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February 20, 2011

Destination: Turkey

We are going to Turkey! It has been on our list for a long time. It fits well into our preference for travel in the Fall. I asked for two weeks off and my request was approved. We found some good airlines tickets - US Air to Los Angeles. Then a not so good layover of 4-5 hours. Then a direct 14 hour Turkish Air flight to Istanbul. All for under $1000. Yes!

We have decided to stay 7 nights in Istanbul. It was very difficult to decide between the old town Sultanahmet district and the newer Beyoğlu area. Many of the ancient historical sites and bazaars are in the Sultanahmet district. But it is also the area that is mostly tourist. We finally decided to stay Beyoğlu near the Galata Tower. It should be easy to get to the historical area via either tram or walking.

We wanted to stay in an apartment. Istanbul Holiday Apartments were recommend both in the Lonely Planet and Rick Steves guide books. We remembered how much we enjoyed having a view in Menton so we have decided to stay Deluxe View Glorya apartment/

We only have about 5 days after Istanbul and G really wants to see Ephesus. We plan to fly to Izmir and stay three nights in a small town about 30 minutes called Şirince. We fell in love with the cottages at Nisanyan House. We have reserved the "Hideaway" cottage.

So all that is left is to find a place for two night along the Aegean coast. We are thinking of Kas and to get intra-Turkey flights. We hope to be able to fly into Izmir and out of Antalya. It is a long 6 hour drive from Izmir to Kas so we are still discussing this leg of the trip. Oh yes, and the last night in Istanbul before our flight back to LA.

We are so excited. This is the earliest that we have booked a trip. We did our South Africa trip in March/April for September. But typically we wait until closer. Lots of time to study and get prepared.


September 30, 2011

Turkey - Departure in one week

Planning for Turkey

Well it is down to just a week before we leave for Turkey. It has been a long wait - a bit longer than we typically do for a trip. We are not the type that start planning as soon as we return or a year or more in advance. But with my new job, I needed to stake out a specific time for vacation so we started looking back in January. We started searching first for flights. Most of the flights were through Chicago or multiple stops. I think the most unusual was Seattle to Pittsburgh to Warsaw to Istanbul. But G stumbled upon a low cost ($900) fare via Los Angeles. Turkish Airlines had just introduced non-stops from LA to Istanbul on Boeing 777. We snagged it.

Next we started looking for accommodations. We knew we wanted an apartment and wanted to stay about a week. The most I could take off was just about two weeks - bummer. We poured over the VRBO, searched the web but ended up deciding to stay at Istanbul Holiday Apartments. We decided on the Glorya Deluxe View. It is a little pricey but we really wanted a view and we love all the amenities and location. We debated between staying in Sultanahmet historic area or the newer area across the Golden horn in Beyoğlu. The Beyoğlu area appealed to us.

Next we debated over and over how to spend the remaining 6 days. I really wanted to go hunting for autumn flowers. Autumn crocuses are native to Turkey along with other fall bulbs and I really wanted to spend some time in the hills. But G really wanted to see Ephesus. So we finally decided to focus on the Western Aegean coast. We are staying three nights at Nişanyan Hotel in Şirince. We are staying in one cottages. We will spend a day exploring Ephesus and other near by ruins or Dilek National Park and a second day driving out to see the ruins at Aphrodisias. It will be an all day drive to Aphrodisias and back but we also hope to explore some of the hills nearby looking for fall blooming bulbs.

For the final two days we will move to Lake Bafa which will give us a bit of a nature escape. We will stay at the Agora Pension. I loved this article from Conde Naste UK. We will visit Didyma on the way. The last day will be spend explore and relaxing at Lake Bafa. We will have one last night in Istanbul. We will spend it at Faros Hotel in Sultanahmet before the long slog home.

We can not wait!

October 1, 2011

Istanbul Food

I am excited to explore Turkish Food. Typically in the past I have been able to get a handle on typical food served and what to expect on a menu. Of course, it helps knowing a bit of the Latin languages. I've been able to navigate my way around French, Spanish and Italian menus just knowing a few words and having cooked typical dishes. I also was able to eventually manage a Dutch menu knowing a few typical words for meats, vegetables and styles of cooking. But I'm struggling Turkish dishes.

