One of the Best

Top of Selcuk
Originally uploaded by apes_abroad.

Ahh the Agean and Mediteranean coast. I really don’t want to spend hours and hours writing this but it covers three pretty big days. We just haven’t really had any down time to sit and write until now when we’re both too exhausted to do much else. I’m going to try to just hit the hilights.

First hilight: extreme personal mobility. We rented a car in Izmir, a Vancouverish city on the Agean coast. So now we can go wherever we want whenever we want, way off the tourist trail. Although we can’t go into any big cities because I refuse to drive in any big cities after seeing traffic in Istanbul.

The first place we decided to go with our new found mobility was Ephesus, one of the best preserved roman cities of antiquity and also smack right in the very middle of the tourist trail. We knew the turn-off because we could just follow all the massive tour busses. It was, of course, pretty stunning. The real show-piece is the restored facade of the library. But you can google it to find pictures and infos. Suffice to say, in person, pretty cool. As was the giant theatre and the plumbing system. Although you sort of had to work out and admire the plumbing on your own, there weren’t a lot of plumbing related interpretive signs. Actually the craziest thing about Ephesus is that it died as a city when the Agean sea retreated several kilometers away from its port. I don’t really understand how that could happen, but aparently it did.

After that we stopped in Selcek which is off the package-tours map and very nice. We hit up the Kiwi Pension to stay at. We decided to book no hotels before hand so we could rome wherever we wanted. Kiwi Pension was our first test of this philosophy. I had consuted the Istanbul indies about the wisdom of this decision and they seemed to think it would be fine since it’s not the high season. Well anyway, Kiwi worked out fine, we just walked in and they gave us a room for 40TL which is like 30 bucks. Not bad!

“Pension” is a phrase I had not encountered before. It is a place with rooms to let which has a common aream, may or may not have a bathroom/shower, and may or may not have a shared place to prepare food. Kiwi had a shared kitchen but we had no food to prepare in it so we had to go out to find sustenance.

We made it down the street when we got mobbed! School was letting out, or something, when we were walking past the middle school and a group of ten students about 12 to 13 years of age spotted us. They then ran at us at full speed shouting “Hello!”. It was a great little cultural exchange as they pestered us about Canada (does everyone have blue eyes, what’s the weather right now, do we eat pork) and we had no way to pester them about Turkey since our Turkish is non existent and their English was pretty bad. It was really fun though. When they were trying to ask about pigs we had no idea what they meant, “pink? my shirt is orange”. Until one of them broke out the international word for pig and started oinking. They were also extremely pleased to find out we were married. Like they had assumed all westerners were living in sin. A group of 13 year olds actually cheered us for being married. Very odd. Some handshakes and hi-fives later we were back on our mission. Until we got distracted by a Roman aquaduct in the middle of the city square.

They had an aquaduct in their main square like we might have a modern statue. So obviously we had to then follow the aquaduct. A lot of pillars were still up and had been restored a bit with modern concrete but most of the links between them were gone. Each pillar had a stork nest atop. Which was pretty neat. Anyway, we followed the aquaduct across the trains and into the more residential part of the city. This was small windy roads and low white-plastered houses. We followed the aquaduct to its extinction, but then we (well *I*) noticed a big hill at the back of the village which was sure to have an amazing view. Which I then decided needed to be climbed. Sarah was not so sure, but did agree to the venture and we started wandering through the town to find a way onto the hill.

The way was not obvious, whith a lot of streets totaly cordoned off by houses. Luckily, a young boy guessed our goal and helped us find the way! All communicated without language.

Once up Sarah and I agreed that the hike was worth it. The view was amazing. I’m sure we’ll get a picture up soon that won’t do it justice. We could see the whole little city of 25,000 people as well as a big-ass Crusader fort we had no idea was there. We could also see the back side of Ephesus and could imagine so easily where the water level used to be when it was still a living city. As the sun threated to set we picked our way back down the hill, eventually, to sleep.

The next day was one of the best days of my entire life.

It was full of simple but overwhelming pleasures. We decided to check out this park south of Selcuk called Deltasi Milli. It’s quite a large park. It contains a couple mountains, a vast amount of coastline, squirles, deer, wild horses, wild cattle, wild boars, and allegedly flamingoes and anatolian leopards! We saw boar, but no leopards. So that’s pretty cool, seeing boar for the first time. They seemed friendly; looking for garbage and handouts. I avoided getting to close and personal since I have to idea what kind of temperment they have (I did think about how Justin from Departures would handle the situation differently). But boars were no match for the view!

As we rounded onto the coast road of the park the trees receded and left us with a brain-taking view of the Agean sea. Below us spread out a bright tuqoise sea laping against a shore of yellow rock capped by brilliant green pine trees. I’m sure we have a picture that won’t do it justice.

We drove down to a beach we knew it was hard for tourists to get to and we ended up having it to ourselves. It was a kind of pebbly/rock beach. All the rocks were sort of the size of a rock you’d use to skip rocks with. Actually, they were also all perfectly flat. Making it an entire beach full of rocks that are perfect for skipping. No hunting for rocks, you reach down and pick up the most perfect skipping rock you’ve ever seen. Rock after rock after rock. When we got there the sea was being perfectly flat as well so I skipped the best skips I have ever skipped skip after skip after skip. Sarah got to learn how to skip rocks. Talk about the best place to learn.

It might seem that skipping rocks isn’t such a big deal and that skipping rocks making up a big component of the best day ever is an over-valuing of rock skipping. But think of it this way: if you died and went to rock-skipping heaven this is exactly where you would go. You don’t get a lot of those moments. The icecream equivalent would be a place where you never get full, the icecream is never drippy and there are all the flavors in the world. It _was_ rock skipping heaven and I just haven’t been to many places that are a perfect heaven of anthing.

Then we went swimming! And the Agean was a wonderful temperate counterpoint to the perfect 28c weather. Chilly perhapse at first, but then ideal. And so clear it was like swimming in air. The beach gave-way to a coast of two meter and three meter high limestone blufs which fell about a meter into the sea. That means: bouldering! Of course the perfect day involved some rock climbing. Great, sold, limestone rock with interesting imperfections just like the rock back home in Nanaimo. Every missed move or blown hold resulted in a satifying splash cooling off all the exertion.

We found a flat rock jutting out of the sea floor and sunned ourselves until we were ready to swim back to the beach and eat our picknick and drink our fill. Rince and repeat. The whole day spent in the ocean skipping rocks, climbing on rocks, there was probably some naked swimming in there somewhere. It was faaantastic. One of the best days ever.

And actually just recalling the memory I am so calm and satisifed I’m going to write about the next day tomorrow and bath in the still radiating bliss for a while.

Next instalment: more beaches but also not finding a hotel and an abandoned village.


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