Our Aegean Odyssey ship docked in Izmir for a couple of days (best trip we ever took "Voyages to Antiquity") and we spent the evening after a land-tour, just enjoying the local flavor. How different Izmir is from Istanbul! It is far more secular and people really use their streets for marketing their wares, dining, playing, street art, and just walking around, exercising their dogs and children.
During our evening stroll, we watched street performers doing an impressive juggling act (with music and costumes), saw men preparing their mussels and lemons for sale on the streets, noticed that the cafes expanded their seating to the middle of the sidewalks, enjoyed shopping in the small stores and made several very well-priced purchases, and did some people watching ourselves. The enterprising vendors who had jewelry and other home-crafted items spread on blankets were doing a good business. It felt like Venice, California in many respects. Lots of vitality and energy and very Westernized, in my opinion.
The location is close to (bordering) the port where the ships come in, making it an easy outing for the cruise tourist. Very safe and certainly a highlight of this stop in port.
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