In Chios (both the name of the island and the town), there were a few cafés open and an all night pizza place. We found ourselves a seat at one of the cafés and ordered a wonderful cup of green tea. We enjoyed the tea as we watched the confusion of the ferry unloading and reloading. The ferry began casting off the lines with the last car still on the loading ramp.
After a slow cup of tea, we hopped on our bikes and road around town. It was odd seeing so many people just wandering about at 4:30 am. We were stopped by some young adults that were interested in the bikes. They invited us to a party, but we were too tired and cold to be interested. We found the ferry port for Cesme and then went back for a second cup of tea. By 5:30 am, we were feeling pretty cold, so we moved indoors to the pizza place (there were several people smoking inside the café, making it quite unpleasant indoors at the café and the pizza place was empty). Becky enjoyed an omelet that was shaped like a pizza, and Scott had a nap at the table. Soon enough it was 7:30 am, and we needed to go to the ferry.
At the ferry, we met Randy, Kathy, Sharon and John, an American family who are backpacking to various places around the world. We took the same ferry, so it was nice to chat with them and learn about their adventures. They had a very similar unfortunate incident at the hostel in Brindisi. Kathy had her travel purse stolen. They were at the hostel only 2 weeks before us, and the more we talked, the more we found some aspects of the hostel a little creepy. We would recommend that anyone staying in Brindisi find accommodations elsewhere.
Our first awe-inspiring view of Cesme was of the castle, which dominates the skyline. We stopped to take a quick photo and then found our way to the tourist information centre. When we arrived, we had a brief discussion with the tourist information agent about Canadian tourists. Apparently 90% of Canadian tourists to this part of Turkey are from Vancouver, followed by 5% from Montreal. We have found that many people think that Montreal is the capital of Canada. Not too long after our arrival, Randy, Kathy and family arrived. Randy and Scott went inside with the tourist agent to gather information on accommodations and Cesme in general, while the rest of us waited outside and chatted.
We had two choices for inexpensive Pensyion, 30 YTL or 40 YTL for an ocean view. We opted for the 30YTL (about $24 CAD) as it did not involve riding up stairs – the ocean view was on a street that was accessed by a staircase. We are staying in the Pensyion that is also the home of a friendly family. We are the only guests as they are not usually open at this time of year.
Given our poor nights’ sleep, our first order of business was a nap. We laid down and within 5 minutes both of us had passed out, only to emerge 2 hours later ready for some food. Our Pensyion is a short walk to the main pedestrian street, so we headed out for some food and a walk. We quickly found a place that was mentioned in the guidebook and had the “house special”, a sampling of all the different premade stews. The food was yummy – Becky especially likes the rice. We thought the price was a bit high at 28 YTL, but this was still much less than we would have paid for a full meal in Greece or Italy. We reminded ourselves to ask what the price of food is before ordering it.
Our next order of business was to take a walk along the waterfront and to check out the castle. You could see how the waterfront would be bustling with tourists in the warm season. It had warmed up from the overnight, but was not warm enough for shorts and T-shirts.
The castle was quite well preserved and included some museum displays. Becky was particularly amused by the Byzantine toilet which looks amazing like the squat toilets found throughout southern Europe and Asia. We reached the top of the castle just in time for the afternoon call to prayer. From that viewpoint, you could see several mosques, and we could hear three distinct calls to prayer. It was interesting how they each were done in their own time, not all starting exactly at once. We found the calls to be beautiful music and wonder what people from Muslim countries think of church bells when they hear them for the first time. We were surprised that the mosques in town were all low key. For some reason, Becky had expected that all mosques would be miniature views of the grand Blue Mosque in Istanbul. More reasonably, the local mosques are pragmatic buildings that other than the minarets, blend into the skyline.
By the end of the day, Becky was feeling a cold coming on. The last day in Athens, she had a pretty bad sore throat, but now the cold was moving into her sinuses. Since we were comfortable in Cesme, we decided to hang around for a few days and allow the cold to pass before getting on our bikes.