Turkish Delight: Days 5-6

Travel

Where to begin? The days seem to just melt together.

Yesterday we awoke in Selçuk and had a lovely breakfast provided by Momma Homeros. Then we made our way to the Ephesus ruins and parked our van at the bottom. We were about to start the hike from the bottom of the ruins to the top when a man told us he’d give us a ride to the top so we could explore the ruins top to bottom provided we let him take us to the government run rug weaving school. Naturally, we took him up on the offer.

I was pretty suspicious about the whole thing, but we did it and I’m glad we did. It added about twenty minutes to our adventure, but we got to see how Turkish rugs are made and all the work that goes into it. Afterwards, we got a ride to the top of Ephesus and began our journey through the ancient city. Although Pergamum was a city on a hill, Ephesus was a city in a valley and a harbor at that, though the water no longer reaches the area. The ruins are pretty well preserved and renovated and we got to crawl all over them. The library was awesome and the public latrine was my favorite, it was paid for a by Christian lady way way back in the day when Christianity became acceptable.

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We ended up spending much more time at the ruins than we thought, so we had to adjust some of our plans, which really just meant that when we got to Fethiye that night, we wouldn’t have time to explore. We got to Fethiye, a coastal city, super late and we weren’t sure if any restaurants would be open, but we found a swanky place where I had fresh Lagos (a fish) from the town. Yummy! Then we all passed out.

Today was devoted to driving to Antalya and stopping at various places on the way. The first of which was the city of Pitara and the ruins there. It was at Pitara that I got to dip my feet into the Mediterranean Sea for the first time. We were exploring the ruins when we noticed there was a little path to the beach. We followed it and got to enjoy miles of empty beach on an incredibly pleasant day. It was beautiful.

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Then we hit the road and headed toward Antalya. On the way we pulled over to hop onto a gorgeous beach that was reached by a long staircase built into the cliff side below the highway.

Next we hoofed it to Mount Olympus so we could hike part of it. But our timing was off and we kind of got lost. We ended up making it to the city of Olympos, but not the mountain itself. However, that allowed us to hike to a secluded beach and climb an ancient cliffside castle with Mount Olympus in the background, which was more than good enough for us.

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The day ended by arriving in Antalya and getting lost, because Antalya is HUGE. We finally found our hostel in “old town” and had an incredibly hard time maneuvering our hefty van through the tiny, old-town streets. The hostel is definitely worth the stress of getting to it because it’s a boutique hotel with hostel prices due to us traveling in off-off season — a perk I’m thoroughly enjoying throughout the country. Then we found some dinner. I got a veggie dish with stuffed eggplant, rice, salad, potatoes, and more. And more baklava, too…

And now, I rest. We’ve done and seen so much, but my lack of sleep and rest makes it hard for me to take it all in. So tonight I will recharge. And we’re back on the road tomorrow. This time, to the Cappadocia region, a little town called Goreme.

Turkish Delight: Day 4

Travel

This post should really be called “Day 3.5-4”, because at the end of day three we picked up a rental and drove overnight to Bergama. But it wasn’t that easy. First, two of our group members went to get the rental van from the airport while the rest of us roamed around Istanbul. Except the rental van pickup was a minor fiasco which led them to be three hours late for our meet-up time, and half an hour late for our dinner reservations with Snigdha and her sister. They appeared at the restaurant when we had begun to formulate emergency location plans. Needless to say, I was relieved to know they were ok — and had a van.

After dinner, we packed up the van and headed out of the city toward our first destination: Bergama, home of ancient Pergumum. But it turns out the GPS we rented for the van wanted to take us down back roads and country roads. (It also resulted in me peeing on the side of the road behind a truck.) After almost seven hours of winding down gravel roads overlooking cliffs and not ever really knowing if we were on track, we arrived at Bergama. It was 7:00 in the morning.

None of us slept more than an hour during our ride from hell, but we managed to get a second wind in time to explore the city. Bergama is the home to The Red Basilica, one of the places John said counted it one of the seven churches of the apocalypse and would be the thrown of The Devil. We didn’t get to go inside because it was being renovated, so we’ll see how that works out for mankind.

Then we walked around some ruins that were laying about, and I peed inside the remains of an old roman house. Seeing a trend here? Finally, we trekked up to the reason we came — to see the ruins of Pergamum. We started the hour walk to the top of the mountain, but before we got halfway a security van pulled up and asked if we needed a lift. So we hopped in the van and jetted our way to the top. We spent about two hours at Pergamum and actually got to walk in and around and on top of the ruins, including a 10,000 person amphitheater. Epic.

Then there was lunch, three of the boys experienced a Turkish bath, and we hopped back in the van to head to Selçuk, or modern day Ephesus. And it is there that I write this, cozy in our amazing hostel, Homeros Pension, after having a home-cooked meal by Momma Homeros and getting the chance to relax after 36 hours of venturing.

Let’s do it all again tomorrow!

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