Cute Turkish towns and Roman ruins
29.03.2010 - 31.03.2010 22 °C
Road trip! After a bit of hassle trying to rent a car in Istanbul (not returning it to Istanbul would be eeexpensive!) we set off for our driving trip around the Aegean coast. We hopped on a car ferry to Bursa, then made our way to the small village of Cumalıkızık 16kms away. Armed with only our guidebook and with a few sign-language enquiry stops, we found this quiet village.
Picturesque Cumalıkızık is full of preserved early Ottoman rural architecture, and we drove around its cobbled, narrow streets, hoping not to meet a tractor or another car head on. We finally found a place to park and stopped for coffee in the village shop, where the women were pleased to accomodate us, and busied themselves lighting the stove and showing us their knitting. The schoolbell rang, and soon the tiny shop was swarming with young kids, stuffing themselves with baked bread and biscuits, and eagerly introducing themselves to us. After practising 'what is your name?' and 'my name is...' in Turkish with the boisterous youngsters, we then spent some time wandering around the town and looking at the traditional buildings - some brightly painted, some peacefully crumbling.
We farewelled this quaint mountain village and next drove on to Selçuk, following the signs to Izmir, which took up most of the day. Chalky was at the wheel and found no trouble with the 'stick to the right' rule, while Lisa and Jac played DJ. Arriving in Selçuk in the late afternoon, we tried to find a place to stay. Selçuk on first sight, seemed to be a dull-looking town, with one pension (hotel) stuck in the middle of a drab street near mechanics and tyre-repair shops, in the western part of the town. However, as soon we headed to the east, the character immediately changed to small, cute streets, and inviting pensions. Our friend Mish had recommended Homeros Pension, which was a charming and cosy wee place. Happy with both the area and our lodgings, we unpacked our car and settled in. We met "Mama", who was the owner's Mum, who let us peek into her kitchen to see (and taste!) what was on the menu tonight. After wandering the town for a bit (and trying in vain to find a mini-USB to iPod connector for the car stereo) we bought some Turkish red and settled down to getting to know some fellow travellers, including a retired American couple who were sailing the world for five years... wow!
The next day we went to Ephesus, which was once a great trading city and the centre for the cult of Cybele, the Anatolian fertility goddess. We'd privately joked before Lisa arrived that when joined us, and wanted to see Roman ruins, we'd tell her, "Yeah... we might just go to the movies and meet you afterwards", having reached our saturation point after the epic sites of Jerash, Bosra, Apamea and Palymera. However on the day we summoned our enthusiasm and took the view that 'more is more', and headed to what is described by our guidebook as the best-preserved classical city in the eastern Mediterranean.
And it was an excellent site. Once we did the usual obligatory-walk-through-souvenir-stalls-to-get-the-entrance/exit, we walked around sunny Ephesus for a good couple of hours, climbed the seats of the Odeum, poked our heads into the communal Roman men's toilets, and gazed up at the impressive Library of Celsus, which held 12,000 scrolls in niches in its walls. Interestingly, the library was built to look bigger than it was, with a convex base of the facade, and central columns and capitals were taller and larger than those at the ends. Also a highlight of Ephesus was the Great Theatre, which could hold 25,000 people. Now that gives Aotea Centre a run for its money!
The small village shop
The gregarious school boys and café lady
Storks atop a house
Jac and Lisa
Dinner in our Pension
Chalky and Jac
Library of Celsus
Jac and Lisa stop for a bit of cardio on the walk back