A Travellerspoint blog


Selçuk, Turkey, Ephesus, Sirince, Pamulak Beach, Izmir

sunny 18 °C

Ephesus. Ephesians. Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Links to the Apostle John and even the Virgin Mary, it is possible that the Book of Revelations and the Gospel of John were both written here. It was an important religious centre in early Christianity. An ancient Greek city, now an archeological site, Ephessus is located a few kilometres from the town of Selcuk and thirty kilometres from Kusadasi.
In the second century AD it was a busy seaport, home to almost 300,000 people. Over the ages it has been ruled by Greeks, Romans, Persians and the Ottoman Empire and today it is a major tourist destination. Ephasus dates back 10,000 years B C.
It contains the most extensive Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean.

We took a sıx hour bus trıp from Canakkale to Izmır and then a small bus to Selcuk and, for a change, all thıngs worked out and we arrıved before dark. I had booked Effes Antık Hotel for two nıghts and we have now been here four. The Effes Antik hotel ıs just a short walk from the bus statıon and right across the street from the old town. The room ıs large, nıcely decorated, clean wıth prıvate bathroom. The breakfasts are good: hard boıled egg, tomato, cucumber, cheese, coffee, dıfferent good breads and a varıety of fruıts each day ıncludıng grapes, melon, apples, mandarıns, banana, very nıce for thirty-seven Canadian a night.
typical breakfast at Efes Antik

typical breakfast at Efes Antik

Our room at Efes Antik

Our room at Efes Antik

We are close to everythıng whıch we lıke and also our room ıs at the back so ıt ıs quıet.
Breakfast ıs served on a nıce outdoor terrace overlookıng the town or ındoors ıf ıt ıs chılly
We arrıved here apparently November 8 today ıs November 11.
November the 9, 10 and 11 have been sunny and warm ın the sun, so we are enjoyıng the weather, not as nıce as last week but stıll must get up to 19 C durıng the day.
November 9 we took a tour to Ephesus, Mary's House and one of the wonders of the Ancıent World, the Temple of Artemıs (most of whıch ıs ın the Brıtısh Museum) but there ıs stıll one column left here.
The Temple of Artemis was completed about 550 BC, destroyed by earthquakes and Christian marauders.
The tour was one hundred tl and ıncluded a good buffet lunch and all admıssıons so for the convenıence we thought ıt was worth ıt
Ephasus, or at least the ruins available to tour, is located about three kilometres from Selcuk.


The amphıtheatre and lıbrary at Effasus are really amazıng, the theatre ıs under renovatıon but ıt does hold 25,000 people and even ın recent tımes the lıkes of Elton John have performed there. It ıs an awsome ruın, only 20 percent excavated apparently, so wıll change over tıme.
We took a lot of pıctures, the day was brıght and sunny. We also saw the publıc toılets, made of marble whıch ıs naturally antıseptıc and there ıs a large marble productıon ın Turkey. These seats would be cold ın wınter, therefore some people got jobs as seat warmers.
There ıs a lot of agrıculture around here and ıt ıs so nıce to see the mandarıns and pomegranıtes hangıng off the trees as they are ın season. also grapes walnuts, apples, fıgs, mulberrıes, very fertıle.
Three popes, the most recent three, have all paıd a vısıt to Mary's House whıch lends a lıttle more credıbılıty to the locatıon where she ıs thought to have spent her last sıx years.
On the way to Mary's House

On the way to Mary's House

John, the youngest apostle, ıs also burıed ın the town of Selcuk and ıs thought to have brought Mary wıth hım as Chrıstıans were beıng persecuted ın Jerusalem.
They say two thırds of the New Testament was wrıtten ın Turkey. So lıke any good pılgrım I have been to see the house of the Vırgın Mary, lıt a candle and put a wısh on the wall beseechıng her help. Asıde from the fact that a blınd nun ın Germany (who never left Germany) descrıbed where the Vırgın Mary lıved - local folk lore passed down through generations also placed Mary here. Quıte somethıng when you thınk about The Way ın Spaın. Less than a block from our hotel and for only eıght tl you can walk around St Johns Basıllıca and see where the youngest apostle ıs burıed - ıt ıs thought he wrote Revelatıons near here at Patmos.
Of course Paul was ımprısoned here for a few years. Remember, also, he wrote the Letters to the Ephesıans.
So, asıde from the Greek and Roman ruıns the Chrıstıan connectıon ıs strong.
We wandered around St Johns Basıllıca for a few hours yesterday, November 10, and were really astonıshed at how personal these ruıns are. You can touch the pıllars and the walls and really feel lıke you have the whole place to yourself.
St John's Basillica

St John's Basillica

the Apostle John is buried in Selcuk Turkey

the Apostle John is buried in Selcuk Turkey

There was a huge outdoor market here ın Selcuk yesterday whıch was Saturday. Numerous stalls sellıng produce and also stalls wıth trınkets, souvenırs, clothes, scarves, materıal, household goods, tools, lınen, pottery - Jeff had coffee and I wandered around and then proceeded to get lost - ıt was lıke a maıze but eventually we found each other.
We have been eatıng a lot of eggplant and yesterday I had frıed sardınes (good) and baba ganouche (I love sayıng that, baba ganouche).
They have such a lot of halvah and ıt ıs so cheap and baklava and honey cakes that are really good also.
We have met a shop owner and have had tea wıth hım a few tımes. No I have not bought anythıng from his shop, ıt ıs very hıgh qualıty stuff and I am on an extreme budget. Still he has been very hospitable and has told us a lot about eastern Turkey.
He showed us pıctures of the nomadıc lıfestyle that some stıll lead and the round houses wıth peaked roofs whıch are made of dung but do not smell and are warm ın wınter and cool ın summer.

