Izmir-A Break from the Chaos
Istanbul is a stunning city, but after a week of the hustle and bustle it started to wear me down. In a city of 15 million inhabitants, it takes a great amount of energy to walk the streets and especially during the end of Ramazan when everyone had a 3-day holiday during the duration of my visit, it seemed that the whole city had decided to be outside under the scorching sun.
Thankfully we had planned to Izmir (Mustafa’s hometown) and experience a quieter pace of life. After meeting Mustafa’s parents (we could only communicate in hand gestures and with translation), his mother cooked a homemade Turkish meal for dinner, something that I had been looking forward to since he first mentioned her impressive culinary skills. The meal was amazing, but what really stood out to me was the way Mustafa’s parents were able to convey their warm hospitality to someone that they could not communicate to directly.
In the morning, we did some sightseeing around Izmir, including the mega malls to pick-up some essentials and then we took a ferry to kızlarağası hanı where we had some delicious fish sandwiches and walked through the open-air markets.
Later in the evening, I left the city with Mustafa and his parents to go to their summer home, which was about an hour’s drive away from Izmir. A late dinner was made in honor of our arrival on the porch by Mustafa’s uncle, aunt and cousins who were staying at his summer home, but were leaving that night. To celebrate Mustafa’s 26th birthday, his aunt baked him a delicious layered cake, with a custard filling. As the cake was being cut, another uncle and aunt showed up and it was like a mini family reunion, with lots of laughter and hugs. Even through I couldn’t understand a word I immediately felt welcomed by this group of people and their generous hospitality.