Another challenge is to get to know typical meat dishes for G since he doesn't eat meat. There will be many options but a few might trip us up like some of the stuff (dolmas). The breads will be very interesting from the sesame or nigella seed simit and the flat lavaş. Wonderful cold and hot mezes. If it turns cool, we will enjoy soups including red lentil soup. I will want to try the meats especially the lamb.

Some sites that have been very useful:

Wikipedia Turkish Cuisine
Istanbul Eats - Local expert who highlights many of the smaller home style cooking
Istanbul archives from Parla Food
Istanbul archives from Eating Asia
Deciphering what is on the menu
Istanbul Food

I'm also looking forward to trying several of the sweets. The ice cream, dondurma, is thick like taffy. It is thickened with the root of an orchid sahlep. Turkish Delight is a gelled candy similar to Aplets and Cotlets. And of course lots of Baklava. I'm going to search out branches of Güllüoglu. I'm also hoping to try baked quinces which is a fall specialty.

October 5, 2011

Western Aegean and What is the price of gas?


View Larger Map
Ephesus - zoom in (+) to see the ruins

We have gotten more into the nitty and gritty of our itinerary. We have been looking at our time in the along the Aegean Sea in Western Turkey. We will have a car and we plan to explore the ruins in the area. The main attraction is Ephesus. But we also want to explore some of the small ruins of Didyma, Priene, Miletus and farther inland Aphrodisias. The drive to Aphrodisias will be a long. Most of the estimates say it is between 3 and 3 1/2 hours. But the ruins look stunning. We looked over the route in Google and it is mostly along a valley floor. We also want to do some plant exploring although we probably won't have time but if we do we'll try a few of the roads up from Nazilli. We have been looking at the photos in this album and got some ideas. It will just be if we have time (or can get up early).

We wondered about the price of gas and got a rude awaking. According to Wikipedia, it is one of the most expensive places in Europe. It is more expensive than Italy and UK and only the Netherlands come close. We have heard that there are not a lot of cars on the road - no wonder with the price of gas around 2.64 per liter. That makes it $10.00/gallon!!! It may cost $25 in gas to get to Aphrodisias one way according to Via Michelin. Yazzaa!

October 9, 2011

Arrival in Istanbul

Galata Tower

Well the day finally came to depart. We headed to the airport after leaving our car at our good friends near the airport. The first leg was a codeshare on United. I was worried because we hadn't gotten seats or how to check in but it went smoothly. Just a swipe of the credit card and quick read of the passports.

It was on one of those smaller 2x2 seat Canadian air jets. We had a great view over the Cascades and Sierras before landing in LAX. Then a 15 minute walk from the United Express terminal to the main International Terminal. We went up to the food court and had some lunch. Crappy selection. We then went for a walk around in the sun. There is a cool building in the middle of the airport - it houses The Encounter restaurant and an observation deck. We decided to check it out. We happened to go up to the restaurant by mistake. The elevator music and ride is wild. They have this spacey 60's lounge music going on during the ride. We were not there for the lunch but wanted to go to the observation deck. So we took a different elevator. Great views of the airport on the deck and watching the plane spotters.

We were going to get a beer before leaving but found out that we needed to check in again. Doh! By time we got through checking in with a little bit of hassle regarding our carry on. I had to take some items out to the backpack - it was off to security.

The flight itself was not too bad. It was a 777 so we had our own entertainment unit. Food was okay. We had a couple of Efes beers to start off. After dinner we curled up and tried to sleep. The plane had a 3-3-3 configuration but fortunately the woman next to me moved up to the bulkhead and I had some room to spread out and get up during the night.

We got in about 1 hour early. First stop was at the Visa. The line went really fast, hand them your passport, $20 and you get a postage like stamp. Then it was time to queue up in the really long line for passport control. That took about 30 minutes. Then exit and our driver was waiting. It was raining and the drive in was interesting. The roads were packed and you definitely had to be assertive and defensive. It took about 30 minutes before we were driving across the Ataturk bridge and we could see the Galata Tower.