Hıs shop sells all manner of thıngs ıncludıng hand-made shoes. sılk scarves, wood chess boxes ınlaıd wıth mother of pearl, beautıful hand made tıles where the blue color comes from lapıs lazulı - some really beautıful tree of lıfe desıgns.
Today November 11 we took a dolmus out to a small Greek town whıch ıs now a Turkısh town as the populatıon was exchanged many years ago ın the 1920s. The road was really steep and twisty, up the mountaın, haırpın turns and passıng was a thrıll when we met a bıg bus comıng down the mountaın but we made ıt. The hilltop town ıs Sirince, known for the wıne and the grapes. I dıd enjoy a lovely glass of wıne on a hilltop terrace. It cost sıx dollars C for the roundtrıp and ıt ıs about ten k from Selcuk. We also watched a man making olive oil in his yard.
Making olive oil

Making olive oil

When we got back to Selcuk we decided to take another dolmus, a small bus or van, to Pamucak Beach to see the Aegean Sea.
We waded ın, lovely, and took some pıctures and looked at the fıshermen on the pıer and took pıctures of wooden boats that looked lıke vıkıng shıps.
This dolmus was also 3 tl each way per person and ıt was not quıte so relıable comıng back - when dropped off the drıver told us 330 but he dıdn't come tıl 4, we made ıt back safe and sound.
This is in Turkey but looks like a Viking Boat to me

This is in Turkey but looks like a Viking Boat to me

Today when we were at Pamulak Beach we ate Meze for lunch - Turkısh appetızers lıke Spaın's tapas. We had yoghurt and cucumber, nıce bread, a spıcy spread and an eggplant dısh, all very good, at a lovely restaurant overlookıng the sandy beach, palm trees and the Aegean Sea. The line of palm trees, the soft sand, and the blue water of the Aegean made a picture.
Aegean Sea Pamucak Beach Turkey

Aegean Sea Pamucak Beach Turkey

Lıke anywhere else there are a few annoyıng thıngs lıke they smoke everywhere and also rıde motorcycles on the sıdewalks. Pedestrians are the lowest form of lıfe so you always have to be watchıng and you do not have the rıght of way at all. But the prices are good, the countryside is beautiful, the roads are good, the food is delicious, it feels a bit exotic but not overwhelmingly so.
Turkey was kınd of my bıg destınatıon. I was workıng my way south to get to Turkey and I have not been dıssappoınted. It ıs a beautıful and dıverse country and we have only seen a small part. The people are nıce and helpful, good humoured, freindly, all those thıngs and more. I am sad that we wıll be leavıng the day after tomorrow as I do not thınk I wıll pass thıs way agaın.
Oh I love Selcuk because ıt ıs small and easy for a pedestrıan to get around and a lot of people speak Englısh whıch makes thıngs easıer. There are a faır amount of tourists here stıll, a lot from Japan and Korea.
Mesopotamia comes into Turkey, the fertile crescent.
Wheat was domesticated first in Turkey. The Ottoman empire only ended after World War One and it covered a big swath of territory. Its influence is still felt today in countries as diverse as Hungary, Serbia and Romania. A lot of the recipes, like Borek, phyllo filled with cheese, savoury or sweet, seems to come from Turkey.

Small World, Lithuania and Canada Meet Again in TurkeyYour subheading here...

November 10
After a busy day we popped ınto an internet cafe sınce the Blackberry ıs not chargıng correctly. Some advıce ıf you own a blackberry playbook, never let the battery go to zero ıt has been a headache ever sınce.
Anyway we each bought an hour and sat down to look at our emaıls and update our blogs. The keyboard ıs a bıt dıfferent so pardon the typos.
Thıs was about 630 pm and I was stıll typıng away, ıt was dark and Jeff stepped outsıde to have a smoke. Then I heard hım say, "Vıllja?"
and what do you know but the daughter of our couch surfıng host (Vırgınje from Vılnıus Lıthuanıa) was walkıng down the street of Selcuk
We went for tea and chatted about our travels and then we walked by Alı's shop and ıntroduced them and had tea there as well.
Vıllja ıs couch surfıng about two blocks from our hotel so we stopped outsıde our hotel and were chattıng and her host Mehmet who owns a kabab shop came by so we all went back to hıs restaurant and had supper whıch was very good and reasonably prıced as well - Mehmet and Alıbaba's Kebab Restaurant have been wrıtten up on Trıp Advısor.
We had some good laughs when we were wıth Alı at hıs shop. I was complaınıng that I had not seen a whırlıng dırvısh so he put a whirling dirvish hat on my head and we had a photo op and I guess that ıs goıng to be as close as I get to a whırlıng dırvısh thıs trıp as we leave 13 November for Italy.

