A Turkish holiday Part One: Izmir, Ephesus Selcuk aka ruins and s**t

After a mini writing hiatus, I am back to regale with tales of a journey that took us to such diverse locations as Ephesus (one of the seven churches of Asia cited in the mighty book of Revelations), the calcium deposited mountains of Pamukale and its eerily quiet accompanying village, the tomb endowed mountains of Fethiye, the calming seaside city of Antalya and everything else in between. All done within a week, made possible by the cheap nature of domestic travel in Turkey.

The first stop on our itenerary: Izmir. Due to it’s proximity to Ephesus and the fact it has an airport. No more long bus journeys, thank you please! Domestic flights in Turkey are ridiculously cheap, around 30 English pounds. Ryanair prices, with Turkish Airlines quality. Lunch and drinks on a 45 minute flight!! Based on the quality of its chocolate mousse, I can see why they won Europe’s number one airline. Luxurious.

Upon arrival we had the evening to chill and have a stroll around the area. In torrential rain. Our luck.

The morning after was the literal calm after the storm. The thunder in the early hours of the morning so loud we had to go out to get a closer look. Taking advantage of the weathers turn for the better we walked around the town a bit to get a feel of the place. Not much of note to ‘see’ if you will. This place is more about the feel you get from it. A nice seaside city with a more laid back feel than Istanbul. And noticeably warmer. Definitely worth a flying visit.

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Local Wildlife 1

Local Wildlife

Local Wildlife 2

The afternoon had us on our merry way to Selcuk, a small town with a good proximity to the site of Ephesus. Here there were some nice old ruins to look at, notably the Basilica of St John, constructed by Justinian 1 in the 6th century, believed to be the site of John the apostles burial. Fancy that. We did all of our sightseeing at night, which involved a little late night climbing. Being outside opening hours we had no choice but to scale the walls to take a sneaky peak at what they contained. Worth the running we had to do when the security guard spotted us. Silly Yabanci’s.

Old and new

Old and new

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Theres also a slightly blurry castle

Theres also a slightly blurry castle

The following morning we made our way over to Ephesus. Fuelled by our Turkish breakfast (bread, hardboiled egg, cucumber and tomatoes), we decided to walk, using the temperate weather to our advantage. Taking in the beautiful, rural backdrop along the way.

On the way to Ephesus

On the way….

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In a pleasant 20 minutes we arrived at our destination, having bypassed the temple of Artemis on the way. Once one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, all that remains of it is a single column made up of fragments discovered at the site. Worth seeing I’m sure, but we were on a mission.

Ephesus, being one of the worlds largest archeological sites (with only 15 percent of it actually excavated), is a snip at 25 lira (plus 15 for access to the terrace houses). Once the second biggest city of the Roman Empire, it’s historical significance alone makes it well worth a look. Apparently the gospel of St John was also written here. Who knew?  Set amongst a picturesque mountainous backdrop, history and natural beauty combine to make for a rather interesting day out.

Library of Celsus

Library of Celsus

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Local wildlife

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The terrace houses are a great example of how good archeology can be combined with tourism. Making this a great learning experience for members of the public whilst letting the archeologists get on with what they do best. Worth the 15 lira mark up if you are in anyway interested in what family life was like during the Roman period.  Tiles, pots and paintings oh my! It allows you to walk around these old dwellings like a nosey imposing, neighbour.

Archeology at work (or on a break)

Archeology at work (or on a break)

Inside the terraces

Inside the terraces

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A great introduction to the variety of things to do in Turkey and the wealth of history to be found in this place. Hurrah to its strategic location, being at the heart of many a civilisation, bestowing one with lots of lovely ruins to look at alongside it’s geography, mountainous forests to fill ones eyes with wonder on those long bus journeys.

More to come…

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