Turkey
İzmir

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  • Day18

    Urla: It’s All About Food

    March 15 in Turkey ⋅ ⛅ 64 °F

    Took advantage of a 75F day — with mostly sunny skies — to head out to Urla, a seaside suburb of İzmir. Even when a breeze came up, it was comfortable enough to wander around with just a lightweight sweater ... felt good on this early spring day ... especially since we’re expecting the temperature to drop quite a bit starting tomorrow.

    First we went to the shore, parked the car, and took a stroll on the waterfront promenade. While some of the shore-side cafes and such were quite crowded, where we walked was nearly deserted. Then we found a café — Dokuz ... which means “nine” and is a reference to the building’s street number — to enjoy some beverages.

    It was too hot in the sun to sit outdoors ... and it was too crowded anyway. To practice social distancing, we took a table indoors. The raspberry parfait — flavored hot chocolate — that I ordered was exceptionally tasty ... even if they were out of marshmallows.

    Around 1:30p, we piled back into the car and went to Urla proper. Our destination was a restaurant that Aylin and Murat had enjoyed previously on the recommendation of a friend. Apparently they had planned to take us there for my birthday ... but that’s almost a month hence and we’ll be long gone by then.

    Ortaya — which translates as “into the middle,” is a lovely restaurant. While it is possible to order individual mains, the premise is to order a bunch of dishes to share ... sort of like tapas or mezes, but with a twist on Turkish cuisine. As it was an off hour for a meal — neither lunch or dinner — we were just one of two tables in the entire place ... perfect for social distancing.

    We started off with a selection of dishes called “tepsi” ... which means tray in English. It consisted of six different mezes ... all very tasty 😋 Then we ordered three other dishes to share from the mains section of the menu ... all very tasty 😋 Finally we wrapped up with three delicious desserts to share ... 😋 A long, chatty meal that was a delight to share with family.

    A wonderful day amidst the COVID-19 chaos.

    🌸🌼🌺🌸🌼🌺🌸🌼🌺

    For those interested, I’ll note the various dishes here since there’s no way I can fit the information in the photo captions.

    Tepsi (Clockwise from top left): Tsatsiki with pomegranate; smoked eggplant dip topped with fried onions; fine bulgur salad with beets; Çerkez tavuğu (a dip made with chicken) topped with sun dried tomatoes; humus with sweet pumpkin and smoked paprika; celery root with quince.

    Mains: Spicy home-style potatoes in a cream sauce; rocket salad with poached quince and goat cheese ... with red wine vinaigrette; smoked beef slices.

    Dessert: Quince with kaymak (cream); San Sebastian (a type of cheesecake); tart with baked tahini filling.
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  • Day21

    Last Day of Abbreviated Europe Trip

    March 18 in Turkey ⋅ ☀️ 46 °F

    Our departure day is nearly at hand ... much earlier than anticipated when we set out from Colorado on 27 February. Tomorrow morning we head to the airport to begin the long haul back.

    We’re sad, but the circumstances are what they are. Our goal now is to get home safe and sound. Reports from several friends who have entered the US from overseas in the past few days indicate no hassles or delays at the airports ... at least at the international terminals. 🤞🏻our experience follows suit.

    This morning Aylin hosted us for breakfast. Afterwards, Mui and I left to get haircuts at the barber at the US military facility here in İzmir ... one less thing to have to deal with when we get home.

    Since we had time before our appointment, we decided to take a circuitous route to get to the barber. The weather was nice and a bit of fresh air was in order ... felt really good after two bone-chillingly cold days. I’ve never seen Kordon, the waterfront promenade, this deserted ... except perhaps on census day. With all the bars, pubs, cafés, bistros, coffee houses, and similar establishments temporarily closed by government decree, only a few souls were out and about ... and most of those people were fishing on the boardwalk. The shops were mostly deserted ... some limiting the number of patrons who can enter at any one time to two or three.

