Home of Ephesus, one of the best preserved Roman cities in the world and one of Turkeys most visited places. We came here for Charlie. He is fascinated with History – Particularly the Romans and this was a perfect opportunity for him to see just how far outside of Rome the Romans conquered.
Selcuk is a very confined place in that everything is within short walking distance. It’s actually a perfect backpacker place full of pensions (Basically someone has a room spare in their house and so rents it out, food usually included) and cheap street food.
I knew where we were headed to once off the bus and so walked the few minutes there, I rarely name where we stay but it was the Kiwi Pension. I had booked ahead and so turning up should have been a simple affair. Owned by a Kiwi we arrived and was told “yeah mate sorry, the only room we’ve got available is 45 Euro” It was a stinking tiny room with a midget sized double bed. I told him I’d booked a triple for 25 Euro only to be told “yeah about that…” Herein lies the problem with Lonely Planet. Once a place gets featured in LP their customer base massively increases and so they begin to take the piss and the whole thing that got them listed goes right out of the window as they get greedy.
I left and outside asked an elderly woman if she knew where all the pensions were. She barely spoke English but gestured we follow her. A few minutes later we arrived at a house. Once there her husband said on broken English that we should come in. I asked if this was a pension and he said “no no, come in please, stay, look after children” Basically the woman had taken us to her house and given us a room for the night. I was grateful in a way I can’t put into words. If their combined age wasn’t about 300 I’d have gone to the shop, got the beers in and suggested we put some Sky Sports on. I did buy them breakfast though, only a few loaves of bread and you’d have thought I’d just married their daughter off for an English the visa with the smiles on their faces. We were so grateful.
The following morning my main man from the local mosque had some lemon and honey, cleared his throat and obviously forgot to look at the clock before blasting out his singing voice early morning. Actually, I might joke but I really don’t mind, how can I, I’m in his country! It’s actually a call to prayer and distinctly Islam. He is basically saying “Look guy’s, I get your tired and that but you really should be coming down here to pray, when your bent over no one will notice if you have a few sly minutes shut eye, so get on with it or I’m going to look a right knob for getting up and singing for nothing” It’s one of the things I find fascinating about Islam, I think it’s such a spell bindingly interesting religion and offers some simply stunning architecture. I know in the UK some people see Muslims and see trouble but it’s really not like that at all. Travel to most Muslim countries and you’ll see it’s actually a relaxed, tolerant religion and incredibly interesting. Like any religion it’s how the person interprets the scriptures.
Now, there are two entrances to Ephesus, the top gate and the lower gate. Basically it’s a slope (steep too) and so having kids I decided we’d go for the top gate. The walk from town is 3kms and we walked it. It takes you through fruit yards and stunning mountain scenery. We saw peaches, oranges and limes growing, we even spotted a camel having a chat with a cow.
Entrance is 20 Lira for adults with kids free. Once inside it reminded me so much the Forum in Rome. I won’t go into how excited Charlie was but he was practically drooling, Abi was loving every minute too. It was much bigger than I imagined and was in excellent state. The kids loved exploring and climbing and we genuinely enjoyed it. After we finished taxi’s should be 10 Lira but because it was so hot had risen to 20 Lira, if we weren’t so hungry we’d have walked back, in the end we spotted a bus so dived on for 2.50 Lira.
We grabbed lunch and then made our way to the Basilica of St John. Basically St John was an apostle and when Jesus was killed he hooked up with his mum (The Virgin Mary) and they decided to take a flight out to Turkey and build a castle. From there St John got busy and wrote the Book of Revelations which would of course become a best seller as part of the Holy Bible. Whether you are religious or not, the significance of the bible is innumerable and so it is of course worth visiting where some of this legendary book was penned. What remains is actually very good, we had the place to ourselves and things really toned down. It might sound daft but for the first time on the trip we got some quality time together, peaceful, serene, it was perfect. Entrance was 5 Lira for me and the kids were free and it was worth every penny. The Basilica was open, but the castle at the back was shut.
At the end of the day we headed to a local park and I grabbed an Efes whilst the kids played Backgammon. It was the end of the perfect day in Turkey.
The next stop on the journey is Istanbul and so really not real Turkey, a capitol is never true of the people. But I will say this, I was wrong. And anyone else who thinks the Turkish are dodgy is wrong. They are gentle, friendly and immensely hospitable people, the flag flies everywhere and they are extremely proud of who they are – I would be too. They are a lesson to much of the world.