Turkey (Part 2) Sept 2005
I was dropped off by the tour bus at Denizli, a major coach hub. Coach stations have desks for numerous different travel companies and agents. As a backpacker you are a visible target for any English speaking agents who rush up to "assist" you.
I was told the coach I wanted for Selcuk left at 11am ticket from desk "x". After a quick look round I came back and got my ticket from the desk but was told coach left at 1030 - the tout/agent then came up and said "No, no, no etc wrong not 1030 etc - and got the clerk to issue me another ticket and charge me an extra 5 lira.
I met my first (since arriving in Turkey) native English speaker (from Oz) here, who had also been booked on the same coach but was going to Bodrum (almost the opposite direction). At 1030 the coach for Izmir (my direction) left. My coach left on time and headed in the right direction but 40 km from Selcuk I was transferred along with 2 Belgians to a non-aircon Dolmus (a hail me and get on mini-bus for which we had to pay).
We waited 30 hot minutes onboard before it set off. All the seats were full and most of the Turks had children on their laps plus 2 people sitting on the floor. By the end of the journey there were 36 people + bags on the bus - for this pleasure I had to pay an extra 4 lira. As far as I'm aware this is the only time I've been done (£4 over the odds and later arrival) - DON'T BY TICKETS THROUGH BEN TOURS.
At the bus station we were met by people with brochures offering accommodation in their hostel/pension. You feel suspicious - but it is normal business, luckily it was a quiet week so after haggling over price I went along to look at one. It transpired my "tout" who had excellent ANZAC English, was actually the owner of Tuncay Pension so there was no commission costs to factor into the price.
The single room was small but clean and pleasant with a loo and shower, the Pension had a lovely courtyard, lots of good tourist info, and a free English book exchange. For £5 a night including breakfast a bargain. I stayed here for 3 nights, the owner and staff were great fun and provided lots of good advice. For some reason Ephesus is popular with Koreans quite a few arrived and left whilst I stayed at the Pension.
The Pension offered free transport to Ephesus through a local carpet shop (and were up front that the shop hoped to sell - but there would be no hassle or obligation). I actually paid the shop/driver to take me to another site (everybody has to make a living).
Selcuk unlike its neighbour Kusadasi is not an over-developed tourist resort, and has a pleasant shopping centre. English is commonly spoken. Fake ancient coins are the mainstay of hawkers round all the sites. I was about to gave some cigs to a crippled beggar and one of the hawkers shouted "don't give him any he is a bad man - give some to me" I refused and gave them to the beggar - to which the hawkers amusing response was "that is good you give a harmful thing to a bad man".
The ruins of the Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the World) are on the outskirts of Selcuk - but there is hardly anything left of it.
Ruins of a major Roman City that take about 2.5 hours to walk through. I visited early morning and even though into Sept it was very busy. I was advised to go (but couldn't) late afternoon (last entry 1630?) when it is quieter.
My other regret is not taking a guide - the standard guidebook I borrowed from the pension which is sold everywhere gives far too little information.
One last tip - St Mary's Church where the 3rd or 4th? Council met in 431 AD - comprising 211 Bishops under Constantine agreed the content of the Bible - one of the most significant events in History) is near the bottom exit/entrance of the Ephesus trek - but is half a mile down a small track off the main walkway - it is not signposted, and the guides do not take you there. Only 3 people visited it whilst I was there and none of them were Pope Paul.
Commemorating Pope Paul's visit.
Arrived after 6 hour coach journey plus breakdown. Surprisingly as a place of pilgrimage for Oz and Kiwis - hardly any English is spoken. Day one I stayed in cheap and pleasant "hotel", single bed communal showers etc however the water failed whilst I was there which meant the bathing facilities weren't quite so pleasant, none of the staff had any English.
2nd night stayed in Anzac House mentioned in Guide book - this was more expensive and basic and less clean (mozzies flew out of a rug when I moved it)- but the plumbing didn't fail. Anzac House organises one of the main Galipoli tours - a long day out well run - but as a Brit Galipoli has less significance for me than the Turks or our Antipodean brothers. The sites are mainly monuments and cemeteries, there are a few trenches, but you do get a sense of the war from the terrain shown, and the importance of the Dardanelles.
Woke up at 1am so went out for stroll ended up drinking Rakis with a group of Turks till 3am despite the fact we could hardly understand each other. But the main thing I take away from here is Mosquito bites! Oh and also a haircut and cut-throat shave with an unrequested but much appreciated head, shoulder and back massage.