Vegans in Izmir

Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey, so there are many different options for accommodation. They seem to be grouped in different districts of the city, all fairly distant from one another. How to chose?

Our method was to hop onto HappyCow and see where the vegan restaurants are. There are exactly 2, in the same neighborhood. Well, that certainly narrowed down our search. Often what we do at that point is to simply find a hotel in that area and book it.

In Izmir we tried a different approach, with great success! We traveled to the city, navigated the standard Turkish bus station (i.e. inconveniently located 7 km from the city) and just went to one of the vegan restaurants we had found.


Arriving in a new city at around dinner time with two kids, big backpacks, and no hotel may seem risky to some. We went to Yasam Kafe, ate some vegan toasted cheese sandwiches, some terrific iskender and asked some questions.

The wonderfully friendly and helpful staff suggested a couple of hostels in the neighborhood. The one they really recommended was Shantihome hostel. I went over while the family was finishing up dinner, and immediately grabbed their 4 bed family room on the top floor. The rooms are all named, and ours was called Freedom!

Shantihome Hostel

The best thing about Shantihome in Izmir is the people we met there. There were many travelers, some folks who had been there for months, and a constant stream of friendly Turks passing through. We met Russian street musicians who have been travelling for over a year. They are self-funded by busking and human generosity.

Music lessons
Yevgeny and the Fella playing the classic Uke and Digeridoo duet

They performed for us in the living room one evening. Yelena is also an amazing artist, with a collection of Vegan-themed pencil and charcoal drawings.

Street music in the house!
Eclectic mix of Russian folk songs and non-traditional instruments

We also got some free baby-sitting from the incredible Jo from Australia. She’s a digital nomad, doing consulting work while she travels the world. We hope to see her again in SE Asia, and not just for the babysitting!


Other Stuff

We also went to an art gallery in the former French embassy. There was a display of water-themed paintings and a room for the kids to colour.

This one was my favorite… poor suckers are going down.

We also went on many ferry rides and saw beautiful sunsets. People were throwing bread to the seagulls so the birds were flying so close I almost grabbed one.

Izmir seagulls
But what would I have done with it had I caught one?

The Acropolis in Bergama

That’s right, Turkey has it’s own Acropolis! Why not? Acropolisses (Acropoli?) for everybody! The Bergama (or Pergamon) version is just as impressive as the Athenian one, but with waaayyy less people wandering around shooting selfies.

The Turkish Acropolis is in the town of Bergama, not far from the Aegean coast. Bergama’s pretty small, and the food options were pretty dismal at first until our hotelier at the Odyssey Guest House told us about the wonderful Çığırtma Evi. The ladies were hand-rolling Yaprak Sarma (rice wrapped in grapevine leaves) at one of the tables when we walked in.

Bergama Acropolis

There’s a cable car up the side (for the lazy, says we who walked) and a parking lot for those (lazy) who want to drive up.

Enter the lazybones’.

There are suggested routes through the site which are marked with big blue dots or have wooden boardwalks. You’re also free to roam around as you please, which is our preferred mode of travel. It’s in roaming around that we find the quiet spots to sit and the best people watching.

Wild kids
Watch out for the feral children skulking about the place.

The highlight of the place for us was the views. Because it’s on a mountaintop, you get different views depending on which part of the ruins you explore. Behind the mountain is a reservoir and remnants of the ancient aqueduct that served the city on the peak.

Bergama reservoir
Apparently there are other ruins at the bottom of the reservoir.

The central feature of the ruins is the Temple of Zeus. The German fellow who oversaw the restoration absconded with most of it. Apparently there is a wonderful museum exhibit in Berlin featuring the main altar and restored friezes. What’s left in Bergama is still very impressive though.

Temple of Zeus
What’s left of it.

The other incredible feature that is still more or less intact is the theatre. This overlooks the current town of Bergama and is steep enough to give you vertigo. We tried to run down the steps with the kids and ended up reduced to a shuffle to avoid a family catastrophe.

Don't fall down the stairs!
Here we are pretending to watch a play.

Acropolis Slideshow

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The Best Part

The best part of our whole stay in Bergama, which was great from start to finish, had nothing to do with ruins.


One day we were wandering around in the back streets and we came to a road block. Fortunately we were able to talk, and jump, our way through it.

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