Friday, July 26, 2013


Dear readers,

My vacation to Alaçatı, Çeşme started on July 10th and although I had every intention of returning home to Istanbul this past Wednesday, I extended my vacation 5 days and will be returning home on Monday. Since I work freelance and nothing pending was waiting for me back home and since I am enjoying myself so much with my friends I said "why not!" However, I will definitely "need a vacation from my vacation" to recuperate!

I already wrote about my hotel, the Alaçatı Kapari Hotel and I advise everyone interested in visiting the area to read my blog post if you are looking for a nice place to stay! Then I gave you a couple of tips for dining out - Ferdi Baba and Fogo. I can honestly say that Fogo is my favorite place to hang out in Alaçatı! Only open for 3 weeks, Fogo is "the" most popular restaurant for a fine dining experience and at the same time, is extremely popular for their lively bar scene and excellent music! In fact, besides eating at Fogo twice, I have been visiting the bar almost every night since I arrived! Only one problem in this part of Alaçatı, you can't "dance until the wee hours of the morning": due to local laws, the music has to be turned down to a whisper at around 1:00 am! 

After this post, I will be writing about a few more places that are worth dining at, but first want to give a few recommendations on where to shop in Alaçatı.

There are quite a number of "run of the mill" retailers around the central area of Alaçatı where you can pick up swimsuits, cover-ups, flip flops, bangles etc. However, my recommendations are on the higher end of the spectrum for those who are looking for different gift ideas to take back home or are just in the market for quality attire and accessories to add to their wardrobe.

Our first stop on our mini tour is Atmospheres, a newcomer to Alaçatı this season, but a known name for years in Istanbul and Göltürkbükü, Bodrum...

Atmospheres is located at the entrance to Sakızlıhan, a lovely boutique hotel on Kemalpaşa Street, the main and overcrowded dining/shopping street in Alaçatı! 

Here you can find anything and everything to spruce up your wardrobe! Most of the pieces are unique and/or imported. I'm sure this is something that you will find to your liking that will put a "mini" dent in your budget, but you are worth it, right?

The next few shops I will mention here are located in an up and coming neighborhood called Hacımemiş Mahallesi in Alaçatı... this area is away from the hustle and bustle of Kemalpaşa Street with lovely boutiques and eateries in restored stone houses. 

Our first stop is Village at No. 39 on 2012 Street...

Village is also a newcomer to Alaçatı this season and I'm sure it will be around for a long time! Village is really a cafe and restaurant serving cafe fare during the day and just "meats" in the evening with a very good wine list. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to dine here, but some of my friends did and they were happy with the food and service. What makes this place interesting is that at the back of the beautifully decorated space inside is an area where an assortment of funky and trendy sneakers and sandals are sold!

As you walk up the street turning your head from one side of the street to the other to catch a glimpse at each shop and eatery, a couple of blocks up at No. 19 is Sign in Store...

I literally said "wow" when I walked into this store! Talk about unique (which also translates into expensive, but worth it) items. Besides a selection of clothing, accessories, etc., Sign also carries designer home accessories that are great and different gift ideas for friends and family back home! In fact, they are great accessories to pick up for your own home too!

Our final stop on our tour of Hacimemiş is Sapa...

Also a newcomer to the neighborhood, Sapa is a couple of blocks up from Sign on a corner, once again in a lovely restored stone house. I picked up a lovely silver bracelet to add to my collection and have my eye on the beautiful scarves seen in the picture above. They also sell soaps, pillow cases, clothing, etc., but like the theme of my post - the pieces are all unique and beautifully crafted.

One final note before I end this post so that I can get back to my vacation.. all of these boutiques are open until at least 1:00 am during the high season, so you can shop till you drop!

Happy shopping and I hope you enjoy Alaçatı as much as I do!

Stay well,

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

ALAÇATI VACATION 2013 Part 2: Wining & Dining at Fogo and Ferdi Baba in Alaçatı

Dear readers,

Today has been one week since I arrived in Alaçatı for my long awaited 2 week vacation and as the old cliche goes: "Time goes by so quickly when you are having a good time!"

