Russ & Just's 'Better-late-than-never' World Tour travel blog

Just at Ephesus

Russ and Just at Ephesus theatre

Little Homesick

Ephesus Library

Ottoman Castle in Selcuk

The bus for Selcuk left Marmaris otogar at 12:00pm, and I must say that the ride was definitely the best I've ever had. The bus was very new and they had bus conductors wandering up and down the aisle distributing coffee, tea, water, coke and even muffins as complementary. The bus driver didn't even smoke and the conductor strictly enforced the no cellphone rule. The bus company was Pammukale so if any of you are planning a trip through Turkey remember this recommendation.

We had to change buses at Aydin 2 hours up the highway. Fortunately, there was a bus going to Selcuk just after we arrived. This time the bus was a smaller one and wasn't quite as good (not the same company). On the Turkish buses they come around with a little bottle of rose water to squirt in people's hands. Makes the bus smell all ... rosey.

Before we arrived Justine had called through to the Australia and New Zealand Guesthouse that is recommended in pretty much every guide book there is. Before we could ask what they charged, the guy said he'd be down at the otogar waiting for us when we arrived. We hadn't told him what time we'd be arriving or anything. When we got there some other guy was trying to sell us his guesthouse, but when we mentioned we were staying at the ANZ guesthouse he went off to find the guy for us. We've since come to realise that despite their hardout sales push they are genuinely helpful people and will go out of their way to help even if your buying the services of one of their rivals. I thought Chet was leading us to his van or something to takes us to the guesthouse, but no, it turns out the ANZ isn't far up the road. In fact Selcuk was a whole lot smaller than I thought it'd be. You pretty much walk everywhere quite easily.

The guy (Chet) from the ANZ appeared shortly afterwards beckoning for us to follow. As we passed by people sitting around the station, heaps of them would shout out "Gidday mate". How did they know? We thought to ourselves. It became apparent when we got to the guesthouse. The guys there were larger than life. The family who ran the place had lived in Australia for 12 years where the kids grew up. They moved back to Turkey in the late 80s and started selling carpets. They opened the guesthouse shortly afterwards and it appears everyone in Selcuk knows them. The place is run by one of the sons Harry. All the other kids are living abroad.

Bloody hardcase. All the staff there are really helpful and keen to talk to you and they all the Australian accented "Gidday mate" down to a tee. Chet is one of the helpers and Simon is the chef. They're not their real names of course but I think they don't use their real names much even amongst themselves. Harry doesn't even know what Simon's Turkish name is anymore. There's another guy that helps run the carpet shop side of the business - Ali Baba. I doubt that is his real name, but it s amusing all the same. He likes hanging out with the backpackers and enjoys talking about carpets. It's probably just a sales pitch, but hey, he doesn't force anything on you.

Great place to stay. They have traditional turkish seating areas with cushions and everything. The BBQ dining area on the top terrace is fantastic and overlooks the countryside around the town. Every night they have a BBQ dinner. It costs $15 and you preorder what you want. Bloody good feed. The rooms are good too. Nothing too flash but have everything you want. They really try to make you feel at home.

They have a really quite little kitten that the owner had adopted from the street. It didn't have a mother so it now lives at the ANZ. Its name is Homesick and just love attention. It followed me around for ages squawking and meowing at me if I stopped patting her. If you sat down she'd jump up on your shoulder and smooch your head. She was a bit smelly though.

Once we'd settled in, we went out before dinner and visited the small museum just down the road. It contained a lot of stuff from the site of Ephesus and surrounds and was worth a quick visit.

Dinner was great then we headed out again to take a look at the festival that was happening down in the town centre. When we got there, it was just like any small town westernised fair with a centre stage containing pretty average local acts, and lots of teenagers dressed up to impress each other. They were even selling candyfloss. We were kind of expecting to see a lot of headscarves on the woman, but they were very few and far between. No sign of sharia law in these parts. The festival was pretty lame so we went back to ANZ for a sleep.

All over the town, and indeed every other town as well, there are giant billboards or posters with pictures of Mustafa Kamal Attaturk draped over every second building. If your town didn't have a statue of Attaturk in it somewhere, then you weren't a Turkish town. Even though he died in 1939 of sirosis of the liver from too much drinking, he's on everything everywhere.

The next day we arranged for Ali Baba to take us out to Selcuk's main drawcard, Ephesus, one of the most intact Roman cities on the Mediterranean. We arrived at about 10:00am just as all the tour groups arrived. I've never seen a place so packed. I guess because Ephesus is fairly narrow, people follow the same path, therefore, creating gridlock. Not good for taking photos. Despite the throngs, it was fantastic. Very well preserved. Especially the library that was partially reconstructed by some Germans a while back, and the theatre. We decide not to go into the closed off area where the frescoes in the houses we being displayed because it cost extra and we couldn't be bothered, but by all accounts is really fascinating.

We didn't have to wait too long for Ali Baba to pick us up again at the back entrance to Ephesus as planned. We went into town after that and got a $1 kebab for lunch. Bloody cheap. There are lots of cats around Selcuk and as we were walking through town this little baby one started howling as his mum left him for a bit to go and find some food. Talk about sooky bubba. He did the same thing again the next time we walked passed too.

After lunch, we wandered up to another of the attractions in Selcuk, the old Basilika. We paid the entrance fee and wandered around. Pretty average really considering what we'd just seen at Ephesus for not much more lira. On the way out some guy was trying to palm off some old coins as genuine ancient ones. We'd already heard about the goat scam where fake coins are feed to goats so that as they come out the other end, they look remarkably like the real thing. No deal buddy. There is a medieval Ottoman castle on the hill behind the Basilika that I would have liked to have gone and seen, but it hasn't been open in years, if ever. Damn shame really. It could be quite a draw card.

We met some really nice people at the ANZ. An Italian guy named Giorgio didn't fit the Italian stereotype at all. He was quietly spoken and seemed very open-minded and genuine. Maybe it was because he was from Sardinia not the mainland. He had been working in London also doing all sorts of stuff. At one point, he worked for Gordon Ramsey as a bartender. He said that Ramsey was nothing like the swearing bastard you see on TV. It is all for show. Another guy we met was from Singapore. You don't tend to meet many people from Singapore, they're not great travellers. He too had been working in London and was on his homeward journey like us, only he was just starting and had another eight months to go. He had an interesting take on things being from such a small country.

We really did enjoy Selcuk. More for the people and the welcoming feel of the place rather than the sights. Even though they were great too.

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