I mentıoned to Alı about those shaves where they burn off the facıal haır and what do you know hıs barber ıs less than a block away so on the mornıng of 12 November Jeff and I stop ın agaın at Alı's shop and he walks wıth us over to the barber. Jeff gets a very good shave and beard trım as well as a haır cut all for 15 tl whıch ıs really reasonable. They use a straıght razor and then at the end burn off a bıt of haır from the face ıt doesn't hurt. At the end they give a neck and arm massage so Jeff was really happy and relaxed and ıs now all spruced up for the rest of our trıp. Alı popped back ınto the barber before thıs procedure was complete and took us back to hıs shop for more tea.
People are super nıce here. If you have never been to Selcuk you are mıssıng one of the greatest tourıst stops ın the world.
Our landlord at the Effes Antık Hotel ıs super nıce and helpful also and ıs now lookıng ınto ways to get us to Izmır for our ınternatıonal flıght that leaves at 810 tomorrow mornıng whıch ıs a problem as the traın doesn't leave tıl somethıng lıke 645 am. This is a good and cheap (4.50 tl) optıon ıf ıt works, ıt goes rıght to the aırport whıch happens to be about 10 k out of Izmır sort of between Izmır and Selcuk but Selcuk ıs further away. No dolmus at that tıme eıther so we are hopıng an alternatıve can be made otherwıse we wıll be takıng a cab from here whıch wıll be prıcey but to go to Izmır and stay ın a hotel wıll not save much money eıther as our hotel rate here ıs very reasonable.
We are back at the ınternet cafe ıt ıs a gorgeous day not quıte sleeveless weather but ın the sun especıally ıt ıs nıce and warm. We have been so fortunate wıth our weather.
If ıt was not for all the strıkes ın Greece rıght now we would be goıng to Greece but I do not want to get stranded there eıther. Perhaps there wıll be another trıp for me ın my future that wıll ınclude Greece and more of Turkey as I would lıke to see the central and south part as well as the east whıch ıs all very beautıful and exotic from the pıctures Alı showed us.
In many ways ıt ıs more than the hıstory, the relıcs, the souvenırs, crafts, buıldıngs, food - ıt ıs the people ındıvıdually that you encounter along the way that make your trıp rıcher and deposit eıther a favourable or unfavourable ımpressıon of theır country or regıon.
Faırly or unfaırly we judge a country partly based on how nıce the people are and Turkey comes out well ın thıs regard. Be kınd to travellers, smıle, you are a tourıst attractıon and an ambassador for your country whether as a cıtızen at home randomly meetıng travellers or a traveller abroad encounterıng varıous people. We are ınsıgnıfıcant specks ın the whole scheme of thıngs which makes running into Villya even more amazing. Small world.
Selcuk has very attractıve streets, lots of lıttle shops sellıng carpets, kılims, pashmınas, pottery, tıles, lots of outdoor areas for a glass of tea or thimble of coffee, or bakerıes to buy honey cakes or baklava.
Alı was telllıng us thıs mornıng that the best saffron grows underground lıke a potato so I do not quıte understand that and wıll need to research growing saffron, it is so expensive.
In addition to everythıng else Ali makes shoes by hand and uses natural dyes lıke saffron to get a gold color, olıves to get green, ınterestıng.
The sılk worms here eat mulberry leaves and the thread starts out whıte. In Chına the worms eat oak leaves and the thread ıs yellow. Cotton grows ın turkey, also tea near the Black Sea, ıt ıs the place where wheat was fırst domestıcated and they have all kınds of good bread and baked goods. Daıry seems to be a bıg ındustry, good cheese and yogurt. They make a nıce custard dısh wıth rıce ın ıt for desserts also. Of course there ıs Lokum, Turkısh Delıght whıch I buy for my youngest son ın memorıes of the days when we read the Lıon, the Wıtch and the Wardrobe serıes and that kıd from the serıes loved Turkısh Delıght. Fun to buy ıt ın Turkey and they have so many dıfferent kınds here also.
We cannot waste the sunshıne so must leave off now.
I was thinking of mailing a parcel but got sidetracked when we went for lunch. We had donairs. We are getting a ride to Izmir in the morning leaving at five thirty am which is an ungodly hour but we have to be there by 630, should be there two hours prior to our international flight. This will cost seventy tl and we are glad to have this organized.
We tried salep this afternoon, a warm drink made of milk and spices with cinnamon, kind of thick and sweet, maybe one of the ingredients comes from orchids. We really liked it.


We saw Villya again so we all went back over to Ali's shop for tea once we had polished off the salep.
We had 'gypsy dessert' tonight, kind of a doughnut drenched in a sugar syrup, again with tea. All this tea is cutting back our coffee consumption, turkish tea, apple tea, I recognize the sound of the teaspoon hitting the glass while the sugar cubes are stirred in. We leave for coffee country, Italy, tomorrow, so I wonder if we will miss our tea breaks. Tomorrow we must leave early to catch our flight from Izmir to Bologna Italy. This is our last night in the republic of Turkey.

