On March 9th, I flew from Diyarbakir to Izmir. I spent the night, then took a bus down to Selçuk (sel-chuk). Selçuk is 3 km from Ephesus, so of course that’s where I wanted to go. I was ready to see some RUINS!
Transportation in Western Turkey is really, really easy. There are dolmuş (dohl-mush: shared taxi-buses) everywhere, and they run regularly. Unlike Kurdish buses, they don’t leave when they are full. They instead run on a schedule, which means that I was able to plan my day more concretely. Often in Suli I have to sit in a bus for an hour, waiting for it to fill up with people, until we can finally take off.
And on my ride from Izmir to Selçuk, I saw mountains! I saw green! I saw manicured gardens and the Aegean sea, and puffy white clouds, and full evergreen trees and rolling hills. My heart lept into my throat as it struck me how much I missed the PNW. I hadn’t seen proper mountains and green scenery for months.
I got to Selçuk, checked into my hotel, and went exploring. For a small town, Selçuk certainly has a LOT of ruins. You’ve got:
- The Grotto of the Seven Sleepers
- The Temple of Artemis
- The Isa Bey Mosque
- St. John’s Church
- Selçuk Castle
And all of them are within walking distance. On the first day I walked to the Isa Bey Mosque:
And the Temple of Artemis:
And the Grotto of the Seven Sleepers:
The Grotto is close by Ephesus. I walked the 3 kilometers to Ephesus, but when I got there I didn’t have the money for admission. I met this adorable and friendly Turkish woman on the way, though:
I was fascinated by the Turkish women’s headscarves. There are many Turkish scarf styles and they all differ from Iraqi and Iraqi Kurdish scarves. I’m not sure of the details, but the difference in headscarves was a constant reminder that I wasn’t in Kurdistan.
So I turned back and decided to go to the Grotto. My feet were hurting, though, and I didn’t know how far the grotto was, so I tried hitchhiking. The very first car picked me up and gladly took me to the grotto. Hot damn, that was the easiest hitchhiking experience I’d ever had.
After the Grotto, I wasn’t eager to walk 3 km back to Selçuk, so I stuck out my index finger again. Bam! the first truck picked me up. They were kind and nonchalant about picking up a hitchhiker. Makes me want to hitchhike through western Turkey.
The truck dropped me off at the otogar (bus station), and I walked back to the hostel. I got to talking with the other travellers in the hostel. I met two women who were on extensive travels: Casey, 31, was travelling across Europe for 6 months. Pauna, 27, was travelling across Europe and Asia for 1 year. They were lovely and hilarious! We were all on separate trips, but having met we decided to go to Serinje (sir-in-jay), a small neighboring village which the hostel owners said was “quite traditional,” the next day.
March 10th: I left the hostel early and, once again, hitchhiked my way up to Ephesus.
I don’t know what to say about Ephesus (after a while, all old marble tends to look the same) other than its scale was impressive. When I thought I was finished looking at the ruins, I found another section I hadn’t yet seen.
It was beautiful. Almost like an out-of-body experience. I felt like I’d been there before, having studied Greece and the Aegean for 4 years. I felt like I’d somehow seen and touched all these ruins before. And yet, being there in person forced me to absorb the magnitude of the place.
I wandered around Ephesus for around 2.5 hours, then walked back to the main round and hitchhiked back to Selçuk. This time I got to ride on the back of a cute Turkish man’s motorbike. He took me into town and I ended up having tea with him, his girlfriend, and a few other locals. I think it was at this point that I realized I was a bit addicted to sweet tea. It was difficult to go a day without it. The pialla (tea glass) and zher pialla (saucer) and kowchiky cha (tea spoon) felt good in my hand after a few days without them.
Serince (sir-in-jay): At around noon, Casey, Pauna, and I took a dolmuş to Serince, about 20 minutes away. Oh, the drive was quaint. We passed many small farms, small houses, small fences, and small trees. The sun was shining, and all the shrubbery was lush and green.
Serince was very quaint, very cute, but very, very touristy. The owners of our hostel had clearly fudged the truth when advising us. Even so, we had a good time wandering the neighborhoods (rather than the bazaar) and found a nice restaurant on top of a hill overlooking the village. It was run by one woman who, when we ordered, began making our whole meal from scratch. Some of the cuisine was very similar to Iraqi Kurdish food, too! She served us fasolia (white kidney bean) soup, which is absolutely beloved in Kurdistan.
When the sun went down, we grabbed the last dolmuş back to Selçuk.
P.S. Many thanks to Leah for sending me the link to her Turkish phrase flash-cards. They were wonderful and very, very useful in Turkey 🙂