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Published: September 28th 2008
Believed to protect and bring good luck
We did just a quick business stop in Izmir. Just a big city, nothing really special.
The highlight was actually staying at a posh hotel with breakfast on the 37th floor, overlooking the Aegean Sea, while trying 11 types of cheese (out of 13!). I also got to try honey with the hive and all, which is common for breakfast, besides more yummy olives and dried fruit. My taste buds loved the experience but my stomach had to handle the bad consequences, probably from all the chesses.
Being largely Muslin, the Turks don’t eat or touch pork, but at the Hilton, bacon was on the menu, for 9 Euros. You'd have to be a bacon-lover-rich-foreigner to order it…
ESKI FOCA (Old Foca)
We took a 2 hour bus ridefrom Izmir to the small coastal fishing town of Foca.
We arrived at night as people gathered around a stage where a concert a la Pavarotti was going on to celebrate the 85th year of independence from Greece.
I immediately fell in love with Foca. Fishing boats on the harbour around the bay, shaded cobblestone streets with canopies created by grape vines, charming Ottoman-Greek stone homes and pensions in a
very laid-back atmosphere.
Delicious freshly baked bread on the many bakeries and the truly friendly people made the town of 15,000 even more special. We became friends with Oscar, the funny owner of the Oscar Otel & Café (70 Turkish Lyra per room & breakfast.). We spent quiet a number of hours chatting over coffee, raki (Turkish anise hard liquor), and nuts, under the grape vine canopy with Oscar. I highly recommend you to stay at his place if you ever make it to Foca.
Visitors to the town are mainly Turks. People stay on the streets and the many restaurants lining the bay until way past midnight. While strolling around lazily one night, I discovered an ice cream/gelato stand, to die for… and I am not an ice cream lover!
There are literally thousands of cats in Foca. You can’t stand anywhere without being surrounded by a dozen or more of the little guys. With free fish all around, it’s cat’s paradise town. Foca means seal, but Cat would be a more appropriate name for the place.
We rented a car and drove for about 1 hour to Bergama, where I wanted to catch a glimpse
of what the world was like in the old days of the Romans and the Greeks
Ephesus, down south, has more fame for it's well preserved ruins, but it's crowded with tourist. So, I chose to visit the ruins in a more tranquil environment.
I headed to the Acropolis on top of a hill and it was perfect. Only 7 other visitors and I even got to listen to a guide for free while joining a group of 4. I learned about the Romans and Greeks, how they would bring down structures, recycling the materials to create new temples, etc, according to their believes.
Under the blue sky, feeling a nice breeze, overlooking the whole valley from the top of the hill, I got to enjoy delicious sweet figs I picked from the trees on the grounds.
Pergamum is small and has very few tourists, so it's a nice place to seat, grab a meal and watch people to get a feel of Turkish life. We enjoyed freshly made pide at Parsoy.
Heading back to Foca we stopped at this very small, sleepy town on a peninsula. We walked the cobblestone streets: kids playing soccer by the Castle
Over a Turkish Breakfast...
I tried 11 types of cheese at once, to my taste buds' delight and my gut's despair
(Kale), more fig picking (should I say I stole them!!), a small open market. A lazy town just to drop by. So, after coffee, we left back to Foca.
Evil Eyes: they are believed to protect against envy and bad energy coming your way. They are worn by people and are found in front of homes and business. They are as common as the pictures of Ataturk, the adored "father of Turkey", who brought "Turkishines" to his people. His picture and the countries flag are in display everywhere.
The 3 relaxing days in Foca were great. Life is slow here. People are not in a hurry: they seat, they chat, they eat, they go out on a boat, they feed the street cats. They take it easy and that is good.
Back in the bus back to Izmir to catch another to Cappadocia.
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