I’m feeling hot, hot, hot! We are still adventuring away in Izmir, Turkey. Yesterday we went to the archaeological site of Ephesus, a little more than an hour from Izmir.
I was somewhat anxious about this part of our journey. It’s been very hot in Izmir (hovering around 100 degrees F), which always makes a day trip hard, especially when you know you’ll be outside. D slept terribly the night before (it was very hot in our room) and we slept in longer than we planned, so we almost postponed the trip to the next day. Also, after much debate, we decided to journey there on our own, and not pay for a private tour with transportation, which is really common. So we saved a lot of money by doing it ourselves, but it adds a lot of work on our end (and really, my end) to plan.
We decided to go ahead and go in the early afternoon. Our host here in Izmir suggested taking the train, and we were surprised at how well we were able use the metro to get to the train station and catch the intercity train. The train ended up being pretty fabulous. It came with entertainment (TV playing planet earth and Pixar animated short films) and babysitting! Ok, I’m kidding about the babysitting, but Turkish people love kids so much, and in the row behind us on the train, two different sets of women took D and played with him so we had a break for more than half an hour. It was really nice. D absolutely loves meeting people, and often isn’t happy unless he has gotten someone else’s attention on the train or at dinner. So he was thrilled.
Ephesus was incredible. We found that Rick Steves (famous travel writer) has podcasts for several different sites that you can download as audio guides. It was really great, and free! We were sad to find out yesterday, when we could have used them in Italy and Greece. Ephesus was beautiful and a huge site. It was hot, but actually cooler than Izmir, and there was a nice breeze. So after worrying about the heat and carrying enough water in the backpack that I felt like a camel, we were fine. We really enjoyed our time there, and the audio guide helped us understand the history and made sure we saw all of the important and cool parts. Our trip back was primarily uneventful, and we were quite happy with our day, even though it had started out a little rough in the morning.
Today we wandered the neighborhood where we are staying, and saw a unique attraction, the Alsansor. It means “elevator” and it’s an elevator that goes up the side of a steep cliff near the seaside. It was built about 100 years ago to help older people and women who had to climb the steep streets everyday. There was a nice cafe at the top with a beautiful view of Izmir. We enjoyed some drinks, a fruit plate, and the view. We then took a bus to the city center shopping and Boardwalk area. We checked out a few stores and some food. Tonight we went to a local restaurant our host recommended, and tried the Turkish version of pizza, pide. It was pretty good! Definitely different.
For fun lately, we have two new games: one is racing the light timer in the hallway of our building (you press the button to turn on the hall lights at the bottom, then we have to race up three floors to our door before they shut off) and the other is counting stray cats as we walk from the apartment to the metro (last night wins so far with 28!). Exciting times.
Tomorrow we head to Istanbul, and we are pretty excited to go there. But, we have a slight change in plans. After talking to people, reading travel blogs, and looking at pictures, we’ve decided to take a three day side trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia, Turkey, before we leave. It’s supposed to be an incredible and unique landscape (people say it looks like being in the moon) and we decided that we just can’t miss it. We’ve done really well being thrifty with our money, and we decided it was important to go while we are close. So we went from two more flights until we’re home, to four, but it should be a pretty fantastic side trip. We’re on a journey after all, so we’re going to be flexible.