Friday, June 19, 2009

Things I love to show people when they come to Izmir...

1) Ephesus! An incredibly important ancient city and port, it's built almost totally from marble and features famous structures such as an ampitheatre and the Celsus library. The highlight of a trip there is almost definitely the ancient toilets!

2) The Virgin Mary's house. This is a little house converted to a chapel where she supposedly lived. There's also a special spring with four taps, the first three giving 'Health, Wealth and Wisdom' to anyone who drinks from them. Although to my knowledge it's unnamed, I like to refer to the fourth fountain as 'Love'.

3) The Bostanli Pazari. It's a pretty big bazaar that's fully functional: real people shop there, not tourists. A wide variety of clothes, household items, makeup, jewellery and food is sold there, and I love trawling for bargain graphic tees. You can even find stuff from H&M and Zara among other brands, because they sell the excess at very low prices- 10 YTL (like £3) for a sundress! On Wednesdays we get up at around 7 and catch an 8 o clock ferry across the bay where we eat simits with foil wrapped triangle cheese and drink hot, sugary Turkish tea.

4) Kemeralti. This is a 'covered bazaar' consisting of tons of permanent shops selling everything from teacups to beads to silver jewellery- pretty much wholesalers. Once or twice we've taken guests to a huge bead store called 'Ege Boncuk' for a beading lesson, and I often get silver chains and charms as birthday presents for people.

5) Esek Adasi: Donkey Island. We sometimes sail out for the weekend and spend the night anchored there. It's called Donkey Island because it's home to a protected herd of donkeys, and let me tell you, they're living pretty well. When I was younger they had a hand pump and relied on people feeding them leftovers. Now they have solar powers and a wind pump. NIiice. Anyway, it's great for swimming, and I love diving for sea urchin shells- My record is seven and a half metres without flippers! *takes a bow*

6) Sifne: Home to mud baths and hot springs, this is always a fun outing. You scoop up mud from a trough and slather it on, and after it dries you wash it off with nice hot water. Your skin goes seriously soft! Then you jump into a heated pool, and just when you thought it couldn't get any hotter there's a a jacuzzi too! (Well, at the place we go to. I can't vouch for anywhere dodgy. They might have a hole in the ground you jump into and a heated kiddy pool or something. Eeek!)

7) My house, of course. Because there's no place like home! (Plus, I have chickens the size of a coke can. It's pretty special.)


  1. I love Izmir! I'm obsessed with ruins, and Ephesus has the best ruins I've ever seen in my life, and my Catholic aunt was thrilled when I sent her the post card from the house of the Virgin.

    However, I have never heard of Donkey Island! Perhaps I'll have to pay you a little visit :)

  2. Ah, you must see Donkey Island. You haven't truly experienced Turkey if you haven't seen a good old donkey or two. ;)
    Also, if you haven't been in the last three or four years, they just opened a beautiful new section of ancient houses complete with incredibly well preserved mosaics- that's almost worth visiting twice, IMHO.


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