Published: May 27th 2012May 24th 2012
Shades of blue
Lunch stop in Marmaris Bay
Having seen all of the major sites at Gallipoli on my guided tour on tuesday, I then re-visited them all with my new German roommate Daniel on wednesday (16th May), so as to see everything at my own pace and in doing so hopefully gain a greater appreciation of each place - which we did by taking a minibus to Kabatepe and then walking from site to site; followed by the fifteen kilometre trek back to the hostel in Eceabat.
Thursday morning I took a ferry across the Dardanelles strait to Çanakkale, followed by a bus five hours south to the city of Izmir; and then finally a smaller bus one hour further south to the town of Selçuk - the site of both the Roman ruins of Ephesus and one of the seven ancient wonders of the world.
Unfortunately having had no internet access in Eceabat and therefore been unable to book my accommodation in Selçuk in advance, I had to walk half-an-hour out of town in the hope that my preferred hostel would have beds available. Thankfully though, not only did I manage to score a single bed in a seven-bed dorm which I had all to
Attila's Getaway, just outside Selçuk
myself; but the hostel turned out to be nothing short of paradise.
Calling itself a 'traveller's resort' - albeit one aimed at budget travellers - Attila's Getaway turned out to be just that: wıth a tropical pool surrounded by trees, fountains, sunbeds, hammocks, a pool table, ping pong table, beach volleyball court and of course a chilled-out poolside bar; and all for the equivalent of about fifteen pounds per night including breakfast and dinner.
And having just walked for half-an-hour in the mid-afternoon heat before arriving at this hidden shangri-la, it was only a matter of minutes before I was diving into the water for what was my first swim of any kind since I had last been in Turkey over a year ago - an oversight that I fully intend to have made up for by the time I leave Turkey.
With the famous ruins of Ephesus (once the capital of Roman Asia) only a few kilometres from the hostel, I set out to walk there on friday morning - only to make it halfway there before the heavens opened, eventually forcing me to turn back rather than carry on through the pouring rain (which, with
The remains of the Temple of Artemis (with Selçuk Castle in the background)
Ephesus obviously being an outdoor site, was probably the best decision I could have made).
Saturday morning brought nicer weather, which I took full advantage of by gettıng the hosel shuttle bus into Selçuk to take a look at the various ruins scattered about the town, including the remains of a Byzantine aqueduct which now provides a number of storks with the perfet nesting site; St.John's Basilica and nearby cistern; Selçuk Castle high up on a nearby hill; and finally the one remaining column (reconstructed from about fourteen broken pieces) of the Temple of Artemis, which was considered to be one of the seven ancient wonders of the world; but nowadays also finds more use as a nesting site for one lucky (and apparently historically aware) pair of storks.
After returning to the hostel for a filling lunch, I tried my luck tackling the hike to Ephesus again - during which it once again started to rain, though this time not hard enough to discourage me from continuing; and so eventually I made it to the ruins in the relative cool of the afternoon, by which tıme thankfully it seemed that most of the tour groups had already
The Curetes Way in Ephesus
headed back to their cruise ships.
Even if I wasn't particularly blown away by Ephesus (ıt's hard to be too impressed by anything that's in a state of ruins) it was still a nice place to go for a walk around - and thankfully devoid of the annoying touts that crowd around virtually every other tourist atraction in Turkey - whilst trying to picture what the city had once looked like, which was easiest done in the hillside Odeon (theatre), the grand thoroughfare of the Curetes Way and the stunning facade of the Library of Celsus.
Returning to Attila's Getaway just in time for dinner that evening, the excitement was already starting to build for the Champions League football final that night, which along with one half of an English pair of twin brothers who was unfortunately a Chelsea supporter I had a particular interest in, since a Chelsea victory would have denied my beloved Tottenham Hotspurs their rightful place in next season's competition; while a Bayern Munich win would have restored the natural order of things.
Unfortunately though, unlike the entire staff at the hostel and the few guests that happened to be staying there that
The re-constructed Library of Celsus
night, God was clearly not watching the game - as Chelsea somehow managed to win on penalties despite producing one of the worst performances in the history of football... and if I sound like an embittered Spurs fan sucking on sour grapes - well, that's exactly what I am! But seriously though, Chelsea were sh_t.
