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On Site: Ancient Ruins, the Turkish Riviera and More in Turkey

May 17, 2011 By: Deanna Ting

While it’s only been about a day and a half since I landed in Izmir, Turkey, ( already this trip has been filled with plenty of unforgettable sights, sounds, tastes and experiences. Before embarking on this press trip, I admit that I didn’t know all that much about Izmir. Sure, I had heard of Istanbul and Cappadocia, but Izmir, well, that was really off the map in terms of my geographical radar. So, when I had the opportunity to travel here for Travel Agent, I couldn’t wait to find out more about it.

As Izmir’s third largest city behind the capital, Ankara, and Istanbul, Izmir (formerly known as Smyrna) is an important center of commerce that occupies a prime spot along the Eastern coast of the Aegean Sea. It is also home to historical sites that include the ruins of the ancient Ionian city of Ephesus, the House of the Virgin Mary and Pergamum, the first of the ancient world’s health centers.

After arriving in Izmir and dropping my belongings off at my hotel, I headed straight for Foça, a relaxed and picturesque seaside town. Docked along its marina, your clients will find dozens of small boats and yachts and packed waterfront cafes that specialize in seafood, naturally.

The following day, we were lucky enough to take a cruise along the Bay of Izmir, enjoying a traditional Turkish breakfast buffet as our ship, the Bergama, plied the calm waters. Shortly after, we headed for the House of the Virgin Mary, the site where many people believe that Mary, mother of Jesus, was brought to live by John the Apostle, in her later years before her Assumption. While there, I was surprised by the calm and stillness that permeated the air there. Shortly after, we traveled to Sirinçe, a small Ottoman village that is known for its olive oil, wine and charming inns, for a lunch with an amazing view of rolling vineyards and olive trees.

After lunch, we spent the rest of the day exploring the ancient ruins of Ephesus. While I’ve had the chance to personally visit many ruins from the ancient world—including Israel and Jordan—it always strikes me how I never tire of being able to see these sites firsthand. The settlement that we visited was packed with international tour groups. One of the most impressive structures that we saw was the Library at Ephesus, its elaborate façade still standing after so many thousands of years.

Today, we’re headed to Cesme for a relaxing day spent at the beach. Having just endured my first winter/spring in New York as a native Angeleno, I can definitely tell you this: I’m really looking forward to it.

Expect to read more postings from my week spent here in Izmir on


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