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Around the World in 210 Days

Efes & Selcuk

TURKEY | Monday, 31 December 2007 | Views [1264] | Comments [4]

With only two and a half weeks left in Istanbul, we realized if we didn’t get our acts together soon, we would be spending the entire five weeks of our time in Istanbul. Not that we would complain mind you, we tend to be on the lazy side, but we were worried that Valerie would disown us as friends if she knew we were being lazier here than we were in Paris. So with that in mind, we frantically put together an itinerary allowed us to explore some of the major sites of turkey within five days. After purchasing seats on the night bus, we quickly did a load of laundry and pulled on our newly purchased long john/tights. Hande gave us an early Christmas present of flash cards custom tailored to our trip, including things like “that’s too expensive”, and “how much if I buy two.” Some friends of Collette and Hande that we had met over the past weeks came over to celebrate Christmas before heading off to their respective destinations. We all ordered pizza and chatted for a few hours. Its probably unsurprising that we ended up with only 15 minutes to get to the bus station, which was 20 minutes away, and we were literally “running” late for our 10:30 pickup. Despite the very cold weather, by the time we arrived at the bus station, we shed our jackets, scarves, gloves, and were regretting our thermal tights. Nevertheless, the bus which was to take us to the main station was 30 minutes late, so we had plenty of time to cool off.

The eight hour ride to Izmir was relatively uneventful, although that of course ignores the cookies and cake which were served twice. In fact the service was better than the airlines we have taken for the most part. We weren’t used to getting offered free water, after frequenting Ryan Air and Easy Jet, if Hande hadn’t told us it was free we might have been loathe to take it. Arriving in Izmir at 8 in the morning after a very long night of stops, we were a bit bleary eyed. Collette had explained that we would have to take a minibus (think Dolmus, but a little more expensive) from Izmir to Selcuk (Sel-chuck) where we were staying. Because we would only be staying in Selcuk for one night and there was a holiday coming up, she advised us to book our onward ticket before leaving Izmir. With that in mind, we took Hande’s notes and flashcards, and made a valiant attempt to book the journey from Izmir to Goreme. Unfortunately, even if we had fantastic Turkish, the man we talked to first had never even heard of Goreme, so it was unlikely we could purchase tickets there. Instead, a friendly fellow at the counter (on our side of the counter) was able to help us. After checking at multiple cabinets, we settled on Nevesehir Otobus and proceeded upstairs to find the minibus to Selcuk. Upon finding the area where the minibus would pick us up, we were behind about 15 people. When the minibus arrived, Andrew went and put our pack in the back of the bus, while Alex waited in line. Is it surprising to anyone that right as we got to the doors of the minibus, the driver signaled that it was full? At this point, Andrew went to the back of the bus, and asked the driver to remove his pack. When Andrew showed him the pack, which was now under 15 other people’s luggage, the driver decided he would kick another fellow off the bus (who was in line in front of us) and make room for us. Alex sat in the front with the driver and one other person, and Andrew sat next to the ticket taker, facing 13 passengers including three angry women. As the minibus started on its hour long journey, the women began voicing their thoughts about the injustice bestowed upon the poor man who had to leave the minibus. Alex fell asleep up front to escape the guilt, while Andrew clutched his backpack tightly and counted the seconds until the bus would stop. We made it to Selcuk and were personally guided to our accommodations at “Jimmy’s Place” buy a nice man who claimed to be “a friend of Jimmy’s.”

