Thursday, June 19
Joe left work a little early today so we could drive to Amsterdam to catch our flight to Izmir, Turkey. Joe's co-worker and friend Ulas (both him and his fiance Ezgi are from Izmir and live & work in the Netherlands) invited us to his wedding Friday evening. Joe also has a highschool friend from Charlotte that lives in Izmir that we are going to catch up with. Joe's boss Leopaldo is also going to the wedding and on the same flight as us. He has a reputation for being late. He said he was going to take the train at 5 for a 7pm flight. We never saw hum at the gate so we went ahead and boarded the plane when our zone was called. About 20 minutes until liftoff, Joe gets a phone call from him. Phew he made the flight and we spotted each other onboard. The funny part is he wasn't even the last one. The flight was extremely hot. We both fell alseep because it was just too hot to stay awake. We arrived around midnight. Joe and I got a hotel near the airport since we would be tired. 9 years ago we took a similar timed flight from Prague to Athens and to save money didn't book a hotel that first night. Joe ended up getting real sick from a combination we think of the lack of sleep and the water there. We were dead set on never having that happen again. We had a good night sleep. Money well spent for mommy and baby. Leopaldo was only staying until Sunday so he got a rental car and went to stay near the center of Izmir so he could explore Izmir Friday before heading to the wedding that night.
Friday, June 20
We made plans to meet Joe's high school friend Sheila at the Optimum outlet mall food court at noon because it was only 3 metro stops away from the airport. We left our luggage at the hotel front desk and made our way to the airport to figure out the metro. Turkey is not part of the EU. They use lira here. We had not gotten out any money yet from an ATM or bank before going to the metro stop amd trying to purchase tickets. Back into the airport we went, got the money and then back to the metro. The Izmir airport is quite big and nice but there is construction everywhere and things are really spread out all over. Good thing we had lots of time that morning before we needed to meet Sheila.
We got to Optimum Outlet Mall. Turkey is strange. At the entrance to public buildings there are always security people with a metal detector to go through. The weird thing is they do not care at all if you set it off. It's like some sort of false sense of security I guess. Very odd.
We spotted Sheila with her 3 kids in tow at the foot court. Olivia (a mini-Sheila) age 6, Hudson age 5 and Jackson age 3 were all very cute. We got some Turkish food and the kids some McDonalds Happy Meals. It was good chatting and catching up with Sheila learning more about their life here in Turkey. After lunch the kids went and played in the giant slide playground area while we talked more.
We had a security guy help us buy return metro tickets to the airport from the mall stop machine. We walked back to the hotel to get our bags and then back to the airport international arrivals terminal to catch a Havas bus to Ҫeşme. From the bus we had views of Izmir Bay and out to the sea.
It was around this time that the sun fully set. Jackie caught the tail end of the sunset colors.
Saturday, June 21
Ephesus was built in the 10th century BC by the Ionia Greeks. It came under control of the Roman in 129 BC. It contains the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean. The city’s importance as a port town diminished as the harbor slowly silted up by the Cayster River.
Ephesus is one of the seven churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation. It is believed that John wrote the Gospel here. In the 5th century, Ephesus was the site of several Christian councils.
From 52-54 AD, Paul lived in Ephesus working with the congregation and organizing missionary activity. He wrote 1 Corinthians and the Epistle to the Ephesians.
Harbor Street, which leads to the silted-up harbor.
The Basilica of St John was built in the 6th century AD over the tomb of John the Evangelist. It was a major pilgrimage destination in the Middle Ages.
We didn’t see everything piece of ruin in Ephesus but chose to move onto see the House of the Virgin Mary.
A litter of cats
Sunday, June 22
Turkish breakfast at our bed and breakfast in Cesme, Turkey
We took the bus from Cesme to Izmir (Uckuyular terminal) and then a taxi to our hotel for the next 2 nights, Swissôtel Büyük Efes. This hotel was really nice. It looked out onto the Izmir Bay, was in the center of Izmir, had indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a spa. Our room was very nice, done in a very modern way with a California King massive bed, recessed indirect lighting everywhere, a directly overhead rain shower, and a bathtub. Jackie once again wished Joe had his bathing suit too so Jackie could go enjoy some weightless feeling swimming to relive some of the added pressure on her swollen hot feet from all the walking.
We watched the sunset from our hotel room balcony in Izmir.
Monday, June 23
For centuries Izmir was known as Smyrna.
Kemeralti Market or Bazaar is the city’s heart and soul.
This area contains the city’s largest mosque, Hisar Mosque.
We walked along Havra Sk, which was more of the produce and meat street of the market. It reminded us a whole lot of markets in Taiwan.
We had a wonderful seafood dinner along the Alsancak of Izmir at Birinci Kordon Balik Pisiricisi. We had grilled octopus, eggplant yogurt, bread, salad, some tomato and onion mixture, jumbo shrimp, and grilled seabrim.
We went for a short walk this morning along Kordon & Alsancak, the iconic Izmir boulevard.
There are tons of jellyfish in the water beside the esplanade. I wouldn’t want to fall in that water!
Jackie loves the tile work on and in the buildings in Turkey
We took the bus from the bus stop outside the hotel to the airport. This airport seems to leave a worse and worse taste in our mouth every time we went there. We go to the Sun Express front desk 2 hours before our flight and no one is there. The only option for restaurants was Burger King and some other typical fast food you’d get in the US. The closest seat for pregnant Jackie was 100 yards away from the airline check-in desks. Finally 30 minutes later they were ready behind the desk to take passengers. We then proceeded to go through security. Jackie set off the metal detector today. The agent got a kick out of feeling our little girl kick her as she felt Jackie’s belly.
The options for lunch once inside security weren’t any better: Burger King, Sbarro or pre-packaged sandwich shop. We decided on Burger King. They proceeded to try to pull one over on us twice. First she gave Joe the wrong change back. Then she tried to give us a small drink instead of the King size we ordered for the 2 of us to share.
We finally made it on board the plane to Amsterdam. We made it back home safe and sound in Eindhoven. It sure was odd at passport control to say we weren’t in the Netherlands for business or pleasure, but that we live here and show our residency cards. We went to pick up a new rental car. This time we ended up getting a Toyota hybrid which was an improvement from the crappy Skoda. The problem is there is no cruise control. Road trips just became a little more work.
Here’s hoping when we pick up Chance in the morning that she’s not too weirded out from her first stay at a Dutch kennel. With Chance being more of a people-dog than a dog-dog lover, I hope she had good interactions with the kennel workers who likely didn’t speak much English. She probably seemed like a dog that didn’t know any simple commands because she only knows them in English and not Dutch. Looks like I have some new words to try to teach her.
Chance ended up sleeping all day Wednesday which is usually a good sign she had a good time at the kennel. We’ll assume it’s from lots of exercise on the lawn yard and not from the lack of sleep from the other dogs barking the whole time.