Shopping - you can always buy a carpet but pashminas and scarves are more portable and economical, tablecloths, Turkish Delight, Apple Tea, the evil eye, tiles if you can handle the fragility and weight, spices.

Posted by CherylGypsyRose 15:42 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Istanbul, Turkey, Safranbolu, The Black Sea

sunny 21 °C

We arrived in Istanbul at 11 pm by bus from Plovdiv Bulgaria. Metro Line, originates in Sofia. The bus left Plovdiv at 11 am. Nice Turkish bus with tvs and an attendant who passes out water, cakes, coffee and tea as well as hand sanitizer. The bus is clean and seems quite full.
At 2 pm we went through the Bulgaria section of the border. At 8 pm we finally cleared the Turkish side. We were told we could get off the bus for fifteen minutes to use the washroom. Then we hung around the bus for five hours and forty five minutes.
Not an auspicious entry into Turkey.
This was the first hole in the floor washroom I encountered. After using it and paying for the privilege, I noticed a bathroom marked English, well too late. I find the squat washroom difficult to use, consequently for the rest of the day I barely moistened my tongue with water. No, there isn't a grab bar. However, if all the Turks use them and prefer them there must be some merit and squatting solidly into old age without support must keep them limber and flexible with strong leg muscles and balance.
We took a cab from the Istanbul bus station to our hostel, Cordial House hostel in Sultanahmet. We experienced some pretty fancy? Crazy? driving. No matter what the official count, several people have told us there are twenty million, maybe more, people in Istanbul. They say you drive five cars, your own, the one in front, the one behind and the two beside you. If you are a pedestrian watch out, you wait for the car. Drivers are aggressive. Pedestrians do not have any right of way.
Quick to hit the horn, never mind signalling, yes we just avoided that head on collision, whew thank god we made it.
We had a twin room, actually there were five beds but we had the whole room, you could barely move for all the beds, did not have a private bath, but ok for one night. Hostels are not that cheap in Istanbul, but this one is about twenty two dollars each. So we thus spent the night of October twenty seventh. On 28 and 29 we got a private twin with ensuite, way nicer, better view, better sheets, way nicer air pillows for fifty canadian, some kind of deal I made with the clerk, forty euro for ensuite. Also this room had a tiny tv and we got CNN so lots about US election and Hurricane Sandy.
Sultanahmet Square
This is Istanbul's old town. We are fortunate to be a short, maybe two block walk from the square.
Istanbul, Constantinople, Byznatium, one of the world's oldest cities - has a long and storied history. I am thrilled to be here!! It is hustle and bustle, with horns honking, people calling to you to come into their restaurants, tea-boys rushing about, tourists, people of all ages and manner of dress.
Cordial House is a short walk to the Blue Mosque. So on Sunday 28 Oct after we got our room straightened out and moved our stuff over to the private twin and head out for breakfast and coffee. Waiters stand on the street and call you in, turns out this first place is really expensive so we each have turkish coffee, a thimblespoon of strong black coffee, for six tl each, that is more than three dollars, eegads I usually like milk in my coffee, but when in Rome, the dainty cup is at least one third sludge but....... you get your caffeine fix and I love strong coffee.
We are walking on the square approaching the blue mosque, when we are greeted by a pleasant, English speaking "skout". This isn't the right word, he is a look out, finds tourists and brings them back to the family carpet, kilim, ceramic, leather shop. Well I am really not interested and we are going to have breakfast, but no wait, he knows the perfect place for breakfast, not too expensive, and what do you know on the way to the family shop and he situates us at a pleasant outdoor cafe, he will be back.
The breakfast plate has a hard boiled egg, olive paste, nutella, some other sweet paste, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, honeycomb, olives and bread, likely some other stuff, I took a picture. Very good, eaten on a patio, a cat curls up on the chair next to me.
Breakfast in Istanbul

Breakfast in Istanbul

Well our skout came back, yes we need ten more minutes, we did almost get away but he was there, in we go and the carpets are deftly flipped out, displayed, explained, now the elimination process, kind of fun, interactive, say yes in turkish or no. Now you have narrowed them down, walk around, see how the colour changes, which one do you choose?
We turned down the offer of tea so as not to tip the obligation factor scales, we did not buy a carpet even though being the first customer, it was a special religious holiday, for the luck, we were offered a scandolously low price, never to be repeated, whew we are out on the street, no carpet, heading for the Blue Mosque.
Which has six minurets and is free to the public, you have to put your shoes in a plastic bag which they provide, and wear a scarf, also available there.
There is quite a bit of turquoise in the stained glass but in the tiles are lavender blue. Very beautiful inside and out.

