Tuesday, 27 August 2013


It was only 4hrs from Pamukkale to Selçuk so we decided to just book a bus in the morning. We'd asked around the going rate so we knew what to attempt to haggle under. Kamil Koç (pronounced Camel Coach, and not Camel Cock, like every tourist calls it) were advertising on-board entertainment now in English. I was tempted to re-watch The Prince of Persia without the Turkish-dubbing, however, I felt it was more authentic being delivered in a more middle eastern language. Kamil Koç were also notorious for being the most expensive, so instead we tried Pamukkale coaches. We walked into the ticket office which was empty except for a 12 year-old boy reading a magazine on the couch. "Is there someone nearby who can serve us?" We asked the boy in overly slow English and with large hand gestures, "one moment" he stated, getting up and then walking behind the counter, "how may I help you today?" he asked in perfect English, picking up a pen. Martino, Ellen and I all laughed. The kid continued to stare at us blankly. "Oh, you're not joking? Ok, we need three tickets to Selçuk tomorrow. What times do your buses run?"
"The only bus with seats leaves at 1.30pm tickets are 26 lira each". Before we had the chance to ask if he could do us deal, he interjected. "for you I can do for 24 each. Actually 23. No wait,...22 lira." This kid was dropping the price by the second. We looked at each other then Ellen asked "what about 20 each?" The child began laughing hysterically for about 30 seconds, before turning back to us dead-pan. "I'm sorry madam this price is just not possible". We were going to try for 21 but figured this kid had already dropped it enough to make this transaction as quick as possible so we paid and let him get back to reading his magazine on the couch.

We went to eat breakfast around 11am just before the buffet finished, then hung out by the pool until our bus arrived. As we were laying on the pavers a Turkish girl came close to us and began taking photos with her phone. We thought she was photographing us so we turned around to confront her (and also strike some poses). We realized she wasn't actually photographing us, but a tiny turtle that appeared out of nowhere and was making its way to the pool. We knew the ridiculous amount of chlorine in the pool to combat the urine content would undoubtedly burn the turtle's skin off. So we picked him up and gave him to the hotel management. Apparently he was a pet of one of the guests and had crawled out of its enclosure, but they weren't sure what to do with him as the guest wasn't there. We would've loved to have taken him with us, but Ellen had just bought a 6kg bag of salted cucumbers from a tile merchant across the street, so our hand luggage packs were completely full.

We caught the bus to Selçuk, arriving in the mid-afternoon. We'd pre-booked accommodation weeks ago for the Selçuk stop, but Martino wasn't able to get a room at our hotel, so we split-up for a couple hours and arranged to meet up for dinner. We needed to pay the balance of our booking upon checking-in. The hotel owner asked us whether we'd prefer double or twin room. We said we didn't mind. He told us he'd give us the room at a special price, and then put on an elaborate presentation of everything the room offered, which most rooms usually do not encapsulate like air conditioning, many many power sockets, "city views" and breakfast with "multiple servings" of tea/coffee. We were quite confused as we had the invoice in front of us so knew what we owed, but as he quoted us a higher price we then weren't sure what he was giving us. We showed him the confirmation email, but he said the booking website hadn't converted from euros into lira correctly. We were too confused to argue so just paid. The room he took us to was actually a triple so the confusion continued to build. Ellen looked around before turning to me "so can we use the air conditioning and power sockets, or does that guy charge extra for that?"
"I have no idea."
We dumped our bags and then headed out to see the city.

Selçuk was a cool little place, with an immaculately preserved 30m high section of an aquaduct running through the city centre. Massive stalks have taken the liberty of turning the aquaduct into their home, building large straw nests on top. We met Martino around 8pm and searched for somewhere nice to eat. We found a kebab stand that had a fresh ayran fountain, so we were naturally sold at once. After dinner and two pints of the delicious yogurt drink, we walked around the streets until we stumbled upon a small market. Ellen bought some penguin earrings, whilst Martino and I opted for some ginormous peaches from one of the local farmers. We tried getting another kilo of salted cucumbers but unfortunately the tile merchant selling them had sold his last batch moments before we found his stall. Around midnight we parted ways to our respective hotels, planning to meet back up the next day around 11am to check out Ephesus.

The largest outdoor theater in the ancient world, seating capacity of 24,000.

