Ionia Guest House

Luxury accommodation in the Aegean countryside

Tag: Turkey

We’re here!

We landed safely in Izmir and reached our new house just before dawn on Saturday 19th July. That was a week ago now. Sorry for the silence: it’s taken us this long to sort out an internet connection.

It’s been a hot and hectic week and we have lots to talk about. But for now just a few quick shots of how things looked the morning we got here.

The main house in the pre-dawn light

The main house in the pre-dawn light

The grapes are nearly ready

The grapes are nearly ready

Shade from the vines; front gate in the background

Shade from the vines; front gate in the background

More to follow!

First shots of the farmhouse

Grape vines growing over the courtyard

Under the vines

Back in March we bought the orchard and the farmhouse. The previous owners moved out in April, and so the house has been empty for a while. We can’t wait to get out there ourselves, but in the meantime my mum and dad have very kindly travelled down from Istanbul to check things out for us. The garden has grown like crazy and there were a lot of leaves to sweep up, plus a bird seems to have made a nest in the kitchen, but apart from that no problems! There’s fruit growing all over the place: limes, pomegranates, pears, plums, and of course figs.


Dad hosing down the driveway

Here are a couple of photos my parents sent us. We love the way the grape vines have grown to shade the courtyard: they were just bare vines when we saw them in March.

Why Turkey?

Right now we’re still in the UK, but our plans for the big move are firming up. Sirem has left her job and I am in the last few weeks of mine. All our furniture will be stuffed into a shipping container and sent by sea on the 15th of July. We should be completing the house sale on the 18th of July, and will fly out to Turkey on the same day. The cats will be going ahead of us, travelling overland across Europe with the help of the nice people at Paws Kennels and Cattery.

Once we’re out there, and once we get our internet connection sorted out, the blog will get a lot more practical. We’ve got some immediate jobs to do like modernizing the bathroom in the old farmhouse, digging drainage ditches up in the orchard, and harvesting our first batch of figs. All that should mean lots of progress photos, of course.

In the meantime, some friends have asked why we’ve chosen southwest Turkey for our big plan. I think the easiest way to answer that is with some photos from previous visits.

Restaurant in Kirazlı, about 20km from our place

Köy Sofrası restaurant in Kirazlı, about 20km from our place

Valley in the hills nearby

Valley in the hills nearby

Gület (yacht) moored in beautiful Aegean waters

Gület (yacht) moored in beautiful Aegean waters

View from a hilltop looking out towards the Greek islands

View from a hilltop looking out towards the Greek islands

Latitude and climate

We’ve lived in the UK (and briefly in Germany) for almost twenty years now. We both grew up in hotter places, so we’re really looking forward to the climate of the Aegean coast. Hıdırbeyli is at 37.9 degrees north, and, like much of south-west Turkey, is in the Köppen climate zone “Csa”, i.e., dry-summer sub-tropical, or Mediterranean. Sounds good!

I was curious to see what cities 37.9 degrees puts us level with. Around the Mediterranean, it’s great to see that we’re on the same latitude line as places like Athens, Palermo, and Cordoba. Further afield, the results are a bit more surprising. In the US, we’re about level with Richmond (Virginia) and San Francisco.  In east Asia, we’re lined up with Seoul and Fukushima.

World map showing 37.9 degrees north and south.

World map showing 37.9 degrees north and south.  Map borrowed from Wikimedia Commons.

What if you flip things around to the southern hemisphere?  Strange to note that in Africa there’s no land that far south. We’d be in the sea off Cape Town. In South America we’re level with the Argentinian beach resort of Mar del Plata; in Australia we line up with Melbourne; and in New Zealand we’d be midway between Auckland and Wellington.

Moving to Turkey

Photo of us Hi, and welcome to our blog. Some of you will already know us, and will have heard about our crazy project in great detail.  For those who haven’t met us before, we’re Jason and Sirem.  We’ve had enough of our jobs in the UK and are about to move to rural Turkey to build a hotel.

Semi-detached Southampton house This is the house in Southampton we’ll be leaving behind. We’ve been here for seven years and it’s been a great place to live, but it’s time to go.

And here are some photos of where we’re going.  We bought a small farmhouse and about an acre of fig orchard on a hillside near the village of Hıdırbeyli.  Which is near the town of Germencik, just inland from Turkey’s Aegean coast.

The orchard as it looked in March 2014.

Sunset from the orchard, looking towards Mount Mycale.

Looking out across the olive groves.

We’ll be about half an hour from ruins of Ephesus, with many other archaeological sites only a short drive away (e.g., Priene, Magnesia, Miletus, Didyma, and Aphrodisia). We’re also about half an hour from the beach.

All that archaeology gave us the idea for what to call the hotel.  We’re right in the middle of what was once Ionia, one of the colonies of ancient Greece.  So our place will be the Ionia Guest House.

The plan is to build a small hotel with about six rooms around a central garden courtyard and pool.  We want it to work as a base for visiting the attractions of the Aegean coast, and at the same time give people a taste of the Turkish countryside. We plan to grow our own fruit and vegetables, to use great local food, and to raise chickens for eggs.  We want to build the place in a sustainable way (timber-frame straw bale construction, covered in local clay plaster). It’s going to take us a couple of years to get it all up and running, so the blog is for keeping people up to date on our progress.

Thanks for stopping by.

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