Photos of Selçuk and Ephesus
Photos of the Aegean coastal area
Report from Selçuk, Turkey, 22 October 1999
Hello to all -
We arrived in Selçuk yesterday, more or less on our planned schedule even though we had lost two days by staying on in Istanbul while Ellen recovered from a short bout with flu -- chills and fever. But we disliked Izmir so much that we only spent one night there instead of the 3 we had thought about.
Monday was flu day (with Ron bringing in Sprite, tea, and chicken soup from the nearby Chinese restaurant. Tuesday, after a quick recovery, we took the ferry to Asia (across the Bosphorus) and took a picture of Europe from the other side. After wandering through a nice market and having lunch, we walked south along the edge of the water, then took a different ferry back to the European side of Istanbul. In the evening, we met and had an interesting conversation with a young couple from London who were Muslims whose families had come to England from India two generations ago, but whose distant ancestors were actually Arabians who had gone with armies into India in the 1400s.
Wednesday morning we got up at 5:30 and rode our bikes to the 7 am ferry from Istanbul to Bandirma, across the Sea of Marmara. It was a huge car ferry, and quite luxurious. From Bandirma we took a bus to Izmir, a four hour trip. The bus was very nice, no smoking allowed (in contrast to the Romanian bus where Ron smoked a pack of second hand smoke), and we were served coffee/tea/cola and cookies twice during the trip.
By the time we were trying to figure out how to get from the bus station on the outskirts of Izmir to the downtown area, several people had already asked us why we were staying in Izmir instead of going on directly to Selçuk. The only possible answer is that Ron is stubborn and had to see for himself that it was not worth the time. So we rode 7 km through heavy traffic to the center of town where we stayed in a grungy hotel (the best one of all the ones we looked at). We took a walk along the seafront (with heavy noisy traffic on the road side), and did see the famous and very beautiful Izmir clock tower and the nearby small mosque covered with colored tiles. The street our hotel was on was a pedestrian street with shops, primarily auto supply and hardware, but at night it was suddenly transformed, with cafes spilling out onto the street, candles on the tables, and all filled with men drinking tea or coffee and watching a soccer game. Ron went out later for a night walk, and saw the same thing everywhere else, although in some places there were couples and tourists, but they were still watching the same game, but the TV screens were bigger. Here in Selçuk we found out it was a Turkish team playing Chelsea, England, and Chelsea won 5-0.
The only good thing about Izmir was the weather -- suddenly, by going only a short ways from Istanbul, we were in Aegean weather instead of Black Sea weather, with the temperatures rising from about 50 to the 70s. And there were palm trees along the streets. We had ridden to the ferry in Istanbul wearing our fleece vests and parka shells, and in Izmir we were down to short sleeves.
First thing on Thursday morning, we rode back to the bus station (happily, the traffic was not nearly so bad) and caught a bus to Selçuk. The 1.5 hour bus ride went through a lot of farmland, and we saw cotton being harvested by hand, olive trees, and orange trees. We found a pleasant hotel in Selçuk, and after lunch rode our bikes the 3 km to the ruins of Ephesus to check it out for a visit today. In riding around the area of the Ephesus ruins, we passed more orange orchards, and also fig and pear trees.
We had an interesting evening conversation in the Turkish delight store with the shoptender and another young man who was about to go off to another part of Turkey to teach tourism education for several years. They demonstrated how to play a Turkish flute and stringed instrument looking somewhat like a lute, and made suggestions on what tapes we could buy of traditional Turkish music. (As we write this, the shopkeeper just walked into the Internet cafe and said hello to us -- small town world!)
Today Ron took Ellen to the brothel in Ephesus -- but unfortunately, the occupants have not been available for several centuries! We spent about 4 hours wandering around the extensive and amazing ruins, and afterwards spent an hour or so in the excellent archeological museum. And then we rode 7 km to the beach to see the Aegean -- it was hazy and cool, so we just looked.
Love to all,
Ellen and Ron
Turkish hospitality! 27 October 1999
Last Saturday, 23 October, we rode our bikes up the mountain from Selçuk to Sirençe, a village of about 800 people, famous for its handmade lace and fruit wines. The village had originally been Greek, but in the exchange of peoples in 1924, the Greeks were returned to Greece and Turks from Salonica came to Sirençe. We were unable to find anyone who could tell us how high the mountain was, but we are sure it was higher than Afton Mt. Took us about 2 hours to go 9 km, about 6 fairly flat and 3 very steep -- we did a lot of walking! Most of the way all the mountain slopes we could see were planted with olive trees, all of which had already been harvested. Ron tried one that he found and picked from the tree (Ellen hates olives) and found it to be very bitter. We were invited into a 200 yr old home for apple tea and to see the handmade lace, and bought a few pieces of lace there and in the market. The ride back down was wonderful!
Friday night while Ron was out for his night walk he met a woman and her husband who run a silver shop in Selçuk and also (in the winter time) in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Saturday after our ride to Sirençe we went back so Ellen could meet them. Julia took us to a rug shop across the street where we received an education about carpets, kilim, and sumak and the differences between them -- and their hefty prices. Julia is a very unique entrepreneur in Turkey, as well as being an excellent silversmith, and we had a delightful time visiting with her and her husband.
