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amalu.andre@gmail.com  |  Tel: 447404026109

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Cheap & Chic in Izmir

November 5, 2017

 

                                                                                                                                      Frontal side of Olimpiyat Hotel, Izmir Photo (C): Nomaddeea

 

 

How I got in Izmir? (ancient Smyrna, with almost 4,000 years of recorded urban history and even longer as an advanced human settlement...located in western Anatolia, Turkey, on the Aegean Sea, it is actually the second most populous city on the Aegean Sea, after Athens)

 

So where were we? Aham...well I got in Izmir with my Spanish friend Gloria whom I love to death. Why do I love her to death? Because she is the light of my eyes.

 

The light, not the apple. We ate the apples..She is the light of my eyes because typically she would open the 'lights' and wake me up with "chica, el desayuno", "girl, the breakfast!" when we were traveling around Turkey, and I was miserably failing to wake up in time for breakfast, and she would show me the early light of the day every Saturday when I almost missed my own classes..that is, the classes that I myself was teaching.

 

We left from the city of Denizli, where we were living, one Friday after-noon after a super busy week at work. I was teaching a sort of drama courses & English language to University students, and Gloria was teaching Spanglish and painting. I think we even attended a concert of physically disabled people in Denizli that week, with press and all, since we had our jobs there through the Municipality. And guess what! They all sang and played instruments better than me and Gloria put together. So we went and ate some more, pitting ourselves, and further nicknamed our traveling pair " The Gluttons".

                  Above: The Traveling Gluttons ( no, we are not gay..but we are kind of cute together ( pretty dress is from Asos!))

 

 

It was not our first attempt to get our asses to Izmir though. A week prior we landed by mistake in Ephesus, another treasure and travel destination in Turkey, that by all Muslim and Christian and Pagan gods, deserves another article!  Long story short, we hoped on a bus, from the bus station in Denizli ( just like any Turkish bus station, it is huge, I mean..literally huge and I'm not even Trump..., it has a gazillion of bus companies you can pick from, the best two are Pamukkale Travels and Kamil Koc; when you step in a Turkish bus station, and the Turkish people on duty sense you are a foreigner, they will collect you immediately and place you  in the next departing bus, you don't have to know the local language, all you need to say is where you wanna get and your name that anyhow they spell it wrong, so you are in for a good laugh; add to that, they have sweets and bus Stewards in the bus that clean and serve you every 2 hours, hell, is better than by plane seriously).

 

                                                                                                      Above: Bus Station in Denizli..

 

On the way to Izmir, however, the bus of the Gluttons ( mine and Gloria's) broke..and..no, it was not because we ate too much! In fact, Gloria was constantly checking the hour on her mobile phone, comparing it to the bus speed. We unfortunately used a no -name bus company ( AVS or something, avoid it!). And she figured out that at that current rate of moving, we'd be getting in Izmir in 8 hours instead of 3.

 

I was petrified...I myself had been in Izmir once more by myself, but I always forget the road of getting somewhere ( I am clue-less how I traveled in 10+ countries..)..so I trusted Gloria. Her full name is Gloria Parra Sanchez, or..GPS. Once, she told me not to worry, that she will take me very fast from our flat in Denizli to the bus station, using her phone GPS, and we ended up running in circles a couple of times around the city and she then told me: chica, we arrived back to the flat. Lol. We were late for vising Pamukkale and a poor guy from the Philippines that was touring us that day, waited for us one hour or so.

                                                 Above: with our Filipino guy in Pamukkale on the white travertines 

 

So..the next thing we know, after Gloria was checking the hour in the bus, is that all of a sudden the bus breaks. People start getting out of it. Eventually they all get out of it. After 15 minutes of starring at Gloria and Gloria starring back at me, we got out of the bus as well. The bus driver tels us.."this bus..goes to Istanbul"...we said.."but..we are going to Izmir".."Istanbul is like a day away!

 

Apparently when a bus breaks, they count everyone that goes to a similar destination and compare, if there are many people going to a specific city, they leave them in the bus, someone comes to fix the bus, and the rest are re-located to the first bus that passes by towards their destination. So in 10 minutes or so, we hoped unto one heading to Izmir. From the Izmir main station, you need to show your bus ticket and they put you on a mini-van located in the backyard of your arrival bus station, that takes you to the Izmir City Centre or the Basmane Train Station, whichever you need. The backyard looks gloomy, but no worries, it is safe even at 3 a.m.

                                                                                              

Most of the cheap boutique hotels are around Basmane Train Station and Konak Area (all around Fevzi Paşa Bulvarı you will find narrow paved streets filled with places to stay, many under 15 Eur per night per room and they all look amazing, I was surprised with how cute and tidy the rooms were).

 

Me and Gloria had 2 nights assigned in Izmir and we shared one room. Our first hotel, was this nice wooden inn close to the Izmir bazaar street, with a glass made ceiling, and endless rows of la belle époque Turkish paintings hanging on the long hole way. I loved it, visually at least..and loved the breakfast  view..

