A Travellerspoint blog

May 2010

Tire, Herakleia and Lake Bafa

More quaint and picturesque villages

sunny 20 °C
View Jac and Chalky's Excellent Adventure on JacChalky's travel map.

Leaving Selçuk behind we delved into the Aegean heartland, to a small nearby town called Tire, at the bottom of the Bozdağler Mountains, which boasts a thriving weekly market. We arrived at the bustling market, and thankfully managed to find a park. The market was heaving with stalls selling deliciously juicy-looking fruit, brightly polished vegetables and colourful clothes. Women sat on the curbs and pavements, wearing white headscarves, with fresh leafy greens for sale in front of them, chatting away and probably catching up on the week's gossip.

We had a wander through the market, stopping to taste and buy olives, strawberries, figs and cheese. We also tried to find the Tahtakale neighbourhood, which was meant to have felt-makers, but unfortunately didn't find any. We did have some local guys point us up some outdoor stairs when we asked directions, and we stood there shaking our head, repeating that we wanted to find Tahtakale, but they kept nodding, smiling and pointing. It turned out they were only playing a joke, as it was simply a prayer room that we clearly wouldn't be going into.

We drove onto Lake Bafa to find a pension for the night, stopping to snap the reflections on the water as the sun set. We found a pension overlooking the lake, run by a friendly Dutch woman and her adorable cocker spaniel. then tucked into the red wine, our olives, cheese and figs from the markets of Tire on our balcony.

The ruins of Herakleia ad Latmos was in the rustic village of Kapıkırı, nestled by Lake Bafa. The village was very quaint, with dogs chasing cats chasing chickens, and men leading their donkeys. There was a ticket office where we paid 3TL (NZ$3) to enter. It was on the mountains looming over Kapıkırı that according to Greek mythology, that Endymion fell into his eternal sleep. We drove through the very narrow streets, wondering how we'd turn around, and left the car to explore. A local woman, Zena, asked us if we wanted her to show us tombs and a Christian fresco. We followed her on a almost hour-long trek through the village hills, past roaming donkeys, colourful spring flowers, old Roman walls and huge smooth boulders. The view over the village, the ruined Byzantine castle and lake were terrific. We saw the fresco that Zena had been talking about - still brightly coloured, albeit worn away by the years (and perhaps by anti-Christians, due to the faces all being scratched off). It was fantastic, seeing this ancient fresco, in a small, open cave that we'd walked to. No ticket booths, no fences, and no other tourists.

On the way down, Zena kept saying something that sounded like "Showush showus", which we took to mean 'slowly slowly' or 'be careful' as we descended treacherously slippery rocks. She invited us back to her house for tea, where we met her pretty teenage daughter and big, bouncy newborn baby boy. She showed us her handicrafts, scarves, tablecloths, and also knitted gloves and hats, made by her daughter. We sipped tea and shared our peanut bars with Zena and her daughter before we warmly thanked her and bid her farewell.


Fruit stall

Juicy fruit at Tire's Tuesday market

Local women selling vegetables

Grammaphone on wheels

Got cold feet?

Colourful formalwear

Box of fluffy chicks

The mosque

Local women selling vegetables


Lake Bafa and Kapıkırı

Headed to the village of Kapıkırı




Chalky and Lisa admiring the view with Zena

A local lady selling scarves

The view on our walk

Jac and Lisa pass a Roman wall

An exposed tomb

Bright spring flowers

Fantastic views of Lake Bafa, and the Byzantine castle in the distance


Makeshift cattle fence


The Byzantine fresco


Zena admires the fresco

Jac, Lisa and Chalky

Zena, her daughter and big baby boy

Lake Bafa




Posted by JacChalky 21:40 Archived in Turkey Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Cumalıkızık, Selçuk and Ephesus

Cute Turkish towns and Roman ruins

sunny 22 °C
View Jac and Chalky's Excellent Adventure on JacChalky's travel map.

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


More storks

Dinner in our Pension


Chalky and Jac


The Odeum



Library of Celsus



Gladiator carvings


Jac and Lisa stop for a bit of cardio on the walk back

Posted by JacChalky 01:30 Archived in Turkey Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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