Jimmy’s Place was pretty nice and well priced. Unfortunately Jimmy is also pretty price-conscious, and the heat and hot water only began at 7pm. (Alex is starting to think her dad may be Turkish). It may have been for the best, though, because instead of taking a very chilly “just-arrived” nap, we started exploring the town. The reason we went to Selcuk, is because it is the closest town to roman ruins of “Biblical Proportions” (rim shot). In fact it is next to the ruins of Efes, known as Ephesus in English, which was once home to the Ephesians for which that book in the Bible was written. During the Roman empire, Ephesus was the capitol of the Asia-Minor territories. Well we began with the Artemis Temple, which was basically one standing column and tens of tiny column crumbles around it. In fact we overheard one guide warning his tourists to save their pictures for the real ruins. We concurred and continued our journey down a tree-lined boulevard. Efes was amazing, to put it simply. The Roman Forum is one tenth the size of Efes. There are towering columns, a large and small theatre where St. Paul may or may not have preached, and three marble paved streets with wagon wheel ruts, and an ancient public toilet with running water (expect pictures of said toilet). There was so much that we couldn’t possibly have seen everything, and that doesn’t include the area which was an extra ten lira. After leaving Efes, we visited the Efes museum which had a nice selection of statues they had removed from Efes proper, as well as an awesome temporary exhibit about gladiator life, replete with excavated skulls which evidence tritan holes, (think King Triton’s weapon in the little mermaid), and several of the well endowed statues of the fertility god, including one using his “endowment” to hold up a fruit plate, and others that just seemed to be checking the temperature and/or wind direction. After this museum, it was clear that our eyes would not stay up much longer. We trudged back to our hotel, and dove under the ice cold covers before falling into a three hour nap. Our hotel forbade outside food or drink, so Andrew was forced to go on a covert operation. He returned with two doners and a bottle of water. We hurriedly ate while watching TV. Deciding our room was just too cold, we traipsed downstairs to ask about turning up the heater. Jimmy, the proprietor asked us if we wanted tea. We gratefully accepted and sat by the fire for the next hour. Jimmy explained that he had earlier switched from diesel heating to olive pit heating. We ignored the thoughts that perhaps diesel heating would have been more effective, and accepted his offer to see how the olives worked. He took us to the roof and showed us his furnace, which had a big hopper full of olive remainders (pits and stems), and the maintenance room smelled of fire and olives. Apparently the olive producers in town get three uses from their crop: first squeeze = oil, second = soap, and third = fuel source. After chatting a bit more, we headed back to our room and watched the remaining 2/3’s of “Dead Poet’s Society.”

The next morning began with a Turkish Breakfast of boiled egg, cucumber, tomato, cheese, olives, and bread with jam, and of course Turkish tea. Alex had double helpings of boiled egg whites, and Andrew ate extra cucumbers. When the waiter saw that Alex ate both of the eggs, he tried to offer Andrew another one, but he promptly explained that it was not his wife’s gluttony rather his own reluctance to eat chicken embryos. After this breakfast, we packed our bags and left them at the front desk. We headed out to St. John’s church. St. John’s church is named so because he is believed to be buried under the hill that the ruins are on. The range of freedom you have to walk on and around the ruins is absurd and amazing all at once. The day was beautiful and blue and the breeze was slight. It was a perfect day for viewing the ruins. After viewing as much of the ruins as we could take, and after the guilt overcame us for walking on thousand year old stone walls, we left and headed for a nearby town—Sirince (Sherin-jay). We caught a dolmus to the town. Once we reached the town, we began walking through the town streets taking pictures of anything that caught our interest. Sirince is basically a small farming community well known for its sour cherry wine and gozleme. (Yes we planned on trying both). As we crossed a small creek and walked up a winding hill past charming houses, we shouted out “merhaba” (hi) to all the people we saw, including old women spraying the streets, and men chopping logs in their back yards, and goats peering down at us from their homes. Alex remarked that her camera battery was dying. Suddenly, an old woman appeared and asked if we wanted to take her picture (in much less words…really more gestures). Alex’s eyes almost popped out of her head. Aside from Andrew, she doesn’t really have a chance to photograph people. So we followed the woman into her courtyard, and then into her home. It was quaint, so to speak. And by quaint, we mean a 10 foot by 8 foot room, with a 3 foot by 6 foot stove in the middle. The walls were painted teal, and the only seating was two thin pads with pillows wrapped around one corner. Before entering the woman’s house, she gestured for us to remove our shoes. Alex didn’t remove hers quick enough, so the woman tried to help. Her version of helping was to yank on Alex’s heel. Alex asked Andrew to help, unfortunately he mimicked the woman’s method and began yanking too. Alex afraid that her foot would be coming off soon asked them to try untying the shoe. After this, we took a seat in the home, and Alex began to take photos…three to be exact, and then…the battery died. We had been lured into her house with the sole intention of taking photos, knowing that she had something to sale, and we got three photos. And only ONE of the woman. Well the woman offered us tea, and we both refused. After repeated entreaties, Andrew broke down….one wonders what he would have done if a stranger had offered him candy as a child and cried if Andrew said no. Haha, that’s funny, of course Andrew wouldn’t have said no. Anyhow, Andrew agreed, and Alex shot him a look indicating that his brain had left the building, and wondering why we had bothered to invest in vaccinations. So the woman poured two glasses of tea, and Alex’s glare intensified. When the woman offered Andrew cake, Alex’s eyes bored a hole into the side of his head, and she bared her teeth, promising him a quick and sudden death should he accept. After leaving to get sugar for our “tea” which looked more like “pee” the woman finally pulled out a small collection of alleged hand knitted cloth for us to buy. We quickly picked one to compliment and she named a reasonable price of 8 Lira. Unfortunately we only had 5 Lira in our pocket and weren’t about to open our wallet which only had a 50. Instead we spent fifteen minutes trying to explain that we weren’t bargaining, we were broke. We finally convinced her and were happy to see that our shoes were still outside when we got ready to leave. We did give her a Lira for the tea she gave us, but only after she tried in vain to sell us small knitted cats.

