Merhaba (hello) from Izmir, Turkey! We arrived in Turkey late last night and have had a busy few days.
We spent our last two days in Heraklion, Crete enjoying the Natural History Museum, the market area, and eating fabulous food. The Natural History Museum was so much fun. D loved the exhibits, the live reptiles/small animals they had, and the animatronic dinosaurs definitely kept his attention. We also got to experience what an earthquake is like, which was interesting for us Midwesterners who don’t normally worry about earthquakes. We spent some time shopping and found a few gifts in the colorful market area. We also had one of the best meals so far this trip at a restaurant by the sea, called Ippokampos, or seahorse in Greek. We had delicious crab dip, a bread basket with two other dips, saganaki (fried cheese), and a huge platter of seafood risotto. The risotto could have fed several adults, and had delicious prawns, mussels, and clams. D enjoyed playing with the large seashell that decorated the meal, and did well considering that the meal took about two hours, after we ate scrumptious dessert and sipped some firey ouzo. All that for 30 euro (little more than $33)! Bonus points for the beautiful, uninterrupted view of the sea while we ate.
We enjoyed a brief goodbye with our fabulous hosts, who gave us goats milk ice cream (again, so good!), and we hope to see them again someday. We thoroughly enjoyed our time on Crete, and there is a lot still to see.
We survived two (slightly delayed) plane rides and the most crowded airport we’ve ever seen to land in Izmir around 11:30pm last night. Our cab driver was very confused about where we were going, and he was still confused when we showed him on a map, and you guessed it, was still confused when we brought up routing directions. So Z ended up giving directions (somewhat entertaining when there was no common language), and after more confusion and a longer route, we were eventually dropped off two blocks away from the apartment and we walked the the remaining bit to our new temporary abode. The new apartment has a lot of beautiful artwork and incredible photography that our new host created. It’s pretty cool.
Today we ventured to the city center, which was easier said than done, since we had trouble buying a travel card. But, the people here are so nice, and someone bought our ride to the center and we figured out where to get tickets for the way back. Anyway, we saw one of the main squares that had a beautiful clock tower, explored another beautiful market, and found the ancient agora site.
At first, the agora did not look like it would be a very interesting site to visit; it really looked more like an archaeological dumping ground. But, after some exploring, we found a large area that was underground, complete with chambers, arches, and a fountain. It ended up being a really neat site and we enjoyed our time there.
Tonight we took a walk down to the seaside by the apartment and saw a beautiful little park. We watched a gorgeous, fire-red sunset and D played in the little park. Z and I talked about on our walk if the park would be safe as it got dark, and the answer was a resounding “yes.” As the sun set, more kids and families showed up at the park, and D played in the sand with a little girl and her grandmother. Since it’s so hot here during the day, people spend more time out when it is cooler at night. So although at home, D would have been in bed well before that time, we’ve adjusted our schedule so that we stay up a little later and sleep in a little later, so we can also enjoy time out with other people. It’s pretty fantastic to watch your toddler play with other kids in another country as the sun sets over the Mediterranean Sea. A memory I hope to always keep.
Tomorrow we head a little south to explore the archaeological site of Ephesus. It’s the last major archaeological site we will go to this trip, and it should be a great one to finish with.