Selcuk, Tire, Sirence, and Izmir
27.03.2011 - 02.04.2011
Selchuk and Izmir, Turkey
March 27 - April 2, 2011
Apologies for our absence from blogging. We've been busy :-) and internet connections have been too weak to upload pictures or, sometimes, even stay connected. I'm going to start with some blogs about our most recent country: Turkey, and then, later, in other blogs, swing back and do Italy and Greece.
We feel that we just had just a taste of Turkey--and want more. Why? Well, Turkey is so different with its mix of east/west; it has such an old and varied history (Greek and Roman occupation, Ottoman empire, and now secular Turkish Republic in a country that is about 95% Muslim), beautiful landscapes, seas and waterways, mosques and call to prayer songs, engaging and industrious people, ruins, art . . . I guess these are things to be found in many countries . . . nonetheless, we were especially intrigued and charmed by what we experienced in Turkey.
We ferried to Selcuk (pronounced "sel-chuck") from the island of Chios. Then we took a regular (big) bus and then a dolmas (shared taxi). The shared taxi are called dolmas because they are little and stuffed, just like the food item (stuffed grape leaves) of the same name. The dolmas are vans that take as many passengers as possible, usually waiting to leave until they are full, and if they are not full, trolling along the streets to pick up passengers before taking off. They stop along the route to pick up and drop off passengers. Pretty informal--when the seats are full passengers sit on the wheel-wells or stand.
At the Selcuk bus station and inside the dolmas
One day we went to the village of Tire (pronounced "tee-ray") on a Tuesday: market day. I don't think this village gets many, if any, tourists. It seemed as if most of the streets were turned into the market--lined with vendors selling food, clothes, tools, appliances, household items . . . you name it. The streets would open up to squares where men sat at small tables smoking, drinking tea, and playing games, including Backgammon. Most of the women wore head scarves and several times women vendors pointed to my (Deb's) baseball cap and then to a scarf, kindly suggesting, with smiles, that I might want to exchange my cap for a scarf. Here are some pictures from the Tire market day.
On another day we took a dolmas to the mountain village of Sirence. Although more remote, this village is geared for tourists and tour companies bring bus loads up each day. Nonetheless, very picturesque and we enjoyed it. A craftsman made a bracelet for Brad, I bought a pashmina for Soquel, and we walked down the mountain back to Selcuk. It was about a two-three hour walk; all downhill through beautiful country. We were only passed on the road by the occasional tour bus, dolmas, and locals on scooters. Olive and cherry trees were planted everywhere--even on steep mountain slopes. See pic below that shows half the mountain side planted with olive trees and the other half uncultivated. We also explored ruins of an ancient aqueduct.
We enjoyed our home base in the small town of Selcuk. It's a nice town to walk around in--just watch out for the occasional tractor on the sidewalk. There are walking roads outside of town that we enjoyed as well--one day we walked to the beach, another day we walked to the ancient ruins of Ephesus, another day up to the ruins where St. John wrote his gospel. (I'll cover the ruins near Selcuk in another blog.) We arrived in Selcuk to our very comfortable B&B late at night. Once in bed we heard a lot of animals chattering outside our window. What could they be? Birds? Monkeys? (In Turkey?) Squirrels? Later, dreaming, the old Beatles' song came to mind, blackbirds singing in the dead of night . . . Check out in the pic below one of the fellows making all the noise. See also pics of our room and breakfast at Jimmy's Place (run by Jimmy and his brothers, cousins, etc. Everyone is "family" in Turkey.), Selcuk sights, including fellow slicing us some of the wonderful "candy" in Turkey made from figs and pistachio nuts.
Turkey cranes build large nests as high up as they can find, which is the top of electric poles, minarets, or ancient ruins.
We had an overnight layover in Izmir before heading up to Istanbul. We caught an American movie original format/subtitled in Turkish--a chick flick, I won the draw. Not a great movie, but I enjoyed hearing two hours of English! I'll close this blog with pictures of the fellows selling yummy fresh orange and pomegranate juice and of the ancient square and port of Izmir at sunset.