The roads were steep, narrow and one way around the tower. We were met at the door and led up the curving five - yes five flights of stairs to our apartment. It felt a little sparse at first but it has everything we need, full kitchen, internet, washer dryer. We had thought about going out to eat but with the wet street and encroaching darkness - we decided just to hang out.

We heard the evening call to prayer just as we drifted off to sleep.


LAX Observation Deck
LAX - Observation deck and building housing the Encounters restaurant

LAX Observation Deck
Plane spotters at LAX

LAX Observation Deck
View from the roof at LAX

Apartment
Our apartment

View from our Apartment
View at night across the Galata bridge to Sultanahmet

October 10, 2011

Istanbul walking in the rain and food

Istiklal Caddessi

G and I fell right to sleep but woke several times. I slept through the morning call to prayer but G heard it. We finally got up about 9 am and got out to get supplies. First stop coffee. Around the corner is a local coffee roaster. We order cafe lattes and some ground coffee for the morning. It is called the Cherry Bean Coffees and it was just what we needed. Next we tried to find the grocery store. It was supposed to be in the 'ugly building' but didn't see it. So we headed down the street the Migros M-stop was to be located and found that store. We got some morning supplies for later this week. Then hauled them back up the 5 flights to the apartment and then headed back down for breakfast at Molly's Cafe.

Now to find Istiklal Caddesi. We headed up Galipdede Caddesi which is fascinating. The street is filled with stores selling musical instruments; many types of string guitar, lutes, and cymbals. We will become very familiar with this street over the next few days.

This street takes us up the hill to Tünel. Istiklal Caddesi starts here and runs for about a mile and half. It it pedestrian and lined with a variety of shops, restaurants. A charming old tram from early 1900's runs along the middle.

Unfortunately the rain had started. We wanted to buy a transit card for the next few days. They now have an electronic card that you can fill to use. It is also amazing the wide variety of restaurants along the street selling everything from greasy Turkish hamburgers, doner, shish kabobs to ethnic women rolling out dough for gözleme. But by now we are soaked and head back after stopping at Inci Pastanesi for a cream puff.

We picked up a couple of Efes beers and hang out. We almost call it a night but I convinced G to go out for dinner. I spied a good fish restaurant that I saw written up in Istanbul Eats - http://istanbuleats.com/2010/02/the-best-little-fish-house-in-galata-gets-a-bit-bigger/">Furreyya. We had a bowl of fish soup, a chopped tomato salad along with grilled fish, sea bream for me and sea bass for G. I loved the bream and the bass wasn't bad either. Total was 55 lira - not bad at all considering it was 37 for breakfast.

We headed back up Galipdede Caddesi to explore Istiklal Caddesi at night since the rain had stopped for a bit. We explored the alleys of Asmali Mecit and Nevizade with the restaurant hawker trying to entice us in for a meal. Some places were packed and other really empty. Most of the ones in the guide books were pretty full.

We also stopped for some turkish ice cream at Mado. This ice cream is made from goats milk and thicked with the root of orchids. It was quite good. Mado has a nice selection also. We had pistachio and chestnut. I had to have chestnut because the streets have been lined with carts selling hot chestnuts.

The rain started again and we headed back. Our first full day in Instanbul.

Some street and food scenes

Music store in Galata
Music store in Galata

Taksim tram

Taksim tram

Transport in the rain

Galata street scene
Street in Galata

Fashions in Galata
Fashion in Galata

Istiklal Caddessi
Istiklal Caddessi at night

Profiterole  Inci Pastanesi
Profiterole from Inci Pastanesi

Rolling gözleme
Rolling gözleme

Turkish delight
Turkish delight

Fish market

Fish Market

Sea Bream for dinner
Sea Bream for dinner


October 11, 2011

Sultanahmet

Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia

Jet lag hit us hard last night. Neither one of us slept very well. We were also slow on getting around but we finally made it out.