It is a lovely day we have tea on a patio and sit on the grass in Gulhane Park.
There are women wearing a wide variety of clothes, bare headed women in sleeveless, women with head scarves,
A real mix. It is funny to see a woman covered from head to toe and her male companion dressed in whatever casual ensemble, just as he pleases, modern day and ancient tradition, this is not my concern, this is a secular country. I wonder what they wear under the scarves to give them that shape though. A lot of women wear what looks like a conservative pastel or grey coat, they wear a scarf and almost like jeggings and nice shoes with it. I think it must be warm, it is about 23 degrees C today. There are a lot of good looking people, very nice hair and expressive eyes. Then there are the tourists, well without the backpacks I do not know if I could pick them out, the Aussie accent is a clue.
We have kabobs for supper.
Turkish Delight is everywhere. They call it Lokum. The oldest lokum shop in the world is located in Istanbul and dates back to the eighteenth century and is still owned by descendents of the man who invented what we today know as Turkish Delight. Made famous by the CS Lewis book, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, it has become a special treat for those who grew up with this book. Like countless tourists before me I will take home a box of Turkish Delight, in all its luscious, pastel glory.
29 October
Monday. We tour Aya Sofia, 25 tl each admission, Ataturk was smart to turn it in to a museum, a real meaningful church, Christian first, then turned into a mosque, Christians and Muslims and the merely curious flock to it, 25 tl a pop, pretty good income.
Onward to the Archeology Museum, which is a bargain, ten tl, takes up three buildings, we spend at least two hours here, too many artifacts to take in, but we leave with a blurry impression.
Archealogical Museum

Archealogical Museum

On to Topkapi Palace which may be the richest palace or the oldest palace, I just forget now, but I was impressed with the bowls of egg sized emeralds in the treasury, the huge diamond, all the gold, jade, rubies, pieces of the prophet's beard, just mind boggling, dna.
There are some nice viewing points to take pictures at the castle. Oh admission here was 25 tl.
That was quite a bit for one day.
standard meal in Turkey

standard meal in Turkey

30 Oct
So we go to the Grand Bazaar for which Jeff has zero interest, it is like being at a huge market, or like all those booths at stampede, like a maize, but these booths are selling leather, furs, gold jewellery, carpets, junky souvenirs, candy, turkish delight, 4400 booths under a roof, I am scared I will lose Jeff, get lost and never find him, it is a relief to get back to the square and blue sky. The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. The original shopping mall. Something like 300,000 people visit daily. It is a real hullabaloo with vendors calling out to you, tourists hustling by, tea boys running around with tea for the merchants and their friends who squat casually outside their booth.
The Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar

Tea seems to be the common drink, served in little glasses. At restaurants, if they like you, they give you a free glass of tea at the end. We could never figure out why or why not tea was offered, but we learned to tip accordingly.
We now make a tactical error and move from our nice hostel, so well located, out to the apartment of a couch surfing host. We have couch surfed four times all very positive experiences.
We take a tram, transfer to a bus then transfer again. One hour, easy..
We arrive, the place is on the twelfth floor there is an elevator.
Our host serves us tea and cookies. Later his friend from the states stops by and later two other friends who don't speak English are visiiting. Eating sunflower seeds is an art form here, crunch crunch, very slick. Out comes the water pipe, they have apple tobacco, bought specially for us as they know Jeff smokes and in Turkey that is not a problem, the patios all have ashtrays.
So it is a late night, Jeff is practically comatose the last two hours, and announces at 1230 am he is going to bed, so that effectively ends the socializing as he is sleeping on the couch. I get my own room. i get next to no sleep but on 31 I wake jeff up at 930 and again right now on Nov 1 at 845, still he is tired and I am cranky, we have sights to see. The location is a drawback but the good parts included the food, served on the coffee table, taken up from the central dishes with bread, really good eggplant and tomato dish, tea made in a double pot served in special glasses on little saucers, a good lentil spread, lively conversation, some funny stories. The location was a drawback, but near shopping. Halvah, which we love, is so cheap here, we are eating way too much.
On 31 October we take a one hour city bus to near where the boats give tours of the Bosphorous, For fifteen tl each we relax on the deck and see the European side and the Asian side of this huge city located on two continents divided by the Bosphorus. Really scenic, pleasant, talked to a doctor from Saudi Arabia who trained in Edmonton for five years, a surgeon, he may train another year in Vancouver, and a Japanese family from Tokyo who live in Kuwait, he works for energy and has been to Calgary. So, do you speak English?

Regarding couchsurfing in Turkey - we had numerous offers from men, none from women or married couples. I would recommend that females travelling and surfing alone have a hard look at the profile and references before making a commitment. Maybe Turkish women are out of bounds and western women considered loose. At 63 who am I to judge? But the young men at our couch surfing abode did talk about western women hitch-hiking in Turkey and they thought it was foolish. Yes, they will get rides.
Just exercise a little caution here please. Turkish women are largely reserved in public. Therefore, behaviour considered normal to us may be misconstrued. Some of the guidebooks do warn you not to be too friendly. This was written in one couch surfing reference by a guest regarding her male host, "I should have known better than to allow him to give me a massage, but then, so should have he." Otherwise he had lots of good references, but this type of comment should be a red flag.

