This is where my journey continues. I travel from Canakkale to Izmir because I want to see the Santorini of Turkey where I don't have to go to Europe nor need a visa. I would say it is pretty similar to the real Santorini one way or another. Well, there are not many Thai people come and travel in Izmir and no one has ever completed a travel review about this place before either. Therefore, let me be the one who take you there. I am telling you that there is so much going on during this leg of the journey and there are many problems arise.
It takes about 7 hours to get to Izmir from Canakkale because the bus is delayed. I arrive in Izmir around 9 PM. The hotel that I have reserved is near Basmane Metro Station but I am not sure how to get there. All I know is that I need to take the metro for 2 stations to Basmane. I check the GPS and it seems like the metro station is not far. I have made sure with the locals and they told me to go down but I can't find anything. It is getting late and I am getting worried. Suddenly, there is a Turkish girl walking pass by so I ask her once again but she points me to the direction of the Metro Bus. There is a Turkish bus company called Metro but this is not where I want to go. I mean I want to go to the metro station, the subway station!
Anyway, I walk there and ask the ticket officer for the direction but sadly he can't speak English. However, he tries to find someone who can speak English for me. Turkish people are very kind. Now I know that I need to walk out of this bus station then turn right to find a van. I also have got a paper written in Turkish by them. I need to give this paper to the van driver which states where I want to go. I thank them truly before leaving. Well, I am now wandering in a parking lot and I am not sure where exactly is the van stop. So, I ask a street cleaner once again and he is so kind to point me the spot. I have finally found the van and I don't hesitate to hand the paper right away. The van departs not long after and it takes about 10 minutes to where the paper mentions. I get off the van and found that this is right by the main road similar to the highway in Thailand and it is dark here. I notice that people are walking toward something in the same direction so I follow them. It is about 100 meters from where I get off the van that I start to see the metro station sign. It is Halkapınar Station.
I head to buy the ticket right away. The ticket here is for 2 trips at 5.50 TRY. A single trip ticket is not available. It is only 2 stops to get to Basmane where I need to get off. From there, I walk out of the station and use GPS to direct me to the hotel. The clue is that my hotel is near a roundabout. It is almost 11 PM and there are still a lot of people on both sides of the street. They happen to be mostly men, some of them are sitting while some others are lying down. They all start to stare at me because I am the only Asian and walking alone in the middle of the night. I check the GPS again and it shows that I am close to the hotel but I can't find it. Therefore, I stop at a drink shop and ask. Now I need to go straight.
I keep walking straight until there is a junction. I am so tired but look up on my GPS again. At the same time, I still notice that there are many people along the street sitting and lying down and I wonder why is that. I look around and found my hotel finally, I am so thankful. I walk into the hotel straight away and the staff has come and help me with the luggage. After the check-in process is completed, I don't hesitate to ask why there are so many people on the street right away. The answer is that "They are waiting for the ferry around 3 AM to escape to Europe ". This reminds me of Rohingya people.
I woke up early on the next day because I have planned to go to Alaçatı, a resort town by the sea where it is known for a good weekend getaway and vacation. When I was doing some research about Turkey on Google, I have seen a photo of this town. The reason why I want to go there is that it looks pretty similar to the famous Santorini of Greece. Greece is one country that I truly want to visit but since I have no chance yet, I guess going to a place similar to Santorini in Turkey is not a bad idea after all. Then I started to look for some information about how to get there but sadly that there is none. Well, I guess it won't be difficult anymore because I can ask the locals here. I go to ask the receptionist right away. The receptionist told me to take the subway to the final stop at Fahrettin Altay Station. Then I need to walk to the bus terminal and look for a big bus to go to Cesme.
The information in hands is ready and I am also ready. So I begin to walk from the hotel, enjoy the scenery along the street, and go to the subway station. I am kind of confused once I arrive at the station because the ticket machine doesn't have English as an option to navigate. I don't know what to do because there is no ticket officer around either. I guess I look lost, that's why there is a Turkish guy approaching me and offering for assistance. I am very happy and even happier that he speaks English. He asked me where I want to go and I told him my plan right away. First of all, I just learn that today is a holiday so the ticket counter won't be opened. People that are traveling today, they all have tickets already and this ticket machine can be used only for topping up the credits. I feel even worse after learning this. However, this Turkish guy is so kind. He said that he would take me to see the staff at the metro office nearby and see if they could sell me a ticket. Oh my Lord Buddha, Turkish people are all super kind. We walk to the office on the other side of the station and he asks the staff for a ticket for me. The staff is also so kind to sell me the round trip ticket. Now he walks me back to catch the subway because he is afraid that I would get lost. He also writes down his mobile phone number for me and tells me to call him anytime for further assistance, he is more than happy to help. I thank him truly before saying goodbye. It occurs to me that Turkish guys are all very kind.
