Izmir Travel Blog› entry 538 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here who contributed to, and improved my trip: Julia (Russia), Necip, Emir and Gunes (Turkey), William and Camille (USA), Matej (Slovakia)
Located on the Aegean coast, Izmir is Turkey's third largest City, with a population of 2.6 million people. In honesty there aren't any star attractions to see, but the metropolis is renowned for having some of the countries most happy go lucky citizens, so this seemed as good a reason as any to pay it a visit.
We would be staying in the student district of Bornova for the next four evenings, and a medical pupil called Necip would be our couchsurfing host. On arrival it was a pleasant shock to find the kitchen packed with other couchsurfers; Matias from Austria, William and Camille from USA, Matej from Slovakia, Necip from Turkey and then Julia (Russia) and I (England).
On Saturday Matej, Necip, Julia and I went to walk around Kordon, which is the central district of the City. Our journey began at Konak Meydani (Konak Square) where we saw the Ottoman clock tower and mosque, but as it was drizzling, we opted to go and have a poke around the bazaar. It seemed like a good chance to sample some of Turkey's traditional cuisine, so we bought mussels, blackberry juice and Turkish coffee from various stalls.
Thankfully the weather cleared up somewhat as the day progressed and this gave us the opportunity to have a walk along the Bay of Izmir. Located on the waterfront is Ataturk Evi, which is a free museum displaying Ataturk paraphernalia in a stately house.
After eating a delicious Kumpir ï¿½" Baked potato with four fillings ï¿½" we went and sat in a cafe and drank a beer and played Tavla for a couple of hours. Julia gave me a really good game which ended 5-4, as i threw double five with the last roll of the game, when it had looked like i was going to get beaten. For once she was gracious in defeat - i guess the Valentines Day spirit had put her in a good mood :) At 19.00 we went to a different bar where Matej had organised to meet a number of other couchsurfers. About 25 people showed up in the end and it turned into a fun evening, which didn't finish until 02.00.
On Sunday everyone was a little tired, so we didn't surface until lunch time.
The only reason for staying an extra day in Izmir was to fulfill my final desire of what i wanted to experience in Turkey - a live football game. The kick off wasn't until 20.00, so we spent the day at Kordon, walking around the bazaar, visiting the Roman Agora and then having another Tavla marathon in a cafe.
At 19.00 we met up with Emir, a friendly couchsurfer who we had met on Saturday evening, and the Texan couple William and Camille. The five of us headed down to the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, to watch Emir's team Karsiyaka take on a team from Istanbul called Kasimpasa. Although it was a second division clash, there was a reasonable turn out as it was 3rdvs 2ndand the fans made a lot of noise from start to finish.
There wasn't too much to write about the game in the first 89 minutes, as the match was deadlocked at 0-0. Thus i will write about the supporters, who certainly livened up proceedings. It all began good natured, with each fan having their arms around their neighbours neck and jumping up and down whilst singing.
So with the game entering the final few seconds, a deflected free kick wrong footed the Kasimpasa goalkeeper and sent the home fans into jubilant scenes of celebration. In fact, they were so happy that they began breaking seats, throwing seats at the police, fighting with the police and other fans and just doing anything that sprung into their mind. A stretcher had to come into the stands and an ambulance was required to carry one fan around the running track next to the pitch, and off to hospital.
I have probably seen over 700 live matches all around the World in my life, but these fans are probably the most idiotic i have come across - and i am told that they are quite placid compared to fans at the Istanbul derbies, where people are often killed. Emir told me that a few weeks ago one of their fans had been blown away with a shotgun, by an opposition fan at a petrol station, nice. The thing that frustrates me is that people still say England has bad football hooligans, but compared to this we are pussy cats!
We said our goodbyes to Necip on Monday night when we got back from the game, as he had to be at University early the next day.