From Troy towards the Aegean Coast


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Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Selçuk
April 13th 2014
Published: May 7th 2014
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Troy (obviously)Troy (obviously)Troy (obviously)

It was a group photo opportunity too good to miss.
13 April

Last night I had my first ever migraine which I don't think I'd wish on my worst enemy. I was in a lot of pain by the time we got back to the hostel and I lay down on my bed and then couldn't get up. Nat kindly bought me some pills and I slept for 13 hours, only waking when the medication wore off to take some more. This morning I wasn't quite 100% but I'm much better.

We left on the 11am ferry across to Çannakale and drove on towards Troia, the Turkish name for Troy. Our guide was Mustafa, recommended by TJ and for good reason. We waited for him to finish serving lunch in his restaurant amongst the souvenir shops and then joined him for the walk down to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. You could tell they'd been in there as the one roof covering over a section of the ruins looks very similar to those in Lalibela, Ethiopia...

Without a guide, the site wouldn't be much more than a pile of rocks. After a group photo up in the wooden horse, Mustafa pointed out the difference between the Iron Age
The Romans and the Iron AgeThe Romans and the Iron AgeThe Romans and the Iron Age

The interlocking stonework gave clues as to who built this particular wall
built wall with its interlocking stone and the Bronze Age walls with rougher stones. Bricks that were put in place in 2500BC, 1000 years before the Trojan War were still in place because the Romans built on top of it, burying the original walls in the dirt. You can also see the difference between the lower Greek altar and the higher up marble Roman altar, both used for sacrificing animals.

Now tonight, we're bush camping. All day, Talbot, Alex and Scott have been playing the now infamous 'Windmills and Tractors' as played in Namibia with occasional input from us others. It reached fever pitch not long before Suse found our home for the night and seems set to continue all the way to Beijing.
We're on a road that winds around a rocky hill and overlooks miles of farmed land and wind turbines. There's been a few visitors and the word 'Australia' seems to be better understood than 'tourist'. Maybe that's the next word to be learnt.

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14 April

I can officially tell Miss 3 year old in Melbourne that Turkey does in fact have turkeys. Or at least one!

It took a while
Bronze Age wallBronze Age wallBronze Age wall

Whereas it is uncertain who built this rougher - but equally strong - wall during the Bronze Age
to fall asleep as the wind picked up and whipped my tent's rain cover about as the zip wouldn't close. I'll try a different tent tonight. But the sleeping bag I bought in Cape Town was cosy and warm and I think my alarm went off for a few minutes before I heard it.

On the move for 8am, past the farmyard with the turkey and chickens, we're en route to Selçuk where we'll spend two nights in a camping ground and visit Ephesus.

Scott, Alex and Talbot are big into Windmills and Tractors. Point scoring is taken very seriously; rules are added and amended and although it has been noted that we may not know the names of the towns we pass through, we do know how any tractors they had!

The card playing officially started today with everyone except Neil and Diego playing Sh*thead. With a higher, larger 'card table', we gathered around for several hands, laughing and carrying on as people got the hang of the game. While I'm loyal to my Africa group, this group is also fantastic. It makes things all the more better and I can't believe my luck.

Steph,
View out to seaView out to seaView out to sea

Back when Troy was occupied, the water was much closer to the city walls
Quinn and I are on cook group tonight so when we finished doing laps of the main drag in Selçuk looking for somewhere to park, we took the 40TL budget and headed off for provisions. Red meat was out of our price range but chicken was cheap enough and we met several shop owners who happily gave us directions to butchers and vegetable stalls. I instantly liked this town.

The drive to the camp ground was off the main road through narrow roads lined with houses. Each yard seemed to have a chicken coop and a dog and/or cat and fruit trees. Nat went to knock on the door of one house to ask if they would mind moving their car off the road so we could pass and the older man mistook her for a Yugoslavian (she's Australian but her family is South American)! Wires hung low but we cleared them all with no problem and bumbled along a narrow dirt road that ran parallel with the campsite, aiming for the back gate. But a smartly dressed man in suit and tie came running towards us, waving and shouting in Italian. Being Italian, Diego translated saying the entrance gate was behind us and the road ahead was too narrow for us to continue. There was a bit of grinning from those of us who knew Suse as she swore out the window while trying to reverse the truck but of course she did it and we were soon inside.