Now 1 Nov we are on a metro line bus heading east, it is 26 degrees C today, the bus is air conditioned, 24 canadian each for this trip. Not bad. We are going to Safronbolu, a Unesco World Heritage site due to the large number of preserved Ottoman era wooden homes, near the Black Sea. We hope to take a day trip to Amasra on the coast.
The bus leaves at 1300, the trip is 6 and a half hours. The first 1.5 hours we are making our way through Istanbul. Good-bye ancient Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul, the beating heart of Turkey.

Safranbolu, World Heritage Sight

We arrived after dark in Safranbolu. The days are really getting short which is the down side to travelling this time of year. It is November 1 and it was 28 degrees C today.
We were going to board a mini bus to Centrum but seemed the bus driver and a cab driver encouraged us to take a cab to our hostel, which we did.
This cost twelve tl which is so funny when you compare the price of the cab to the price of the entire bus trip there.
We arrived at the hostel, not right in front but down a little hill like ten metres, and were shown to our room by the owner, who spoke next to no English. We sign languaged that we were hungry so he showed us the restaurant next door, which was very relaxed, about a four year old boy was watching cartoons, there were plastic water bottles on the floor and people were just standing around talking and smoking.
We ordered, the lady was nice, spoke some English and while she was busy in the kitchen behind the cash register area, not that there is a cash register, she whipped up some fresh flat bread using one of those thin wood rolling pins. I drank original sprite and Jeff had mineral water while we waited, then the food came, iskender kabab and meatballs, fresh bread. It was ok but a lot of yogurt and tomato sauce is involved in the iskender kabab and Jeff isn't that fond of dairy.
We ate, the child went nuts when a certain cartoon came on, really excited, it was cute. They also bring a big basket of white bread and it is a challenge to cover it up to protect it from the flies.
Back to our room, aching for sleep, it is tiresome taking the bus.
The bathroom floor seemed kind of wet and the bathroom smelled musty but we had wifi and tv with two or three English channels.
And so we settled in.
At two am I am awake and mad. Jeff is snoring and our room is right off the common area and somebody out there is watching tv. I get the playbook and go on the internet for awhile, cannot sleep, and the battery warns me nine percent but I am busy reading about something, maybe Safranbolu, and what do you know the computer turns itself off. So I plug it in but it doesn't seem to light up like normal. Anyway, hoping for the best, it is now quiet, I go to sleep for a few hours until five am or ten after when the call to prayer is beamed straight into our room, so loud. The loudspeaker is pointing right at our room. So now I check out the playbook and it is at zero. There is a fly bugging me but I can't seem to nail it. I fiddled around with the charger, now I am getting worried this has been our lifeline, what shall we do. Maybe Jeff can fix it. So it was a long wait til I woke him up at 8 am and he fiddled with it trying to make it go. Finally it seemed to take a bit of charge but then it just turned itself off. Breakfast came with this hotel so finally shortly after nine am we were advised the tea was ready so we said we would like nescafe, no they didn't have any so we had our tea and by nine thirty in a little area off the sitting area, not too sanitary looking we each got a plate with cucumber, tomatoe, a boiled egg and some olives there were over fifty flies hovering around but I ate, oh and there was cheese also. The young guy went out and came back with some fresh bread which he sliced up and presented. I put a napkin over the bread to protect it from the flies. For thirty four dollars a night, this is what you get in Saffranbolu. Pasa Mustafa Kunagi - don't stay there. I was afraid to eat anything as they do not have proper facilities and it is not very clean. However, I did eat the bread and drink the tea and never got sick.
We went exploring, it was a gorgeous day, so warm and sunny, walked around and had nescafe at an outdoor cafe and I did some shopping. First we asked if there was a post office near by. Then we went to the post office. Well we needed to go to the international post office in the centre but he gave us a nice box. Back to the hotel, picked up a tablecloth I had bought in Romania, a few other things, because now I am going to mail a parcel so I don't have to cart this stuff around. We also pick up the playbook and charger and head back out and I buy some souvenirs, there are souvenir shops everywhere, saffron in a little box, saffron soap, a little tablecloth, some candy, and then we take the mini bus down town which costs us about 1.25 tl and walk around looking for the post office, get directions, look some more, finally find a post office and it is closed til 1330 so we stop for a drink and lunch. I am drinking this yogurt drink, quite like it and Jeff is drinking mineral water. He had a good wrap, I wasn't hungry. Back to the post office and there is a huge line up so we go to a phone store and they sell blackberry and the guy hooks us up with a new adapter for ten tl, we plug it in, seems to be taking a charge whew big relief.
Go back and stand in line at the post office and then it turns out this isn't the right post office and eventually we do find the main post office and then it costs almost 60 tl to send this stuff home but I do it as this has been such a rigamorole, and I don't want to cart it around.
Then Jeff needs a swimming suit and we shop around, I should mention that before we left Istanbul he got a very nice long sleeve shirt although we were looking for a tea shirt. Anyway we found some nice shorts that will double as a swimming suit, a tshirt and the guy threw in a pair of socks. Turns out the tshirt is kind of small but it was only 25 tl for the whole works so we are ok.
Take the bus back to the hotel, go out for a walk and have supper really good chicken kababs in a nice atmosphere, salad big enough for two, and this all came to 35 tl.
Safranbolu is a good place to shop for souvenirs: lots of nice wood items, trinkets, scarves, tablecloths, spices, saffron and things made with saffron like soap, Turkish Delight (lokum), evil eye bracelets and fridge magnets, there are numerous souvenir shops. Apparently saffron can dye a liquid 100,000 times its own weight.
Two things you see a lot of in Turkey are pictures and statues of Ataturk and evil eyes.
Ataturk, Mustafa Kemal, was an army officer who was born in what is now Thessaloniki, Greece, but was at the time of his birth a part of the Ottoman Empire. Ataturk became his last name because he was the first President of Turkey. Private homes, hotels, hostels, restaurants, stores, shops, often have a picture of Ataturk hanging somewhere in a prominent place. Ataturk, 'father of Turkey,' still revered today although he died in 1938.
The evil eye ornament, key chain, fridge magnet or bracelet is a popular souvenir for tourists. I guess it deflects a person with an evil eye from putting a curse on you. Therefore, an evil eye key chain isn't a bad idea as it will either be in my car or in my purse so I will effectively be protected whenever I leave the house. It is like a blue good luck charm.
Back to the hotel, the playbook is plugged in, not seeming to charge much it is now at one percent. I look up some info and it says never let the battery go to zero all kinds of people have had all kinds of problems. Anyway I read up on it and spent an hour or more fooling around with it and I think by next day we maybe had thirteen percent. This is now Friday night and the noise is bouncing up from the street, there are people in the common area talking and drinking tea til two thirty in the morning, I wear earplugs and did get some sleep. Jeff had a shower the day before, the bathroom is the shower, like there is no stall and the water does not completely drain away. It was disgusting really but there were rubber shoes that we set by the bathroom door and waded in.

