Getting engaged in Izmir.

Getting engaged in Izmir.

When a random Turkish kid you just met proposes...

Apparently I’ve been doing it wrong all of these years. Instead of lamenting that I haven’t found a husband, let alone a boyfriend, all I apparently needed to do was sit alone on a bench.

You see, I took the train from Selcuk to Izmir Thursday morning. I didn’t really have any expectations from the city nor really knew much of what to do there. I booked a hotel for the night and an overnight train for the next day though so that gave me a day and a half to find out what the city had to offer.

When I got there that afternoon I checked into my hotel and decompressed for a bit before heading out. I ended up just taking a long walk along the waterfront before heading back for the night to relax.

Izmir waterfront

Izmir waterfront

Clock tower in Izmir, Turkey

And the next day I headed out to check out the city. I completely failed at finding most anything due to my lack of map and apparently not being able to read signs that seemed to send me in every which direction.

I did come across a cactus garden…

Cactus garden in Izmir, Turkey

and a market…

Market in Izmir, Turkey

and a park…

Park in Izmir, Turkey

with an art museum. And with one of the most depressing amusement parks ever.

Theme park in Izmir, Turkey

After wasting away many hours of the day because I had no where to go back to I headed back to the waterfront to sit on a bench and rest my feet.

Waterfront in Izmir, Turkey

And, of course, I should have seen it coming. That it is impossible to sit on a bench anywhere in Turkey without a man coming up to you to talk. To ask, “where you from?”

And this time it was a guy, who showed me he was 20 by flashing his ten fingers twice. I flashed mine three times. He didn’t speak any English besides the very basics.

Random guy in Izmir, Turkey

And he kept pointing to things and asking what the English word was for them. And then he told me I was beautiful. And then he told me that he loved me.

And so we ended up sharing tea and cigarettes and listening to music on his phone. And then he gave me a ring. And bought me a rose. So, I guess I got engaged in Izmir>

Tea and cigarettes in Izmir, Turkey

And we ended up taking a walk and watching the sunset.

Sunset in Izmir, Turkey

Sunset in Izmir, Turkey

And then I tried to get rid of him, because I needed to catch my bus. And because I didn’t quite trust him in that he knew every single person that we passed who worked in the area. And because I really had no interest in the boy. Because he was 20 and didn’t speak English. And because when I pointed towards my hotel he led me the opposite way.

But luckily all my walking that morning gave me a good bearing and I was able to find my way. And so I said goodbye. And he again told me that he loved me.

And he let me keep the ring…

My engagement ring

Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

  • jenjenk
    October 24, 2011at9:21 am

    it’s so bizarre that EVERY.SINGLE.PERSON. wanted to know where I was from. I got creative. My fair skinned, blondish caucasian friend was asked if she was from China…it was pretty awesome.

  • Lisa Bergren
    October 24, 2011at3:08 pm

    Love that story and pics! Fun glimpse into your travels…and the minds of Turkish men…

  • Jaime
    October 24, 2011at3:35 pm


  • Ali
    November 1, 2011at7:28 am

    Hilarious Val! Only you!

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