I spent the week in Izmir just to realize that Izmir per se is not my kinda town… at all. Too exhausting (yes, there is such a thing as too many compliments, too many stares, too many iffy looks), too new, too grey.
Nevertheless, I had a blast. Especially as I didn’t really stay in the city too long anyway.
Tuesday I made my way (literally, via dolmus, bus, dolmus and lots of asking and guessing in Turkish) to Pamukkale and it was breathtaking. Definitely one of the prettiest things in nature that I have seen so far, and combined with being allowed to jump from pool to puddle in the national park area and some glorious weather it was pretty close to the perfect day.
Oh, and there’s a no shoes policy in the whole national park area, which does not only – but of course also – include tourists. And… well… security staff 🙂
Wednesday was a stark contrast going to Ephesus with a guided tour (pickup from the hostel, being told all about what’s going on, having set times to meet again and a set itinerary) with changing weather and all.
We ended up seing the ruins in pouring rain and some sunshine too, went to a state-owned carpet weaving school (big recommendation here! Especially if you find out at the end that your tourguide’s from Wollongong and he ends up calling you his Aussie girl – priceless), had a perfect meal of meze, köfte, tavuk sish, cheese rolls and filled peppers out in the sunny spring weather and got to try some local wine.
I roamed around Izmir a little that evening but gave up pretty soon – when every guy and every seller is trying to chat you up, it does get to you eventually. Travel experience and all.
Thursday I met up with a lovely teacher from my Ephesus tour group again and we went to Karsiyaka, saw Atatürk’s mother’s house museum (sic!) and enjoyed some great ferry rides, great food and great travel stories before I was headed to the airport.
One word on public transportation:
Our train to the airport got stuck/was defect/whateverwassaidinTurkish(only, of course) and we had to change. Wait. Change. Lost about half an hour there and got saved by the online check in just to realize: never, never, never EVER rely on travel and transport times in Turkey. Ever. I mean it. You might shwoosh through half of Istanbul in no time at night and you might need 2 hours for part of that distance in the morning. However, on the bus to and from Pamukkale (3 hrs, 20TL one way – which is about 8 or 9 euros) not only did we leave perfectly on time, we also got plenty of food (free, much to my surprise) and had loads of leg space, comfy seats, great views… as good as a bus ride get, I’d say. You just never know – kind of like Forrest’s box of chocolates 😉