As I mentioned in the first post of my vacation, I am staying at the Alaçatı Kapari Hotel and I recommend the boutique hotel to everyone who visits the area. For more information, you can read my blog post on the hotel.

After days and evenings of running around, I decided to hang out at the hotel during the day and just relax, read and write in my blog. Today is my 12 year-old nephew's birthday so my sister and I will be taking him out to dinner at a place of his choice called Dükkan Burger (an Istanbul based hamburger joint) in Alaçatı and they we will go to a "Go-Kart" place! It will definitely be a different, yet fun evening I'm sure! 

In this post, I want to share info on the two places that I went to for dinner on this trip so far and worth mentioning. Both are on the "higher end" priced side, but I believe you have to definitely treat yourself from time to time and both are worth the experience. 

On my first night in Alaçatı, my sister and I literally "stumbled" upon Fogo. 

Before coming to Alaçtı, I had heard that Carlo Bernardini, an exceptional chef and a long time dear friend of mine (16 years to be exact) had opened a restaurant at Alavya Boutique Hotel, also a newcomer this season in Alaçatı center. I had spoken to Carlo before arriving but I wasn't quite sure exactly where the restaurant was. 

My sister always parks her car in the same place in Alaçatı every time we visit the main area and as we were making a way towards the main street called Kemalpaşa Street, I noticed the sign for the Alavya Hotel. We quickly took a tour of the grounds of Alavya (gorgeous!) and if I get a chance to see the rooms before I leave I will be sharing more info on Alavya. Fogo, which is part of the same property (although managed by Carlo) is adjacent to the hotel. Alavya also has a restaurant called Mitu, which is also managed by Carlo's team, but once again, I haven't had a chance to try it.

It was late and I was tired from my trip but since it was a week night and there was a table available without a reservation, we decided to have a meal and catch up with Carlo...

Just some info on Carlo first... he has been in Istanbul for over 15+ years and for a while he was the Executive Chef at the Four Seasons Hotel at Sultanahmet. Then he had his own restaurant in Nişantaşı (Circus). Afterwards he moved abroad for several years and upon returning to Istanbul many years later, in 2002 he established a "Fine Catering and Events" company. For detailed info you can visit his website ( 

Fogo, which means "Venetian Fire" and so named because Carlo was born in Venice, Italyis located in an elegantly decorated expansive garden with an open kitchen, dim lighting and a long bar...

The menu includes a number of appetizers, pasta, main courses and grills (meat and fish)... Fogo also has a very good wine list with local and international selections and wines by the glass run from 14 TL to 20 TL each. 

nfortunately, due to the dim lighting I wasn't able to take any decent photos of the food we ate, but I can say that the "Shrimp Ceviche" (a starter),"Grilled Baby Calamari" and homemade sorbet were excellent! The prices are not cheap at Fogo and are comparable to other "fine dining" establishments in Istanbul. 

So, if you want to treat yourself to a fine dining experience with great food and excellent service, I recommend you go to Fogo, but make sure to make a reservation especially on the weekends as although Fogo has only been open for a couple of weeks, it is very popular. 

The other thing you can do and which I've already done several evenings since coming here is have a drink at their bar! 

Eray, one of the bartenders makes excellent and potent mojitas, long island iced teas, etc. and the DJ spins the best music! (3005 Sokak No. 6, Alaçatı; Tel: (0232) 716 66 52)

On my second night in Alaçatı, as well as last night my sister and I went to eat at Ferdi Baba, a seafood restaurant at the Port Alaçatı Marina which is only a 5 minute walk from my hotel.

The Port Alaçatı Marina is a huge complex with lovely homes, a state of the art marina and restaurants and bars ( and by far Ferdi Baba is the most popular restaurant in the marina, so always make a reservation before going. 

Ferdi Baba is quite spacious and while one side is more dimly lit, one portion of the restaurant has more lighting...

On both evenings, we sat on the dimly lit side, so once again unfortunately I wasn't able to take decent photos of the food we ate.

On our first visit we had a selection of appetizers which included a variety of Aegean greens in olive oil or yogurt, a luscious salad with tomatoes, greens and dried beets and grilled calamari which were all excellent! I also ordered a half-bottle of Turkish red wine which are typically not available at restaurants in Turkey, so I was happy to see that Ferdi Baba offered this option. 

