IZMIR: 5 Things to do in Izmir, Turkey

Note: This article was originally guest-posted for Yabangee.

Having lived in Izmir for over a year, I can say that I truly love the expat life here. Many people ask what the city is like and if it is worth visiting. And my answer? YES!

Istanbul or Cappadocia fare better in terms of tourism, but Izmir has things to do that are true to Turkish culture without having to fight the crowds. Also, the people of this lovely city are known for their friendliness and open-mindedness towards foreigners. If visitors are looking for the culture and experience of meeting with locals to truly understand what makes Turkey so wonderful, Izmir is your go-to location.

Here are just a few of the things you can do in Izmir.

Izmir Chronicles: Izmir is Worth Visiting (Part I)

Visit Izmir Clock Tower
Konak is home to one of the most distinctive landmarks in the city, the Clock Tower. Built in 1901, the white marble tower and North African style patterns on the columns marks the 25th year of Ottoman sultan Abdulhamid II’s reign. Additionally, Konak’s established touristic center of Izmir offers historical mosques and many small streets with cafes, restaurants, and bars.

Shop ’til You Drop at Kemeraltı Market
Kemeraltı is the little ‘Grand’ Bazaar of Izmir. Anyone who has been to the noisy, maze of stalls in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul will prefer this one after a quiet, calm visit! Still a massive maze of stalls, find traditional Turkish gifts and more for a cost much less than Istanbul. Kemeraltı is also full of great, inexpensive restaurants. On a hot day, enjoy a fresh squeezed juice for around $1 in the nearby juice stalls.

Ride the Asansör
Asansör, which literally means elevator, was the first elevator built in 1907 to help people travel between the top of the cliff to the seaside. Just a 20 minutes stroll from Konak square, reserve a table for a sunset dinner at the top of the Asansör. The delightfully classy Italian cafe not only provides one of the best views in Izmir, but the prices are very reasonable as well.

Stroll the streets of Kadifekale
Kadifekale, or Velvet Castle, built by Alexander the Great into the Izmir hillside provides panoramic views across the city both towards the seaside and the land. Travel by taxi up the monstrous hill to the historic site to have more energy to explore the old walks and towers. Requiring less of the imagination than the ruins of Smyrna, visitors can see the layout of the castle while enjoying a bit of shopping in the shade of the tall trees. Walk back down the long hill or take a taxi again if you prefer.

Photo by Catie Funk

Be a Local and Drink a Beer by the Shore
Whether you are in Alsancak or Karşıyaka, this is Izmir! Gençler, or young people, can be found sitting along the seaside enjoying the breeze at the end of a hard work day. Friends and families picnic or drink a beer while others enjoy a walk or bike ride. Free concerts provide entertainment throughout the year.

Izmir’s gems are easily overlooked. However, once visitors engage in the history of this coastal city, visitors discover places and activities not offered anywhere else in Turkey. Its secrets lie with the locals and give visitors the best experience of Izmir. While exploring the areas of Izmir, don’t forget a mid-morning snack on a gevrek or two, a traditionally brewed coffee in a small cafe, and a peaceful stroll along the Kordon.

I would love to hear from you! Comment below or on the video answering one of the following questions:

1. Have you been to Izmir?
2. What sites did you see?
3. What did you find interesting?

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TURKEY: A Day Trip to Eski Foça – Lookbook

Northwest of Izmir along the Aegean coastline, Eski Foça is named for the now endangered Mediterranean monk seals which also are the town’s mascot.  

Like Alaçatı or Urla, Foça is an easy day trip from Izmir. We visited Foça for the first time with Turkish friends. This last summer we enjoyed a day boating with friends off the coastline near there. (Make sure to check out our video from our long day of boating!)

Several local companies offer boat tours that will take passengers closer to the island of the seals for approximately 50 Turkish Liras which includes lunch. While our recent tour was a private one, it was no less fun! 

Most people go to Foça for the day mostly to walk along the u-shaped bay area crowded with fishing boats.  The town is known for it’s clear, cold waters that can be enjoyed in the town near all the restaurants.

