Kusadasi & Selcuk
Trip Start Apr 23, 2009
17Trip End Jun 23, 2009
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At last, we're in Turkey! After a short, sunny ferry crossing, we arrived in Kusadasi (Kushadasee), a sprawling modern city. We began walking toward the hotel referred to us by Costas in Samos, when a man pointed to the card David carried, saying, "That's my hotel!". It was Yusuf from the Anzac Golden Bed Hotel up the hill from the port. He popped our luggage into a taxi and met us at the hotel to check us in to two delightful rooms with balconies overlooking the city. Sandra served us apple tea up on the rooftop terrace where we enjoyed the view and chatted.
She suggested a wonderful place for supper, the Holiday Inn Restauant; it's an unusual name for a place where owner Sauli serves delicious Eastern Turkish food. We had fantastic Valli Kabobs with two kinds of flatbread the first night, (huge portions) and enjoyed it and the servers so much that we went back again. We tend to be eating supper around 8 or 9 at night! Check out the photos for a tempting view!
Kusadasi is a major tourist city where cruise ships drop people off down in the centre and steets of shop stalls try to lure you in to buy jewelry, clothes, Turkish delight, lanterns, trinkets, apple tea, leather goods, and knives, etc.. The competition is fierce, but the clerks are friendly.
There are several mosques in the area, the largest being at the foot of the hill and down the pedestrian way from our hotel. The "call to prayer" is announced five times a day from loudspeakers on the minurets. (The 5 AM one was an alarm clock if you wished to get up that early!) Sandra and Yusuf's dog, an Anatolian Sheep Herder, sometimes joined in and howled along with the lyrical announcements. Apparently, the dog will not eat pork crackle treats or bacon, so perhaps it is a Muslim pooch!
The major tourist attraction in the area is Ephasus, the best-preserved Classical city in the eastern Mediterranean. It was the capital of the Roman Province of Asia. The site dates back to at least 800 BC when it was a place of pilgrimage. What stands today, is from Roman occupation from the first century BC to the fifth century AD. Many tour buses drop their hoards off to crowd the stone pathways and block the views, but tended to thin out around noon. It took us three hours to tour the city from the top gate to the bottom.
The most impressive area was covered to protect the terrace houses of the city's elite. It cost an extra 15 Turkish lire to enter, but the houses were beautiful. The splendid marble walls and floors, frescoes, fountains, and mosaic floors were, truly, extraordinary during their time, and still very impressive. One area had tables filled with bits of marble in varying sizes where reconstruction workers were involved in a giant jigsaw puzzle task of attempting to put the marble wall slabs back together.
On the way back, our driver took us to a wonderful place for lunch. It was just a place by the side of the road, but famous for its gozleme, fried crepes filled with vegetables and meat, or fruit and nuts. We watched the women rolling and filling flatbread and baking it over a wood fire. They were delicious!
Through our Kusadasi Hotel, we learned of the Hotel Bella in Selcuk (selchuk). Nasmi owns the cute, hotel and carpet shop. He had taken us to Ephesus the day before, and that's when we saw his place and decided to stay there. Luckily, two groups left earlier than expected, so we took the two empty rooms. The whole place is filled with Turkish decore and handcrafts; it is a very special place! We had the best sleep since we left home because the pillows and bed were so comfortable! As a bonus, a pair of storks and their three babies could be seen from the hotel terrace!
The Bella Hotel is across the street from the historic St. John the Baptist Basilica, so visiting it was easy. It is here that a 4th century tomb was believed to house his remains, so Emperor Justinian erected an enormous church on top of his tomb. Apparently, St. John visited Ephesus between AD 37 and 48, with the Virgin Mary, and again in AD 95, when he wrote his gospel near the end of his life.
The local museum displays many amazing artifacts from Ehpesus, You could imagine the luxury some of the citizens experienced in their fabulous terrace houses. The marble sun dial was impressive!
Through the Bella Hotel, Nasmi suggested we go with another couple his driver was taking to the mountain village of Sirince, a short drive from Selcuk. It was an interesting, small, hilly community, but the tour buses have started bringing the crowds, so it is losing some of its quaintness. As we roamed the hilly walkways, we passed two older women making flower head wreaths. Since it was our anniversary and Gail wore a wreath of daisies 36 years ago on the same day, she bought one for 2 lire and wore it all day!
1. The Turkish people seem to be safer drivers than the Greeks. Our bus driver stuck to 80 km/h, as did most other cars. (Unfortunately, we did witness the aftermath of a major mini-bus/train accident where many ambulances were on scene.)
2. At one bus stop, we noticed all males were at one end, and the females at the other.
3. Most kids are wearing school uniforms. It seemed odd that the girls' uniforms were tartan skirts or kilts!
4. Older women tend to wear long sleeves, long skirts, long coats, and scarves. Many younger women dress more contemporarily.
5. You can pick out the Canadians on the buses--they are the ones wearing seatbelts!
6. Turkey has many, many orchards.
7. Travelling on the bus, we noticed many beautiful boulevards dividing the highway, especially in the communities.
8. The landscape from Selcuk to Pamukkale looked a lot like Kamloops for the first 2 1/2 hours, then, like the foothills around Calgary with snow on the mountains.
9. Sunscreen costs about three times as much here, as in Canada!
10. The Turkish football fans drive around with their flag attached to the hoods, trunks, or roofs of their cars.