I like what one of our friends said about travel in Turkey. Let me try to paraphrase: “Being able to travel here is like a gift from God. He knows we need the breaks from work and makes it easy and cheap for us to get around.”
In our previous blog post, David talked about day 1 and 2 of our trip in Izmir (Smyrna!) and Ephesus. We spent the first part of day 3 in Selçuk. Selçuk has several ruins, including a Byzantine aquaduct in the center of town. We also walked up to the citadel, though we didn’t pay to go inside. The Basilica of St. John is within the walls.
The weather was warmer than what we’d been having in Ankara. It was a beautiful place to walk with palm trees, mountains, and beautiful flowers still in bloom.
As we explored, we came across a Turkish rug store. There was a lady weaving outside the door, and we stopped to watch. One of the store employees greeted us (in English!) and brought us in for a rug presentation. They unrolled maybe 30 rugs, talking about the different materials and patterns. Since none of us had any intentions of buying a rug, we were a little nervous and didn’t want to offend the man. I think business was slow that day and he was just being kind. The store also served us yummy apple tea.
The man told us silk on silk is the most durable rug structure and the rug outside Topkapı Palace in Istanbul is silk on silk. It was really neat to see how they “harvest” the strands of silk. A machine pulls the silk from cocoons.
Once we had explored all we wanted to in Selçuk, we took a dolmuş ride to Kuşadası, another coastal town about 20 km away. Kuşadası translates to “Bird Island.”
Kuşadası was very much a tourist area. It was fun to walk around and look in the shops. Further down the shore, there was a Venetian/Byzantine castle on an island.
After walking around the castle, David and I took an hour ferry ride back and forth around the harbor. It only cost 10 TL, which is less than $6 USD! The wind was blowing, the sun was shining, and it was very relaxing.
The next morning, we took a train back to Izmir. The train was extremely packed because of everyone traveling home from the holiday. There was the cutest 6th grade Turkish girl with her dad and younger brother. One of our friends speaks Turkish, and she laughed as she heard the girl’s dad urge her on to practice her English with us. The girl had a big smile and asked us our names, how old we were, where we were from, and if we were studying or teaching.
We stayed at the same hotel in Izmir again, and after dropping off our bags, we explored some more ruins. Izmir also has a citadel called Kadifekale Castle. There wasn’t much to see within the castle, but the view was nice. The Aegean coast was on one side and the city was on the other. We also walked down to the Agora. They had it blocked off for some renovations and excavation, but we saw it through the gate.
For the last evening of our vacation, we enjoyed a beautiful sunset.
There were many vendors on the pier selling corn, oysters, chestnuts, and seeds. We wanted to try the
oysters mussels. I almost backed out last minute because I was afraid they were raw, but they ended up being cooked. The oysters mussels were stuffed with rice and the vendor squeezed fresh lemon juice on top. David also got me a rose! Did I get a keeper or what?
We ate a delicious dinner at Mandolin Cafe and said goodnight and goodbye to Izmir.
It was a long 9-hour bus ride back to Ankara the next day, but so worth the trip!