Another well-known past-time is choosing a water-front restaurant among the renovated historical, yet charming, Ottoman-Greek houses. While all Turkish food is delicious, the meze, or appetizers, and fish are the best options to get in Foca.

One of these days I will update this post with all the things to do in Foça, but for now, enjoy our lookbook and picture yourself in this town on a beautiful, sunny day!

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We want to hear from you!

Did you enjoy this Lookbook of Foça?

Have you been to Foça, Turkey?

What did you love when you traveled to Foça?

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ADOPTION: The Funks are adopting!

We have some big news to share with everybody!

Are you ready?

We’re adopting!

That’s right!

So let’s start at the beginning where is the beginning…. oh, goodness, where’s the beginning?  

I’m gonna chat about 3 things:

    1. Why we want to adopt
    2. Why we want to adopt now
    3. What that process will look like for us

Why we want to adopt

Let’s start with why we want to adopt in the first place. Both of us, even before we knew each other – before we started dating or got married, we’ve both had a desire to adopt. If you ask my parents if you ask anybody who knows me well, it’s always been something that I have had a passion for and have desired to do in the future. A desire to add to your family, not from just biological kids but adding through adoption. Taking care of other children and have them in your home, to become part of your family, is something that I’ve always wanted to do. Also, we hope to be able to make a better, lifelong change for a child who, through no fault of their own, lost their family or their family couldn’t provide for them.  We hope to provide for a child like that and give them a hope in the future – a safe place to grow up.

This desire for adoption is also something that’s really important to us in our faith. We believe that God adopted us as His children, and likewise, we too are called to provide and adopt other people into like our lives and into our homes – one way to do that is through adoption

Why we want to adopt now

Currently, we don’t have any children of our own and it is something that we do desire and hope one day we will have. However,\ at the same time, we have wanted to have adopted children. Whichever one comes first for us is just as equally exciting. Since we’re of the age where we want to have children and we want to start a family, we know too that the adoption process can take a while. These factors lead us to decide that now is a good time to start the process.

We knew that the adoption could take awhile and we thought: Well, if we know we want to adopt sometime in the future and if it’s going to take a few years maybe to actually finish the adoption, we should just start the process now so that in a few years you know we’re further down the trail and we can keep going with it.

Last fall (2017) we started talking about it more seriously and I, in my usually excited nature, have a way of getting way ahead of Jason. To be fair though, I have been asking Jason if we can go ahead and adopt kids since we got married.  Basically, I’ve been fixated on it for quite some time, knowing now is the time for sure that we should move forward.  Regardless of my intuition, I had coasted really far down the road of researching all of these agencies and knowing everything about everything about adoption, and Jason had barely done any research. Jason had to tell me to stop and remind me that we need to make this decision TOGETHER.

From that discussion, we decided to read a book about adoption it’s called Adoptive For Life. The book was really helpful for us to learn about adoption and helped us talk through what type of adoption we should pursue. After reading it we decided, “okay, let’s let’s do this!”

Thankfully, we found some fellow expats who both live in Turkey and adopted. Per their agency recommended and our research, we applied to use them. Since we’re living overseas and this agency knows how to work with people overseas, it seems like a great fit so far.  

What that process will look like for us

The process of adoption looks different for everyone. While there are lots of reasons people go with domestic or international, we have chosen to go through an international adoption instead of a domestic adoption. From reading the book together and talking about adoption together, we felt that while we are living in Turkey, adopting from a nearby country would be absolutely great and easier for us.  

I’ll share a lot more specifics about the adoption as we go along, both via videos first then transcribe it to a post like this one. Right now we’re still pretty early in the process and so there’s a lot of things we just don’t know yet. Some of those being:

    1. we don’t know we don’t know how long it’s may take
    2. we don’t know who the kids are
    3. how many kids we’re going to adopt (yes, we get to decide!)

We are really excited about the adoption and there are going be ways that y’all can support us through this journey. We asked right now for your support and your encouragement.  

As well we hope to encourage other people too who want to adopt – especially those who live overseas. We hope you will consider. Just because you live in another country, doesn’t mean that you can’t adopt.

