Friday, August 31, 2012

Turkey Travels (Part 4)

Day 7: We took the bus to Izmir otogar. Just over an hour's journey. From there we had to take a cab to the Movenpick hotel on the other side of town. It has one of the best unrestricted views of the Aegean Sea among all the hotels. The staff was very friendly and courteous. They even gave us a map and pointed out the places to see.

We had planned to go to Ikea (near the otogar where we had arrived), so we couldn't do any of the stuff they recommended. After shopping, we came back in time to watch the sunset at the pier. The small garden and road-side cafes are a good place to hang out in the evening. The stray dogs there each had a large piece of bone they were gnawing at - I assume a gift from the local eateries.

Dinner was at Sushico, a sushi place as the name suggests. Wasn't the best we had eaten, but it was good and a change from all the Turkish staples we had been eating so far.

Day 8: We got picked up around 10am to go to the historic city of Selcuk and our first stop was the house of the Virgin Mary. Apparently it was her final resting place (although it can't be said for certain).

The next stop was Ephesus. It was a particularly hot day and with very little shade, it was difficult to walk around. It was also very crowded. 3 cruise ships had docked nearby, we were told, which was the reason for the buzzing crowd. The place has a very interesting history and our guide pointed out details that made it more so. The houses with well-preserved mosaics were not part of the tour since there is a separate fee to enter. We weren't even given the time o explore it on our own. If you are very particular about visiting it, make sure to check with your travel guide. The library was the highlight of the place. Beautiful carvings. The amphitheater is the largest semi-circular one that existed in ancient times seating over 44,000 people.

We also stopped at the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. All that remains is a lonely column, but when you think of the scale of it and how it would've been in its glory, it is astounding. It was nesting season for Malibu storks, so a bunch of them were to be seen in most parts of the city.

We went to a carpet co-op for lunch where we were shown how carpets are made, how silk is extracted, and the variety that Turkey offers in terms of carpet. We were also taken to a leather shop - all part of the tour package. We got back to the hotel around 6 in the evening - all tired out. We decided against stepping out that day and chose to enjoy the sunset from the hotel lounge. It had a great view and you could step out on the viewing balcony for better ones, and to interact with the visiting gulls. Dinner was at the hotel itself.

Day 9 & 10: We left Izmir for Istanbul by flight. We stayed at the Ferman Hotel and our room had a super-amazing view of the Blue Mosque. We spent both the days shopping at Arasta Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar. We revisited the Blue Mosque, and took a walk around town. On Day 10, we left for the airport for our next adventure in Jordan.

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