As already described in the first part of my report, during the summer vacation of 1989 we decided to look for a holiday home in the greater Ayvalık area.
Advantages of the area around Ayvalık were the pleasant climate with the good, clean air, the wonderful wide sandy beach (near Sarım-Saklı), the varied, scenic coastline and last but not least the fact that we could get here in two days by car from managed from Nuremberg. You have to know that we were traveling with two children before the Balkan wars and that a flight for four people during the holiday season was simply too expensive.
However, when we took a closer look at the “holiday home project”, we realized that our budget would not be sufficient for it. Since I am rather cautious in financial matters and am not a friend of getting into debt, we quickly came to the conclusion that a holiday apartment would probably be more suitable for our needs. The experiences and tips of other real estate buyers also contributed to this finding.
The dream of owning your own home can quickly turn into a nightmare
If you are still working in Germany, then the property is empty for around 10 months of the year. Then who takes care of the house? On the one hand there is protection against burglars, on the other hand there is also protection against storm damage. Holiday home settlements are almost always built directly on the coast and you wouldn't believe the strong winter storms there are. On the Internet you can find enough examples of how little you can trust the promises of "good friends" (whom you met on the beach the day before). The money is often better invested even in a casino. But even commercial property managers are often not so precise with their duties. Of course, this problem does not only exist in Turkey, but in all holiday countries. You come to your house in joyful anticipation and find the sheer chaos. Winter storms have swept tiles off the roof or ripped off shutters, causing water damage in the house, smashed windows, if you're lucky only caused by children playing, front doors broken open and rooms ransacked and emptied, or weeds tall as a man in the garden. You have three or four weeks of vacation and more than half of that time is spent cleaning up or doing repairs. The dream of owning a house quickly turns into a nightmare.
With a condominium, such risks are much lower. As a rule, these are multi-family houses in a built-up area. If there is storm damage there, it will normally be repaired by other residents of the house. Since the house is inhabited all year round, the risk of burglary is much lower and the property is also well maintained. For my apartment I can say that in more than twenty years no window has ever been broken (but I have already found two or three balls on the balcony) and once a neighbour called me at home in Germany and asked because "someone stared conspicuously at my apartment from the street". The mental switch from the holiday home to the holiday apartment was not really difficult for us.
From Ayvalık to Burhaniye in the north
So I drove my car along the coast from Ayvalık to Burhaniye in the north and Sahiler in the south and looked at a number of finished and semi-finished apartments. This gave me an initial overview and I soon knew how to assess the construction quality and was often able to distinguish between "cheap" and "inexpensive". But despite all the searching, the right thing just wasn't there. Either the way to the beach was too far, or the beach just didn't meet my expectations, or there was a disco in the neighbourhood, or ..., or ..., or.
Finally, a builder in Sarım-Saklı was recommended to me. Of course we also visit this construction site. We found a building shell in the style typical of the country, square floor plan, four floors, four apartments on each floor, with the apartments on the third and fourth floors belonging together, so-called "duplex apartments". As I said, it was a shell, the sanitary area had not yet been tiled, the floor tiles had not yet been laid, the electrical installation had just been laid. The builder was very nice and guided us through his construction. The apartments were well divided and the building fabric seemed to be quite tidy. We met a few more times over the following days, I checked this and that and finally I was ready to invest in an apartment on the second floor (note! The second floor in Turkey corresponds to the first floor in Germany). Ultimately, however, the purchase failed due to the different price expectations. Neither the seller nor I wanted to back down. Nevertheless, we said goodbye amicably and he offered to reserve the apartment for me until the end of October if I changed my mind.
But, as it is: back in Germany, everyday life quickly catches up with you, you have other worries and so the topic of buying an apartment was soon forgotten. At Christmas, quite surprisingly, acquaintances called us and told us that the apartment seller was "stuck" and was now ready to accept my purchase offer. I consulted again very intensively with my wife and then I said yes. What followed was a deal that I wouldn't recommend to anyone. It really was a gamble, but it had a happy ending. I transferred the purchase price without any written security, relying only on the promises of our acquaintances. It is about the married couple Rudi and Uschi P. from Fürth (not from Saxony as written in another article). We already knew each other from Nuremberg and they ended up in Küçükköy through a mutual Turkish acquaintance, where the seller of my apartment is also from. The seller, Mr. Mehmet U., promised me that I could take over the apartment in March 1990.
