After spending two and a half months in Italy and Greece, nothing could have prepared me for the culture-shock of Turkey. Here’s something to keep in mind if you’re planning on visiting Turkey after Greece . . . ferries travelling between the Greek Islands slow down dramatically in October and if you don’t get off the islands by Halloween, you’re done for. Doomed. Trapped, even. Lorna and I literally caught the last ferry from Samos in Greece to Kusadasi in Turkey on October 31st.
We weren’t trying to walk the line, it was just that we found it really hard getting off Folegandros Island in Greece, to catch the rare off-season ferry to Paros. Rare, meaning, we had to wait three days before one decided to show up. Still, it aint that bad being stranded on a Greek Island. We had a ball and relaxed more intently than we’ve ever done in our lives before. Literally, we walked on isolated beaches and along small roads for a few kilometers to the only mini-market open on the nine-kilometer-wide island, and explored old barracks and gawked at donkeys. But I won’t crap-on too much about that here, because I spent quite a bit of time on Folegandros in the last article.
Arriving in Paros we again had to wait a few days for another ferry to show up, headed for Syros. We wanted to go to Mykonos, but the ferries were done on that route altogether. Still, again, Paros was interesting to explore, at least the port. We actually wished we had a bit more time to explore the entire island.
Paros is a decent-size with plenty of restaurants, shops and hotels. From Paros we caught a ferry to Samos and then a day later another one to Kusadasi in Turkey. Finally.
Arriving late-afternoon in Kusadasi, we didn’t really have anywhere locked-in to stay. We knew the next day we wanted to explore the ruins in Ephesus, so we asked people at the ferry terminal how to get to Selcuk, a town right near Ephesus and the only place to stay if you want to explore the ruins. You see, Ephesus is a pretty big deal in Turkey. It is mentioned in the bible. It’s a two-thousand-year-old town that Turkey is trying to preserve.
The locals at the bus station told us to catch a mini-bus for $5 AU for both of us to get to Selcuk. While locating the bus, my Turkish-culture-shock really set-in. The local Turks were staring hardcore at Lorna and I and it was a little weird. Still, we should have expected that as we were the visitors and outsiders. Luckily, Lorna was wearing jeans and a jumper, and we would soon learn that if girls don’t cover up, especially blonde-girls, many, many Turkish man are going to stare and make you feel uncomfortable. The bus took about twenty minutes.
Once in Selcuk we walked around a little, looking for accomodation. Lorna’s mum had told her she’d stayed at a hotel called Jimmy’s Place around the corner from the bus station. We weren’t particularly looking for it, but we stumbled upon it. A good thing too, because it was awesome.
Basically a guy called Jimmy owns the hotel, next to another hotel he used to run but was kicked out of. I seriously cannot think of a better way to start your Turkish adventure than starting in Kusadasi, heading straight for Ephesus, with the ultimate intention of spending three weeks working your way around the coast of the country in a circle-type-shape eventually ending up in Istanbul. And, I seriously cannot think of a better place to stay than Jimmy’s Place.
Jimmy is very accomodating himself, offering you rooms starting from $45 AU per night to $200 AU a night. He also runs an in-house carpet shop, where he can ship a Turkish carpet back to Australia for you. His restaurant is awesome and there’s cold Efes beers and apple tea for you to go nuts with. His brother’s name is Adem and he runs an in-house travel agency that will set you up for your entire journey, if you like, or at least sort you out with visiting the ancient city of Ephesus and then the Travetines in Pummakale. Just don’t expect much of a view if you look out your hotel window.
During the 1st century B.C., Ephesus was the second biggest Roman city, second only to Rome itself.
I never tire from walking through a two-thousand year old ancient city.
Imagining where the local people used to hang out, what they used to talk about, where they ate . . .
If you’ve got a bit of imagination and at least a slight interest in history, you should be visiting as many ruins on this planet as you can, before modern-day-man completely tramples them to dust.
We visited the old necropolis (where important people were buried thousands of years ago in exotic stone coffins), the Roman theatre and baths.
And, although I would now recommend moving-on from Selcuk after you’ve visited the ancient city of Ephesus, we chose to keep using Jimmy’s Place as a home-base for visiting Pummakale. It’s a bit of doubling-up, but still, I think it was worth it . . .
Rob Kaay is an Australian author and musician.