For a more text-y, storylike version of our adventures, check out Marissa’s blog! Mine’s rife with words and resplendent with scads of photos though, so don’t forget to cross-check our tales!
We awoke the next morning bright and early, ready to hit the road. Our car had not been ticketed or booted, there was little traffic, and we had a quarter tank of gas. Things were going swimmingly!
Our goal for the day was to swing by Troy on our way out of Cannakale and then head south to Ephesus, stopping there for a few hours before going on to Bodrum. Given that this plan included 600+ kilometers and two enormous sites of historical importance, we soon realized how infeasible it was.
Troy was about thirty kilometers down the road from Cannakale and was, according to one Turkish man we met somewhere, “Not that great-looking, but pretty interesting for its historical/literary significance.” Alas, that was not all conveyed to us in Turkish, but rather in really good English, which he spoke.
When we arrived we could tell we were at the right place by the giant Trojan Horse standing on the premises.
After finishing up at Troy, we hit the road again and followed the winding highway down the Aegean coast. We had spectacular views of Greek islands and rolling hills. Before long we needed to make another pee-break. Conveniently, we found a lovely copse of trees where we could pee and take photos of the sea!
Our drive continued southward and we quickly realized that there was no chance in Hell of making it to Bodrum before dark. The road was longer than we thought and we were far less committed to driving fast than to enjoying our trip. With a new resolution to stop for the night in Izmir instead of going to Bodrum, we took an even more leisurely time getting there.
We played in the water for a bit, but it was too cold to really go in this time. I hadn’t brought a dry pair of boxers down to the water either, so I opted out. The girls kept their dresses on (they had swimsuits beneath) because there were lots of ordinary Turks milling around and we didn’t want to titillate…I mean offend.
After splashing about for a bit, we came across an exercise playground! Once upon a time, I badly destroyed my thumb at one of these in Batumi. But now, we had all sorts of safe and healthy activities to do thanks to the expert guidance from Marissa, Healthyperson Extraordinaire!
After a solid hour and a half of playing in the water and on the playgrounds, we decided to have our hot meal of the day. Budgetary concerns meant that we could hardly afford more than one in a 24-hour period. We just wanted a snack to hold us over until dinner time, but a mix-up at the cafe meant that we found ourselves with four pizzas instead of one to split.
As we left Akcay behind, the open road stretched out in front of us. We still had several hours until Izmir and the hits just kept on coming courtesy of our awesome Turkey playlist. This part of the country was composed mostly of rolling farmland broken by the occasional large mountain or small forest. For a while we found ourselves veering away from the coast and it was at one of those moments that we stopped for another pee-break. Now it may seem like all we ever did in Turkey was take pee-breaks, but you know what? Those pee-breaks each led to an awesome adventure! They gave the trip character! This time, all of us had to pee so Joanne stood guard while we each took a different tree beside a farm.
“Cop!” yelled Marissa, and we all scrambled to hide/hide what we were doing. With the danger of discover behind us, we spent the next hour playing in the grass, running, jumping, and just acting silly!
We left the farms behind us and gradually approached one of Turkey’s largest cities, Izmir. The difference was stark as we found the open roads gone and the congestion all around us. A few turn-arounds got us slightly lost as we entered the city. Having not planned on going to Izmir, our first order of business was to find a place to stay the night. We drove down a series of back streets and alleyways in downtown Izmir. Joanne was behind the wheel as Pauli and I hopped in and out of the car, running from Hostel to Hotel to Pension, inquiring about and haggling over prices, using a combination of pictures and Pauli’s Turkish cheat-sheet. Eventually we gave up and headed for greener pastures in a further-from-the-center part of town.
An hour of running up and down hills in the residential region we discovered resulted in nothing, until Pauli discovered a Turkish man who promised to lead us to a hotel! He excitedly did—to the Best Western. We thanked him profusely and parked at the Best Western (far beyond our price range) until he was out of sight around the corner. Then we got back in gear and returned to the first hostel we had price checked. A dubiously mannish Australian “singer” helped us book a room and we got ready to spend some time out in Izmir.