Garden Camping is run by an Italian/Turkish couple who live on site with two guard dogs who are not pets. I couldn't get near them. Hot showers, a kitchen with a small gas cooker, a washing machine and most importantly, alcohol and free wifi and we were happy. We also had the place to ourselves and so tents were spread out under the trees on the opposite side of the path to the truck. There was an impressive castle on the hill which all agreed would have amazing views but the sun was lovely and warm and most people wanted to sit and chill. With a drink.

It wasn't long after midday when walked into town, passing our wake up call (aka the next door mosque) and the entrance to the castle grounds. Storks nested on top of ancient columns and people called to us from the doorway of their shops. But I think most of them judged us by the way we were dressed and the direction we'd come from and were happy with a greeting and a smile.

We passed my new best friend who had helped us find the butcher and then stopped at Julia's store whom Alex had met earlier. A woman in her early 40s, she seems to have been born in the wrong country. With excellent English she told us how she didn't fit in with her tattoos, bluntness and approach to customers (we were seated and had apple tea in front of us within minutes). She was entertaining and engaging, quizzing us on our trip and where we were heading in Turkey. All without having even stepped into the shop. But when we exchanged money with her (the banks require a Turkish ID number), I wandered around the shop admiring tea sets and painted tiles, stopping at the jewellery display cabinets. I had no earrings in and needed a pair to stop the holes closing (it takes no time at all!) and chose a pair of the traditional tiny blue eyes that ward off evil spirits. With my ears already closing, Julia sprayed dry ice on them and pushed the earring through. Um, OW. Once the dry ice shock wore off!

I made another friend at a corner restaurant. He invited us to eat but I declined and instead asked him where we could buy alcohol. Not only did he tell us, his friend wrote down the name of one that was not so expensive and relatively good. Sorted. The supermarket had three bottles of this wine so Scott, Talbot and I took all of them with the intention of having one today and storing the others, picking up cheese, olives and crackers to share with everyone and made our way back to the campsite.

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15 April



All you need to know about last night is that it got messy, I apparently speak a lot more Italian when I've been drinking wine and that you should not try to pick up a hedgehog near a fire if you intend to drop him. Don't worry, I was more traumatised than he was and he eventually uncurled himself and walked off. Prickly little so and so.

Visiting Ephesus with a mild hangover and not much sleep isn't the ideal way to see it. It is such an incredible site (and sight) and with a guide that had spent his life in the area and then studied it for a living, it was even more interesting than expected. Built in the 10th century BC, the city was home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Ancient Wonders of the World. It was destroyed and never rebuilt but ruins can still be seen. The location of the city was also moved several times, owing to the silting up of their harbor, an earthquake and conflicts. They were surprisingly 'modern', too. Education was a big deal; they allowed women rights and had female artists and were welcoming of strangers wishing to relocate.

Apart from the Temple they also built the Library of Celsus, whose façade was reconstructed using the original pieces. The detail in the carved stones is beautiful and precise and it would've been such an impressive building. The Temple of Hadrian was covered in scaffolding, undergoing urgent restoration work to preserve it so we didn't get to see that. Walking along the thoroughfares, a game that eventually led to what is now known as backgammon could be seen, carved into the marble. Intricate mosaic tile floors and 'terrace houses' for the wealthier inhabitants were still in excellent condition and the theatre - which could hold 25,000 people! - is possibly the largest outdoor theatre in the ancient world. Knowing that the town was completely abandoned in the 15th century, it is amazing that it survived as well as it did. And it's thought that only 15% of the ruins have been excavated.

Once we'd finished there, the minibus took us back to the campsite where most proceeded to sit in the sun and relax. Alex strung his hammock between two perfectly placed trees and Talbot took advantage of it, cocooning himself in it and falling asleep. Nat did her yoga and stretching while I only got as far as thinking about joining her without ever moving from the mat I was lying on. There's always next time...


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Our first bush camp!Our first bush camp!
Our first bush camp!

Perched on the edge of a dead end road high above farmed plains, it was a lovely introduction to bush camping for those who hadn't done so before.
Bee hivesBee hives
Bee hives

Our only visitors in the evening, the beekeepers arrived after dark to check their wares
A public bathroom for men onlyA public bathroom for men only
A public bathroom for men only

The only women that visited the public bathrooms were prostitutes


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