Turkish grandmas, ancient ruins and cruise-ship tourists…

And so our trip continued on with another swanky bus, another bow-tied bus attendant and far more tea and biscuits than any normal human being should consume in a short time period.

Our destination was Selçuk – a little village about 20 minutes from the eastern coast of Turkey. The swanky bus dropped us off at the ungodly hour of 6am and we dragged our sleepy selves through the labyrinth of windy backstreets searching for Homero’s Pension.

After a few dead ends and wrong turns we finally found the place. We gave the door a tentative knock and were almost immediately greeted by a smiling, grey haired Turkish woman swaddled in a good few layers of Turkish floral fabric. Although we’d clearly woken her up she was incredibly warm and welcoming and started babbling away in Turkish (neither of us understood a thing). Through a little basic sign language we managed to understand that there was a restaurant area where we could rest until we could check in a little later.

The bus trip – although swanky – had left us both with little sleep so we started to lay down on some of the bench seats to get in a little more shut eye. I’d almost drifted off when I was woken to see the smiling lady standing right next to me, loaded to the hilt with blankets and pillows! She chattered away to me whilst she made up a makeshift bed, before heading over to do the same for Will. Just before I closed my eyes I could see her actually tucking him in, and twice more she came and put more blankets on us as she must have been worried we were cold! We later found out that this adorable woman was “Mama” – the mother of the owner of the pension, Derviş.

The adorable Mama, our 6am saviour…

Throughout the rest of the stay we often saw Mama and Derviş’s sister bustling about the place – always grinning and chatting as they worked away. On our first night we opted to have the 4 course traditional Turkish meal at the pension cooked by non-other than Mama herself – and it was delicious. There was lentil soup, braised vegetables, mountains of Turkish bread, tzatziki, salad, rice, meatballs and some delicious kind of rice pudding for dessert. The woman could cook!

It wasn’t just the overwhelming hospitality of the owner and his family at Homero’s that made our stay – the place itself was charming and so distinctively Turkish. The walls and floors of all of the rooms were covered in Turkish rugs, beading , hats, rugs – you name it! The place had received amazing ratings online but when I was researching where to stay I had actually read one that said they disliked the placae as the rooms were ‘full of ethnic clutter’ – can you believe it? I immediately concluded that whoever wrote the review sounded like exactly the type of person I would not like to travel with, so by default I should love this place – and I did!

The Great Theatre of Ephesus

Now not long after our morning nap we set off for an afternoon at Ephesus – the best preserved Roman ruins after Pompeii.  We had been warned that the place is usually swarming with tourists, but after a pleasant 3 km walk to the ruins along a path shaded by mulberry trees I was pleased to discover that there wasn’t too many people around at all.

Ephesus – and hoards of cruise ship tourists.

I definitely spoke to soon! We had a good half an hour or so where everything was calm but then the swarms of tour groups descended and things got a little hectic! We’d entered at the bottom gate and were walking up to the top gate – where all the cruise ship passengers on their day trips happen to get dropped off. This meant we were walking against the crowd and spent a lot of time weaving in and out of huge groups lead by tour guides shouting to be heard above the crowd.

A section of the Library of Celsus

The walking against the crowd caper ended up working in our favour though – quite a few times we managed to stop and hear a guide’s spiel about a certain monument before the group moved further down and we moved further up, usually to a new guide giving a new spiel – leaving all the tour guides we listened to none the wiser 😉

Russell Crowe? Or Will? It’s a little hard to tell…

Despite the overload of cruise ship passengers it was well worth the visit – it is a tourist attraction for a reason! The two highlights for me were the massive Great Theatre (it was able to fit around 25,000 people) as well as the Library of Celsus with its stunning sculptures and engravings on almost every wall. Will was pretty wrapped with the theatre / stadium and there was a whole lot of “my name is Maximus Decimus Meridius” Gladiator role playing go on!

Free wine? Yes please…

Our busy day ended with us watching the sunset over Selcuk from the rooftop terrace of the pension with a glass of complimentary red wine in hand. This free glass of red each sunset was just another of the reasons I feel in love with the place (free alcohol is clearly the way to my heart, classy!).

Mulberry wine and a view…

Over the next few days we wandered the streets in Selcuk and explored some nearby country villages. I especially enjoyed this as we genuinely seemed to be the only tourists walking around in a few of the places we visited. In the nearby town of Tire we ate olives scooped out of a big wooden barrel by a beaming  old Turkish man within the monstrous and crowded local market.  After a windy 20 minute drive to the village of Sirince we drank local mulberry wine poured for us by a bossy but charming young waiter. A lot of the time we just ended up winding our way through the back streets and generally getting lost – in my opinion the best way to get to know a place!




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