We left Katakolon passing through the Aegean Sea and sailing close to the Greek Islands, until we reached Turkish waters and Izmir. Izmir is one of the oldest settlements of the Mediterranean basin dating back to prehistoric times, and several graves have been excavated, with artefacts dating from around 3000 BC. The ancient city was known as ‘Smyrna’, thought to be named after a Queen of the Amazons, but has been internationally recognised as ‘Izmir’ since 1930.
Izmir is situated on the shore of a beautiful gulf of the Aegean Sea, so after disembarking, we ignored the taxi drivers touting for business, and took a leisurely stroll along the sea front. We stopped at a cafe, with tables spilling out onto the pavement, and I tasted my first Turkish coffee, complete with a bottle of water. Fortunately I like strong black coffee with sugar, because I discovered later that when I was asked if I’d like ‘a medium’ it was with regards to the amount of sugar, not the size of the coffee! I enjoyed the thick, dark coffee, but it is not something I’d like everyday!
We wandered on, until we reached the Republic Tree Monument in the centre of Gündoğdu Square, known locally as ‘Cumhuriyet Ağacı Anıtı’. The monument was erected in 2003 to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Turkey becoming a republic. It symbolizes Atatürk and the Turkish cavalry fighting the War of Independence (‘Kurtuluş Savaşı’).
I have a quirky sense of humour, and on looking closely at one of my photographs, I was amused to find a bird sitting on his head!