I get off the subway at the final stop of Fahrettin Altay Station. Once again that I don't know where is the bus terminal. It is at the same time that I see people with luggage walking toward something so I have decided to follow them right away. Yes, they are heading to the bus terminal indeed and it is not far from the subway station at all. I start to look for a big bus straight ahead which I have found it not long after. I said "Alaçatı" to the driver and he nods his head giving a sign of a yes. The bus takes about 1 hour and I get off the bus when they pronounce Alaçatı. The bus drops us on a kind of highway again and I wonder where are those white houses. I asked the locals by showing them a photo and they said, "Go straight". I keep walking and start to see a few hotels so I guess I am close to where I suppose to go now. I walk through small alleys and I have finally found the Greek-style white houses with blue windows. I wander around the area and have found a market where fruits and unfamiliar vegetables are sold as well. This is also where people start to look at me because there are no any other Asian people around.
These white houses are very beautiful. There is also a lot of restaurants. The food at the restaurants is pretty pricey here because it is a famous resort town. I have noticed that there are not many people coming out for restaurants now, I guess because it is still very hot. As a result, waiters and waitresses are working on their restaurant preparation and cleaning. The town is quite clean. I enjoy walking through the town a lot imagining that I am in Santorini. In addition, people said that the most beautiful Turkish girls are mostly from Izmir. They are normally half-Turkish and half-Greek.
The restaurants are all nicely designed and decorated. They are very attractive. Even though the food is quite expensive, I guess it is worth paying. Therefore, I have decided to find a restaurant in order to experience the local ambiance truly since I have already made it here. I have found this cute restaurant decorated in blue color tone with a very nice young hostage and I say to myself "Let's eat here". I have ordered Calamari and it taste pretty good. The owner of the restaurant is also very kind to give me some melon for free. I have been chilling here for a while and I make the Wi-Fi here useful to update my family that I have been well.
My time is limited today and my time has been well spent here. I guess I should leave the town and go to Çeşme now because I need to go back to Izmir later this afternoon as well. I walk back to the bus drop-off point, the same spot I got off earlier which is pretty far. I have arrived the spot and been waiting for a long while but there is no bus coming. I walk further to ask the local and have found that there is a small van that I can catch too. I am in a hurry walking to the van station because I don't want to waste any more time. A guy smoking by the street asked me where I am going to while I am about to walk pass him. "Çeşme", I said. Then he told me that he is now on the way there as well and offered me a ride. I don't know what to do but once I look at my watch, I guess this should be the best way to save my time. So I have decided to go with him. I rethink again when I get into the car whether this is safe or not but let's give it a shot! I am quite sure that this should be fine since Turkish people are all kind as you can also tell from my previous experience. He can speak a little English and he asked me to have a cup of tea with him after arriving in Çeşme. I apologize him and explain that I have not much time before saying goodbye. I get off the car and he kisses my hand as a sign of goodbye as well. This is where I feel so shy...
Çeşme is another resort town by the sea full with yachts. Houses here are also in white color. There is also a castle in Çeşme. This castle was built during the Ottoman Empire so the architectural style is a combination between the Middle Ages and Christianity with Islam influence. I don't have much time here so it is a pity that I can't get inside the castle. I have got only a few photos from the outside.
I have been wandering around the town for a while and I now stop in front of one of the souvenir shops. The owner walks toward me before asking me where I am from. "Thailand", I replied. "I have only seen your country on the TV and it is very beautiful", he said. I am very proud of my own country after hearing this. Anyway, I told him that I need to leave now since I don't have much time left. Guess what! He gave me the famous local souvenir, Nazar amulet for free. Thank you so much.
It is time to head back to Izmir because I don't want to miss the train this evening to Selcuk. I make sure with the local for the right place to catch the bus back and I have got the bus that will depart at 4.30 PM. The ticket costs 13 TRY. It is after 6 PM that I have arrived back at the hotel. While I am saying goodbye to the receptionists, they give me the big key chain of Nazar amulet. They said that it is a souvenir from the hotel for me. I sincerely want to thank everyone here. Turkish people are truly kind. I have never felt lonely even I travel alone here, people are always helpful and so kind to me...
I come back to Basmane Station and will buy a train ticket to Selcuk. I will stay there for tonight and my train will leave at 7.10 PM. The train will take about 1 hour to get to Selcuk. So it is time to say goodbye to this Greek-like city and I will be back here for sure if I have a chance..
The trip ends here and please stay tuned for the upcoming trip in the Ancient City of Ephesus where I will take you to sing opera in the Theater. ^^
Friday, April 8, 2016 9:34 AM