 

 

 

 

                                                                            My footsteps on the "breakfast" ceiling..

 

 

However, once we stepped into the room, I heard Gloria saying:" chica, vuele a culo!" ( girl..it smells like ass in here!).

 

And it did, probably they had bathroom pipe issues. We went straight to the windows to vent some air in there, I mean Gloria was doing the work, I was holding her go-pro cam and filming the process incognito, until I collapsed unto the bed in a burst of laughter and in my underwear only. Apparently, there were others whom did try to open those windows...they were all high up windows. You need to be on the bed and on your tip-toes with hands rising to the sky to be able to reach  the grip. And they could only be pulled side-ways, not directly towards you.

 

Gloria didn't know that, so after minutes of trying, she finally had an epiphany and when pulling the grip towards her, the window opened so gently that her face took an expression worthy of a comedy film.

 

Best thing best is that when we left for a walk, a lady from Izmir and her boyfriend gave us a ride to the Kordon Area. She told us that Izmir is definitely the most liberal city from Turkey, especially for women...Hark!! (i'm winking)

                                                                                                                                         Photo (C) : Nomaddeea

Pssst ( dont'tell..)

                                                                                                   I mean: do tell!! Photo (C) : Nomaddeea

                                                                                             

 

Some parts of Izmir reminded me of London, such as this one with flower ornaments..

                                                                                                             Photo (C) : Nomaddeea

                                                                                             

 

Due to the bathroom smell, you can imagine next day, we were off to another hotel, Olimpiyat Hotel. That one is an eye-candy and very cheap. It has some greek-like ornaments, tables and windows, and the breakfast, like anywhere in Turkey is rich and tasty ( cheese assortments, olives, eggs, different meat types, sweets, coffee, tea etc).

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                       Photo (C) : Nomaddeea

                                                                                             

                                                                                                          Photo (C) : Nomaddeea

 

 

 

                                                                                                                  Photo (C) : Nomaddeea

                                                                                                                        Photo (C) : Nomaddeea

 

 

Above: Inside & Outside Hotel Olimpiyat, Izmir ( well known for its guests due to the bicycles)

 

 

The room they gave us was to die for, you could swear it is an apartment, due to a small attachment, where you could find another bed, and the entire bathroom wall was made of a huge mirror. The staff gives small gifts when you leave, they gave me a huge Eye of Allah key-ring ( out of all my Eyes of Allah's this is the only one that I managed to keep intact, they say it only breaks when someone says something bad about you, it encapsulates the bad energy and it destroys it, thus it breaks).

 

I would have been capable to spend an entire week at Olimpiyat, it's also around the train station is Izmir, that many say is a bad area. It is actually filled with small restaurants, serving soups and pomegranate juice. And the staff and people are ever friendly. Actually Izmir was completely rebuilt after a couple of earthquakes and a fire, especially after the battle with the Greek population in the early 19 th century, when Turks reclaimed the city from the Greek occupational forces,  but people are generally welcoming of tourists and the city is highly multicultural, it even has Spanish, Jewish and Greek people still in there. And French as well ( count the wife of Mustafa Koc, from Koc Holding for ex)! 

 

 When I exited Turkey I used Oglakcioglu Park City Hotel. It's an old style building, with great facilities, and has this cute aquarium at the entrance, with Egyptian based statues nearby. You can check that one out for your stay as well.

 

Also, what you need to know, is that at the tube in Izmir, and when crossing from Alsancak to Karşıyaka, the other side of Izmir, they let us go without any money, the cash machines blocked and because we were tourists it was on the part of the house. And our friend Busra, that toured as through Izmir reinforced all this with her kindness. She is actually a wonder of God, we had the best tour in Izmir thanks to her!!

 Above: Gloria, a french musician guy who joined us and Busra ( the one with the cute hat on the right)

 

And notice our cool bags!!

 

 

 

 

Busra actually told us many tourists receive the  no-money on transport treatment. Now, please tell me where on earth is this happening in our western world? To be allowed to go for free on public means of transport courtesy of transport officers.  

 

...According to Wiki.."The Alsancak Railway Station is the oldest railway station in Turkey, built by the "Oriental Railway Company" . One of the quay's of İzmir's urban ferry services is also located in Alsancak, called under the same name, as Alsancak Quay Turkish: Alsancak İskelesi. Ferries here crisscross between Konak and Pasaport further to the west and the busy residential and shopping area of Karşıyaka at the opposite coast."

 

We actually had a fun ferry ride to Karşıyaka, in 15 min max you are there from Alsancak. Street food  is  as present as in Alsancak, also the shopping mall is close to the quay. What you will also notice: the street kids  and refugee kids ..playing for tourists on improvised drums on boxes of whip-cream. You can have an emotional shock due to it. I know I had. They were super talented as well.

 

                                                                   Above: Inside our Izmir ferry boat..

                                                             What can you see in Izmir?

 

Lots of things!

