Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Lazy Days

Firstly, apologies for the long break between posts. The past couple of weeks have mainly been spent lazing about during the day, baking and catching up with family.

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On the first Friday, Oli's cousin came over with his wife, young son and baby daughter. She was incredibly cute but not very impressed by anyone other than her Mummy or Daddy holding her!

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As long as all is well with our visas, the next country we are planning to spend time in will be Iran. As I owned nothing which would allow me to conform to the dress code (long sleeves, headscarf etc), Oli's Mum and Grandma said they would take me to the clothes market to find something suitable. The market was certainly hectic, with both ladies much more experienced and better at sifting through and bargaining than I was. Sema (Oli's mum) kindly treated me to some non Iran clothes and some new shoes, and eventually we also managed to find a pretty tunic which ticked all the boxes.

After a well earned rest at home during the hottest part of the day, the boys and I headed out for a few drinks at Cafe Pi in Bornova. Although this part of Izmir is now mostly flats, some of the beautiful old houses have survived, either remaining as dwellings or converted for other purposes. Cafe Pi occupies one of these old buildings, and was a fabulous setting for some delicious (and strong) mojitos. The evening culture is one of my favourite things about İzmir. Places open late, either for food, alcohol or coffees, and there is a real atmosphere and buzz, without everyone being shitfaced.

We are slowly setting about getting organised and sorting a few things out in preparation for getting back on the bike. Both our gloves were a little worn and sporting small holes. Oli knows a little leather repair shop in Bornova, so we took them there to see if the proprietor could fix them. The shop was touch-all-four-walls-at-once tiny, with leather goods piled up high against every wall. The guy confirmed he could fix them, and told us to come back the next day to pick up the finished goods. Well, he did a beautiful job. Cost to us? About £3. We had a good moan to each other about how in England we seem to have more of a throw-away culture... we must be getting old and grouchy.

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We also went to the old market part of Bornova to see if we could find a replacement for the bike's broken fan over-ride switch (one of Oli's extra modifications). Sadly we couldn't find the part, but we did find this guy, who insisted that Oli take his picture (he is a pide baker):

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As I was still missing a suitable head covering for Iran, Oli and I decided to spend the next day browsing Kemeraltı market in the centre of İzmir. I do have somewhat of a weakness for a beautiful scarf, so as well as two headscarves, also managed to end up with two beautiful scarves for post-travelling. As we were chatting to each other in English, and I am somewhat pale, Oli had a lot of fun replying to sales-people in Turkish and registering the surprise on their faces. I spent the rest of the day calling him the Surprise Turk, which he rather liked.

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Later that evening, we went for a walk around Bornova with the intention of getting some ice creams. As we wandered through the Büyük Park (Big Park), we came across a Forum. The İzmir camp mentioned in the previous post had been forcibly cleared away earlier that week. Although the large protests have receded recently, people are still active, and have been holding discussion groups (Forums) in parks across the country to decide how to carry things forward. People sat quietly, listening respectfully to each other speak. Oli translated for me, and it was very interesting to listen to.

The next day, Oli, Can and I headed back to the summer house in Akbük via Çine to visit some family, and also managed a little detour to the farmhouse where Oli's Dad grew up. Although it is not currently lived in, the setting was beautiful and the land around it is still farmed. Oli had fond memories of it from his childhood, and we were really glad to have got there to see the place.


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We were joined in Akbük by Oli's cousin Tuncer, and the last few days have been spent lazily enjoying the heat, swimming in the sea and having lavish barbeques. We have also managed to find the time to drink plenty of rakı, which I have to say provides the perfect accompaniment to hot weather and Aegean food. Oli's Uncle Abdullah and his family are also staying in Akbük at their summer house, so we joined them last night for dinner (and more rakı).

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I am currently writing this sat on the porch and eating watermelon. It's tough work but somebody has to do it. The heat has actually dropped a bit over the past couple of days (a pleasant 30 degrees, rather than a sweaty 35). Tomorrow we head back to İzmir, and on Thursday to İstanbul for a few days. After İstanbul, we will spend around two weeks touring the south of Turkey in the car with Can. Our time here is going so fast, so we are trying to make the most of it!

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