Today I arrived in Izmir, Turkey. I had done exactly zero research on this city so I did not know what I was in for. So far, it has been the highlight of my trip to Europe.
I started my day with a walk from the port along the waterfront to the Bazaar. Along the way there were countless Turkish soldiers and police gearing up and practicing for a parade. It was the biggest show of force I have ever seen and I felt a little uneasy to have my camera out. There were trucks with surface to air missiles, anti aircraft cannons, tanks and howitzers along with what looked like thousands of infantrymen. I managed to sneak a few shots that are definitely website-worthy.
From here I walked past Agora, an ancient site and then onto the Bazaar. The Bazaar was definitely worth the long walk, but not for the shopping. I started out my experience with an authentic Turkish coffee. I then asked the locals where I could get a shishe. He looked at me like I was from Mars until I explained what I meant and he smiled. He directed me to a very off the beaten track area of the Bazaar where only locals went. That is where I found my hidden gem.
Shishe in Turkish is called “Nargile”. I enjoyed another Turkish coffee with my Nargile and a large Sea Bass for lunch. I then tried a Turkish Tea to send my caffeine level into orbit. The entire thing cost me less than fifteen US dollars and my hands are still shaking as I type this blog five hours later!
I have to say that the best places are the ones you expect to be anything but spectacular. Let’s just see if I can top my day today when I arrive in Istanbul tomorrow!