Last night we skipped on ordering too many appetizers because we wanted to make room for fish, which you can select from the open display and the selections are quite varied. We ordered "sinarit" (dentex or porgy), a local Aegean sea fish which is served grilled. It was very fresh and grilled to perfection and since it was about 800 grams, more than enough for two people. The price of the fish changes daily and the prices per kg are on display so once you have your fish weighed, you will have an idea how much it will cost. Our fish was 120 TL and with 4 appetizers, 2 glasses of rakı (a Turkish alcoholic beverage commonly preferred with fish dishes), a non-alcoholic beverage and one dessert our meal cost 199 TL and the total bill was 220 TL as the tip is automatically included in the bill. This price also includes a 3.5 TL cover per person for water and bread. (Tel: (0232) 716 90 01;

I hope you get a chance to go to these restaurants when you visit Alaçatı! I hope to be writing about some of the others restaurants I plan on visiting during my trip either from Alaçatı or after I get back home to Istanbul.

Bon apetit!

Next up, I will be recommending some places you can visit to shop - but not your "run of the mill" shops!

Stay well,

Friday, July 12, 2013

ALAÇATI VACATION 2013 Part 1: Alaçatı Kapari Hotel

Dear readers,

As I mentioned in my last post on Katre Hotel, I am now on a glorious vacation in Alaçatı/Çeşme for 2 weeks... I arrived 3 days ago on Wednesday afternoon and will be here until July 24th and this time, I've taken my pc with me and will be posting info on some of the places I visit that are worth writing about to share with you - literally hot off the presses! So, this way if you are planning a vacation to this area this year, I hope I can be of some help!

As far as I'm concerned, the most important part of any vacation is your choice of hotel! I have been travelling on my own since I was 17 years old and since I'm no longer a "spring chicken" I have built up quite an experience when it comes to selecting lodging properties. Of course, with time, my preferences have also changed and to be quite frank, I prefer and like quaint, yet elegant boutique hotels above all else! Now, I am also at a point in my life when I can afford to financially stay at nice places!

Additionally, after Luka entered my life in May 2011, I also have to find hotels that are "animal friendly" and allow pets. 

Take my word for it, the list is very short in Turkey and in all of Alaçatı I was only able to find 3-4 hotels that allow pets!!

As you know, I stayed at Katre Hotel last year - which I love and is like a "home away from home", but unfortunately since I decided this trip pretty much on the spur of the moment, there wasn't availability on the dates I wanted.

I always  believe that every negative has a positive, so because of this reason, I had a chance to discover a new hotel which is literally a 5 minute walk from the Port Alaçatı Marina and Katre Hotel... Alaçatı Kapari Hotel (

Although the hotel is listed on many hotel booking websites, I booked my room directly with the hotel after reviewing and loving the pictures of the boutique hotel I saw on their website... they also have a 360 degree visual tour you can take to get a better idea of the hotel property.

After a smooth and "no delay" flight from Istanbul to Izmir on Wednesday, Luka and I arrived at the Kapari Hotel after a 45 minute drive (reserved a car with a transfer service) we arrived at our temporary home for two weeks and we knew immediately we wouldn't be disappointed!

We were greeted in a small tastefully decorated reception area by Damla, the front office manager and Oluş N. Kızılagaç, the friendly and bubbly owner of the hotel! We had a chance to chat with the Ms. Kızılagaç and I found out that this is Kapari Hotel's 3rd season and they also open year round.

Although my room was ready, she offered me a cup of Turkish coffee which I didn't refuse and sat enjoying it overlooking the pool and partial view of the Aegean Sea from the main level of the hotel...

There are 6 garden terrace rooms right by the hotel's swimming pool at Kapari and we were assigned room number 3 which also has a small seating area and I was delighted to see that my room was very very spacious and decorated in a minimalist and elegant manner. There are other rooms on the main level and top floor in a variety of sizes, but guest travelling with pets are assigned rooms on the garden level which is fine by me!

Garden Terrace Room at Alaçatı Kapari Hotel
Like I said, I immediately fell in love with this hotel and the following are just some other pictures I took... BTW... Luka is also enjoying his stay here!

