It was a wild night inside the Sisim Restaurant on the Harbor in Izmir, Turkey. A soccer game between Germany and Turkey was on, and I’m not sure how many screens, but plenty, and every time the Turks made a goal, the entire restaurant filled with men hollered with great glee.
Glee? That’s putting it mildly, because when Turkey won…it was bedlam. Men jumped up, grabbed each other, circled around and around, arms in the air, hollering and screaming. Soon cars began to circle outside of the restaurant with horns bleating and flags waving.
It often causes me to wonder, how in the heck did I wind up here?
The day for me began early in the morning, in a bus on the way to Izmir from Kodokoy, in what I thought would be a five and one half hour ride, but it took twice that long.
I boarded the bus and unbeknownst to me, that was just the first bus, for we got off at another station and boarded the real bus. We drove through villages and cities, mostly in rain and then met snow in the mountains.
A woman in back of me realized I didn’t speak Turkish, so when we boarded a ferry, to cross the Marmara Sea, she encouraged me to get off the bus for fresh air. She nearly poked holes into my eardrums with her friendly chatter. Her family immigrated to Turkey from Poland a century ago, which explains her blue eyes and light hair. She was delightful.
To answer the question, how did I end up here, begins with my nephew Andy. His job as a technical manager for a printing machine company in Germany, requires lots of travel, including his favorite place…Izmir.
Andy flew in from Germany at 8 p.m. I got into my hotel around 7:30 p.m. Andy and his best buddy, and customer, Ozkan Kacemer, with his wife Hatun Gul Kacemer, picked me up in a taxi and we arrived at Sisim to the greeting and hugs from the waiters of the restaurant.
Andy is a regular at the restaurant, and has been for several years. The waiters treated us like celebrities, spoiling us. I didn’t know what was in some of the small dishes they first put on our table, but they were perfectly seasoned.
Then Andy picked out a fish and it was grilled to absolute perfection. The waiter carefully deboned it near our table and placed a portion on each plate, along with some vegetables.
After dinner the waiter brought more dishes with a variety of fruit, stuffed dates, a tiny individual cake, and other goodies. Then a very special treat was delivered from the kitchen just for us. It was a mound of something with cream inside and chocolate dribbled on top of it. I honestly do not know what it was, but I’d like some right now.
The night was fun, as it usually is with Andy around. Ozkan speaks fluent German, and Turkish, as well. He was brought up in Germany by Turkish parents, and when they decided to return to Turkey, he came with them. He had little Turkish language skills, but speaks well now without an accent.
So there I was, among the Turks, listening to Turkish, German and English, and a room full of hollering men.
Then while we walked over to get our ride, a man with a drum stopped us and banged on it a few times, while another man with a horn blew it right into Ozkon’s face, until he gave him a tip.
What a night…and my time here isn’t over yet.