    I’m now at mom’s ... Aylin and Murat joined us for afternoon tea. As did Mui ... after taking care of a few last minute errands. We’ll have dinner together as a family before Mui and I head back to the condo for an early night ... we’ll be off to the airport at 6:00a.
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  • Day20

    Turkey’s Kolonya Culture

    March 17 in Turkey ⋅ ☀️ 48 °F

    Limon Kolonyası. What is that, you ask? It’s cologne with a lemon fragrance, though there are other aromas as well ... lavender being another popular version ... as is lily. Every household in Turkey has a bottle of two on a shelf or in a cabinet ... always.

    Kolonya has a high alcohol content — as much as 80% — which gives it a refreshing quality. It’s quite popular to offer it to guests for that purpose. Or to be offered some when you go to a restaurant ... or into a shop ... or even when you travel by bus on a long distance trip. It’s very much a staple that is readily offered to people who go to visit a sick person ... whether in a hospital or at home. I can think of a lot of other circumstances where kolonya is used, but you get the idea. It is and always has been part of daily life in Turkey.

    Of course, due to its alcohol content, kolonya also has an anti-bacterial effect ... always a good thing ... even more so in this day and age of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a good tradition to continue for sure.

    Which explains the long lines at the outlet shop of one of the producers of this fragrant cologne. Mui encountered this long line when he went downtown to pick up a couple of bottles for mom and Aylin. Needless to say, with no social distancing in this queue, he opted to pass on the purchase. He’ll pick up some from a pharmacy instead.

    We’ve already picked up and packed in our bags a couple of bottles of a different brand that we prefer to bring back to the US ... as we do every year. Might pick up an extra bottle this year 😉
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  • Day17

    Chores & Errands in İzmir

    March 14 in Turkey ⋅ ☀️ 66 °F

    Despite the chaos around the world, all is well in our tiny corner of it. We’re doing everything we can to keep it that way ... washy, washy of hands is at the top of our prevention measures.

    After working on revising this year’s overseas jaunt, Mui went out to run errands. I spent the afternoon with mom and Aylin. After dinner with the family, we returned home. A load of laundry was in order ... need clean clothes to wear while we’re here. Another small load or two tomorrow should see us through to our departure.

    Tomorrow we’ll go out and have some fun. The weather promises to be delightful.
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  • Day19

    All’s Well!

    March 16 in Turkey ⋅ ☁️ 48 °F

    Just checking in. Not a very exciting day ... which is not necessarily a bad thing these days. It’s a bitterly cold day with a strong wind making the chill worse than it should have been based on temperature alone.

    A few chores and errands ... some internet work ... some iPad Kindle reading ... a few more rows of knitting.

    Oh ... and we canceled a few car rental reservations and the B&B we had booked for our brief stay in England in May. All were pay-on-arrival ... so no financial impact to us from our change in plans. I’m going to work on canceling the more complicated arrangements after we get home.

    All’s well in our little corner of the world.
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  • Day22

    Bags Are Packed ... Ready to Go

    March 19 in Turkey ⋅ 🌙 39 °F

    Alrighty ... calling for a taxi to take us to the airport in İzmir. First ✈️ of the day at 8:00a.

    Taking advantage of our luggage allowance for business class tickets to take back all the wedding paraphernalia that we left behind last year.Read more

  • Day22

    Aboard TK2309 ... ADB to IST

    March 19 in Turkey ⋅ ⛅ 43 °F

    I need to write this fast. This is just a 45-minute flight + a 30-minute taxi to our gate when we land in IST. (That taxi time might be a slight exaggeration ... but not by much. IST is a huge airport.) They are about to begin a full-blown breakfast service in the business class cabin in which we are flying. Thanks to the United Airlines miles we’ve been accumulating, we get to make this “coronavirus emergency flight” in style.

    So how has our day progressed so far? Up at 4:30a ... called the taxi at 5:45a ... at the airport for check-in by 6:15a ... at the gate an hour later at 7:15a (I’ll explain why below) ... onboard the aircraft and in our seats by 7:30a ... the 737-800 in the air before our scheduled departure time of 8:00a ... breakfast served, eaten, and trays collected by 8:20a ... descent into IST begun at 8:25a.

    Due to all the flight cancelations, there’s little air traffic. So, we’re expected to land 30 minutes ahead of our scheduled arrival time. A little side bonus of the COVID-19 chaos.

