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victorsglobe Izmir - A travel report by Victor
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Izmir,  Turkey - flag Turkey -  ‰zmir
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victorsglobe's travel reports

Izmir: The Ancient Face of Turkey's Future

  14 votes
Though the guidebooks tell you to skip it, Izmir is worth at least a day on your grand tour of Turkey. Its beautiful shoreline, gives way to great shopping, ancient ruins, and an interesting mix of people - all with the comforts of a first-class European city.


The Ornate Ottoman Clock is the Symbol of Izmir
The Ornate Ottoman Clock is the Symbol of Izmir
Izmir’s typically great weather and vibrant downtown comes as a welcome change of pace after exploring the more dusty, conservative parts of Turkey. Anyone interested in seeing what Turkey will be like if it joins the EU should get a preview here. Izmir is Turkey's third largest city and has a decidedly European flavor with its liberal atmosphere, chique boutiques, and gorgeous waterfront surrounded on all sides by mountains. It’s easy to loose track of time here as you sit and get a glimpse of how modern-day Turks live their daily lives. If it weren’t for the occasional mosque or Ottoman monument in the window of your cafe, you’d forget you were in Asia altogether.

Formerly the Greek city of Smyrna, named after an Amazonian Queen, Izmir is an unexpected bonus for history buffs. It hosts a small but interesting archeological museum, the remains of a large agora built by Marcus Aurelius, ancient aquaducts, a castle, and an Ottoman bazaar. Archeological digs at Tepekule, which can be visited near the city center, suggest that the region was inhabited in the neolithic era. (A little) later, it was one of the first early centers of Christianity as home to one of the seven churches of the Revelation (most of the others are only a short bus ride away). Such superstars as the Aeolians, Ionians, Alexander the Great, and the Ottomans all left their mark on the city before it became an important battleground in the formation of modern Turkey.

Favourite spots:
The Harbour at Sunset
The Harbour at Sunset
I have spent days just walking up and down the lengthy, park-lined waterfront (called the Kordon). Konak pier, which is the heart of the city, is pretty at sunset and only moments from three vast shopping districts. The maze-like Kemeraltı is in keeping with the great Middle Eastern bazaar/souq tradition, Çankaya is the electronics hub of the city, and chique Karşıyaka is a picturesque 15-minute boat ride across the Gulf of Izmir. The suburbs of Göztepe and Bornova are also interesting. Bornova in particular is sprinkled with beautifully restored 19th century Genoese and Greek mansions and has a pretty dynamic student population (and the cafe, pub, and cheap restaurant scene that goes with it).

What's really great:
 One of many great old houses sprinkled throughout the city and its suburbs
One of many great old houses sprinkled throughout the city and its suburbs
The best thing about Izmir is that it has plenty to do, but remains under-touristed. This is probably because its sights, while interesting, are not major. This allows you to sit back and really get to know what life is like here.

You’ll spend many a good hour along the Kordon people watching – and what interesting people they are with mixed Turkish, Greek, Italian, Jewish, and Kurdish ancestry! After you’re done watching the Gypsy children in brightly-colored clothing play by the waterfront, you can discover why Izmir’s dynamic music and film scene rivals that of anywhere else in Turkey. Izmir is the pruported birthplace of the great bard Homer, after all.

If you get tired of all the big parks and the wonderful views from the Kadifekale and Asensör, you can take advantage of the city’s great transportation infrastructure and use Izmir as a convenient base for visiting nearby Efes, Sart, Çeşme, Foça, and Bergama. Also it’s a great springboard for other larger towns in Western and Central Anatolia, where you can go and miss all that Izmir has to offer.

Nightlife:
Though Izmir's nightlife doesn't compare to that of Istanbul or the great party centers of the US or Europe, there are some nice pubs and dance clubs in Alsancak worth checking out. I have been seen cutting a rug at The Pasaport Club, which has good, relatively cheap Efes beer. The dance club Jade has a pretty hip clientel, so make sure you dress up before you schmooze with the Izmiri elite.

A 10-minute metro ride into Bornova will bring you to the Küçük Parkı area, which has a ton of quaint pubs filled with college students eager to practice their English. Meanwhile Bornova's Ooze and The Dundgeon host DJs and rock bands for your dancing pleasure.

Restaurants:
The Northern Suburbs at Sunset
The Northern Suburbs at Sunset
There are many great cafes, restaurants, and pubs along the waterfront with nice views of the mountains and the boats floating in the water. Just walk along the Kordon and pick one in your price range.

The shopping center at Konak Pier has a great cafe and a nice, but pricey, restaurant overlooking the water. I recommend whiling the afternoon away with a good book and a hot cup of tea at the cafe.

Published on Thursday December 2th, 2004


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Thu, Dec 02 2004 - 01:41 PM rating by gloriajames

how about some pics?? i like reading about turkey... hope to see more from u ;)

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