Day 15: Made it to Turkey at last - It is all east from here!

Izmir Travel Blog

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The Çankaya area, where my hotel was located
The first two weeks of my trip I spent 7 nights in transit. The last three of these (the bus to Chi┼čin─âu, the train to Sofia and the bus to Izmir) had not been particularly comfortable. And that is an understatement. I was absolutely wasted!
When I woke up at 5, in my extremely uncomfortable position in the bus, I decided I had to slow down if I ever wanted to survive this 9-month journey. The plan was to travel from city to city along the Aegean coast and then travel to Istanbul next week to meet up with my friends Derk and Ed who will come over for a long weekend. However, I could not see myself do that in this state. I really needed a break and some good nights sleep.
the streets of Izmir

I decided to make Izmir my base for the next three days and visit the ruins of Bergama and Ephesus as day trips instead, and then continue my journey south on Friday.

The Lonely Planet was rather brief on budget options in Izmir, so I opted for the cheapest of the two they had listed. Not the best option in the area probably (there are over 50 hotels in the ├çankaya area alone), but it had a bed and that was all I needed now. 
The area it was located in was fantastic. The hotel is situated at a little square in front of a mosque, where old men sat drinking tea and playing backgammon. Beyond the square a labyrinth of tiny streets extended, a wonderful place to get lost (which I subsequently did).

First impression of Turkey: the colours! After two weeks in former Soviet block countries, I welcomed the change from the grey, drab concrete tower blocks.
Hello Mediterranean sea
All the houses here are painted in bright colours (even the tower blocks) and most sport fancy red tiles on the roofs.
The Çankaya area has a wonderful, distinct Middle Eastern atmosphere, this coupled with the Mediterranean feel of the sea front makes that Izmir is like a combination of two of my favourite areas.

Sadly, Izmir isn't all that great a city. It is the third largest city in Turkey and has seriously outgrown  its natural boundaries. The city sprawls along the bay and the surrounding hills, and the traffic is absolutely horrible. The whole city is one big traffic jam. Suppose I should feel right at home here, as the lines of stationary cars in the road do resemble my own country somewhat.
Still, I figured it would be a good base for my day-trips to Bergama and Ephesus. Izmir also has all the comforts of a big city, like malls and cinemas and tons of bars, so certainly plenty to keep me entertained for the next couple of days.
Vlindeke says:
Dat is lang geleden dat ik in Izmir was! Wij waren er in 1988 of 1989..... Zal de foto's nog eens opzoeken.
Posted on: Apr 23, 2010
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The ├çankaya area, where my hotel …
The ├çankaya area, where my hotel…
the streets of Izmir
the streets of Izmir
Hello Mediterranean sea
Hello Mediterranean sea
Getting used to the new skyline. N…
Getting used to the new skyline. …
Izmir sea front
Izmir sea front
tiny mosque near the sea front
tiny mosque near the sea front
photo by: sayohat