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Published: March 16th 2008
This isn't from my trip, but from the week before at school. Jessie's introduced us to slacklining, which is essentially tightrope walking from a much shorter distance. It's much harder than it looks, hence why there's no photo of me. The Turks think it's crazy and love to watch. It's a ton of fun.
So I've just returned this morning from a great trip to the Aegean coast. I took an overnight bus home but barely slept so if any of this sounds a bit funny, I'm just really tired.
After a long two days of school (which was actually only 3 classes because one of my profs didn't show up), I decided it was time for a little exploration of Turkey's Western frontier. I've really been wanting to see Ephesus, Turkey's best preserved site of ruins and I decided that this was the best time to go as it's still low season and there wouldn't be so many tourists milling around.
I took off from Ankara bright and early Wednesday morning, as it takes about 9 hours to get to Selçuk, the perfect base from where it's possible to see billions of ruins and beautiful Aegean coast. I actually discovered this weekend that Turkey's Southern Aegean coast contains more ruins per square foot than any other area in the world. I visited four different sites this weekend and only scratched the surface.
Visiting Ephesus took up almost the entire day on Thursday. It is huge. There are so many remaining structures, so
This pillar is all that's left of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It used to be composed of 127 columns and was larger than the Parthenon in Greece.
well preserved, spread over such a large area that you can really get a sense of what the city was like. I can really see why it's one of Turkey's most popular destinations. I'm really glad I went when I did because it was already quite busy, I can't imagine what it's going to be like in two months! Because the ruins are so well preserved at Ephesus, you can just walk around looking at all the detail put into each building.
Side note: One valuable thing I've learned in the past couple of weeks is that students who study at Turkish Universities get in for free to a lot of different places. However, this is never posted and you have to know to ask. And it only applies to Turkish schools, being a student at a foreign university gets you nothing. It comes in handy to carry around my METU I.D. card.
The next day was for exploring the coast. Just a little south of Selçuk is the Dilek National Park, located on a peninsula jutting into the Aegean and almost touching the Greek Island of Samos. On the dolmuş to the Park, I met a nice Polish couple
(the guy happens to be studying in Turkey, in Eskişehir, which is where one of my roommates is from) and I ended up spending most of the day with them. We had just gotten dropped off and were walking along the coast when to our delight we spotted an unchained paddle boat!!! Well, who could pass up that opportunity? Definitely not us, and we decided to take that puppy out for a ride. We peddled out (well, they did, I sat in the back) and spent an hour or so drifting under the warm sun. The only thing missing was the waiter to bring me a cold beer. Oh well, it was still pretty good. The best part was that we were the only people in that whole area. We had the place to ourselves. I tell you, off season traveling is the best way to go.
After that, it was time for some physical activity, and being a National Park and all, we figured there must be lots to explore. There was a nice 28 km round trip hike to a canyon that we wanted to take, but with our time constraint we were only able to do 8.
Spring is here!
We had earlier managed to convince the dolmuş driver to come pick us up at 5:00 instead of 4:00 and we really didn't want to miss him and have to make a 50 km hike home. But the hike was really nice even without the canyon.
The next day was back to the ruins. There are 3 smaller sites in the area that I really wanted to check out while I was there but they're scattered very erratically so it takes a full day to get to them all. But it was worth it. I really liked the three, probably even more than Ephesus because they were much quieter and set in such dramatic settings. While they were much smaller and less elaborate than Ephesus, they had some quality to them that made them so captivating. I went first to Priene, which was an important city around 300 B.C.E. and placed right in the side of a mountain. Next on the agenda was Miletus, which was just wonderful, in part due to it's magnificent 15,000 seat theatre. This was as well a very important city for commerce around 700 B.C.E., and is set in a valley surrounded by mountains that
Ephesus' Great Theatre.
really adds to it's picturesque-ness. The last and definitely biggest was Didyma, which contains the remains of the Temple of Apollo, one of the largest in the world. It really gave the day a big grand finale. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
After all that I had a couple of hours to rest before I caught my bus back, which I spent eating and talking with the people who run my hostel. Interesting enough, they were the ones who told me that Ankara had had a 4.9 earthquake while I was gone. Luckily there's been no damage.
After all that I had to do all my errands today, including going to the bazaar to get my groceries for the week. I can easily say that I will have a great sleep tonight.
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