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Carlessness

For those of you who know me well, you know that I am very independent and like to move about my world by unencumbered and at will. Here in Izmir, it’s not as easy as it was in Bethlehem because here I don’t yet have a car. There may be a point in the future when we buy a car for me, but there are several factors preventing it at the moment, so I am currently ‘carless’.

There is public transportation in Izmir, which appears to be quite extensive and efficient, but as I don’t understand much Turkish at the moment and I am not too keen on the ‘Oh, I wonder where this bus will take me?’ type of adventure at this point in life, I am limited to walking, or taking the ferry, which I have conquered, with Hawkin’s help.

And so here enters the rescuing hero, in my case its technology, more specifically web-based commerce. On the suggestion of friends and pizza shop owners, I have found two websites that may save my carless sanity, at least temporarily.

One is an online restaurant delivery website Yekmek Sepeti (http://izmir.yemeksepeti.com/EN/Default.aspx) where you can type in your address and they list all of the restaurants, by food type, price, proximity, etc that deliver in your area. And the delivery fee for most of them is like $2. The English speaking owner of the pizza shop around the corner told me about it when I came in one day to order lunch and had to wait 15 minutes for the fry station oil to heat up. I think he felt bad that I had to wait, but it’s always worth it. He makes the best chicken fingers I’ve ever eaten, but that’s the subject of another post.

The other is the Migros Virtual Market (http://www.sanalmarket.com.tr/kweb/scview/30001-fruit-vegetable), which lists what appears to be every item in their grocery store inventory, for you to choose and have delivered. Again, with a minimal delivery charge attached. They even have furniture and electronics. My long-time Izmir resident, Turkish speaking, Canadian neighbor, Jennifer, told me about this one. She has 3 kids and  Golden Retriever, so I consider her an expert on the subject of household efficiency. She showed me that they even have an iPhone app.

I will never have to leave the house again.

Ferry Commuting

Its been exactly one month since we arrived in Izmir and yesterday, our household goods were delivered and unpacked and I am SO relieved.

Living in Alsancak but commuting to Bostanli was an adventure, to say the least. Every morning, I would stroll (slog, more like) with Hawkin to the ferry terminal, climb the stairs to the ferry taking care not to drop the stroller, held in one hand, or the child, gripped in the other, between the metal stairs and the prow of the boat and get on board. Most days the ferrymen would help, often choosing to carry the child, to her delight, and carry her up the stairs and put her on the deck. Other days they’d grab the stroller. Either way it was a great help. We buy a juice box and a tea at the ‘cafeteria’ on board and sit and count ‘birds, buoys and boats’ during the 20 minute ride across Izmir bay to the Bostanli ferry terminal.

Riding on a ferry with a 3.5 year old is an interesting experience. Aside from the eating, drinking and looking out the windows, her favorite activities were playing peek-a-boo with other passengers or the crew or walking outside along the side of the boat. Hawkin is not a shy child by any measure and she easily catches people’s attention then proceeds to engage them in some hide-and-seek play. I was amazed to watch people, especially grown men, actually loosen up and play with her. The Turkish people LOVE children and it is apparent in the ease with which they interact with them.

That was the fun part of the trip. The rest of the journey consisted of walking 25 minutes from the terminal  to Hawkin’s school down bumpy sidewalks (sidewalk in Izmir are made of interlocking pavers, not solid concrete) and up and down countless curbs (not much in the way of handicapped access on corners), with the stroller in front and a backpack with my laptop on my back. I’d drop Hawkin off at school, more about that in a later blog, stash the stroller, then walk 10 minutes back to our empty apartment.

I’d say this commuting lasted about 2 weeks but it felt like an eternity. Hard as it was, it was great exercise and I think I’ve lost the 10 lbs I gained in the stressful months before we arrived. And Hawkin was happy to be going to school everyday.ImageImage

Getting here and getting settled (for the time being).

We’ve been in Izmir for 5 days now and we are pretty much settled in our temporary residence.

The trip here was relatively smooth but not without minor glitches, such as too-heavy suitcases and delayed flights, not-sleepy passengers and not-so-good airplane food. All in all it, was an uneventful journey and after this many days, we all seem to be adjusted with only occasional sleeplessness at night.

Our residence is in an older building in the Alsancak area of Izmir, close to a shopping boulevard (pedestrians, no cars) which has a small supermarket, Tansas, and lots of restaurants. It is also very close to the Kordon, the walking promenade next to the harbor, which had a very nice ‘rubber road’ walking path. We are only about 10 minutes walk from the Alsancak ferry pier and Hawk and I will be taking a ferry ride around the bay one day this week.

It has been rainy (very rainy at times) over the past couple of days and Hawkin has been very creative with the furnishings here in lieu of toys. We only brought a few small ones but with sofa cushions, who needs toys, right?ImageImage