From Fethiye beaches to Selcuk ruins – Day 11 on the road
Posted by Mardee on May 15, 2007
After waking up bright and early, I finished my packing and headed for breakfast. The morning was perfect (as usual) and I was a little sad about leaving Fethiye. However, I finished up, grabbed my gear and headed down to the desk to do a quick email check and then check out. The car from the travel agency was supposed to pick me up at 10 but when it hadn’t showed by 10:15 am, I started getting worried since my bus was supposed to leave at 10:30. Just then, Burkhard and Ulle stopped by on their way to the beach and chatted with me until the car came. We each promised the other that if we were ever in the other’s neighborhood, we would look each other up (I’m not sure how correct these pronouns are but hopefully everyone understood what I was trying to say). I could tell they were a little worried about the car not showing up, as was I, but it finally got there a few minutes later. I got in, the driver took off and he zipped around the Fethiye streets like Mario Andretti, pulling into the otogar right on the dot at 10:30.
We were soon on the road to Aydin, where I would then change buses to Selcuk. The first portion of the journey was beautiful – we drove past gorgeous deep blue inlets and bays, and then headed up into the mountains. The rest of the trip was sort of a blur as I was pretty tired and the sun was making me sleepy. We pulled into the bustling Aydin otogar station around 3 pm and I grabbed my luggage and looked for the Selcuk minibus. It was around the corner – unfortunately it wasn’t leaving for another 45 minutes so I took a seat and waited. Eventually it was time to board. By this time, I’d learned one of the first lessons you should know when riding a dolmus – always sit near a window. Turks will rarely open the windows in buses even in 90 degree weather – which is why I sit near the window so that I have control of the air.
This ride was long and excrutiating – it was only about 50 minutes in length but seemed like 5 hours. The bus was cramped, very hot and smelled of male Turkish body odor. In addition, the bus driver felt compelled to honk his horn in greeting at every single passerby and bus. We were listening to honks every 30 seconds or so. To make matters worse, he stuck his head out the window every few feet or so to look for additional people to honk at. I appreciated the fact that he was friendly but by the end of the ride, I was ready to throw something at him, the horn, or the bus – or all three. During the last 20 minutes of the ride, one of the men on board decided he needed to get some groceries. He muttered a few words to the driver, who immediately zipped across to the other side of the highway and pulled into a little grocer. The passenger ran in then came out about 5 minutes later with a bag of bread. Everyone else seemed to take it in stride and I tried to curb my irritation. The bread did smell good – it must have been fresh out of the oven.
Eventually we pulled into Selcuk and I paid my 5 lira. As I retrieved my luggage I was immediately accosted by several men who assured me that their hotels were better than any of the others. I managed to ignore them and found a young man who pointed me in the direction of the Hotel Akay where I had made a reservation the day before. One taxi driver offered to drive me there for 5 lira and as I was debating whether to accept, I noticed a sign that the hotel was only 200 m. away. The hotel is on a quiet street near Ayasoluk Hill, the site of the tomb of St. John the Evangelist and his Basilica. After checking in around 5 pm, I headed up towards Ayasoluk Hill and toured the grounds. St. John died here in 100 AD and the Byzantine emperor Justinian built a huge basilica to honor him. The basilica was destroyed in the 1400’s by Mongols but much of the site has been restored by a religious foundation based in Lima, Ohio.
After that, I headed down and explored the town and had a bite to eat at a small family-owned restaurant named Seckin Cigerci that seemed to be feeding mostly locals (which is always a good sign). My next stop was Tugba, which makes Turkish delight in all flavors. I didn’t buy anything today but did try a couple of samples – one with lemon and one with walnuts. Both were delicious and I can see why Tugba has received national awards for its Turkish delight. I walked around, enjoying the sights. Selcuk is home to a Byzantine aqueduct, which now serves as a nesting place for storks. They return here year after year to lay their eggs in April and May and then stay through September.
Back at the hotel, I went up on the terrace and had a glass of wine – there is nothing like sitting up high watching the stars with a cool breeze and Turkish music playing lightly in the background. Even the occasional cat came up for the atmosphere (I’m sure it had nothing to do with the crumbs that may have fallen from the breakfast tables). Soon it was time for bed.
Tomorrow – Ephesus!