Thursday, September 16, 2010

Holiday in Izmir

Sunset on Wednesday, September 8th, marked the end of Ramadan and Turkey was on a national holiday for 4 days. We drove down to Izmir for the holiday, but first left from Istanbul via ferry to cross the Marmara Sea. We drove the car... onto the upper deck of the parking area. Then we left the car and headed to our assigned seats for the two hour crossing. I was looking forward to getting a closer look at the Marmara Sea, but...

the windows were slightly salted, and they did not allow us to go outside. This picture shows the southern shore of the Marmara Sea, where there is a significant wind farm, just before getting into Bandirma.

Bandirma did not make "10,000 Places to See Before You Die", and most likely will not make the "10,000 Places" edition. But driving out from Bandirma, there were fields and fields of dried sunflowers, waiting to be harvested for their seeds. We also passed Lake Kus on it's eastern shore, away from the national park home to herons, pelicans and spoonbills.

We stopped at one rest stop, where behind the restaurant, there were cows, and...

cow dormitories. Adjacent to the dorms, stood ...

a huge dairy processing factory. And at the rest stop, you could buy long life milk as well as a two kilo tin of feta cheese. For the lactose intolerant, they had a nice jar of mixed nuts in honey.

There were also lots of chicken farms, processing plants for poultry, beef, flour and oil and miles of olive trees. Somewhere amongst the olive trees, melons were growing. In one 40 kilometer section of road north of Akhisar, I counted 175 stands selling melons.
One large town we bypassed was Balikesir. Depending on where you hyphenate the name it could mean "trapped fish" (balik-esir) or "strong honey" (bali-kesir). I checked the towns website, and mention rumors of Persian origin, which could lead to either alternative.
We stayed overnight in Izmir and then went to my brother-in-law's summer house in Doganbey on the Aegean Sea. The summer homes are all nicely landscaped and the terrain is flat to the sea.

A one block walk to the sea... In the distance on the right, you can see the Greek Island of Samos. The beach has smooth stones of many colors. I picked up a number of green stones as well as a piece of previously carved marble. Perhaps a piece of a monument of antiquity. You can walk out a good distance in the water without it being over your head. A perfect beach for swimmers and non-swimmers.

The neighbor had pear and pomegranite trees and we helped ourselves to some. The pomegranites are not yet ripe, but the pears were juicy and delicious.

Many residents were visiting for the holiday, although some had closed up for the season.

Another day, we drove to Cesme, to my sister-in-law's summer house. Here, in the distance, is the Greek Chios Island. Smooth stones are deep at the water's edge and I picked some orange and yellow stones. The sea level drops off quickly, so this is the beach for the strong swimmers only.

The homes had lovely gardens and the bougainvillea was very stricking.

We returned to Istanbul via the same route as the original journey and were happy the trip went so smoothly during a national holiday.

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