Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Day Trip to Izmir and Mi Casa/Alaçatı

Dear Readers,

My trip to the Agegan coastal resort town of Çeşme is still going strong! I arrived last week Monday, so I have been here 9 days now. I can't believe how full and quickly the time is passing. In fact, this is my longest trip to this area in the last 10 years - working freelance definitely has its privileges! Luka is having a blast too - he is outdoors all day long - swims from time to time - I think I will have a difficult time when we get back home to apartment living!

The last time I had left off, I had shared info from Day 6 (Saturday) of my trip.. skipping Sunday because it was a total day fo R&R for us... I will continue with Monday - Day 8 of my trip.

As I had mentioned earlier, I am also researching venues and areas that need to be updated for the next issue of Fodor's guide to Turkey which will be coming out in March 2012. So, for this reason, I took a day trip to Izmir on Monday to scout out one area - Alsancak/Kordon in this large cosmpolitan city.

Izmir is Turkey's third largest city and is surrounded by the Aegean sea. It is also a hub to visit the historical and seasides around the area to include Ephesus, Kuşadası, Pamukkale, Çeşme, etc. all of which are easily accessible via the major highways in about under an hour. So, if you want to see all the major sites, I recommend that you can also stay in Izmir and travel around.

The Çeşme Seyahat bus company has bus service to/from Izmir daily about every 15-20 minutes. You can board the bus at their terminals in Çeşme, Ilıca and Alaçatı and the ride is about 1 hour and costs 10 TL. The buses are air-conditioned and clean and the price includes a bottle of ice cold water.

The drop-off district is a place called Uçkuyular in Izmir. From their you can take a taxi, bus, etc to the parts of Izmir you are going to.

Since I am pretty much a "newbie" to Izmir, I took a taxi to save time. My first stop on my trip was to the Movenpick Hotel in Alsancak.

Alsancak is the main part of town with numerous hotels, eateries and retailers along the waterfront and inner sections. The taxi ride - along the water on Mustafa Kemal Boulevard took about 15 minutes and cost 19 TL. The boulevard is lined with beautiful homes with no obstruction and face the Aegean sea.

The Movenpick Hotel is in the main square in Alsancak on Cumhuriyet Boulevard (www.moevenpick-izmir.com) and steps from the Kordon walkway - famous for its side by side restaurants and cafes. I met Melike - the Marketing and PR manager (who I know from Istanbul where she last worked at the Park Hyatt before moving back to her hometown to take this post in December 2010) and Melik Kızılcan - the GM for lunch.

his business 5-star hotel opened in 2008 and has 185 rooms and suites. At the entrance is a small pastry shop where you can get delectable modestly priced cakes and pastries as well as the famous Movenpick ice cream. There are a couple of tables outside and several inside.

To the left of the reception area is a bar/lounge and next to that is the hotel's restaurant called Margaux. I also met their chef and left the selections up to him and I am glad I did. I had a wonderful eggplant soup and grilled seabass. Both were exceptional and I couldn't finish all of it because I still needed to make room for the Movenpick ice cream!

After a casual and social lunch, Melike took me on a tour of the hotel. We started with the bar on the terrace on the 11th floor - the view is breathtaking from this point as you can see from the picture below.

A few floors down from the bar is a fitness area, indoor swimming pool and a few massage rooms as well as a few floors with meeting rooms. I also saw several rooms - from the standard to the suite and each is meticulously decorated.

The Movenpick is a very nice hotel, the staff is very efficient and friendly and I can easily recommend that you say there as it is also centrally located. The hotel can assist you in booking your excursions to the historical sights in the vicinity. The rates currently start at 90 Euros/room including breakfast. Thank you for a lovely visit Melike and Melik Bey!

My next stop on this very very hot day was the Swissôtel Grand Efes Izmir (www.swissotel.com/izmir. I am lucky though.. the hotel is only a block away on Gaziosmanpaşa Boulevard!!!

This hotel is much larger and its lush gardens greet you as you enter the hotel.

Here I was greeted by the 6 1/2 month pregnant, perky and friendly Ayşe Karpat who is the hotel's Assistant Marketing Manager. We immediately began our grand tour and decided to have a cold beverage afterwards.

The hotel's reception area is spacious and including this area, all the hotel floors and gardens are decorated with artwork by popular Turkish contemporary artists which adds an extra flair to its atmosphere.

All of the guest rooms (400+) at this hotel are also elegantly decorated and have sea, garden or street views. There is a large outdoor swimming pool in the shape of a fish in the back garden and underneath Aquarium Restaurant where seafood and appetizers are served in a lovely casual setting as you can see below - with a underwater view of the pool!

One of the main highlights at the Swissôtel is the Amrita Spa which is very very spacious with elegantly decorated massage and treatment rooms, steam room, indoor swimming pool and so much more. The award winning spa is a great place to visit to relax and soothe your body and soul.

Ayşe too was a very nice hostess... we relaxed with a glass of iced coffee and swiss chocolates after our tour of the hotel's state-of-the art convention and meeting centers.  The BAR (best available rate) at the Swissôtel is currently 140 Euros/room including breakfast. Thank you for your hospitality Ayşe - it was a pleasure meeting you and good luck with your upcoming new addition to your family.

Even though it was quite hot, I still wanted to take a walk along the Kordon area on Atatürk Boulevard to get a feel for what was there but only was able to walk about 5 blocks. I did pass by the famous seafood restaurant called Deniz (which means sea in Turkish) which is right below the longstanding (open since 1927) Izmir Palas Hotel (www.izmirpalas.com.tr).

On my way back to the main square to get a taxi, I also ran into a horse and buggy carriage... they are available during the day and night to take you for a ride around the area...

It was about 6:00pm when the bus left from Uçkuyular to take me back to Çeşme. You do not have to buy a ticket up front and the bus departs as soon as it fills up.

I arrived back in Ilıca around 7:00pm and was happy that I had a nice day in Izmir!

Even after a day like this, you would think I would stay in - but I'm on vacation! We had a nice home cooked meal at home - my sis's mother-in-law cooked for us, so this was a nice treat.

Afterwards, my sis and I went out (brother-in-law was sick) and met her sister-in-law, husband, there friends from the UK and some of our joint friends who are in town from Bodrum for a few days.

We decided to go to the bar at Mi Casa Trattoria in Alaçatı. Celebrating their 2nd season, this eatery and bar is located on a paralel street to the main hub of Kemalpaşa Street in Alaçatı in a lovely spacious private alcove. We arrived there at about 11:00pm and many of the tables were full with diners. In fact, we celebrated my birthday (which is tomorrow - August 3) at Mi Casa last year and had a very nice meal.

The dinner menu is full of different dishes - from pastas and risottos to all sorts of meat dishes (duck, lamb, etc) and more. The prices are a little on the expensive side, but worth it.

The bar area is large too... with a spacious bar with bar stools and seating along the walls as well. The other great thing here is also the music played... none of this techno/blaring music - but instead many oldies and goodies are spun.

Once again as there is a curfew on loud music in Alaçatı, the volume was turned down at 12.30am - but that's good - it's nice to be able to have a conversation too!

Today - Day 9 I am relaxing at home all day - writing in my blog and also doing some work which is ok... I need to rest to prep for the evening! 

More later!



  1. Thanks for these outstanding pictures These are really beautiful..luxury turkey tours

  2. thank you Catherine. I try to do my best and take all my own photos... this post doesn't contain my best photos, but is okay but I have gotten better throughout the years!