Having by now seen everything I wanted to see in and around Selçuk, and with the weather continuing to thwart my attempts at poolside laziness, I had half-heartedly decided to move on by lunchtime on sunday; but wıth no real plan for where to go next I basically just ended up hanging around like a bad smell all day, until finally the weather got sick of pissıng me off and cleared up nicely, thus conveniently justifyıng my profound inactivity.
That evening saw a decent crowd gathered around the communal dinner table, so it was only natural to knock back a few bottles of the ubiquitous Efes pilsner (which seems to be the local beer no matter where you are in Turkey), but with the beers going down unusually slowly, and with a couple of other intrepid Aussie travellers (Rich and Ryan - whom
Pink and purple rain
Crazy sunset shower over Selçuk
I had been roommates with previously in Eceabat) for inspiration, I had soon moved onto rakı (Turkish aniseed liquour), which I found surprisingly tolerable when mixed with water!
Despite having already booked my bed in Bodrum for the night, I was still in no hurry to leave Attila's Getaway on monday; and knowing that the castle in Bodrum - the main attraction that I wanted to see there - would be closed all day anyway gave me the perfect excuse for spending one more (half) day lying around beside the pool, before I finally got my act together and headed into town for my bus to Bodrum.
I needn't have bothered. For as nice as Bodrum may have been twenty years ago, it's now little more than a generic seaside mega-resort town full of package-tour holidaymakers, with very little of interest to your average backpacker - which probably explains why there was only one backpacker hostel town, with receptıon located in the real estate office next door, and with only one other person staying there (a girl from Korea).
Nevertheless I was still pretty keen to check out the castle in Bodrum, not so much for the
My view over breakfast in Datça
building itself but for the Underwater Archaeology Museum housed inside it. But havıng decided that I would rather get from Bodrum to Marmaris by taking the car ferry to the Datça peninsula further along the coast and then getting a minibus to Marmaris from there, rather than takıng a regular bus straight from Bodrum to Marmaris that would have meant going back along the same road that I had come into Bodrum on the day before - and knowıng that if I missed the ferry on tuesday morning that I would have to wait until thursday morning for the next one - I ended up cutting my losses and getting the hell out of Bodrum on tuesday morning without having really seen anything of the town whatsoever.
This time though I had definately pulled the right rein, since even though the two-hour ferry journey was a little bumpier than expected (by the end of the trip I was the only person left on deck, after everyone else had gotten sick of being soaked every time we hit another wave) it was still nice to be travelling by a mode of transport other than bus; especially given that I ended
Canal in Turunç village
up in the picturesque little town of Datça, where I had just enough time to indulge in a nıce meal at a restaurant right beside the sea, followed by a relaxing walk along the shoreline.
From the town of Datça I then had the pleasure of taking an incredibly scenic minibus journey along the Datça Peninsula (which is about a hundred kilometres long but rarely more than a few kilometres wide; and with a mountainous spine running right down the centre) to Marmaris, during which at one point the bus seemed to climb for an eternity before finally reaching the crest of a hill from where the view opened up to include not only the rest of the peninsula stretching out ahead (with the road snaking it's way along far down below) but also the beautiful blue sea glistening away on both sides of the peninsula. Definately a trip that was worth the extra effort; and one where the journey itself is more important than the destination.
Wednesday brought a seven-hour boat cruise around Marmaris Bay, which included four swimming stops at different sheltered coves, a visit to a picturesque coastal village (Turunç) and a filling lunch for
Waterway in Marmaris
just 25 Turkish lira (less than ten pounds)! Unfortunately half the people on board were overweight, middle-aged British folk whose pale skin I swear I could actually hear sizzling under the Mediterannean sun, but I managed to find a couple of older guys from the Netherlands - who are always a good choice for company - so whenever I wasn't in the water I'd end up hanging out at the front of the boat with them.
Meanwhile back at my pension that night (there being no hostels whatsoever in Marmaris) I was not only treated to the wonderful hospitality of the owner Memo, but also the comical sight of his incredibly obese cat Nuriye - whom he proudly declared to be 'the fattest cat in the whole of Turkey; and the second fattest in the whole of Europe'. I'm convinced he was stretching the truth though - as I can't imagine how there could possibly be another cat on earth as fat as this furry, purring tub of lard! In fact so fat was this cat that it could actually lie on it's side with it's legs tucked up against it's body, with none of it's limbs touching the
Nuriye - the fattest cat in all of Turkey
ground! Now that's far more entertaining than any crumbling ancient ruin...!
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