Day 15: Made it to Turkey at last - It is all east from here!
Izmir Travel Blog› entry 21 of 260 › view all entries
April 20th, 2010 – by: Biedjee
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.
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.
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.
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