After a short visit to Aleppo to see Fadi and pick up our bikes (2-nights), a short taxi ride from Aleppo to Antakya (3-hours), and a long bus ride to Izmir (18-hours) we were glad to be greeted at the otogar (bus station) by Metin. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain, so our ride back to Metin’s apartment was a little on the soggy side. It was raining so hard that the streets were not draining, so we rode through many giant puddles. Fortunately, it was 15 degrees out, so we were not at all cold. Our wet-weather gear proved to be up to the challenge though, and with our feet in front of us they were high enough not to get splashed by puddles. It was only when Becky stopped suddenly that Scott put his foot down in a puddle, he got a soaker.
The unexpected warm spell lasted throughout our visit to Izmir. For the most part, the rain also stayed with us throughout our visit. It seems every time we come to Izmir it rains!
Looking back, we didn’t actually do that much, just relaxed and enjoyed spending time with friends. In both Aleppo and Izmir it was surprisingly comfortable to be back someplace we understood, even if it wasn’t home. Even knowing where to buy groceries, or how to get around is a big deal!
Saturday evening we were taken out to dinner and traditional Turkish music. The band played many songs that our friends knew well. It was especially amusing to watch Metin and Mustufa belt out a song or two with the band. Scott caught the band’s attention with his vigorous drumming along with the music, and they were greatly entertained. The girls enjoyed a little bit of dancing at our tables. All-in-all it was a really enjoyable evening – Becky enjoyed a little too much Raki, making the next morning a little less fun (oops).
Sunday evening we were invited to Gul’s parent’s home for a traditional southern Turkish dinner. They made an adaptation to the meal to not have lamb so that Becky could enjoy it. The raw meat ball dish (Cigkofte (Cheekufteh)made with potato rather than lamb) was particularly yummy. The other specialty was Lamachun (pitas with spread made of peppers, meat and onions?) with lemon drizzled over top, and wrapped around various greens. It was neat to meet Gul’s family, although with our limited Turkish Gul and Metin were stuck translating much of the time. Becky also enjoyed playing with Gul’s brother’s new puppy.
On Monday, Becky cooked a traditional Canadian dinner of Hungarian Chicken Paprikash (it is traditional at our house anyway), and baked chocolate chip cookies. The cookies were especially delicious.
On Tuesday, Mehmet came back from another interview in Istanbul, so we got a chance to visit with him as well.
Tuesday evening after work, we went out for goodbye beers at a local pub in downtown Izmir with many of the friends we made in Izmir. It was so nice of everyone to come out and say farewell. We really enjoyed meeting everyone and are so grateful for all the help we received throughout our time in Turkey. We will definitely plan to come back sometime in the future. We also extended invitations to come visit us in Canada, and hope that they will come visit sometime and let us return some of the hospitality.