Saturday, January 2, 2016

Wine Tasting in Urla

After a busy weekend in Istanbul, we all wanted to sleep in and take it easy the next day.  We spent the morning just lounging around, which was perfect.  I needed that and I think Poorna and Mike did, too.  Finally, around noon, we got our act together and were ready for the day. Mike's classmate, Murat, came over and we all  headed out.

We park our car about a mile from our house in a garage since we don't use it that often and there isn't any parking on our street.  Once we got to the car, we realized that we needed to stop for gas along the way.  We applied and got a chip to put in our gas tank so we don't have to pay taxes on gas here in Turkey.  Turkey's gas prices are one of the most expensive in the world, so this was exciting.  We just got the chip and haven't used it yet, so this would be our first time.  You have to go to specific gas stations that have the special machine, so you have to be a little more conscientious of how much gas you have in your tank, but it's definitely worth the price break.

We set out towards the winery, while also looking for a gas station.  Mike got a little worried that we might not make it, so we pull over to a gas station and put in a 20TL worth of gas just to hold us over until we find a gas station that can fill us up.  We continue driving and find a gas station with the sign that says they can do it, but it turns out it's broken, so we continued on.   The gas station attendant directed us down a road about 4 km to another gas station that would be able to help us.  We finally found it and filled up, but I don't think we really got a discount.  We need to figure that out because gas is ridiculously expensive (it's like $100 to fill up our little Volkswagen Golf!).

After that rocky start to the trip, we were in need of some wine! Mike and I had been to Urla Winery before, but Murat and Poorna were newbies.  One of best parts of this winery is the view and the building.  They even have a couple of rooms there to stay in!  The tasting room and hotel is at the top of a hill that overlooks the vineyards.  It's breathtaking.

We all tasted a few reds and whites and walked away with a few bottles to bring back to our respective homes.  Mike and I also wanted to take  Poorna to MMG, which was a winery we went to when Kelly was here visiting.  Not only is the view incredible, but it's family owned and everyone is so friendly.

When we arrived, we were greeted by the son, who we hadn't met and the adorable black lab puppy that we met last time.  This time, though, the puppy wasn't a puppy any more.  He was probably 30 pounds heavier and definitely fully grown. This was the winery that also had the Kangals, which are the Turkish dogs who are around 250 pounds each.  A small horse.  After playing with the dogs for a while, we headed out to the deck where we were once again greeted with a stunning view.   The son brought out delicious grapes, cheese and crackers, as well as four different kinds of wine.  I think we were all fans of this wine and probably could have spent all day there.  Poorna, Mike and I bought wine before we headed back home.

I mean, really?  How is this real life?

Mike and Murat

I had to teach that night, but I knew Mike and Poorna would be fine hanging out for a little while.  They had talked about venturing out to a bar near our house and I figured I would meet them later.  When I returned from teaching, they hadn't left.  Instead, they had decided to drink wine and have heart to hearts while doing a puzzle.  I mean, I knew they'd be fine together, but they were complete BFFs by the time I returned! Ha!

Overall, it was a relaxing day of wine tasting and exploring the outskirts of Izmir.

***All photo credit goes to Poorna :)

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