Turkey was a place that I honestly never thought I would be able to visit. Although during the time frame we visited, we were somewhat nervous about civil unrest and potential conflict, what we encountered was incredibly hospitable and gracious people. Izmir is home to a large outdoor market where I am convinced you could purchase anything from knock off watches to an exotic animal. It was an experience that I will find difficult to replicate.
Architectural ruins in Izmir were disappointing after being in Greece to see the Acropolis and Rome to see the colisseum. If we would have started here, our perspective may have allowed us to be more awe-struck.
We were also able to go to our cab-drivers mosque. He was really friendly and assisted us with not breaking religious or cultural customes. He showed us where to put our shoes, how to cover my head, and explained a little about how the mosque was set up. It was incredibly beautiful and intricate within the building.
The bazaar in Izmir was incredible. It was vast and large and full of things I have never experienced. After wandering aimlessly for awhile we stumbled upon this rug shop which was the highlight of our time in Turkey. The shop owner, who spoke fluent English, was an incredible host offering us Apple tea, the use of his office to check our flight schedule and itenerary, and he even bought us lunch. We were there for about four hours and ended up coming home with a small rug from his shop that we will treasure forever. His conversation and company were unparalleled on any of our travels. We are still searching for Apple tea like he served us, but have not found anything close.