My Canadian friend here, Alex, planned this trip for the most part and I was happy to join him for the weekend of exploration of these three places!
We meet a taxi at the convenient taxi spot located between our dorms at 5 am on Friday morning. The taxi got us to the central bus station, AŞTI, by 5:15 am. The Havaş bus left at 5:45 am and got us to the airport by 6:30 am ish. And our flight left at 8:30 am. We then arrived in Izmir around 10:30 am. Then we walked out front of the airport and across the bridge and down into the train station where we bought tickets to leave by train at 11:50 am to arrive at Selçuk (finally!!) just before 1 pm.
On the train ride we met a nice man named Aydin, whose family lives in Aydin (which is just past Selçuk). I thought that was pretty neat! And the views out of the train window were absolutely breathtaking.
When we arrived in Selçuk we had to cross over the train tracks and pass through the small city towards the bus station and then our hostel, which is called Boomerang, was conveniently located very near to the Ephesus Museum. The man running the place was one of the friendliest people I have ever met. His family lives in Turkey but he spent time in Australia and, therefore, had really good English, and his wife didn’t even speak Turkish. She spoke English as well, and she also spoke Chinese (I believe). The two of them welcomed us into their space and led us downstairs to where we could be sleeping. The basement had 12 single beds in it and secure lockable cubbies. The two of them then recommended that we go to the Ephesus Museum.
Though I am not as much of a museum person as Alex is it was interesting to see so many artifacts (stone tools and carved stones, etc.).
From here we walked up past the hostel to the Church of St. John which is conveniently attached to the castle. These spaces were beyond beyond beautiful too! I couldn’t believe the beauty here. The castle was more together than the Ankara castle is but this one was more restricting of where we could and couldn’t go.
It slowly began to rain (yavaş yağmur yağıyordu) so we made our way back to the hostel to have some dinner. I had a whole fish! I heard that fish on the coast was a must-try. It was actually so delicious. The people are right.
When it began to rain less we made our way out again with our umbrellas to explore Selçuk a bit while it was still daylight. I could not believe what we came across. Was it apple trees?No, not apples. Peaches? Apricots? Neither of those either. They were orange trees! The first time I have ever seen oranges growing on a tree. This was really neat. And it was also really neat that Alex is so tall and has long arms because he was able to jump and get us each an orange to peel and eat.
The most sour orange I have ever eaten, I ate. It was the best worst orange I have ever had.
Soon it became dark and we really didn’t know what else there was too do anymore. We ended up going back to our hostel and calling it an early night, with the hope that we would get an early start to our day tomorrow.
Well… not only did the eat the most sour orange I ever have I also slept the coldest night inside I think I have ever slept. It reminded me of sleeping in a tent or in a camper (which I spent many nights in in the summers when I was growing up). I finally got myself up in the middle of the night and put on a sweater and socks. That helped a bit and I did fall asleep through to my alarm which was set with enough time for me to have a shower. The shower didn’t happen, needless to say, but more sleep did happen.
The hostel did serve a very delicious Turkish-style breakfast included with the price of stay! 🙂
Saturday is market day we were told so we went to go check this out. It was like a few streets of people having garage sales of new and old things, and there was also a few more streets of other people selling vegetables.
After the market we went for a walk through town and out to Ephesus! We passed by The Temple of Artemis, which is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. There were goats in the field in front of it!
The walk to Ephesus was a beautiful one and took about half an hour. Alex was good company for the walk. We were both really eager to see the sights. When we got there, because of our museum cards, we didn’t have to pay, which was a huge bonus! There were ruins everywhere past the paying point and down the road to our left was the hugest amphitheatre. I had fun dancing a bit on the stage imagining there was 25,000 people watching me. I imagined that I was dressed in Turkish etire. Afterwards Alex and I climbed up to the top of the amphitheatre and spent some time looking down upon the stage. Wow. We saw some more ruins here, another smaller amphitheatre too, and a library that was reconstructed in the 1980’s after an earthquake destroyed it hundreds and hundreds of years ago. My favourite was, by a long shot, the large amphitheatre that we saw first.
We ended up paying a taxi to take us to see the Grotto of the Seven Sleepers (which we quickly realized we could have got to by ourselves easily enough) but paying the taxi to take us up to the House of the Virgin Mary was a necessary thing. I couldn’t believe how far up on top of the mountains this tourist spot was. It was maybe a 15 minute drive (of very fast driving – must add) of small windy roads to the top – where we again showed our student cards and got in without charge. This was a small house up on the mountain but it was so peaceful inside. After exiting the house I lit a candle in memory of someone very special to me.
The problem with hiring this taxi was that we felt rushed a bit. We knew we couldn’t stop at the top now for lunch or anything. The taxi guy was waiting for us. He was very impatient too. On the way back to Selçuk he saw someone call him but he had us in the taxi and so he motioned to them to wait there and increased his speed from 50 to 110 km/h. As we began to get back into the city where there were parked cars and more going on I can confidently say that both Alex and I began to feel unsafe. My seatbelt didn’t even clip in either. So I was thankful when he stopped to let us out. When he did, and after we paid him 90 lira (probably way too much!), he speed off back in the other direction to pick up his next customer and make more money. He was not friendly.
When we got back into Selçuk we didn’t know what to do at this point. It was only 2 pm, if that.. There was a nice man from Oslo, Norway in our room named Ivo (said E-vo) and he was there and was saying he was going to go check out the market. Alex and I ended up going with him to see the market. I enjoyed adding him into Alex and I’s conversations. He had lots and lots of interesting stories to tell. We spent the rest of the day and evening together actually! And it wasn’t just stories he shared with us but it was also riddles and backgammon game advice. And Alex and I taught him Checkers! 🙂 Backgammon is really popular over here. Checkers… not as much I guess. It was a really great evening!
The next day Alex and I took a Dolmuş up to a small town very close to Selçuk called
Sirince. This place was a very nice place. It reminded me of a smaller and less crowed version of the Grand Bazar in Istanbul. We both bought quite a bit from here actually.
Then we had Turkish lunches over looking the market streets and valley.
I learned that the word çit means fence.
When we arrived back into Selçuk and still had a few hours before our train left back for the Izmir airport.
We went back to the hostel, collected our belongings, and relaxed in the open area of the restaurant. There was a couple of people from England there who we got talking with. We left early with about an hour until our train was to come. And thank goodness gracious we did! When we got there to book our tickets (about 50 minutes before it was to leave) we were told that there was maintenance going on on the track; basically they told us we would have to find another way of getting to the airport on time for our flight.
Alex and I speed walked over to the bus station and thankfully there was a dolmuş type vehicle actually leaving for the airport in 5 or 10 minutes with space on it for us! We were very lucky. A cab ride would have been way out of our budget.
The cab ride on the way back to campus from AŞTI was pleasant. A Turkish student asked Alex and I as we were about to get on a taxi if we were going to METU, as he was also going there. He talked with the taxi driver and made it super easy for us two Canadians. He even insisted on paying. He was a very genuinely nice guy to end off our super fantastic trip!