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Getting There

By Car -- The E881 Izmir-Çesme toll expressway runs the length of the peninsula and connects Çesme with Izmir and the region beyond. You can also take the somewhat (but not terribly) scenic D300 into town.

By Bus -- Buses from Izmir leave from the main otogar outside of town, heading westward through Izmir before getting on the highway. Therefore, if you're staying around Konak, it makes more sense to get the bus near Fahrettin Altay Meydani; ask your taxi driver to go to this secondary bus stop. Alternatively, you can take the no. 7 city bus that runs along the coastal road from Cumhuriyet Meydani through Üçkuyular. Bus connections from other cities in the region must be made at the main otogar. The fare from Izmir center to Çesme is about 10TL or 12TL; from the otogar it's slightly more. If you're arriving directly from Izmir's Adnan Menderes Airport, your best bet is to avoid Izmir center entirely and take a taxi to the bus station in Üçkuyular, from where you can grab a bus into Çesme. Bus companies serving Çesme include Çesme Seyahat (tel. 0232/712-6499), Kamil Koç (tel] 0232/712-9831), Metro (tel. 0232/712-0714), Pamukkale (tel. 0232/712-9954), Ulusoy (tel. 0232/712-1313), and Varan (tel. 0232/712-0493).

Buses arriving into Çesme arrive into town by way of the harbor road, stopping at the top of Inkilap Caddesi before arriving at the new otogar at the junction of the çevreyolu and the Izmir-Çesme highway extension, just uphill from the main harbor. There is a taxi stand at both the main town square and at the otogar. (Note: all buses into Çesme make stops in Alaçati.)

By Ferry -- The Turkish-based Ertürk Lines (tel. 0232/712-6768; www.erturk.com.tr; travel agency located opposite the marina) operates year-round service between Chios and Çesme (daily service Apr-Sept departing at 6pm; contact Ertürk for off-season service). Passage costs 66TL for a one-way trip and 82TL for a same-day round-trip (non-same-day returns are 17TL more). A Greek port tax of 20TL applies for any trip other than a same-day excursion.

Çesme is also one of the main ports receiving direct ferry service from Ancona, Italy (May-Oct only). Off-season, you can catch a ferry from Ancona or Bari to Çesme via Greece.

Visitor Information

The staff at the tourist information office (tel. 0232/712-6653), located on the waterfront across from the castle, is ready, willing, and able to provide thorough and useful information on a wide range of subjects. If I had any influence with the local municipality, I'd give these people a raise. Closed Sundays. For advance planning, surf over to www.cesme.gen.tr.

Getting Around

With a car at your disposal, the peninsula will more readily show its special appeal, and several rental agencies can be found at the beginning and end of Inkilap Caddesi. For advance reservations (which are rarely necessary), call Blue Rent a Car (16 Eylül Mah. Gümrük Sok. 11; tel. 0232/712-0939; bluerental@hotmail.com); Ismet, the manager, speaks fantastic English and plays entirely by the book.

A number of local car rental companies or travel agencies rent out scooters for around 20€ to 25€ per day -- but know that technically, only drivers with an "A" class Turkish license can rent one. Still, many establishments ignore this rule at their and your peril; in the event of an accident, your home insurance may not cover losses.

Dolmus service to points beyond operates from downtown Çesme (in front of the municipal building at the end of Inkilap Cad., near waterfront, or from the otogar) to nearby beaches and sights. Fares vary only slightly and hover around 3TL.

There's a taxi stand (tel. 0232/712-6690) next to the castle in downtown Çesme, but the rates are outrageous, and dolmuses are fast, reliable, and cheap. In Ilica, call tel. 0232/723-1819; in Alaçati, call tel. 0232/716-8844; in Dalyan, call tel. 0232/724-8881.

Orientation

The Çesme Peninsula stretches out into the Aegean to the west of Izmir. At the extreme western tip passing through is the small resort town of Çesme, about an hour's drive out of Izmir. About 10km (6 1/4 miles) before arriving in Çesme on the highway is the turnoff for Alaçati the old town and bay. Along the northeast coastal road is the beach and thermal resort of Ilica, the thermals of Sifne, and, farther northeast along the coast, the ruins of Erythrai and the picturesque fishing village of Ildiri. (Villages farther north such as Foca and Karaburun -- easily 2 hours to the north -- require more time than I recommend for a short visit to Çesme.)

South of Çesme and the limani (harbor) are some of the finest beaches in the area, namely Pirlanta and Altinkum.

From the Izmir highway exit road down to the waterfront, a right turn onto the harbor road leads into the heart of Çesme, where a cluster of travel agents and restaurants, as well as the tourist information office, are located. Dominating the main square is the Genovese Castle, which, together with the Selçuk caravansaray, is a striking sight from the sea. Perpendicular to the main square is the pedestrian Inkilap Caddesi, Çesme's main shopping street, which heads inland from the waterfront. The road from the harbor to Tekke Beach at the northern end of Çesme town, sends traffic in a one-way direction. At Tekke Beach, drivers can either circle back up and around town or follow signs for Ayayorgi Beach or the small port village of Dalyan.

Mastic: The Truth About Gum

The resin-producing mastic tree that grows all over the Çesme Peninsula (and the Eastern Mediterranean) has been used for centuries in many ways: to heal stomach ulcers, to clean and polish teeth, as a sunscreen and a sunburn soother, and more. In Çesme, mastic is used in jams, to make pudding, or as a flavoring for raki (an alcoholic drink), while in the United States, the same ingredient is used chiefly as a varnish or adhesive substance. Mastic pudding, along with other cleverly bottled marmalades, is available at Rumeli Pastanesi, Inkilap Cad. 46, Çesme (tel. 0232/712-6759).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.