Iyi Bayramlar: Day 1 & 2 in Izmir and Ephesus

Last week, we had a few days off of school for Kurban Bayramı. Kurban Bayramı is an Islamic holiday celebrated in Turkey. According to, “The Feast of the Sacrifice commemorates Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael to show his faithfulness to Allah. You can find essentially the same story in the Old Testament where Abraham was willing to kill his son Isaac, until an angels stops him.”

Since our school is located in Turkey, we are closed during both Christian holidays and the Islamic holidays recognized by the Turkish government. It was a five day weekend, and we decided to travel to some historical and Biblical sites with two friends and colleagues.


Map of Ankara to Izmir


We left Ankara Thursday morning by Pamukkale bus and headed to Izmir. The bus was fairly comfortable and had internet and built in entertainment, similar to a lot of airplanes. After a long 9 hour ride, we finally made it to our hostel. The first thing we wanted to do was see the water. We walked a few blocks and came upon the coast of the Aegean Sea. The sun was falling towards the horizon and we were greeted by a beautiful sunset.


Izmir sunset on the water


As the sun dipped lower, we took a ferry to Karşıyaka, another part of the city, for dinner. It looked like a promising spot to find some grub, however, many of the businesses and restaurants were closed for the holiday. We found a quick bite to eat at a doner restaurant.


Izmir Ferry Ride


Karşıyaka, Turkey


After taking the ferry back, we finished off the night by drinking coffee in a cafe next to the water. It was a very peaceful and relaxing night. Our hostel, Hotel Baylan, was very accommodating and affordable with a delicious breakfast buffet.


Izmir Park

Izmir is a coastal city. We had perfect weather, and it looked like Florida with all of the palm trees. This photo was taken by our friend Dale! Well, by her camera’s timer.


In the morning, we left Izmir via train for Selçuk. This small town lays about 2 km from the ancient city of Ephesus. Our hostel, Attila’s Getaway, was only 3 km from Izmir. Breakfast and dinner were relatively expensive, so we found more affordable options in Selçuk. Although it was a bit more rugged than our first hotel, we enjoyed our stay.

After checking in, we took a taxi to Ephesus. Visiting Ephesus is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. As we walked around the ruins of the city, I was overwhelmed to be standing next to such amazing pieces of history.


Hercules Gate


At the Efes ruins


On the ancient toilets in Ephesus

On the ancient toilets! I may or may not have slipped past a rope for this picture…


We walked through the ruins taking pictures for a couple hours. We saw the library and the theatre believed to be mentioned in Acts 19. One of the most amazing exhibits was the Terrace Houses. This excavation site featured several houses with beautiful artwork. There were mosaics and frescoes still surprisingly visible upon the walls, ceilings, and floors of these houses.


Library at Ephesus

In front of the Library at Ephesus


 The Great Theatre of Ephesus

We sang Amazing Grace in the Great Theatre of Ephesus. The acoustics are so perfect that the person in the very back row can easily hear.


Ephesus Terrace House

Inside the Ephesus Terrace House exhibit. There was beautiful and intricate tile work!


We grabbed dinner and coffee in Selçuk before heading back to the hostel, where we played games on the patio. The first two days of our break were amazing, and they were just the beginning!

» Read about day 3 & 4 here.


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  • Reply Holly McKee

    Don’t leave me hanging! I want to hear about the rest of your break. What wonderful experiences you are having. I can’t believe the first hotel was a hostel … it was gorgeous. The second looked more like one, but I can’t believe the prices! How many Euros was the first one out of curiosity? Get that next post up 😉 Be safe.

    November 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm
    • Reply Leah

      We booked Baylan off of, but it really was more of a hotel than a hostel! We had a suite with 5 beds, and there were 4 of us traveling together. It is a blessing how cheap it is to travel here! Hotel Baylan was 45 TL per person per night, which ends up being about $25 USD!

      November 2, 2012 at 2:56 am
  • Reply Merial

    Hello Leah & David, I’m so enjoying hearing about your experiences in this very historic area of Turkey. It makes me want to go there, but maybe it won’t happen for us. So glad all is going well for both of you and thank you for including us in your mails. We also enjoyed the first segment you sent soon after your arrival as you were acquainting yourselves with the area, your home, and your teaching. May you continue to have great experiences and sharing with others. Love, Aunt Merial and U. Sunil

    November 7, 2012 at 12:06 pm
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