Sometimes it is just too easy to get trapped inside even when the weather is great.
The other day, I took a train north for a day trip to Eski (Old) Foca,a seaside resort on the Turkish Aegean north of Izmir. There is Yeni (New) Foca, but I saved that for some other day. I wandered around the village for a couple of hours and snapped some photos. Here is a painting based on one of them.
Since the construction of the metro line, it is remarkably easy to get from Izmir to Foca- both old and new towns. I am not sure who made the impractical decision to run the city train line all the way some 60 kilometers north, but I, for one, think it's cool. The train which I assume is supposed to service the city residents suddenly flies passed wide empty stretches and huge fields.
Day trips in Turkey used to be quite a lot of hassle, full of surprises and unexpected confusions. Even on this excursion, I misunderstood an announcement and found myself suddenly heading back in the wrong direction. I wasn't the only one, though. The two men sitting across from me made exactly the same mistake and the expression on their faces was priceless. We ended up having quite a nice chat as we were putting things to right. They were members of a kind of Ottoman military band and they toured the region putting on shows. That's one of the best things about traveling, meeting new people along the way, and Turks really excel in this kind of socializing. (Rule one, if you can laugh at yourself, or, at least, not take yourself too seriously, admit when you done something foolish, you can generally be a hit with Turks.)
Although there is a sprawling housing development in the hills, and another huge nest of summer homes for military families, Eski Foca is a pretty small village, The main part of town is lovely, with cool back streets shrouded in vines. Unlike a lot of towns in Turkey that have become popular with tourists, Eski Foca has retained a lot of its old homes and ambiance. Compared to Kusadasi, Foca is quite laid back and relaxing. The waterfront is lined with fish restaurants, bars and a few discos. In the small cove, there are two of three small, flat and empty islands. It's a marvelous view coming into town, when you crest the hills and look down into the village.
Foca, known in ancient times as Phocaea, or Phokaia was founded in the eleventh century B.C. According to legend:
In the first half of the 6th century, the unstoppable Persian army surrounded Phocaea. The city walls were 18-20 meters high but they could not resist the Persian attack. The Phocaeans, realizing they could hold out no longer, asked for a one night truce to prepare for surrender. The Persian commander Happagos agreed. When the night ended and morning came, there was no sign of life in the city.
The Phocaeans had chosen to leave their homes rather than become slaves, taking the valuables hidden in tunnels behind the city and loading them onto ships and sailing away.
From the book, Izmir, the Pearl of the Aegean