Alaçatı Kapari Hotel 
A few hours after settling in, I also met Figen Akçay, the fairly new (2 weeks) General Manager of the hotel and, it's definitely a small world, we found out we had a friend in common!

The hotel also has a young and enthusiastic staff who are dedicated to growing in the hotel industry. Habibe, Gülseren, Sevil, Tolga... are very bright,  efficient and eager to learn and always have a smile on their faces!

The other great thing about the Kapari Hotel is that they have a complimentary tea service at 5:00pm which I was able to benefit from on my first day...

Towards the evening while I was waiting for my sister and nephew to come over, I decided to treat myself to some wine as Luka and I hung out ....

The Kapari Hotel has a total of 22 deluxe rooms (including family rooms) in a variety of sizes and breakfast and VAT are included in the prices....speaking about breakfast, it is available from 9:00am to noon and includes typical Turkish breakfast treats...

standard breakfast treats @ Kapari Hotel
The jams are homemade (and delicious) and you can also order all different kinds of eggs and different savory hot pastries are available daily, so forget any diet you might be on! Also, you can swing by for breakfast if you are in the area as non-guests are welcome!

The guests at Kapari Hotel are a mix of Turks and foreigners in all age groups... Luka especially loved this Danish little girl (her name is Lif), but then again, Luka loves everyone and is very friendly!

Luka and his new friend Lif
The hotel also has a "resident" dog who is very docile... his name is Pasha and he comes and hangs out in the garden from time to time, but he is a little shy...

It is now about 2pm on the 3rd day of my 14 day trip to Alaçatı... I've already hit my favorite beach - Fun Beach Club and went out to dinner at two different restaurants and I will be writing about them too... today I just wanted to relax at the hotel and will be meeting my sister in about an your and we will just hang out at her house in Ilıca by the pool and go out to dinner in the evening and probably do some "clubbing" too - it is Friday night! So more on my escapades in Alaçatı in the next couple of days...

If you are planning a trip to Alaçatı, I can highly recommend the Kapari Hotel for their spacious rooms, friendly staff and location. You can visit their website (also available in English) for more detailed information and prices.

Enjoy your summer wherever in the world you are and come and visit Alaçatı and Çeşme on the lovely Aegean Sea in Turkey! You definitely won't be disappointed!

Stay well

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

KATRE BOUTIQUE HOTEL: Serenity in Alaçatı/Çeşme

Dear readers,

To put it mildly, from the end of May and throughout the month of June, it was an extremely "trying" time in Istanbul and the rest of Turkey! I'm sure most of my readers have been following the news on the happenings and since my blog is not a "political" one, I don't feel it's appropriate that I delve into the topic here - besides I'm apolitical, but I have to also state that I do wholeheartedly support freedom of speech and democracy!

Besides being totally engrossed in current events, I have also been suffering from a horrible cold for the past week and although today is day 8, I'm hard pressed to say I'm back in good health. However, this is the first day I've had enough energy to venture out and run some chores - in preparation for my trip to Alaçatı/Çeşme next week!

Since I haven't been at all socially active in Istanbul for the last month or so, I wanted to write about a lovely hotel I 'discovered' in Alaçatı last year to recommend to those planning a trip to this lovely summer resort town in the Aegean region of Turkey.

First, some general info before I go on! I've been visiting Çeşme every year since 1999 ever since my sister got married to my brother-in-law who is originally from Izmir. Izmir is a lovely city in the Aegean region and your first port of call on your way to Çeşme if travelling by air. There are several airlines (THY, Atlas Jet, Pegasus, etc) that have regularly scheduled flights to Izmir on a daily basis from Istanbul and some airlines fly directly to Izmir from certain cities in Europe. Flight time from Istanbul to Izmir is about 1 hour.

The one main problem is that there is no direct bus service from Adnan Menderes Airport to Çeşme... what I do and what most people do is reserve a car service/taxi before arrival and pay a flat fee. Since prices can vary and change from year to year, I won't be mentioning any prices. Your other option is to take a taxi to downtown Izmir where you can catch a bus that has service to Çeşme, but this can be very tiring and take much longer time (normal travel time via taxi is about 30-45 minutes and about 80 km).