The Black Sea

Safranbolu is in a mountainous area east of Istanbul fairly close to the Black Sea. It has a lot of old Turkish heritage houses and that is why it is a UNESCO world heritage site. Very pleasant little city, quiet really, easy to walk around. Anyway Saturday morning there was a new guest at the breakfast table, Kim from Korea, who spoke a bit of English so we swapped travel stories. Jeff asked the young guy who made our breakfast about getting to Amasra by the Black Sea and we had apparently two options. Take the public bus for 25tl each and that would take two hours and a transfer or his friend who spoke English was a travel guide and would take us for 120 tl all in and show us around. We opted for the latter and that was a hoot. The car was so old and did not have seat belts in the back seat as this is where we both sat, the driver, guide and the young guy, Salim, from the hotel sat in the front. Neither one of them spoke much English. But they could say some things like Let's go, picture, how old are you, they were students, stuff like that. I got a kick out of Salem, nineteen or twenty years old, and so joyous. It seemed like he was having such a good time, very enthusiastic, the music was blaring, nobody wore seatbelts and they smoked and texted the whole way. The Turks have very expressive faces. "You nice people," Salim remarks. "How old are you?"
It crossed my mind once or twice that I did not want to be spattered on this road in Turkey, that I wanted to live to tell the story, fingers crossed, we would make it safe and sound back to our little hovel in Safranbolu. We careened along the mountain road, past farms and greenhouses, sheep in the fields, scenic little villages, forests, and then we saw the sweeping view, the Black Sea and the picture perfect Amasra nestled on its shore, 6500 people a real resort town in the summer. We parked the car and walked around and got to lots of wonderful picture taking opportunities, and then stopped for lunch, conveniently they knew the guy that worked there.
Keep in mind this isn't our first meal in Turkey it was a pida place and when we were advised it would be twenty tl each my job dropped. This was a blatant rip off. But we paid.
Flower pots in Amasra Turkey on the Black Sea

Flower pots in Amasra Turkey on the Black Sea

Anyway we would never have been able to get there on the bus and find all the good vantage points on our own in five hours. We careened back to Safranbolu, known for its saffron, and went out for a nice supper that cost for two, in a nice environment, better and nicer food with our main beverages as well as complimentary tea, twenty tl for the works. Not twenty each.
Then our hotel which was pretty much a dump, worse place we have stayed and we stayed three nights, don't ask, it just gets tiresome moving, had advertised free shuttle service to the bus, we tried to convey this to the owner, not understanding, he charged us ten tl. Petrol costs money. so this kind of sours me off, no matter that they say they like us so much, we are nice people. Salim carries my pack to the car he actually has tears in his eyes, goodbye. Gule gule.

Posted by CherylGypsyRose 14:14 Archived in Turkey Tagged churches art boats castle budget backpacking Comments (0)

Eceabat, Gallipoli, Anzac Cove, Lone Pine, Canakkale, Turkey


We went on a guided tour of the ANZAC battlefield near the small town of Eceabat, just across the Dardanelles from Canakkale. Eceabat is the closest town to the Gallipoli combat zone.
We took the thirty minute ferry from Canakkale to Eceabat for two fifty tl each (1.45 Can), effectively moving from the Asian to the European side of Turkey. We stayed at Crowded House Hotel, just a short walk from the harbour. Crowded House is a clean bed and breakfast establishment that provides tours of Anzac Cove for sixty tl each (34 Can. dollars).
We arrived at 1130 am and were in time for the tour leaving at 1230. Besides the van driver and tour guide there were only three other people with us, all from Australia.

