I lived in Kusadasi, which is about an hour’s drive from Izmir airport, thirty years ago. On my way back to the UK from Pakistan, in 2012, I revisited it. I was stunned when I got off the bus from Istanbul (which had taken about twelve hours) to find I was at the top of a city. When I had lived there it had been a small town. I never did find the old flat where I had lived, although the only person who remembered me, whom I met at least, assured me that it was still there. It had been at the top of a hill in Kusadasi but now many buildings have been built above it.
I stayed at a small pansiyon, the Turgut pansiyon, run by Ahmet Turgut, who was very helpful when I needed support when my Pakistani husband was detained for having overstayed his visa by three days. He had in fact been scooped out of the sea by coast guards in an attempt to get to the Greek island of Samos. He had almost drowned. That was in mid-July 2012. I stayed in Kusadasi until I could procure a ticket which satisfied the Turkish police that got him back to Pakistan. However, all this is another story. Suffice to say that Turkey has become more enlightened since the 1970s and the film “Midnight Express.”
Kusadasi is on the Aegean coast and has a clear blue sea, best swum in at Kadinlar Denizi (Ladies Beach). This is easily accessible by dolmush – small minivans which can be flagged down from the side of the road. Have change with you though, as this means of transport is very cheap.
Kusadasi has a vibrant nightlife, with a lot of clubs and bars, so if you want to, you can party until dawn. If you go up the side streets you will find traditional restaurants, which are of the ‘no frills’ variety, but which are cheap. Some only sell soft drinks, but you can always go to a bar after you have eaten. I was surprised that you can now have the full English breakfast in Kusadasi – when I lived there I couldn’t find pork sausages or bacon. The Efes Pilsen beer is cheap and good; it has been in existence for many years and has won many international awards.
One of the older establishments is the Fisherman’s café which is next to the fish market. It has free WiFi access (as do most bars and restaurants) and is the cheapest place in Kusadasi for tea, coffee, whitebait, sardines and so on. Opposite is Kiz Kulesi a restaurant where you can take the fish you but from the market and have it cooked for you for a small fee. One of the side dishes they have on offer in the harbour area is rock samphire (sea asparagus), which you might wish to sample.
Kazim Usta is another restaurant situated in the harbour, and this is one of the oldest in Kusadasi – and one which I used to frequent all those years ago. The food is still good there and they serve both European and Turkish cuisine. The Ozan café-bar in the main street of Kusadasi (Barbarossa St) which goes up from the harbour, is good for gyros and pizzas. Its family-run and the service is good and the family are very friendly.
Because of the exchange rate, Turkey is a cheap holiday destination, with one Euro being equal to two Turkish liras.