Up until last year, I mainly stayed at my sister's summer home in Ilıca, but for a variety of reasons I've decided it suits me better to stay at a hotel - especially after Luka came into my life and last year was the 1st time that we stayed at a hotel together.

Just like in many parts of the world - it is difficult finding decent hotels that accept dogs or other pets of any size. In fact, the last time I researched the  topic recently on the web, only a handful of hotels accept animals in Çeşme province!

And... one of those places is Katre Hotel located right across the street from the Port Alaçatı Marina! 

Katre Hotel 
I "discovered" Katre after reading numerous articles in the local press about this newcomer (I believe this is its 3rd season) as well as from friends who had stayed there. I was especially interested because this is an "animal friendly" boutique hotel. 

So, when I finally made a decision to go to Alaçatı at the end of August last year... I booked a room for myself and one for my friend Nur and spent a WONDERFUL 7 days at my "hotel of choice" in this area!

Figen Mertol is the owner of this quaint and serene 10 room, 3 story boutique hotel and to be quite frank, from day one of my stay, I felt like I was staying at a friend's home instead of a hotel! 

"my room" at Katre Hotel
Luka and I stayed on the ground floor by the pool (3 other rooms also available on this level). Nur stayed on the main floor and all rooms offer lovely panoramic views of the marina and Aegean sea. 

The Bar (top) and shots of the hotel (left and right)
Like I said, if you want a calm, serene and laid back vacation, this is the place to stay! The majority of the guests during my stay were from abroad and we quickly became a "family" after running into each other at breakfast...

Speaking about breakfast... besides being the owner of Katre, Figen is also a gifted chef and is into organic cooking and only uses ingredients in season and some directly from her garden and Katre has the "best" breakfast selections!

Some breakfast treats at Katre Hotel
Breakfast includes typical Aegean style treats and brought to your table (not buffet style) and include different cheeses, breads, olives and a whole host of organic  vegetables in olive oil, etc. and from time to time, homemade savory pastries are also prepared! 

It was such a treat to have breakfast overlooking the marina and then hanging out and reading the papers while Luka hung out by my feet before we ventured to one of the "beaches" in the vicinity!

Except for one evening, we went out to one of the many restaurants in Alaçatı, Çeşme, Ilıca or Dalyan. However, you can also treat yourself to a relaxing dinner at Katre too. There is no "set" menu and changes daily and most importantly, you don't have to be a hotel guest to have breakfast or dinner at Katre (but reservations are a must for dinner).

Like I mentioned earlier, the Port Alaçatı Marina is right across the street and includes a variety of restaurants and bars. This year, there is also a beach club...

I really really enjoyed staying at Katre Hotel. The rooms are clean, some are more spacious than others and all are decorated in a minimalistic style (check their website for photos) with all the basic amenities (minibar, TV, hairdryer, etc.) and Nur, Luka and I were sad when leaving and wished we had more time to stay!

Also, I am so happy that I can now count Figen among my friends (and our birthdays are only one day apart, although I'm older!) We had the chance to get together in Istanbul last year and attended a wine harvest together. 

Me (left), Figen Mertol (owner - right)
As my yearly ritual, I will be travelling to Alaçatı next week and staying for two weeks this time. But, I made one big mistake and didn't make my plans until several days ago because I was sick, so unfortunately Katre is not available to accommodate me for two weeks! As a result, I will be staying at another property not too far from Katre this time around. But, you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be swinging by Katre for breakfast, drinks and/or dinner to catch up with my friend! 

I highly recommend Katre Hotel to those travelling to the region and for those guests who want quiet, tranquil and calm hotel surroundings and a place which feels more like a home than a hotel! You can call the hotel directly to make reservations (give them my regards if you call directly) or use one of the many hotel reservations sites on the internet).

I wish everyone a wonderful holiday this summer and I will be reporting more from Alaçatı (my hotel, places to wine & dine, beach clubs, clubbing, etc.) hopefully in the next couple of weeks if I decide to take my computer with me or right after I return to Istanbul - haven't decided yet. 

Katre Hotel
Tel: (0532) 152 35 88

Stay well,