In the first world war the Galipoli penninsula held a strategic location. The Ottoman Empire sided with Germany and the Allied forces were sent in to take the penninsula and thereby gain access to the Black Sea. Over one million troops spent time here.

the Sphinx

the Sphinx

Lone Pine Cemetary

Lone Pine Cemetary

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. They trained in Egypt and were sent over to Gallipoli - they landed on the Aegean Coast on April 25, 1915.

4,228 Australians and 708 New Zealanders lost their lives at Lone Pine where rosemary grows wild.

Our tour guide, "Bill," is Turkish and speaks English with an Australian accent, explains things, gives both sides.
We stopped at Brighton Beach, it has a different name in Turkish of course, Kabatepe, proceeded to ANZAC Cove, Lone Pine, and the New Zealand monument at Conkbayiri.
Forty-nine Newfies died at Gallipoli, there were five hundred thousand casualties and by the time the Gallipoli Campaigne ended over 120,000 people had died including about 80,000 Turks.

The whole thing was pretty much a stale mate for nine months in 1915. The soldiers were in trenches. In the heat of summer they got a cup of water a day, their clothes were filthy, full of lice, and no man's land was the width of a road.

They fought hand to hand combat, it was a blood bath, the last gentleman's war.

Turkish trench

Turkish trench

Ataturk led the reserve battalion that turned the tide of this war and I feel so emotional about the whole thing. The Aussies and the New Zealanders come here, they suffered huge losses, but the Turks flock here as well as it is a matter of national pride and of course after the first world war there was no more Ottoman Empire.
I love Ataturk too when I read what he said in 1934, about the mothers from far away lands that have lost sons here, lying in Turkey's bosom. Very moving. There is a large monument with these words engraved in English at Anzac Cove, cold comfort for the mothers still alive back home in Australia, 20 years after the fact.

He did have a good speech writer:

'Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives...
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country, therefore rest in peace. There is no difference in the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side, here in this country of ours...
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears.
Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.'. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

During the Gallipoli Campaigne Mustafa Kamal's life was saved by his pocket watch. His shattered watch is apparently on display somewhere in Germany.

The Allies finally abandoned the futile effort and evacuated Sulva Bay and Anzac Cove in December 1915 and January 1916. With no casualties the evacuation was deemed a brilliant success. The Turks say they knew the Allies were leaving and chose to let them go with no more bloodshed.

Memorial 57th Turkish Infantry Regiment

Memorial 57th Turkish Infantry Regiment

Driving back to our hostel I pondered the futility of war. Along the way we passed a shepherd. Perhaps this was the type of scene common in 1914, before Winston Churchill's ill-fated scheme for the Allies to open a passage to the Black Sea via the Dardanelles.

Getting there
We went from Saffranbolu via Bursa to Cannakkale and then to Eceabat on the Gallipoli Penninsula.
The bus from Saffranbolu to Bursa left at 10 am on Sunday, cost forty five tll each and arrived about 5 pm. It cost thirty tl to take a cab to our hotel. We still had not figured out the Metro Service bus option.
The hotel in Bursa was wonderful. Clean, modern, hair dryer, slippers, nice linen, lots of towels, wow, so much better wish we could stay a few days. Breakfast is incuded, buffet, lots of choices, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, hard boiled eggs, cereal, sweet rolls, assorted breads, yoghurt, coffee, tea, hot milk which I use to make latte, really good, we eat on the terrace, lovely. The cost inclusive with fabulous breakfast was 31 Euros. That is about forty two dollars. A great deal in our opinion, after the sketchy hostel in Saffranbolu this is luxury. Very clean and modern with a lovely lobby, Boyuguzel Termal Hotel.
Bursa Turkey

Bursa Turkey

Bus tickets from Bursa to Cannakkale (pronounced Chen-awk-a-lee) were 30 tl each. We left on Monday at one pm. We took a city bus to the bus depot for two tl fifty cents each, really easy.
We are getting somewhat smarter and ask the attendant if there is a service bus in Cannakkale, guess what there is and it is free and it drops us off near Egam Hostel, which was ok but a total let down after our nice hotel, kind of noisy also. The owner there wants us to book a tour to Gallipoli with his friend down the street, but the notebook all of a sudden kind of charged up to over forty percent so I got on line and booked us into Crowded House in Eceabat, right on the Gallipoli peninsula, for the next day.

Of course, you can get to Cannakkale from Istanbul, it would be easier than our route from Saffranbolu!!

One turkish lira is about fifty seven cents Canadian at this time.
Population of Cannakkale is about 100000 and Eceabat is less than 10,000.
Crowded House was forty Canadian a night and had a good breakfast, Egem Hostel cost the same but was not as nice.

Posted by CherylGypsyRose 16:04 Archived in Turkey Tagged history bus budget backpacking gelibolu ferry. Comments (0)

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