Turkey Adventure July 5th, 2019
Day 2: Izmir
(Turkish woman walking along the Kordon in Izmir.)
Breakfast included boiled eggs and veggies and cheeses and olives and spiced potatoes (and breads which I can't eat) and lots of local olive oil at my hotel for no extra charge. A big win. I wandered along the Kordon and watched the ferry boats arrive with stylish people heading to work. There are many stray dogs and cats sitting in the shade cooling off in the morning breeze off the water. Who takes care of them? Is there water for them to drink? Where do they go when the pavement gets hot?
I headed to the Hiscar Mosque which dates back to 1597 and is the largest mosque in the city. Men sat at special faucets to wash their feet before they prayed. I wasn't sure so I didn't wash, but took off my shoes and covered my head. (My shoulders and knees were already covered.) This was my first mosque. It had a domed ceiling and simple blue and gold motifs and a lot of lights.
There were many men praying downstairs; I went upstairs to see what it was like and discovered that this is where the women pray. The guide books never mentioned that women pray upstairs. (Written by men?) I sat on my legs like the other women, closed my eyes and meditated. As women entered, they gave my shoulder a squeeze as they walked past. I think it was a touch of solidarity, but I'm not sure. They didn't greet each other in any way. For a moment I was alone upstairs and wept slow tears of gratitude for being in such a beautiful place. I am so fortunate to have the time to travel.
I spent hours wandering through the Kemeralti Market which is a labyrinthine bazaar that dates back to the 17th century. Many, many Turkish people shop here. (I haven't heard a word of English spoken yet, unless it was a Turkish person talking to me.) Tarps cover the entire area, so it was a cool respite from the 93 degree sun. Though I promised myself that I wouldn't buy anything, I couldn't resist. A group of women surrounded a man selling scarves for 5 TL, which is less than a dollar. I watched for a while and was relieved that there was no haggling; I bought one. I also bought a beautiful leather journal for 35 TL and spent the rest of the day hugging it. A new journal!!!
I took a break back at my hotel to drink a lot of water and cool down, which is a challenge for me: I don't like to stop. Next I walked to the pedestrian street, Kibris Sehitleir Caddesi, in Alsancak. Bustling. Stylish. Party. That tink-tink-tink sound as people stir sugar cubes into their tea. I wasn't hungry for dinner so I walked and watched.
I walked home along the Kordon to see if the fishermen were catching anything and saw a homeless man cuddling a stray dog. I couldn't tell who was happier, the man, the dog or me.