures, a number of them have striking bay windows.
However, what makes Bergama's houses unique is their knockers. Some are shaped like an elegant woman's hand, some like birds and some like human heads. You could spend hours photographing every door.
Few people know that Bergama is a great place to find high quality, reasonably priced antiques. Its antique shops are filled with objects from Bergama and its environs. These include kilims, carpets, saddlebags and handwork. You can find all sorts of jewellery, embroidery and wooden objects at Ottoman.
Bergama's local culinary specialities include "lor" cheese made with peppers, "leblebi" (roasted chickpeas) flavoured with mastic and clove, and salty and crumbly "tulum" cheese.
A holiday in Oren and Bergama is a holiday spent surrounded by the traditions and natural beauty of the Northern Aegean. You are guaranteed to go home with precious, treasured memories.
Oren and Bergama Guide :
How to get to Oren
Take the bus to Burhaniye and then a local service to Ören. THY has seasonal Istanbul-Edremit flights.
Where to stay
Club Orient Holiday Resort Tel: +90 266 416 34 45-416 53 54, Hotel Club Fiord +90 266-416 38 79
What to eat
Enjoy fish, calamari, mussels and wild greens at Selina Restoran.
How to get to Bergama
Pamukkale Tourism has daily services to Bergama at 21.45. Tel: 0212-658 22 22. You can fly to Izmir and then travel from there to Bergama.
Where to stay
Bergama does not have any luxury hotels. Here are a few humbler options.
Hotel Asude Tel: +90 232-632 23 82
Pergamon Pension Tel: +90 232 633 23 95
What to eat
"Tulum" cheese, "keten" halva, and clove-flavoured "leblebi".
By The Gate Magazine
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