Three days four nights

Trip Start Oct 03, 2002
Trip End Jun 30, 2003

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Wednesday, April 9, 2003

This Izmir trip, just of three days and four nights, took us from one place to another and we found that we were friendly acquainted with the Izmir Otogar (bus station) at the end of this trip. This was our route; Istanbul to Izmir to Selcuk to Ephesus - Efes back to Selcuk to Sirince back to Selcuk to Izmir to Foca again back to Izmir to Bergama to the Bergama yol (road) and finally returned to Istanbul (via coast/sahil).

We (being 15 from 10 countries...I hope I got that right guys?, France, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Portugal, Malaysia, England (that's me ;)), Australia, America, and of course Turkey). We caught the luxurious Nilufer coach from Istanbul late on Friday night and said goodbye to chaotic Istanbul in search for the peaceful and beautiful Izmir. We arrived around 7am in the morning at Izmir Otogar, we were to spend some time here over the course of this weekend.

On Saturday our first day we go by another coach to Selcuk, a small town surrounded by hills and green pastures, you can smell the fresh air here, we dump our bags in the pension and then funnily arrange our transport, I say funnily, as we just ask the people who run the pension about going to Efes but of course there is 15 of us, so we have to think carefully about organising some transport and of course at a good price (we are in Turkey so it is expected to haggle!). The man obliges after a telephone call, we drink some free apple tea and then follow our proprietors to our transport...and there it is a white minibus, well medium-to-small van. Already we are laughing as the man asks for three skinny girls to climb into the front seat (it just sits two) and the first two come and then Dasrul (man by the way) who fits in the category of skinny girl comes and has the pleasure of sitting with the skinny girls, well done Dasrul. Finally after squeezing us all in, (three men were in the boot of the car, that's a trunk by the way to my American friend) we set off to Efes.

This is where the trouble started with obtaining discounts, we wanted, as we are lowly paid trainees to obtain a nice discount with a piece of paper saying that we should go for free to such cultural destinations, after some time we all pay the full price, except the lucky Turk nationals amongst us who go for FREE! Efes is breath-taking, at first as I walked through the ancient city's ruins I felt it was so much smaller than I imagined and it was not till we past the first ruins of a small amphitheatre that I feel the power and supremacy of the city. I walk along the marbled road leading gradually downwards to finally the impressive library; ruins on both sides of this road leave an impression of how people went about their business. For me I can imagine the Roman period, people dressed in white clothing draped around them the hot sunshine helping cultivate crops growing. But in fact Efes can be estimated as far back as 14-13 B.C., Alexander the Great conquered Efes in 334 B.C. and 37 B.C. saw Efes under the spread of Christianity; Byzantium, Turkish and Ottoman occupancy.

We then went on further to The House of St.Virgin Mary, where she was brought to die after St. John took her there after Christ's death. It seemed small, well it was small but someone told me previously how amazing it was to visit that I guess I associated this with something bigger; anyway I made my wish on the wall smothered in tied ribbons or written papers with love poems or messages of peace, in Turkish they say 'Adak Adadim', I made a wish. Then to Selcuk, still in the squashed minibus by the way, next to St.John's Basilica and Ayasuluk Hill here lied the tomb of St. John unfortunately the castle behind the basilica was off limits, so we admired it from afar. Walking around the basilica with my Oz friend a man asked us to come and look at Medusa's head...well I had seen that in the Sunkern Cistern in Istanbul, so anyway why not we went over to see what he wanted to show us and there was Medusa's head on a large stone on the floor, he told us how he worked in the Efes's garden and how showed us some old roman coins on each side of them were Alexandre the great and other important figures of the Roman period, he told us how children find the coins after the rain falls heavily over Efes and children take them to sell, so of course now he wanted us to buy these. Just 5 million TL he said, 5 million, we declined thinking that they must be fakes and thank him very much. Interestingly in the corner of the basilica's grounds were some cactus growing, all around Selcuk are the hills and wide blue skies, it made me wonder where I was and you can forget that you are in fact in Turkey.
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