It really was a gamble, but it had a happy ending
I didn't visit “our apartment” in March, but only at the end of April. For reasons of time and money, this time I was traveling alone, I flew from Nuremberg to Izmir and from there I took the bus to Ayvalık, where my friends picked me up from the bus station. During my fourteen-day stay I stayed with them in Küçükköy. The handover of the apartment was quite unspectacular. Despite the promise, not everything was ready. The fitted kitchen from the carpenter, which was still a small revolution at the time, had not yet been installed and the painting had not yet been done. But I was able to get some things done, bought furniture and an electric heater for the bathroom as well as a kitchen stove, had curtains sewn and got more nervous every day because nothing was going on with the painter. I think I really got on Mehmet U.'s nerves at the time with my constant urging. And although I no longer expected it, by the time I flew back everything was actually ready. I as well.
In the summer holidays we spent the first vacation in our apartment. It was great! The two boys had their children's room, my wife and I could withdraw if we wanted to. We had breakfast on the balcony, walked to the beach (about 300m), swam and dived in the crystal clear water. We quickly found out where you could eat well and still cheaply, for example at “Erdoğanın yeri”. A place that still exists today, 20 years later, as a "çorbası lokanta", a place where you can still get a plate of hot soup until the early hours. It has now moved twice and is run by Erdoğan's son. But the quality and freshness of the food are still convincing.
The "Kaya market" still exists today
At that time there were still many "supermarkets", we would probably call them "mom and pop shops". One of them, the "Kaya market", still exists today, although there was a change of ownership there too, which is normal after more than 20 years. Incidentally, “Kaya market” is also the name of a bus stop. This Kaya market is only two houses away and still today it is one of my first visits when I come to Sarım-Saklı. And if only to buy the most necessary things. You also have credit if you haven't been to the bank to change money. It's just a warm, good neighborly relationship. In the meantime, however, there are also real supermarkets in Sarım-Saklı. Similar to ours 40 years ago, these corner shops are now disappearing in Turkey and giving way to the large supermarket chains. What are Aldi and Lidl in Germany, BIM and A101 are in Turkey. When I go to Ayvalık, I also like to shop at KiPa. A supermarket that really offers everything. Big stores like Real or Marktkauf can't keep up with us.
Yussuf's father already ran an oil mill in Ayvalık
But I don't have to go to Ayvalık for shopping, I could get everything in Sarım-Saklı. Nevertheless, we go to Ayvalık very often because this city simply has a great flair. The lively harbor with its many cafés and the lively hustle and bustle, the old town with many small retail shops where you can also find unusual items, delicacies or fashion at reasonable prices. Or the beautifully designed pedestrian zone. And in the twenty years, of course, a number of acquaintances have arisen. Then I sit at "Michel", a jeweler who has already passed it on to his son and drink my cay (tea). He, "Ertan", still runs his father's gold and jewelry store, but more as a sideline. After studying in Bursa, Ertan mainly earns his money by creating websites. Or I get a shave at “berber Metin”, my hairdresser, with whom I also have to have a cay, of course. His son-in-law Sönmez comes from Sarım-Saklı. He and my sons have been friends since they were young and used to go to discos when they were young. Today, Sönmez and my boys have children of their own, but they still keep in touch. At the port I stop at one of the many cafés. I think the most beautiful view of the harbor is from “Denizci kahve”. But I often meet acquaintances in other cafés on the way there. Be it Bülent in “white knight”, who is married to a Finnish woman and also has his main residence in Nuremberg, or Yussuf in “Ayvalıkgücü”. Yussuf's father already ran an oil mill in Ayvalık and he still produces a high-quality cold-pressed olive oil in a traditional way, but you can't find it in retail. Of course, only relatives and good friends are taken care of. And while he's often sold out towards the end of summer, he always saves a few liters for me.
That is so typically German.
I remember a nice incident that I experienced in the summer of 1990: I went to Ayvalık with the apartment seller Mehmet U. to get a few small things for the facility. We agreed to meet again at 12:00 p.m. in "Ayvalıkgücü". I went shopping and at 12.00 sharp I arrived at our meeting point, where I saw Mehmet already sitting with some other Turks. When I walked up to the table, Mehmet introduced me - I didn't understand anything because I didn't speak Turkish at the time - and he said something that everyone laughed heartily about. One of his acquaintances spoke German and he then enlightened me: Mehmet had told them that we had an appointment for 12:00 p.m. and I actually showed up at 12:00 p.m. That is so typically German. When he said “at 12:00 p.m.”, Mehmet only meant “sometime in the afternoon”. Well, you just have to get used to this interpretation of times in Turkey. In the meantime, however, I also know some Turks who have lived in Germany for a long time and who have adopted the German time specification. They complain more about the unpunctuality of their compatriots than I do.
In any case, we have not regretted the decision to choose Sarım-Saklı as our second home.
Karl Heinz Kraus
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