Day 4 – Izmir

April 27, 2010 in Mediterranean,TURKEY | Comments (2)

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A wild night, says Aleah waking up and pulling off a black eyeshade. “Ooooooooooooooh…did you  hear all that creaking and groaning?”, she asks, and sighs as she forces herself out of bed.

It was the glory and power of nature on show through the night, gusting and billowing around our gigantic ship, seizing it and squeezing it so the door onto our balcony shrieked. This morning the balcony floor (high on the 10th storey) is wet with spray or rain.  Now a low grey-green sea is running past with a smoky grey-green of Turkish mountains looping the bay as we swish slowly into the port of Izmir.

Tall modern buildings are stacked like white bricks together and up the mountain side. So far – looks like an intimidating tourist destination. Finding the old town might be a challenge. No wonder the main tours offered by the boat travel agency take you out of town.

Look at that strange modern glassy highrise up on the hill, says Aleah pointing through our rain or spray splattered door.

Meanwhile the boat keeps on drifting away from the city against the mountain. We are off to breakfast….

15.16 AT SEA

The sea is running in the wind, with little white tops on the waves – greenish grey. Sky pale blue and patches of white and grey cloud. We are following the Turkish coast north, lost in a haze but caressed into white shimmer here and there by the afternoon sun.

We had a wonderful day in Izmir.

Our choice was to take a tour to Ephesus (57 eur) a city tour (43 eur) or a St Johns Monastry and Mary’s House (54 eur). Or to do it yourself…

It was hard to decide. Mary’s House sounded a bit unlikely to have belonged to Mary. Ephesus very tempting – a well preserved ruin of classical importance. We love old stones with history, even if they have fallen and the history forgotten. But it seems a bit hard to imbibe the slow vibrations of thousands of years while a guide announces in many languages a few facts learned by heart.

With this hopeless prejudice ruling, we chose the city tour –  do it yourself version.

Chaos swooped around us like seagulls chasing bait. Taxis circled around and people shouted. We were denied one of the taxis close in, as they were offering a tour. So with a German couple in tow (unable to speak English) we dodged little yellow taxis out to a busy road. The price should be 10 euros from the port by government regulation, so we announced our price and were bundled into a car without working seatbelts. Then he seemed to join a race to pass as many cars as possible along the dual carriageway following the promenade. Sudden turn and back along the road to Konak Square.

It was a bit of a surprise. A rather forgotten and forlorn place, loved most by pigeons. The beautiful clocktower is faded and needs a good clean; there is no water even in its basins/pools, and no handles on the taps.  The small mosque in the square looked abandoned too. But with faded charm, worth seeing…

From there we followed the boat people who had arrived by bus on the tour into the mazes of streets of Kemerati  Bazaar and fortunately lost them and ourselves.  Narrow lanes curved and wound around – no sense of direction remained. Shoe shops galore. Young men were shouting. Want leather jackets? Want jeans? Please come in. Sprechen sie Duetsch? Dutch?   Bits of what we read on the internet came back to me – hustlers, don’t catch their eye, keep walking.

But for all the advice we did catch people’s eyes, kind eyes and kind people. A man with moustache invited us into his shop – we said no we were looking for a café (to sit down and try to decipher where we were, having totally lost sense of place and time).  He then lead us through the maze to an area of little tea houses around one of the larger mosques. We chose one that looked so cosy, seats lined with woven patterned Turkish carpeting. He left us there with the words – you can come to my shop later if you feel like it.

Tea house in Kemeralti Bazaar, Izmir

 Later, lost time later, we passed him. Did you enjoy? Did you buy! Not buying anything I said gruffly … but undeterred by my frozen style he said warmly – are you still  looking for a cafe. You be my guest.  Come have some Turkish apple tea. How much does it cost? I asked. No he said — we are Turkish – if you are my guest you pay nothing.

So again we sat on the patterned carpeted seats and he entertained us with hot apple juice (tea?) and his stories about his visit in Finland – the closest he could come to Sweden. Finns know nothing about cooking, he spent most of his time shoveling snow, and the men are drunk 4 days a week…

Here he is…

Our tea house guide, expert on Finns


The clock tower in Konak Square

2 Responses to “Day 4 – Izmir”

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