After Pamukkale, I took it easy in Izmir for a couple days.
I stayed at the Shantihome youth hostel for one night and it was one of the best hostels in which I’ve ever stayed. The owner was so friendly and so generous. Not only was it the best hostel breakfast I’ve ever had, but he also put out fresh fruit and other munchies throughout the day. Need to do your laundry? Go ahead! Whatever you need, it’s yours. Feel at home! If you felt so inclined, there was a donation/tip box you could contribute to for anything extra you ate or used. There are so many other hostels that would completely over charge you for things like washing laundry. I was glad I waited till Shantihome then happily made my donation.
It was also at this point that I realized I hadn’t worn very much throughout my trip. I’d thrown on the same couple dresses most days and basically lived in my swimsuit. Definitely a note-to-self for next summer.
That evening, many of us staying at the hostel went to the boardwalk to watch the sunset. We talked for HOURS about politics, religion, abortion, gay marriage (hot topic since the USA just legalized it across the nation)… You name it and we probably discussed it. Most days, those conversations eat my soul and I have to leave. I can’t stand them. This, however, was the most civilized conversation on these topics that I’d ever experienced. Great view. Great company. The best part? It was the Fourth of July and there were fireworks! God bless America!
The next day, I took a LONG walk by the water. After awhile, I decided to treat myself to a night at the Ramada hotel. Money well spent. After many nights in hostel dorms, treehouses, matresses on boat decks, the king size bed with down sheets was a welcome treat. The breakfast buffet was massive and was a true collision of America and Turkey.
That afternoon, I made my way to Efes (Ephesus) by bus to see the historic ruins.
After Efes, I continued towards Marmaris (yes, I went back south after already going north) where I stayed with a friend of a friend. He made me feel so at home. Turks are great at that! I took a dip in the sea at night, but the beach wasn’t as warm at that hour. The biggest thing I did there was take a day cruise to Dalyan, which was FREE, because again, a friend of a friend!
Dalyan was lovely. The boat was very large, so there were too many people for my liking and the food left something to be desired, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the day. We stopped once on the way to Dalyan to swim for about 20 or 30 minutes. We went to Turtle Beach (SAND NOT ROCKS!!!) and swam there for about an hour. On one side is the salt water sea and on the other side is a fresh water river.
We took a river boat ride through the “African Queen” reeds and caught a glimpse of the Dalyan house tombs. Finally, we all got out to enjoy a mud bath and thermal spa. The agenda was great! It was very different than the other day trips I’ve taken on boats. Those have all been lovely, but the only thing on the agenda is stopping in bays to swim. This trip was unique.
Next stop: Istanbul