Izmir March 25, 2013
We woke up in our musty hotel and tried to shower but after letting the hot water run for 3 minutes, it never got above lukewarm so I quickly dressed. I opened the window for some fresh air and watched the Muslim men wearing a week cap (lace cap) on their heads walk to work. A nearby chimney was beginning to smoke and we realized that it smelled like burning plastic, so we decided to get out of the hotel fast. We walked down the street and saw the tea shops opening and businesses getting started for the day. We stopped for a fresh orange juice. In the nearby market we found a sunny table and sat with two teas and pastries for breakfast. The homeless cats were up and about. Izmir is not a touristy city, and it’s refreshing to see the stalls, old tea drinking men, butchers and black smiths going about their daily life. We walked to the Izmir waterfront walking and running path. Clement decided that it was time to blow off some steam and ran for a few miles. The sun was out and the waters were calm. It was a splendid way to begin our morning. The waterfront is lined with palm trees and apartments all the way along. It reminded me of Bombay or what I imagine Miami to look like. On each side of the water, there are mountains. Commuter boats come and go. We stopped at a café on the water. The benches were literally 3 inches from the water’s edge. I ordered my 1st latte in Turkey and Yannick had a çay (tea). My coffee arrived with a chocolate spoon so Clement dipped it in the milk froth and it promptly disappeared in his mouth. We were most delighted with our treats. Energized we continued walking along the water and reached a kiddie playground and exercise park. We turned into the city and I ducked into a Zara shop to see if I could do some looking around. Nice clothes. Some of it reminded me of the shapes that I’m designing: collarless jackets, barrel sleeves, a sort of ethnic styled loose shape. We continued walking and realized that if we didn’t hurry, we would miss our train to the airport. Raced to the hotel to pick up our bags and then to the train station. Good bye Izmir. We are sad to leave but Istanbul awaits!
Tea with Leyla
Leyla and I met up today to talk about my trip to Turkey. Leyla is Bulgarian Turkish and her whole research for the master’s is based on Turkish inspired art. We sat down for tea and talked about Istanbul, fabrics, shopping, vegetable markets, the countryside, Ottoman history, Izmir and how lovely the Turkish people are. It is a fascinating place and I really only got see a small piece of it. She shares my love to Middle Eastern decorative craft work, textiles and the complex pattern work of the tiles, carpets and paintings I saw. There is so much history in Turkey. I wish I had time to read about the Romans, and the Ottomans and Attaturk. Turkey was an incredible empire and it is hard for me to grasp the enormous and rich heritage that it holds. It is the most modern of any Islamic country, and is a very creative place for writers, theatre, music and fashion. I watched women of all ages in their head scarves with a certain fascination. Some were very elegant in long flowing skirts and floral head scarves. Their hair is tied up in a bun and padded with something to elongate the head shape. It gives the illusion of a longer neck. I can only guess, but about 60% of the women did not wear the head scarf. I saw a few women in the full black hijab, and one that wore gloves as well. Eyes peering out, lined in black coal. One of my favorite moments of the day was being woken by the 5am azan, the call to prayer broadcast live throughout all cities and towns by each individual mosque. Each has its own feeling and style. In a half-dream state and hearing this was like swimming in a beautiful song of calling.
Coming back to Scotland’s arctic wind and snow has not been easy.