Turkey Selçuk 2001.03.27 - 03.31


After the spectacular ruins of the Pergamum Acropolis, we wanted to visit Ephesus, the best preserved ancient Roman city in the eastern Mediterranean. Our Bergama Athena Pension-mates had the same plans. We were definitely on the well-worn tourist circuit.

As a group of 5, Masami, Wes, Anne, Rose, and Peter bid farewell to our jolly Athena Pension host at the bus station. The closest town to Ephesus is Selçuk, located only 3km away. From Bergama, we rode a bus to İzmir and transferred to Selçuk. Total travel time was about 4 hours.

Anne was recommended the Australian New Zealand Pension (ANZ) so that's where we went after disembarking in the center of Selçuk. The price was an unbelievably cheap 6 million TKL per person including dinner and breakfast. Nevertheless, Peter asked for a discount. Our price was reduced to 5.5 million. Such are the benefits of traveling in a larger group.

On our first full day in Selçuk, ANZ drove us to Ephesus free of charge. Together with Peter, Rose, and Anne, we leisurely toured this sprawling 2km stretch of ruins that grew in population to 250,000 when it was the Roman capital of Asia Minor. Most impressive are the reconstructed façade of the Library of Celsus and the Great Theater with a seating capacity for 25,000. Most shocking was the plethora of organized tour groups swarming through the city even though it was low-tourist season.

Selçuk is worth several overnights. In addition to Ephesus (that has several gaping holes in its perimeter fence), points of interest include the Ephesus Museum, the Grotto of the Seven Sleepers (also accessible through a hole in the perimeter fence), Mary's House, and several hiking tracks, one which overlooks Ephesus. Wes, Masami, and Anne also thought Ayasuluk Castle on a hill in the north of Selçuk looked interesting. We reached the outer fence where, like every fence encountered so far, we found a hole. Having grown accustomed to and comfortable with illegal entry into every tourist site in Turkey, we thought nothing odd about ducking through the hole. Once inside, we looped around the castle wall looking for the castle entrance. All we found was a security guard who appeared displeased. Fortunately, he didn't speak English beyond "problem" and "police". We chose not to comprehend when we realized that the castle is in fact closed to the public. Concerned about the word "police", we thought we could escape back through the fence hole when the security guard motioned for us to "wait". Even more perturbed that we disobeyed his orders, he kept mumbling in Turkish with an occasional "problem" and "police" but instead of calling an authority, he unlocked a gate and let us free (or rather, kicked us out). Over the next few days, we learned that Anne has a 50 year habit of mild episodes.

From Selçuk, Masami and Wes planned to go inland to Pamukkale. Peter and Rose wanted to stay along the coast to Bodrum. Anne decided to aim for Marmaris where she could take a boat to Rhodes Island, Greece. Our temporary group of 5 departed Selçuk at the same time but headed in different directions.

Ayasuluk Castle sits on a hill above Selçuk tempting sightseers to visit. Unfortunately, it's not open to the public, and we were expelled.

The facade of the Library of Celsus is the most visually spectacular restoration open to the public in Ephesus.

Anne, Wes, Peter, and Rose take a short break at the Ephesus latrine. Peter's the only one who remembered to bring reading material. But seriously, during Roman times, sophisticated plumbing continually flushed away waste.

Wes and Masami allotted one day for a short hike that overlooks Ephesus. From the hilltop we had a perfectly unobscured view of the Great Theater.

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