One thing Izmir is not short of these days is shopping centres. From the open air Forum Bornova to the huge Agora down on the bay and the sprawling malls of Karsiyaka. They are all teeming at weekends as families take to hobby shopping like ducks to wet stuff.
Izmir’s newest shopping mall is the much delayed but finally open Optimum Outlet Mall in Gaziemir, a few miles from the airport, a five story building with underground carpark and the novelty of an ice rink in the centre.
I make no apologies for liking shopping and particularly shopping malls; I come from the depths of rural Pembrokeshire, I now live in a tiny village and to me malls still have novelty value. They don’t have too hot or too cold weather inside them and they have proper shops and food courts and sales! What’s not to like!Optimum is laid out sensibly, all the household goods are on the ground floor surrounding a massive Koc Tas, clothes and jewellery stores take up the next few floors and the top floor is children’s shops, the food court and the cinema (opening shortly). The ice rink is dinky and cute and you can watch the skaters from the tables above in the food court or get a close up view from the upmarket coffee shop beside the rink – I was there a few days after they opened and already there were some pretty flashy skaters pirouetting entertainingly through the newbies crabbing their way across the ice.
The Park Bravo store next to the ice rink had some excellent discounts from Nine West and Anne Klein and was laid out in a shabby chic, wooden floored boutique that encouraged casual browsing (not something often seen in Turkey where you get pounced on a lot!). There is a large Mudo City with a mix of pricey but nice home accessories and preppy casual clothing and no doubt daughter will be parking herself in there with the credit card when she visits in July, she loves Mudo stuff.
I wasn’t terrible impressed with the prices in Saturn which sells electrical goods but the ranges were massive so there was a lot of choice if you want to be really picky about your type of juicer. The prices in the homeware stores were good, crockery, knives, pressure cookers and the like are normally expensive here and there were several of the higher end stores like Esse and Bernado offering serious discounts.
For those of us living south of Izmir the Optimum Mall is going to be our nearest big shopping mall, it’s easy to get to – just keep going past the airport and follow that road for about 15 minutes until you come to the mall on your right – the parking is brilliant and you can even catch a train there from Selcuk if you don’t drive. Very handy.