This was our day to explore the older historic district of Sultanhahmet. We walked down the steep hill to Karakoy to catch the tram to Sultanahmet. It was easy. The card worked great and it is 1.75 tl a ride. It does add up for two people - basically 7 tl a round trip for two.

The line to get into the Hagia Sophia was still about a block long so we went over to find the belly dancing store. We want to get some finger cymbals for a friend that does tribal fusion dance and a store nearby was recommended on Trip Advisor. It was not open yet so we went on to the Hagia Sophia.

The line moved quickly. Stepping into the main area with the beautiful hanging lights, your eyes circle around and up to take in the gorgeous dome and architecture. Vistors from all over stare up and shoot photos. Even on an overcast day the light is amazing but difficult to photgraph. I loved the floating lights and the mosaics. We wove in and out of the crowds while taking in the architecture of the building.

Next up, the Basilica Cistern, a large cistern below Istanbul. Do you remember Dr No where James Bond is chased in the underground cistern. That is what reminded us. You walk on platforms between the columns. Pretty neat.

Then it was back to the belly dancing - still not there and it was after 1pm. So we headed to the Blue Mosque. I thought I knew what times were prayer times but I timed it wrong. It must go for about 1 hour after the call. We waited around as people started to leave and I got very anxious. I did not have a scarf but they said you could get one at the entrance. It was finally time to allow visitors again and we went around to the front. We took off our shoes and put them in a bag. A woman was offering scarf and said I did not need to wear one but I preferred so I took one of the ones available. They were pieces of blue broadcloth.

The carpet is so soft and blue tile so beautiful. The prayer area is partitioned off and everything is quiet - a sanctuary even with the visitors. I remember two women patrolling the area partioned for prayer. We exit, put on our shoes and leave a donation.

The third time for the belly dancing store was the charm. He was open but did not have the ones we had seen in the catalog. He suggests we return on Friday. So it is off now for the Grand Bazaar. Everything starts to become a blur of sights and noise. I need lunch or at least some place to sit down. There is a restaurant in the Grand Bazaar - Havuzlu Lokanta. We wait a moment to orient ourselves and head off. We find it easily and the waiter rushes us up to the steam table and basically makes the decisions for us. I have a lamb stew topped with a cheesy bechemel sauce that is tasty. George has the bonito which has been baked but is now cold. We are late for lunch. But it is an experience - food is okay especially for about 50 TL which was what we paid the previous night for dinner.

We spend a while walking the rows of the bazaar - not making eye contact - so we are not hassled much. Then it is back on tram to Karakoy. We decide to walk to the renown baklava bakery - Karaköy Güllüoğlu. It takes us a bit to figure it out. We ask the cashier. You order what you want, they write it up, you pay and then go back and get what you ordered. The baklava is divine and perfect with the tulip shaped glass of tea.

We didn't want to tackle the hill up to the apartment so we take the Tunel, one of the oldest metros. It is a funicular that goes basically one stop up from Karakoy to Tunel which is at the end of Istiklal Caddessi. It is a short walk down to our apartment.

Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia

Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque

Basilica Cistern

Grand Bazaar
Blue Mosque

Tunel Funicular

Baklava at Karaköy Güllüoğlu
Baklava at Karaköy Güllüoğlu

November 3, 2011

Lake Bafa

Byzantine ruins at Lake Bafa


October 19, 2011

We wanted to spend our last days in Turkey away from the crush of tourists. We also were looking for someplace where we might have a chance to do a hike and do some wildflower hunting. The Eastern Mediterranean area is known for the fall blooming bulbs such as crocus, daffodils and cyclamen. After the rain we had during our week in Istanbul, there was a chance we might spot some wildflowers.

We choose the Lake Bafa area. This area was originally a gulf along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The silt from the Meanders River eventually built up to close off the gulf and created the lake. This also moved the famous ruins Ephesus from being along the seaside to several miles inland. Today it is located along the road between Izmir and Bodrum.

The Beşparmak Mountains run along the north shore of Lake Bafa. The highest point is about 4,000 ft. It isn’t a single mountain but a range of different rocky fingers spread out over an area. The slopes are covered with large boulders and caves reminding me much of Pinnacles National Monument.