***Watch a video of our announcement HERE.

 

Questions for you folks out there! I want to hear from you!

Have you adopted before?

Do you hope to adopt in the future?

Any positive words or tips you have for us as we go through this process?

 

Note about adoptions in Turkey: Adopting from Turkey is basically impossible for us. That being said, we didn’t even try to adopt from the Turkish system, and we don’t actually know if it’s impossible for us. We’ve heard from many other people who have lived here as expats that adopting from Turkey that is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Some of the rules make it hard for even Turks to adopt.  However, it can be possible to have a private foreigner to foreigner adoption through the courts, but it is not easy to come by. It is something we hope to be considered for in the future.

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GOING HOME SERIES: 5 expectations to explore before expats return home

“How was your trip over there?” a sweet but not close friend asked me.

It was the fall of 2009, and I had just finished my two-week visit back to the states. Little did she know that for the 100th time, she asked me the same questions everyone else had. Even harder still, she had used the word ‘trip.’ This was my first visit back to the states after living 13 months abroad. In my mind, while not all of my earthly possession had accompanied me, I had entirely moved to another city and established myself there.

I learned early on not to be offended by the use of that word. In most people’s mind, my expat life and living arrangements were/are temporary. And in their minds, expats will forever belong to their native country and that time living in another country could be considered ‘extended travel.’ It can be hard to grasp that, just like Americans move to other states and it is not a ‘trip,’ so is moving to another country.

That story above is just one example of the vast amounts of interactions you will have with others as you visit your native country. Learning to manage your expectations for your return ‘home’ will be a significant benefit to you, and it doesn’t take that long.

Taking a half hour, evaluate the areas listed below, and consider how they apply to your life, family and friends and home country.

  1. Don’t expect your family will understand you.

    I write this being thankful that we, for the most part, have understanding, loving, and interested parents and family members. But I also know that most have NOT been to Turkey and for them to understand what our lives look like is not fair. You may find yourself frustrated or short tempered if they don’t remember things you have shared. Do you remember everything they have shared from their lives? Have grace and patience and consider starting from ground zero, re-explaining your live and stories you may have already shared. This allows for lots of room for understanding and especially room for them to hopefully tell you, “I remember you telling me about this!”
  2. Much has changed in your life, but maybe not theirs. In return, perhaps you are 3-4, 5, even 10 years into your expat years, but a lot more has changed for your friends back ‘home.’

    You may find yourself overloading the conversation with all your stories, triumphs and woes of moving abroad, but consider asking questions about their lives as well. While their lives look different, it is still as relevant. You may find that your friends back home have moved on and your ‘home’ country has drastically changed with time. For us, we visit my home state for two reasons, my brother and a couple of friends we consider families. But for the most part, our time is now spent in another state 14 hours away by car because our friends and rest of the family live there.Consider your ‘whys’ of visiting that area and make the most of the people who are left there. Otherwise, consider planning to visit those close, #1 friends that have moved away. I find seeing where they live and their lives in their new cities help keep a friendship going and deepens the relationship!
  3. Prepare for cultural and political transitions

    New presidents, rulers, political parties are bound to change out over time…as well as your opinion of them since moving abroad. Or perhaps, your expat country has had some interesting changes that others want to ask you about! Ask yourself how you feel about these new changes and how you will respond questions about it.
  4. Prepare and expect there to be uninterested parties.

    There are some reasons for this. Some people just don’t have interest in travel and other countries. More possible, they may not have the context or background to understand the culture and country. For others, and I hate to write this, returning expats may face jealousy from friends and loved ones. Consider how you will help others understand. How can you love those people even if you never discuss your life abroad? Interestingly enough, there are people I considered close friends who didn’t care at all about my overseas life. Eventually, I had to face the hard truth that maybe those friendship were great for a season, but aren’t great for this new season of life.
  5. Added family members change the atmosphere, maybe a new in-law or added children.

    Adding to your family will always change the dynamics! Consider when the best time is for you to travel home. Is it best to travel around the holiday, will everyone be able to get together, or are other times less stressful times?

