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 Mediterranean Cruise 2008 - 10/11 - Izmir

Cruise Pictures

10/11 - Izmir
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Izmir is located on the west side of Turkey and is very close to ancient Ephesus. My sister went on a tour to Ephesus while I decided to explore Izmir a little and try to find an internet connection. Izmir seemed to be a pretty young and hip city with lots of cafes, restaurants and night life. As I walked east along the shore I was surprised to find a long park with a rubberized running path and lots of grass extending the entire shore, much like Chicago's Lake Shore Park.

I walked about a mile looking at cafes trying to find one with a wireless hotspot sign with little luck until I reached the end. When I turned on my computer I found out why no cafes had signs. They ALL had wireless internet access, I just needed to ask the staff for the WEP key to connect. Alas, the cafe I chose didn't have any English speakers so when I couldn't get it to work, I couldn't really ask for help.

After my battery was drained I went back to the ship and met up with my sister. We got cash at a local ATM and then found the largest road in our area, Kibris Sehitleri, and started walking. We were both quite hungry and found a small shop with only a few tables on the parking lot. The owner presumably lives upstairs and while he cooked on an electric griddle, his son mopped the floor. The place wasn't particularly dirty, but seemed a bit unkempt so we were a little concerned about food safety but threw caution to the wind.

The owner didn't speak English so we just let him make a grilled doner kebab (sausage) sandwich which he insisted was "very good." It was a simple sandwich with butter, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo and the doner sausages. It wasn't amazing, but I'll tell you that it certainly hit the spot.

Continuing down the road we found a small bakery with a very friendly owner who pulled us in. He didn't speak very much English so there was a lot of pointing and going back and forth with his friend to tell us that some items had cheese or tomato or chocolate. We ended up with a small box. Now, pastries in Greece tended to be overly sweet and phyllo based. In this Turkish bakery, we found everything to be dry and bland. Despite all the flavors, we didn't really taste any cheese or tomato or chocolate. Everything just kind of tasted like shortbread and tended to be more savory than sweet. When we finished, we wanted more of the Greek stuff.

Next we stopped at a snack shop which had lots of nuts and sweets. Several items were described as being made from grapes. Presumably, they take pureed grapes, or perhaps just grape juice, and reduce it down until it caramelizes into a fruit roll-up consistency that can then be manipulated. My sister chose two items that were coated with pistachios and coconut or hazelnuts, while I chose a string of walnuts that had been dipped in the stuff. I didn't think any of it was that memorable. The nuts were good but the grape stuff didn't really add much, except it was a good binder that allowed the nuts to sticks.

As we continued on, we arrived at a bustling intersection. Turning down the side street we found a whole street full of pedestrians, cafes, restaurants and stores. We wandered around and considered trying some local specialties like kumpir or lahmacun (more details when I get to Istanbul) but soon found that we had to head back to the ship due to an early departure time.

For dinner we returned to the Grand Pacific and ate pretty lightly. After that we played mahjohng for a few hours before sleeping early to prepare for Istanbul.

10/10 pictures are here.
Posted 11/23/2008 01:12 PM in Food, Pictures, Restaurants, Turkey | Total Comments: (1)
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Gretzel, Thank you for your persistence. Unfortunately until now those moartdeing the blog have not been working with the sales department of Dos Plumas. This oversight is being fixed and as I see from our e-mail records we have been in contact with you through the tour request that was sent. I hope you have a great trip to Turkey and that we can help you at Dos Plumas.
Submitted by ULBbRPWnFvCiZKKgrv on 10/11/2012 08:54 AM

Map of Izmir   Izmir coast line from the ship

Menu at a cafe. Line 2 reads "Killer Rings???"   Like Chicago, a large portion of Izmir's coast is reserved for parks that run for a very long way from the port.

Alsancak Port. I have no idea what it's significance is...   My sister and I had a doner kabab sandwich at a tiny little shop. We were a bit concerned about food safety but we were really hungry. We didn't have any problems though.   Somewhere off of the main street by the port, (Kibris Sehitleri?) we found a nice busy street with lots of shops and restaurants.

On the main street we stumbled upon a nice bakery with a very friendly staff that spoke little English. We bought several pastries but weren't so sure about the descriptions since the staff's English was so poor.   From the top left: Chocolate sesame pastry, orange cookie, cheese cookie, tomato and cheese cookie, tomato cookie. Bottom row: jam and pistachio butter cookie, simit, shortbread cookie. We found most everything at this Turkish bakery to be dry and bland with few pronounced flavors.

Just down the street we found a snack shop and bought a few things. Two "grape" balls coated with pistachios and coconut (left) or hazelnuts (right). Presumably these are grapes that have been pureed, reduced and caramelized to a fruit roll-up consistancy and molded in balls. The nuts were nice, the grape was kind of sweet but not very memorable. I don't remember what was in the eggroll-ish thing.   These were also made of that grape stuff, but here the walnuts are inside. I assume that strings of walnuts are dipped in the grape before it dries and thickens. Again I didn't find the grape stuff very special and didn't find the walnuts to be that tasty either. There is a Taiwanese date based treat similar to this which I prefer.

More cafes on the side street.   Not sure if these are giant crepes (2 feet across) or maybe home made phyllo? You can see manti (lamb dumplings) in the back right as well as kataifi (kind of like hairly baklava) desserts on the front left and right.   A giant spit of meat! Mmmmm...   Some interesting flavors of potato chips. The Oriental BBQ tasted pretty much like a generic BBQ chip. My sister says the chicken chips were too chickeny and couldn't finish them, though I suspect I may have liked them...

I thought these might be currants, but both the grape variety and the berry variety grow on bushes, not palms so I don't know what these were.   I thought they may be propellers or stabilizers stored along the pier but their shape and size didn't seem right. After seeing the other end and all the bolts, it occured to me that these must rotate on their longitudinal axis and therefore they must be gigantic rudders for cargo ships. They must be at least 50 feet long!   The one disadvantage of being on a giant cruise ship is that most ports can only handle such ships in the industrial cargo docks so we saw lots of this scenery throughout our cruise.

A funny costume on the main street. There's actually a guy inside there.   We arrived in our room with this towel sculpture hanging on the ceileing. Is it a pelican with a guinea pig in it's mouth? Jar Jar Binks?   Dinner Menu at the Grand Pacific restaurant

Marinated Snapper Escabeche with Red Onions, Carrots, Tomatoes, Capers and White Wine Vinegar. This cold dish is similar to Ceviche, but usually made with canned or cooked fish. This version was quite bland and disappointing.   Seafood Gumbo with Andouille Sausage, Okra, Crab Meat and Shrimp. By far the thinnest gumbo I've ever had, but it tasted pretty good.   Tapioca Pudding with Mango Compote. I love tapioca and found this simple pudding to quite good. I ended up asking for another one.    


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