The area has continuously been settled since the Bronze Ages. Rock paintings have been found in the area around Latmos on the slopes of the mountain. Endymion was sacred to the early people in the area. They built shrines and the myth has him and Selene residing at Latmos. The Greeks moved into the Ionian area of Western Turkey around 4th century BC. They built a city and dedicated it to Heracles thus the name of Heracleia by Latmos. The area changed hands through the years falling to the Persians and later to the Romans. In the 7th century, Christian monks from the Sinai region moved to the area to escape from the Muslims. They built several Byzantine monasteries and castles which are now in ruins along the lake and hillside.

Kapikiri is a small village of about 300 people located on the north shores of Lake Bafa. It is built up within the Greek ruins of a temple to Athena. There are several pensions or pansiyon in Turkish located in the village which cater to hikers and tourists that want to get away. The villagers mainly tend to their animals which are housed next to or under their houses. The village women also sell handmade necklace, scarves and other items to the hikers and other tourists that venture to the end of the road.

We arrived at Kapikiri in the afternoon, just as they were bringing in the cows. Cows blocked our way along the road several times as they were moved between the villages. We had reservations at the Agora Pension. I had found it listed in several areas on the web including the Small Hotels of Turkey . It was also mentioned in an article in the UK Conde Nast. It was very clean and comfortable. We had half board (breakfast and dinner) included in our cost. The host spoke just a little English. He had understood that G did not eat meat but ate fish. Somehow he thought I was vegetarian. I tried to explain I did eat meat but I finally figured out they planned their meals around me being vegetarian. No problem. The meals each night were wonderful. G had a large fish freshly caught from the lake and I had a couple of extra vegetarian mezes. Perfect. We usually also had a soup and a shepherd salad which was usually cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and spicy greens (arugula, lettuce, parsley).

We walked around the village and down to the lake shore where we were able to see the ruins of several Byzantine castles and monasteries along the lake side and just off shore. They day was sunny, crisp and clear. It would be a perfect place to end our trip.

Moving the cows -Golyaka at  Lake Bafa
Moving the cows along the road to Kipikiri - just outside the village of Golyaka.

Farm woman bringing home the cows at Kapikiri
Farm woman bringing the cows home

Kapikiri
Kapikiri

Kapikiri
Kapikiri

Golyaka
Golyaka village

Lake Bafa
Lake Bafa

Ruins at Lake Bafa
Ruins at Lake Bafa

Ruins around Kapikiri
Ruins at Kapikiri

Lake Bafa
Shoreside at Lake Bafa

Agora Pension - Lake Bafa
Agora Pension

Agora Pension - Kapikiri
Our room at the Agora Pension

Agora Pension
Outside our room

Agora Pension - Kapikiri
Dining room at Agora Pension

Agora Pension
Efes beer at dinner

November 4, 2011

Hike to Yediler - Monastary of the Seven Brothers

Hike to Yediler


October 20, 2011

The next morning we awoke to the braying of the donkey in the yard behind the pension and the call to prayer by the local muezzin. There are 5 calls to prayer and we got so we could tell what time it was by the call. All the mosques have an external speaker system so you can’t avoid hearing the call. Surprising often we were able to sleep through the sunrise call.

Breakfast was the usual Turkish country breakfast consisting of a myriad of small dishes; tomato, cucumber, olives, jam, yogurt, spicy red pepper paste. Along with these small dishes, we also had bread, an egg, and a rolled up savory fried crepe. The Turks usually have tea in small tulip shaped glasses with breakfast but we opted for coffee.

Breakfast at Agora Pension - Kapikiri


We asked the host for information on doing a hike. We pointed on a map and asked if we could do a hike up to the ruins of Heraclea. No – that takes 6 hours. He suggested the hike/walk to Yediler the 7th century ruins of a Byzantine monetary. I had done some web research on hiking options the previous night. I found a helpful photo blog from a Seattle couple who had visited the area in 2000. The Seattle couple had also done this hike so I had a good visual idea of the trail.