    Why did it take so long between our check-in and gate arrival? A small hiccup with our bags. Turns out that whoever entered our reservation into the THY system misread the United’s $0 charge for our 70-lb x 2 (per person) luggage allowance as 0 luggage allowance. We got it straightened out and our bags are in the belly of the aircraft winging their way to İstanbul ... as we are. All’s well that ends well.

    I’ve got some nice views below me as the aircraft finishes crossing the Sea of Marmara. Time to check it out. More from the lounge at IST ... 🤞🏻
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  • Day10

    Izmir, Turkey

    June 13, 2018 in Turkey ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    The short crossing from Mytilene, Lesbos, Greece to Ayvalik, Turkey took only 1.5 hours and it was a beautiful warm sunny early evening for the sailing. On arrival at Passport Control in Turkey however I was advised I had to pay 25 Euros for a Visa. ‘Now you can be in Turkey for 3 months’ an Immigration Official told me, even although I had already told him I would only be here for 3 days. ‘Yes, that’s correct, 3 months’ he insisted.

    I was a bit panicky that with the later crossing, it might be hard to get to my next destination, Izmir, by public transport, and I knew there was no rail connection. I caught a local bus to the bus station just in time to catch the 20.15 express coach to Izmir. This turned out to be quite the luxury coach with reclining seats, airline-style at-seat video screens, and complimentary refreshments on the 2.5 hour trip. And all this for the princely sum of £4.90. It was just like the Megabus Gold to Aberdeen (minus the tablet). Izmir is a huge city of 3 million inhabitants, and the Coach Station was somewhere on the outskirts. I was about to take a taxi but the helpful transport officer told me there was a free connection to the old town, some distance away, and I was even dropped off right at my hotel.

    Given the excellent value in Turkey, I had decided to splash out on the 5 star Renaissance Hotel Izmir. It is one of the best hotels I have stayed in. My room was almost a suite with separate bathroom and shower rooms - a far cry from my cell at the Clink in London. I chilled out with a glass of Merlot on the rooftop bar surrounded by the lights of the city. The breakfast was terrific, 2nd only to the Intercontinental Hotel in Singapore (courtesy of Mr Super Kenny tours!).

    In spite of my late night, I got up early to explore some of the sights of the old city, all within walking distance of the hotel. The impressive Smyrna Agora from Roman times; the old Bazaar selling everything from fruit, veg, fish and meat (including pigs trotters - sorry, Betty) to costumes which would look great in Aladdin; and the elegant Clock Tower, emblem of the city.

    Back at the hotel, there was time for a rejuvenating swim in the pool before heading off, all to soon, to catch the train to Bandirma port. Izmir surprised and is well worth a visit.
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  • Day3

    1. Tag in der Türkei

    June 7, 2019 in Turkey ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Nach dem Ausschlafen wurde die Hotelanlage im hellen vom Balkon aus bestaunt und es ging zum Frühstücksbuffet.
    Willi, Eddi und Papa fanden sofort "Pankekese" und Crepes während Mama das herzhafte genoss.

    All inclusive fetzt.
    Nachmittagswaffel mit Banane Eis und Schokosoße - Eddi schmeckt es und Willi schläft
    Strand war erst am späten Nachmittag möglich bei 35. Grade wurde ein Burggraben gebaut.
    Wellenspringen war auch noch dran.

    Abend gab es nachdem Herzhaften ein riesiges Disney Kinderbuffet und eine kleine Muskishow

    Deutlich angenehmer als der Anreisetag
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  • Day5

    Pfingstsonntag bei 35 Grad

    June 9, 2019 in Turkey ⋅ 🌬 31 °C

    Das Volleyballspielen und Burgbauen fiel leider auf Grund zu spätem Eintreffen am Strand und damit verbundenen heißen Temperaturen der Hitze zum Opfer. Mittagsschlaf im Schatten war nach einem kurzen Bad die einzige Option.
    Direkt nach dem Aufstehen erstmal ein Eis dachte sich Eddi.

    Nachmittags ging es Rutschen und weiter Schwimmen lernen.

    Am Pool gab es heute geschälte Äpfel mit Zimt 😋
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İzmir, Izmir

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