How do you counteract this? Great question! 

Here are a few other tips to help you manage your expectations for reentry:

  1. Have you already notice friends or family that communicate last with you? Make a list of those who may need a little extra background to understand you better.
  2. Tell your life in small doses. Use images and stories to help others understand where you live. I use the phrase ‘show me, don’t tell me’ when trying to explain your culture to family and friends.
  3. For those family or friends who seem to be uninterested, figure out what you do have in common and start from there. Perhaps your words are changing their perspective on the world and will create a curiosity about your life!
  4. If you can, find a mentor couple or another family whose has previously lived abroad who wants you to share everything. Jason and I are fortunate to have a few families that have lived overseas, even in Turkey, before. We have found it much easier to express our joys and frustrations with them because they have once been where we are!

Bonus: Tell people how much you care for them. Yep! Seems a weird one on this list, but how many times do we forget to share how much others mean to us?

Here is your FREE worksheet to make sure you cover your expat visit home well!

Questions for you:

  • Are you an expat living in a foreign country? If so, where?
  • What expectation has been the hardest?
  • What would you add to this list?

 

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Episode042: When you host your first adult Thanksgiving

Welcome back and Happy Thanksgiving to all the Americans and Canadians out there! In Episode042, we chat about our experience hosting our first Thanksgiving Party in Turkey. The 30 plus friends from 7 different countries that gathered in our home for this celebration made for a lively and enjoyable evening!

But most of this episode is about our weekend trip to the white hills of Pammukale, also known as ‘Cotton Castle.’ Along with our German friends, we made a loop drive covering the ancient cities of Sardis and Philidelphia along the 3.5-hour drive to Pammukale and Hieropolis. On our return, we checked out another ancient city of Laodicea. Needless to say, we have covered our quota of ancient ruin sightseeing for November!

 

Did you know we have Pinterest? We would love for you to follow us there! I have all our Thanksgiving links and travel links there!

 

Mentioned links:

Short video of our Thanksgiving!

If you live in Turkey, make sure you get the MUZE KART! It is worth every penny!
Other 7 Churches: Pergamum, Symrna(current Izmir), Ephesus, and Thyatira
BONUS: More here about Paul and the early spread of Christianity and churches

Where we stayed: Venus Suite Hotel – Amazing breakfast!

Questions for the listeners:

  • In your opinion, what makes a party an ‘Adult’ or ‘Grown-Up’ Party?
  • How did you spend your Thanksgiving?
  • Have you been to Pammukale, Turkey?
  • Have you been to any of the 7 churches of Revelation?

As always, email us your questions and we will answer them in a future episode!

 

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Recent Posts:

REVIEW: Why Glamping is the new way to camp – Our experience with Glamping Hub

RAMBLINGS: Are systems and workflows truly productive?

Current Series: 

EXPAT: Going Home Series – 6 part series

  • The Going Home Series is all about how you can have the best visit back ‘home’. Catie covers both sides of the spectrum to help both those in the native country and those living abroad have an easier time reconnecting and supporting each other.
  • If you are an expat going back to your native country, this is for you!
  • If you are someone who will be visiting returning expats, this is for you too!

GOING HOME SERIES: 10 thoughtful questions to ask your returning expat

GOING HOME SERIES: 8 ways you can bless your returning expats

GOING HOME SERIES: Expats, 5 ways you can help those back ‘home’ understand you better

GOING HOME SERIES: 6 practical ways to destress your next expat visit ‘home’

 

Stay tuned for upcoming articles:

WRITING: Article featured on Footprint Traveller Tales

TRAVEL: Randevu in Romania

TURKEY: Handmade Lace at the Tire Market

TURKEY: The forgotten gem of Sagalassos

 

If you are just now joining in:

We encourage you to go back into the archives and listen back to our first episode.  And we encourage you to go back and listen to Episode009 to help get you up to speed on our big move!

You can also join in on the adventure via Facebook means you will get the first scoop and discussion on new podcasts!

AND…

We are on iTunes!

POP OVER TO LEAVE US A REVIEW ON ITUNES. This helps others find our podcast!