Ephesus is the most well preserved Roman city in the Mediterranean region. Ephesus (Greek: Ephesos; Turkish: Efes) was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the coast of Ionia. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era. In the Roman period, Ephesus had a population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BC, which served to make it one of the largest cities in the Mediterranean world (at it's peak in 100 AD, the population reached 400,000). The city has a massive history, so here is just a snapshot of some of its quite interesting years (yes again sourced from your trusty historian, Wiki):

Celsus Library and Mazeus Mithridates Gate
Underneath the theater foundations.
Ephesus, a territory that was traditionally Greek to the core, became subject of the Roman Republic. The city felt at once the Roman influence. Taxes rose considerably, and the treasures of the city were systematically plundered.

In 88 BC Ephesus welcomed Archelaus, a general of Mithridates the Great, king of Pontus, when he conquered Asia (the Roman name for western Asia Minor). Ephesus became, for a short time, self-governing. When Mithridates was defeated in the First Mithridatic War by the Roman consul Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Ephesus came back under the Roman rule in 86 BC. Sulla imposed a huge indemnity, along with five years of back taxes, which left Asian cities heavily in debt for a long time to come.

When Augustus became emperor in 27 BC, he made Ephesus the capital of proconsular Asia (which covered western Asia Minor) instead of Pergamum. Ephesus then entered an era of prosperity, becoming both the seat of the governor and a major center of commerce. It was second in importance and size only to Rome.Ephesus has been estimated to be in the range of 400,000 to 500,000 inhabitants in the year 100, making it the largest city in Roman Asia and of the day. Ephesus was at its peak during the 1st and 2nd century AD.

Lower Agora (city square)
Processional Way

The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis. It also had one of the most advanced aqueduct systems in the ancient world, with multiple aqueducts of various sizes to supply different areas of the city, including 4 major aqueducts. They fed a multiple set of water mills, one of which has been identified as a sawmill for marble. The city and temple were destroyed by the Goths in 263 AD. This marked the decline of the city's splendor.

During the Byzantine era (395–1308), the importance of the city as a commercial center declined as the harbor was slowly silted up by the river  despite repeated dredging during the city's history. (Today, the harbor is 5 kilometers inland). The loss of its harbor caused Ephesus to lose its access to the Aegean Sea, which was important for trade. People started leaving the lowland of the city for the surrounding hills. The ruins of the temples were used as building blocks for new homes. Marble sculptures were ground to powder to make lime for plaster.

Temple of Hadrian
The town knew again a short period of flourishing during the 14th century under new Seljuk rulers. However after a period of unrest, the region was again incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in 1425. Ephesus was eventually completely abandoned in the 15th century and lost her former glory.

After 6hrs walking around the Ephesus site we retired back to our hotels for much needed showers. We ate dinner at our new favourite ayran fountain kebab stand, before taking one last stroll around the city. We found an awesome baklava patisserie so bought 6 pieces to share. A young boy was walking around with a tray delivering Turkish tea to all the shop owners nearby. We hailed him over and ordered three. Within a minute he had rushed off to whatever tea source he had secretly hidden nearby and returned with our order. Tea delivered to you on the street at 11pm at night by a 9 year-old kid, for only 20 cents...I think Australia needs to step up its Hospitality standards. Ellen bought 6 more slices of baklava for the bus ride the next day, however, ended up eating them on the street like the addict junkie she is. We headed off to sleep, arranging to meet at 10am at the otogar the next day.

Ellen was in a baklava coma so slept like a dream boat that night. The next morning I had to slap her awake with the last remaining salted cucumber we had left in our hand luggage. We ate breakfast, packed our bags and headed out. Upon exiting the hotel we felt as if we'd stumbled into a portal to a linen fortress world. A three block radius outside the hotel was converted into a massive bedsheet castle that was filled with market stalls.

We couldn't see the sky, just a bed linen ceiling for hundreds of meters. It was the coolest thing I'd ever seen! We wanted to dump our bags back inside and explore the massive fortress, but it was already 9.55am and we knew it was going to be a mission bustling through the crowds with our ginormous bags. The stalls were selling everything from clothing, books, fresh food, house and garden equipment, electrical and even paraphernalia from other countries. Ellen spotted a tile merchant selling salted cucumbers for 5 lira per kilo, so rushed over and grabbed a 10kg sack. We met Martino at the Otogar only minutes before our bus pulled out. We were on our way to the quaint seaside town of Ayvalik.

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