Sunday we left Selçuk and bicycled 25 km to Kusidasi, where Enver Muradoglu, a good friend of our friends Nan and Carter lives (he had been a college classmate of Carter's father, and remained good friends of the family). We had called him from Selçuk and he was expecting us between 1 and 3. We arrived and got a hotel, which turned out to be about 50 meters from his apartment on the waterfront. We spent the afternoon visiting with this charming 86-yr-old, and listening to fascinating stories of his career as the father of tourism on the Aegean coast of Turkey. He built the first 6 hotels (at the same time in a period of 6 months) in the early 1960s, and now tourism is the primary business in the area. He invited us to dinner, and took us to an excellent fish restaurant right on the water, where we had grilled sole and a nice white wine.
The next morning he wanted to take us to see the Tusan Hotel, one of the original hotels he had built, just outside Kusidasi. He picked us up at 10:30 at our hotel in a taxi driven by Ibraham Eskici, a friend of his. Before going to the Tusan, however, we went to the bus terminal where Mr. Enver wanted to inquire about buses for us to Didim and Bodrum, our next destinations. We then went to the hotel for a tour and lunch. The hotel is much expanded from the original building (still part of the complex) and can now accommodate 1050 guests. It is in a beautiful location on a tiny bay, with a lovely beach, large pool, beautiful gardens and landscaping. We met the family that now owns and runs the hotel, long-time friends of Mr. Enver, and the wife entertained us for lunch.
After lunch, Mr. Enver, having been much distressed to learn that we had not visited Mary's House when we were in Selçuk (it would have been a 10 km ride, 5 of them steeply up), sent us back to see it in the taxi with Ibraham driving us. It really was a beautiful spot, high on the mountain top. It is supposed to be (and has been recognized as such by the Pope) the place where Mary lived at the end of her life, along with St. John who had been charged with her care. John came to be in charge of the church at Ephesus and the surrounding area, and is buried in the now ruins of the Basilica of St John in Selçuk.
When we arrived back in Kusidasi from this excursion and went to Mr. Enver's apartment for snacks, we got the final details on the program he had planned for us the next day (Tuesday). Since there were no buses he considered appropriate for us to take, he arranged to have Ibraham drive us, with our bikes and our packs, to 3 different sets of ruins he thought we should see, planned stops where we would have tea and lunch, and directed Ibraham to find us a good hotel in Didim within our budget range.
Tuesday morning Mr Enver came to see us off. We left him with the feeling that we had made a fine new friend, and we look forward to having him visit our house next May when he is in Charlottesville. His kindness, generosity and hospitality were a wonderful surprise to us. We were very lucky.
We drove first to Priene, where the ruins are high on a hill and the view is absolutely spectacular, looking out over the wide flat river plain. The next set of ruins, Miletus, was on the plain, and had an absolutely gigantic amphitheater. Didim has the ruins of a temple to Apollo, which was one of the largest religious structures ever built, and on a site that has had a shrine and a oracle from approximately the 11th century BC until the temple was destroyed by fire and earthquake in the 15th century AD. Ibraham left us at our hotel in Didim, and we went for a bike ride around the area and along the beach.
This morning (Wednesday Oct 27) we took a minibus from Didim to Soke, then transferred to a bigger bus for the ride to Bodrum. Our next message will tell you about our experiences in the seaside resort of Bodrum -- we intend to relax and may have no adventures to report!
Love to all,
Ellen and Ron
Relaxing in Bodrum, 27-31 October 1999
Our first day in Bodrum we relaxed, wandering along the waterfront looking at the hundreds of boats of all sizes -- most of them huge. We sat in the park and read, and in the afternoon visited St. Peter's castle, built on the promentory between the east and west bays of Bodrum. It is a huge place, with many different levels, towers, and courtyards, but the most amazing thing was the way the castle seemed to move and change location depending on where we were. It moved from right to left, and although you can see it from almost anywhere you are in Bodrum, it was often in a completely different place from where we thought it should be.
The second day we did some bike riding on the Bodrum peninsula, mountainous with little beach towns in the coves. After a considerable amount of up and down from headland to beach and back, Ellen headed back to Bodrum to sit by the waterfront and read, while Ron headed off to the town at the western end. Ron thought it was a wonderful and beautiful ride, but difficult, with the part closest to Bodrum on the return having far too much traffic.
On Saturday we took a boat ride -- the owners of the boat lived just behind our pension, a Turkish man, his Welsh wife, and their 5-month-old baby. It was quite surprising to hear strains of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" coming through our window! They take groups out on the boat as a business, and, since the season was ending and they were putting the boat in drydock the following Monday, this was the final trip for the season. It was a beautiful day, and we really enjoyed the view of the rugged coast from the water. There were a number of interesting people on the boat, including a Turkish couple, with whom, despite their very minimal English and our non-existent Turkish, we had a fine conversation. When we left the boat at about 5, they invited us to come with them for a drive on the same peninsula where we'd biked the day before to see the sunset at the town Ron had biked to. So Ellen got to see it without biking it, and after seeing the mountainous twisty road was very glad that she hadn't done it by bike! After viewing the sunset we went back to Bodrum where we invited them to be our guests for dinner. They wanted us to travel with them back to their home on the southern coast near Antalyia, but unfortunately it was far too complicated with the bikes.
Ellen and Ron
Photos of Selçuk and Ephesus
Photos of the Aegean coastal area
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