The trail starts at Golyaka 4 km from Kapikiri. We drove to the village – delayed again by a cow roadblock. We were uncertain where exactly to find the trail. It was no problem. Next to a restaurant, there was a large sign that said trail to Monastery along with information on how to hire a guide and ‘free’ parking. We pulled in and quickly got out to avoid being approached for a guide.

We started up the ‘street’ next to the restaurant. It was mostly cement but pretty broken up and batched with asphalt in places. Village houses were on both sides along with the villagers animals. The houses were usually two stories with the first story being partially open to house the family animals. We saw donkeys, cows, sheep and chickens all housed around the houses. None of them had big yards. You could definitely tell it was a farm village by the smell, hay and droppings.

After a couple of wrong turns, we arrived at the top of village. We looked around for the trail knowing it would follow along a stone wall fence. The fence was pretty easy to find and after a bit we located the footpath. It wasn’t marked with paint as we seen on trails in France and Italy but it was easy to follow by watching the boot tracks. The hills were brilliant green, the sky clear blue and the trees were mostly olive or shrubby oak. We were pleasantly surprised to find fields of the daffodils below the olive and oak trees. The views down to the lake and villages below were stunning.

Soon we could see the ruins in the distance. We climbed up some more following between two stone fences and through a couple of gates which we finally figured out you open by untying and retying the plastic rope.

The ruins were just beyond...

Hike to Yediler - start of trail

Hike to Yediler

Hike to Yediler

Hike to Yediler - Lake Bafa and Kapikiri in distance

Hike to Yediler - Golyaka in distance

Hike to Yediler - Beşparmak Mountains

Hike to Yediler

Acorns

Hike to Yediler - Lake Bafa

Hike to Yediler - trail between two stone fences

Hike to Yediler - trail between two stone fences

Hike to Yediler - Lake Bafa vista

Hike to Yediler - Beşparmak Mountains

Hike to Yediler

Fields of daffodil - Narcissus serotinus

Fall daffodil - Narcissus serotinus

Hike to Yediler - one of the fences we had to open along the trail

Hike to Yediler


November 6, 2011

Frescoes at Yediler

Ruins at Yedlier

October 20, 2011

After hiking about 2 hours, we reached the ruins of Yediler also known as the Monastery of the Seven Brothers. The walls are all that is left of the monastery. You can find the small stone alcoves where they slept. They were very small but did have a window with a view of the lake. The ruins are spread between two areas which look somewhat like the living quarters and the chapel. What an austere life it must have been.

We also were trying to find the frescoes which they painted on the underside of a large rock. A group of French hikers arrived and I asked them if they had seen them. Oui. Ou? They pointed just down below. Off we went to try to find the rock. We circled around the area a couple of times and almost gave up before we noticed some cairns and followed them. The rock had a hollowed out overhang which they had plastered over and painted pictures of the story of Christ. It was amazing to see these frescoes that were centuries old outside on the hillside. The overhang had protected them surprisingly through the years although people had vandalized many of the faces. But still very amazing.

Ruins at Yedlier

Ruins at Yedlier

Ruins at Yedlier

Ruins at Yedlier

Ruins at Yedlier  - love that rock formation ;)

Lake Bafa Panorama

Frescos at Yediler

Frescos near ruins of Yedlier

Frescos at Yediler

Frescos at Yediler

November 7, 2011

Şirince

Sirince village

October 16, 2011

Şirince was our second destination in Turkey. We wanted to spend part of our Turkey vacation along the Aegean area of Western Turkey. The ancient Greek and Roman ruins, primarily Ephesus, were the primary draw to the region. We looked at the different places to stay in the region. Kuşadası was one possibility. It is a cruise ship stop and also a destination resort so it did not sound like our style. Selçuk which is about 10km from Ephesus sounded interesting but it was the small village of Şirince located in the hills above Selçuk that caught our eye and fancy. The idea of staying in a smaller Turkish village and up in the hills sounded really interesting.