 

1) the well-know bazaar with its fabulous fish market

                                                                                                                                                                               Photo (c): Nomaddeea

                                                                                                                                            Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

Also in the Bazaar Area, but not only you will find yourself in the paradise of (fake) bags and plane luggage..not kidding!! I bought one from "Fossil", because I...well...I... wanted to be a VIP... and enjoyed my "Fossil" bag exactly one time, on my way home ( though I could see right from the start the wheels were not spinning at full capacity and I denied the seller's offer when he did wanted to give me a healthy non-branded one...) that is..my Fossil bag really was a fossil! 2 of it's wheels went missing by the time I hit Henri Coanda Airport in Romania, my base-home at the time.

 

                                                                               Photo (c): Nomaddeea

                                                                             Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

 

I tried to contact Turkish Airlines to question them for my missing wheels...they never returned my phone-calls.

                                                                                                 Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

 

 

 

2) the promenade area on the sea ( Izmir Kordon (cordon) Alsancak), you can find two great terraces there: Soiree & Mezzaluna, both of them with a fabulous view to the sea! ( and not only)

                                                                                                        Izmir- Soiree 

                                     

                          

                                                                  Mezzaluna Terrace, Izmir, Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                          Also some bunny sellers venture around..

                           

 

3)  You can also head to local coffee-places, on the endless cute and narrow streets, paved with art and of course, shisha & coffee smells, mixed with roses, where you can admire young Turks in love sharing stories or doing coffee-reading to foresee the future ( don't smile, mine was accurate, it spanned for one year, and included a major break-up...)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4) Do not freackin' leave Izmir without eating bombas!! The bombas ( or bombs) will make your chocolate senses explode!! Bombas are divine:  try to make yourself at home in the overly crowded space in Çelebi Kardeşler ( is close to a Starbucks place). People usually take some to go ( just look at the boxes stacked in the background...they are there for a reason..)

 

                                                                                          Chocolate Bombas- Photo (c): Nomaddeea

                                                                                                             

 

4)  The unbeatable night life where Dj's invite you from the streets to the clubs they play in, or someone comes with drums and does a 'live' jam with the existing music on the background, to the fancy street restaurants where the entree is surprise, for free! and served in a pine tree shape. Also the center is filled with tourists ( mostly germans and austrians) day in and day out!

 

                                                                                                                   Photo (C): Nomaddeea

 

                                                                                                          Photo (C): Nomaddeea

                                                                                                                  Photo (C): Nomaddeea

 

                                                                                                                   Photo (C): Nomaddeea

 

Restaurants that keep open till late, they are a little treat at every corner of the street,  and clubs  hold hot partiesy. The staff usually invites you in, for a tour of the place, is up to you if you wanna stay in or sneak out.

 

 

 

                                                                                                                   Photo (C): Nomaddeea

                 

 

 

One restaurant owner quickly snapped us for a view in his fabulous eating space, it was filled with Ataturk paintings as you can see from the pictures. Turks have a great respect for Ataturk, after all his name means the Father of Turkey. And he was a fine ruler.

 

                                                                                                                   Photo (C): Nomaddeea

                                                                                                              Photo (C): courtesy of my iPad

 

 

 

 5) the Izmir refugee camp on the hill ( I made a separate article on that one..it was a very intense experience, but I do not recommend venturing in alone, it can be dangerous or you can get robbed)

 

                                        Refugee Kids playing in the garbage, Izmir Hill Camp, Photo (C): Nomaddeea

 

 

6) Where to shop? definitely in the unique boutique shops such as...the one and only Addax!

 

Really Izmir has it all. Night cruising and day loving, you can lose the sense of time under the famous Izmir Clock Tower.

 

                                                                                                Photo (C): Nomaddeea

                                                                              Kids often jump in, besides pigeons..

 

Izmir really is a  city that you will always want to return to! Don't miss it! You will succumb to its charms! 

                                                                                                                Photo (C): Nomaddeea

                                                                                                                 Coffee & Sunset on Izmir Kordon Alsancak

 

Deea

 

The End,

Is always a new beginning!

 

 

For more about our Turkish experience, check our video, done in collaboration with the fabulous guys from Marco Visa whom I give thanks to, and to our hosts from Pamukkale Belediyesi.:

 

PS: The work atmosphere At Marco Visa's office in Denizli/Turkey is fun to watch and a very collaborative space: we managed to put together the above movie clip, with bits and pieces from our time in their country. Their office has a modern unbeatable vibe, and their professionalism is notorious and contagious! Take note!

 

                                                                                                          Marco Visa Office, Photo (c): Nomaddeea

                                                                                          Marco Visa Office, Photo (c): Nomaddeea

                                                                                        Marco Visa Office, Photo (c): Nomaddeea

 

And be ready for awesome coffee..( tea and coffee are traditionally served to foreigners for free in Turkey)

                                                                        Marco Visa Office, Quick Coffee SipPhoto (c): Nomaddeea

 

© Deea Wolf

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  Drama Moments & Nomad Times : served with a lem on   on  a flying zebra, and a pinch of jazz. Tips, life tricks & international coffee sips guaranteed.

Nomad

Deea

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