After escaping her clutches, we made our way down to the village center for some much-needed wine tastings. The sour cherry wine as well as the other varieties such as pomegranate, kiwi and quince, were less like wine and more like Koolaid. We enjoyed them all the same. We had a meal of gozleme and real tea, and then made our way through the village once more. We bought a packet claiming to be strawberries, but they looked more like red spiky balls with yellow centers, and tasted like mushy orange. We went back to our hotel, and spent the rest of the afternoon learning about Capadoccia. Something you will learn about in the next blog.

Tags: On the Road

 

Comments

1

Neato.

I am reading this at 3:30 am in the morning (don't ask - long story) so my reading is a little blurry. Consequently I thought that I read that goats were quaitly PEEing down on you from their homes.
At that point I thought...now we gotta story!

But the more I thought about it the more I decided I should re-read that. Anyone who won't eat an egg isn't about to let a goat pee on them unless there is something in the Turkish tea that distorts rational thought.

Go back and get directions on how to knit a small cat. I have one that keeps setting off our alarm in back and I may want to knit with her before it is all over.

And oh man...the tales of Alex's glare made me miss her so much. I have seen that glare and it is very effective. I am sure Parker the Turk has seen it too.
More than once she has glared at me and I
instantly confessed to and asked forgivenss for sins I have not even committed yet.
(it IS a very small list of sins but nonetheless)

If your hotel runs out of olive pits for fuel;
you could let Alex's glare power up the heater. If you need me to fan the flames drop me an email.

  Richard Dec 31, 2007 8:35 PM

2

Mutlu Yillar!!

That's a message I got in an email last night from Andrew.

I am guessing it means Happy New Year
(or send Dr. Pepper).

You know what would REALLY be cool? A post about flying over Turkey in a hot air balloon. If someone had ever done that it would be awesome to hear about.



  Rrrricardo Jan 1, 2008 11:29 PM

3

Happy New Year everyone!

  Sandy Jan 2, 2008 2:38 AM

4

yes i got the same message and the only assurance that it says happy new year is from those two. so do we really belive them and say this to other people or should we be cautious and keep it to ourselves? you can forget about hearing from them on this for awhile as they have Annie over there and having dinner parties with people they have met, so really right now they are sitting pretty and don't really need us poor old folk back home, except shannon did ask what the name of the altitude sickness medicine was but as soon she had the answer she was off skype like a flash, like i was going to belive it was because it was 4 am over there and they were really sleepy. so annie took them all this neat stuff, like peanut butter, 12 pack of dr. pepper things like that, so now she is the best friend and replaces us. i say we wait for the short person to return and then hold her for ransom (postings from andrew and shannon) to pay for her realease. and since the baloon ride was a present from the parents did we get even a small glimmer of what it was like? NO we did not so i say lets take it back for a full refund and see how they like that. i will tell you that annie stated she would rather shannon and andrew pack it up and come home than her stay there with them, so then why would she take so much stuff over that they have been longing for to make it easier for them to stay away. richard we really need to get to her and torture her for this great crime. the really big question is did she take andrew a supply of nerds???? if she did he could last another year over there, shannon said they were sending thier clothes back so they would have room for all the wonderful, great,insightful gifts and supplies brought by someone who is thoughtful, giving and truly loving. just a warning annie your dead meat, vegaterine or not your hamburger. oops beter watch yourself around andrew we all know how he loves his burgers, you may not make it out of turkey. change that mooo for a gobble gobble. richard let me know if you can make it to DC on mon. or not, we will cordinate getting her, ok. love mom

  mardi Jan 4, 2008 5:55 AM

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