Şirince was originally called Cirkince which means ugly. Stories say that the ancient settlers moved inland and uphill from Ephesus for security and called the village 'ugly' as part of their protection from outsiders. Up until the Turkish Independence in 1922, the village was inhabited by Byzantine Greeks. Most of the villagers migrated to Greece at Turkey became a republic. The village was later re-habited by Turks from different regions and the village was renamed Şirince which means charming.

We flew into Izmir, the 2nd largest city in Turkey and rented a car. It was an easy quick hour drive on the toll road to Selçuk. We knew from the instructions on the Turkey Travel planner to watch for a sign. We thought it might be a small sign; the turn was clearly marked by a large brown sign just as you entered the town. We turned and drove a few blocks along the outskirts of Selçuk before entering the groves of mandarin tangerines and figs. The road passes small roadside stands selling fruit or home cooked lunches. Most were closed already for the season. The road narrowed and started switch backing and climbing nearly 1,000 ft to the village through the hillsides covered in Mediterranean chaparral.

I had read that the village was being overrun more and more by busloads of day tripping tourists. We drove cautiously not wanting to meet a large bus on one of the curves. Fortunately, you could see the road farther up the hill and could see what traffic was coming down or going up. It was Sunday and we discovered it was a very popular day to visit Şirince.

We reached the outskirts of the village looking for signs to our hotel which was located above the village. The directions had us looking for a 'totem' which would point to the dirt covered road which would take us up around the village to the hotel located above. The hotel had told us not to enter the village because it is so small. We were met with a traffic jam of several buses and cars before we even reached the village. The buses and cars were waiting to turn into the main parking lot at the edge of the village. Once they had turned, we were able to locate the signs and proceeded up to our hotel. We noticed several over flow parking lots along the beginning of the road - a clear indicator that the village was popular.

We had a couple of hours before sundown and dinner so we decided to walk down from the hotel to the village. The village climbs up the hills and our hotel was located just above the village. The path started down over stone path and stairs to several houses that are part of the hotel. From there it was a little confusing. The streets crisscrossed between the houses, often seeming no more than a driveway. We continued down following a few others tourists until we reached the main intersection of the town.

Yes, it was crowded. The main portion consists of several streets radiating from a main intersection. The streets were lined with several stores selling the main products of the town, fruit wine and olive oil. Also lining the main street were village women selling a wide variety of home made goods from jam, pekmezi (grape molasses), needlework, jewelry, herbs, dried vegetables, flowers and soap. Each one was hocking and trying to get the tourists to stop and buy their goods. The village men were in tea houses talking and watching TV.

The village itself is very pretty. The houses were built in the 1800's and framed in dark wood. Many of the houses are two stories with the lower story made of stone and the roof covered with red clay tiles. We enjoyed climbing up the curving stone streets and looking up at the beauty of several of the restored houses.

We decided to sample the fruit wine. Most of it was pretty bad but we bought a bottle of the mulberry which was not too bad. It was similar to blackberry but a bit more interesting. Both black and white mulberry is grown in Turkey as part of the manufacture of silk. We had mulberry jam also one morning as part of the Turkish breakfast.

We stopped in the village again on Monday after touring Ephesus and found it much quieter. We had a good early dinner in one of the restaurants. It had turned very cold and we choose one of the restaurants that were heated. Several of the restaurants were located on open terraces and patios which would have been great in warmer weather but with the temperatures in the 40's we wanted it warm.

Would I stay in Şirince again or recommend it? It is tough to say. The large influx of tourists day tripping after or before Ephesus is good for the village business but looses the appeal for me. But after the day trippers went home, it was a very beautiful place. I can see how the charm would grow on you.

For more on this village, here is a good link from our hotel Nisanyan. Here are some scenes of the shops in the village.

Path to Sirince village
Path from our hotel to the village

Jams for sale in Sirince village
Jams for sale

Bazaar in Sirince village
Local bazaar selling clothing

Herbs and dried vegetables Sirince village
Herbs and dried vegetables

Wooden toys
Wooden toys, jams and soap

Fruit wine store in Sirince
Fruit wine for sale

Mobile egg vendor in Sirince
Mobile vendor selling eggs and other fresh goods - check out the scale in the van.

