Adventures in Turkey: Izmir, Ephesus, Selcuk, Sirince, and Izmir

A couple months ago we started writing about our adventures in Turkey before being sidetracked by life.  This post picks up after Istanbul on our way to Ephesus, the second area we visited on our trip.  Enjoy!

We rose early and greeted the sun as it ascended during our ride from downtown Istanbul to the airport for a short flight on AnadoluJet (A low-cost airline if you’re flying around Turkey) to Izmir.  We slept on the flight before emerging into the hustle and bustle of an awakening city of a couple million people.  Following some tips, we made our way to local bus stop, bought some street pastries, and hopped into a dolmus (minibus) for the hour journey south to Selcuk and Ephesus. The bus dropped us into a lively street market teeming with fresh fruit and produce.  We found our bed and breakfast, settled in, and then headed to Ephesus – an ancient Greek/Roman city.

It is a complex about two miles long with an old church from 2,000 years ago, an amphitheater, a roadway that leads to the sea (the ocean is now a couple miles away), and many other historical ruins.  We entered where most people depart and, more importantly, headed the opposite direction of the guided tours.  This allowed us to explore at our pace, goof off on some of the side trails, perform theatre for a sleeping Emily, enjoy lunch overlooking the library, and listen to a few bits from tours as they passed by.  We were very impressed at everything that was built thousands of years ago and the ingenuity that went into the architecture.  After a long day of travel and exploration, we spent the evening enjoying fresh cheese and olives before strolling the streets of Selcuk.

The next day was cooler with light showers, adding to the atmosphere at the Basilica of St. John, a massive 6th century cathedral that now lies in ruins.  However, you could walk around to discover  the arches, open spaces, and other areas still identifiable so many years later.  After exploring and goofing off some more, we took another dolmus up to the small mountain village of Sirince.

The journey to the village took us up winding mountain roads and through ancient vineyards while a light rain and mist clung to the landscape.  Arriving in town we tasted some wine, but went to check out where the earth nipped at the low lying clouds.  We eventually retreated to the warmth of the village and purchased a peach wine, a local specialty for our train ride to Ankara later in the evening.  The final thing we did in Sirince was go to Artemis to enjoy a local Turkish meal.  On our way, Emily attracted the loving attention of a small puppy.  It followed us along the road for a quarter mile.  I think it was the first time Emily seriously considered, for about a second, a dog as a pet.

After eating a delicious meal we headed back into Selcuk and set out for Ankara.  During our travels we’ve enjoyed taking trains many places and headed up to Izmir, an hour to north, to catch the overnight express to the capital.  Upon arriving in Izmir we discovered there were multiple train stations and after a cab ride that went around many closed roads, including the ones outside the train station due to an event, we made it.  Or so we thought.  Unbeknownst to us, the northern station no longer services trains so we walked two miles across the heart of the city to the southern station where we learned that the overnight trains were sold out.  It was now time to discover the Turkish long-distance bus companies (and go back to the bus station we had been at two hours earlier).  It was kind of frustrating, but live and learn, right?

The bus terminal ticket area more closely resembled the check-in area of an American or European airport.  There were ticket booths for dozens of bus companies.  Apparently, certain bus companies have regional niches and others are national in scope.  Ultimately, there is a lot of competition leading to amenities (TVs at each seat, fresh drinks, and free snacks) as well as low prices.  While the bus ride is not what we had in mind, it was a pretty good experience.






~ by Rob Page III on November 2, 2011.

3 Responses to “Adventures in Turkey: Izmir, Ephesus, Selcuk, Sirince, and Izmir”

  1. Lovely, and excellent pics! (I live there for yearsand really enjoyed the “revisit”.) Next time, get your accommodations to help you re the train-many would have. Where did you stay ? Artemis restaurant & winery in Sirince used to be the school house when the village was Greek. Greek villages in Turkey are characteristic in that they never built hamams (Turkish bath houses) and they have Byzantine style churches in them. Did you see the 2 there ? One is restored, the other propped / boarded up. This was one of the places effected by the population exchange in the early 20’s, when the Greeks and Turks living in opposite countries were officially compelled to “go back where they belonged”. Many had to walk and its said that many died – it was winter apparently. The Greek people of Sirince ended up in a place called Neoefeso in NE Greece and the 2 communities are now in touch, like twin / sister towns. There are at least 20 quality tourist attractions in the Selcuk area – very easy to stay 3 – 5 days.

    • The little hostel let us know what we could do in regards to the train. We took our chances as we did other things – in general we like a little more freedom and only had one other thing booked at this point in the trip. It was an adventure that took us to parts of Turkey we wouldn’t have gone to and showed us how the inter-city bus system works.

  2. […] more on Smugmug. We hoped you liked our Adventures in Turkey: Post 1 (Turkey), Post 2 (Istanbul), Post 3 (Selcuk), Post 4 […]

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