I can’t say Izmir grabbed me. Maybe if I lived there I would like it more, but for visiting, there just wasn’t much. For me. I’ve heard some of the best things to do are social things, such as hanging out at a few of the grassy areas in the center, drinking some beers at sunset (good sunsets by the way), etc. So maybe in another life, when I’m a cat.
The guy I was couchsurfing with, Ege, was the most accepting host I’ve had yet. Didn’t say no to any request, even when spaces to sleep were not so easy to find. He even found a German on the ferry that he took home for a few nights. This German, Sissi, was to be my travel partner for a couple days.
Sweating our asses off in the early morning hours, Sissi and I hiked out to the nearest on-ramp to the highway. Of course we also stopped to talk to dogs on the way.
Soon enough we had a ride with Ergun, an odd little man in an old beat up van, on the road to sell Turkish delight. Apparently he just kinda goes down the road, finding markets to sell his wares, and keeps driving until gas is up and he has to sell more to keep going. At one point Sissi was driving and the one marketing the stuff (she also knows Turkish).
We zipped through small nowhere towns, with no luck selling anything, until all of a sudden just about every store was taking some. I think being with two foreigners got him more attention than he normally would. It was boiling hot out, and we were slowly making our way towards Ephesus, so we had no complaints about this odd adventure.
Eventually we parted ways at the gates of Ephesus, of course this was at the hottest point of the day. The next few hours were spent (slowly) making our way through the impressively large expanse of ruins, dodging Chinese tour groups (equipped with rain jackets and umbrellas, no joke), and once the heat really killed us, hanging out in one of the forgotten corners, in the shade of a building we had no idea of its original purpose. Actually, just sitting there in the Shell of an ancient building, with almost complete silence, felt more authentic than trying to see everything. Imagining generations of humans, varying empires, and at one point only animals and crumbling rock…
Ephesus is definitely worth the visit, but I always seem to need a reminder to tell me what really means something – deep down. But we’re all a bit like that I think, whether it’s seeing it all or taking pictures of it all (both?). Take it slow, man!
On we wandered, moving slowly down twisty roads with hot wind blowing on our faces as the old semi we rode bumped along. We decided to stop at Bafa Lake for the evening, which was literally next to the road at one point. We made it just in time for a sunset and Chai. I had forgotten that basically all Turkish truckers carry a fully equipped tea set in their trucks. Perfect.
After finding a lakeside spot to throw our bags down on, we made sure the full moon had peeked over the horizon before a good skinny dip. I think that’s the first time I’ve swam during a full moon, and definitely the first time in another country, with a random other traveler, and naked… I think we spent a least a couple hours floating in the moonlight, offering up personal secrets and weird childhood info that only people who are together in the world are likely to give up so easily.
Moonlight swimming, a small campfire of olive branches, and random but meaningful conversations. One of those times I don’t nearly have enough of.