Local women at the fruit stand
Local women buying at the vegetable stands

Pomegranates
Pomegranates were in season - you could get one juiced for 1 euro.

Grape harvestSirince village
Grapes were also being harvested

Sirince village
Local vendors

Village women selling their wares in Sirince
Village women with their wares

Traffic jam in Sirince village
The real reason not to drive into the village

Sirince village spilling up over the hillside
The village houses over the hillside - our hotel was the last white house at the top of the village

November 8, 2011

Şirince Houses

October 16, 2011

Here are some more pictures of Şirince. These show the unique architecture that is being restored in the village. Farming is also an important part of the community and the farmers brought both their equipment and their animals to their homes.

Sirince architecture
Many of the houses were whitewashed with wood timbered shutters and doors.

Sirince architecture

Sirince architecture

Farmer tractor in Sirince
Village farmers lived in town and it was not usual to see tractors parked along the street. It is a working farm village.

Local goat pen - Sirince architecture
The animals were also housed in the village including this curious goat

Bundles of wood for winter
Wood had already been gathered for winter and stored in bundles on roofs or fences

Sirince restaurant
Restaurants were scattered among the houses and the streets were usually lines with flowers.

Sirince architecture
I loved the color of this window

November 12, 2011

Priene, Turkey

Priene Turkey


October 17,2011

We awoke to the braying of the donkey in the valley below our hotel in Sirince. The light was muted through the curtains so we knew it was still overcast. It was also very cold but no frost. We went up to the main kitchen area. A couple of other people were sitting outside in the patio but it was a little too cold for us so we choose to eat in the kitchen. It was warm and cozy. The breakfast was filling with its variety of small dishes, egg and a fried crepe along with nice hot coffee.

Priene Turkey

We had read that Ephesus was very busy in the mornings with busloads of tourists from the cruise ships that had docked in Kuşadası. There are also three smaller ruins in the area; Priene, Miletus and Didyma. We looked at a map and Priene was not too far away. We decided to go to it first and then visit Ephesus in the afternoon.

It took about an hour to drive from Sirince to Priene which is located just beyond the major town of Soke. The road just outside of Soke was lined with outlet stores. We recognized a couple of the brands but we were not interested in shopping.


Priene Turkey
Tunnel on the Otoroad between Selcuk and Soke

We turned off and headed towards Güllübahce where Priene is located. One side of the road was the silt filled bay of the Meanders River and the other side was the foothills of Mount Mycale. It was easy to find following the brown signs which are used to signify tourist sites.
There were a couple of buses already in the parking lot. The attendant showed us where to park and we paid the parking fee and went into the small building to pay the entrance. We were excited. It was our first ruins.

Priene is very interesting. The city was built up the hillside which was originally along the bayshore. It is laid out in a grid pattern. The city was part of the Greek Ionian League of cities in the 8th century BC. It was captured and held by the Persians until Alexander the Great conquered the Persian at which time Prience was rebuild. Alexander the Great dedicated the lovely temple of Athena in 334 BC.

Priene Turkey
Column ruins of the Temple of Athena in Priene

It is a lovely setting. The vistas look over the valley below to the distant sea. Above the ruins are the hillsides of Mount Mycale. It is quiet with the wind gently rustling through the pines. I really liked the theater and the stately column ruins of the temple of Athena. Walking along the streets and through the agora (market), you could feel what it was like to live there.

Priene Turkey
Town of Güllübahce in the distance

Priene Turkey
Walls of the city

Priene Turkey
The Agora or market area

Priene Turkey
Stairs leading up to the center of the ruins

Priene Turkey
Cool bulb that was in bloom among the ruins - Drimia maritima

Priene Turkey
We saw these tortoises at all the ruins

Priene Turkey
I loved the brilliant green trees

Priene Turkey
Columns at the ruins of the temple of Athena

Priene Turkey
Details of the top of the columns

Priene Turkey

Priene Turkey

Priene Turkey
Theater - They had the coolest chairs

Priene Turkey

Priene Turkey

Priene Turkey


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