Merhaba Izmir!

Izmir Travel Blog

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Sem

We took an eight hour bus ride from Ankara to Izmir. I have never been on a bus that long in my life! But it is, from what I gathered, the most common form of transportation between cities wthin Turkey. Cars are very expensive to own and the cost of fuel would be more then the purchase of two bus tickets. It was a nice way to see the Turkish country side. Dry almost treeless mountains with small villages and farms nestled in between. We stopped once at a rest stop. It was my first experience using a Public bathroom in Turkey. Apparently one must pay to enter, but unaware of the local norm I just walked in.

Luckily for my I have a Turkish boyfriend who is well aware of my ignorance and fully prepared with change to pay. I was also a bit shocked to see what I had originally called  the "hole in the floor", but later learned they are actually called squat-down toilets, in all of the stalls. I had never seen one before and I thought at first that I had walked into the Men's bathroom!

The main purpose of our trip to Izmir was for me to meet Sem's family, see his home town and visit Ephesus.

I really nervous about meeting the family! I didn't speak more then a few words of the language and really wanted them to like me. But as soon as we arrived at his brother's apartment all worries disappeared and I was met with a flood of warm smiles and happy eyes! His mother and sister-in-law had prepared a FULL turkish style vegan dinner for me.
What I had expected was a simple salad and maybe a couple of veggie side dishes that I could eat, but this full meal was the sweetest and the most generous unexpected act of kindness I have ever encountered! Not to mention possibly the most delicious home cooked turkish food ever!! There were veggies cooked that I normally didn't care for, but found myself wanting seconds!

I observed how differently his family ate then mine or like most of the people back home. If someone didn't want the rest of something such as piece of bread or cucumber slices they would put it on someone elses plate at the table and instead of serving  all the food onto individual plates they often ate from the center dishes or from someone else's plate. It was taking the concept of sharing a meal with the family to a new level for me.
Clock tower
I loved it! It was so different from the more individualistic eating tradition from back home where everyone's meal is separated into individual plates and not mixed with someone elses without their consent. This different form of sharing a meal seemed to feed the family connectedness with one another. It is often described in travel books that the best way to connect with a culture is over food. I think the same statement can also be said about connecting to ones family. The rest of the evening went by so quickly! we handed out gifts and I tried to win the hearts of some very special little girls through coloring books. I felt instantly comfortable with all of them and could easily see where Sem gained his warm soul from.

After a good night sleep we got up early in the morning and set off to explore the streets and scenes of Izmir!

We along the Port of Izmir, stopping randomly to enjoy the scene.
My favorite was resting near a small mosque located next to the Izmir Clock Tower where we watched young children run through flocks of grounded pigeons. They would laugh as the pigeons took off and wait for the birds to settle again for another laugh.

From there we headed toward the winding streets of an old nearby outdoor market. I tried an interesting type of fruit that looked like a raspberry with a spiky shell. I remember it having a grainy texture and was sweet but not too sweet, but I will have to try it again to confirm :P. The market streets were bustling and so easy to get lost in. The shops were small in size with products spilling out onto the street. People were making bargains with vendors, calling for customers and carrying on conversations with friends.
The strange fruit I tried at the Market
While Semih led us through the streets I kept my eyes out for street cats, of which there was an abundance!!! One in particular was a real fatty!! :P:P:P

After walking the Market we ventured to Agora of Smyrna, an open air museum of an ancient market that dates back to the Hellenistic era. It is located in the center of Izmir. I'm unsure to the exact cost of entry (trying to look for my ticket stub :P). I am thinking it was between 3 and 8 Turkish Lira. Definately worth the small fee. The area available for tourists to explore was small but filled with coloums and cut stone from ancient times. You can walk through rows of unearthed stone objects discovered in the area. we were able to go to a lower level, but much of the lower level was blocked for, I assume, safety reasons.
I looked up Smyrna on Wiki and learned that there are several digs in the process through out the city. The museum was also a playground for local street cats. One of them follwed me around during the first half of our time. She was a sweet and affectionate street cat.

At the end of the day we enjoyed a short ferry ride across the Port. Many local kids brought bread with them to throw to the hungry seagulls chasing the ferry for a meal. They were very talented at catching their food in midair!!

dothoin says:
great blog on Izmir was there recently and loved the Kordon area at night
Posted on: Sep 08, 2009
Fakz says:
Good Photography
Posted on: Apr 24, 2009
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Sem
Sem
Clock tower
Clock tower
The strange fruit I tried at the M…
The strange fruit I tried at the …
The sign says Kids age 0... :P:P…
The sign says Kids age '0'... :P:…
Sweet cat of Izmir
Sweet cat of Izmir
Old ruins surrounded by the modern…
Old ruins surrounded by the moder…
Beautiful stone work!
Beautiful stone work!
Tape holding the ruins together as…
Tape holding the ruins together a…
Being chased by hungry seagulls :P
Being chased by hungry seagulls :P
Izmir
photo by: Deehu