I have wanted to go to Berlin for many years – the museums contain many things I wanted to see (things that are not in the British Museum or Istanbul, or even the Louvre). And, at the end of October I finally got to go there.
We both liked Berlin – it’s a pleasant enough city – and, whilst the weather was colder than it was here in Selçuk it was not too cold to wander around if adequately wrapped up in fleece, hat and jacket. The metro system worked well once we discovered that you can’t feed the automatic machine notes larger that 10 Euro, and whilst we were staying some distance from the centre, it was easy enough to get around. The first night we went to a microbrewery where we drank beer and ate sausages. Then we had a full day of museums….
Berlin has a museum Island. It has six museums on it and you can buy a ticket to cover all of them. We managed four (with a brief break for currywurst). We did (in order) the Altes museum, the Bergama museum, the Neues Museum and the Bode Museum. At which point we were museumed out. I was hugely determined to see the Bergama museum, even though parts of it are currently shut for renovation. It contains many of the brick mosaics that led up to the Ishtar gate (other bits of which are in Istanbul and the BM). I really wanted to see that. The Assyrian items came as a very pleasant surprise. And I had completely forgotten that the Miletus gate is also in Berlin. You can see it at the top of the page. Miletus is less than an hour’s ride from Selçuk so it was easy for us to visualise it in its original location.
I’m just going to leave a gallery here…. So much amazing stuff! And some of the best red figure ware I’ve seen anywhere outside the British Museum – not even in Athens….
This was a complicated walk, though not all of it was walking. We set off from Selçuk at 8:30 in the morning and drove to Pinar Köyu where we stopped for breakfast of gözleme, domates ve zeytin. It was a fairly brief stop and soon we were back on our buses for the drive to Çomakdağ köyu where we ended up staying for longer than I think was originally intended.
First we climbed up with some other people, above the village where there was a fantastic view.
We were back in the village at the appointed time, but everyone else was behind by half an hour then we went strolling off with a gentleman from the village who showed us several traditional houses (many of them somewhat ruined), his pygmy cows and an olive barrel. He ended up taking us home for lunch. Which was delicious but had to be cut short as the buses were revving up and we were keeping them waiting.
Our next stop was Euromos – we’ve been there before and our visit was all too brief as we were running late. It’s a really impressive site and I would love to go back on our own, with more time to explore (and less people….. There were 75 in our group!)
We drove onwards towards Bafa Lake where we finally got our walk! Only about 7 Km the Yediler Manastriri and back.
And finally, onto the beach at Heraklia (no time to explore the ancient city) where we watched a beautiful sunset and enjoyed an ice cold beer with friends.
It took a couple of hours to drive back to Selçuk. A very full day, but extremely worthwhile
We wound up on Kos where we had arranged to meet friends for lunch. We stayed at the same little Pansyion we stayed at last time we met those same friends on Kos. They live in the UK but like to take their holidays in Greece! The Pansyion is set back from the very quiet ‘strip’ in the quiet tourist resort of Lampi which is an extension of Kos Town and an easy walk from the harbour. The hotel is set in farmland and you can sit around the pool watching the puppies chase the goats and chickens in the field next door.
Kos is genuinely a ‘holiday island’. It has wall to wall tourist resorts all around the coast and a few farms in the middle. We had great fun taking the hired quad bike over dirt roads through the mountains, bumping over rubble, turning round at dead ends and finding some beautiful views.
Ultimately, though, Kos is about eating and drinking and sitting on the beach. It does have some spectacular beaches and we did go swimming, though we didn’t take photographs. Ashley excelled himself by finding the little restaurant we ate in two years ago, it’s just above the village of Zia, but, sadly, it was shut. We hope not permanently. We struck it lucky again though by finding a lovely restaurant (Taverna Zia no Stress – highly recommended) at the top of Zia which claimed to have the best moussaka in Europe. We took that as a challenge. The moussaka was very, very good indeed and the stuffed courgette flowers were wonderful. It was also very quiet, given that Zia itself was as busy as usual.
The next day we had a fish lunch with our friends and their young son. We were right on the beach so he was able to run off and play safely. We ate a lot that afternoon so, in the evening, it was mezzes at the restaurant local to our hotel. This was the mezze plate to go with wine. There was a different one to go with ouzo (mostly seafood)
The one fly in the ointment was when we put Ashley’s cash card into a cash machine which ate it. This was a cash machine attached to a bank, but it was a Saturday and our ferry left for Bodrum early on the Sunday morning. It was at this point that we discovered that Garanti Bank’s phone line does not work on our mobiles when we are outside Turkey. Thankfully the bank machine immediately re-credited Ashley’s account and we were able to cancel the card from the bus to Aydin on Monday morning. A new card was ordered on Tuesday and arrived at our bank in Selcuk within a week.
We spent two nights on Rhodes then caught the big ferry to Nisyros in the late afternoon, arriving around sunset (and it was a beautiful sunset). We stayed in a really old fashioned hotel with a sea water swimming pool.
Nisyros is a small island (we got round it in less than a day on our hired quad bike) with a couple of seaside towns and a couple of villages up in the mountains. Well, I say mountains but, in fact, the island is one large volcano. We stayed in Mandraki where the ferry (and a host of day trips) dock. There are plenty of seafront bars and restaurants but the nicer restaurants are up in the square, away from the sea front. We ate very well (and cheaply) on Nisyros.
There is a very nicely restored castle above Mandraki – a pleasant and not difficult walk. That’s where the picture of the windswept trees was taken. I don’t know why we didn’t take photos of the castle (which is mainly a curtain wall).
The main attraction on the island is the volcano itself (there’s a very interesting volcano museum) and the actual caldera. You can walk right into the caldera and explore it. It bubbles and smokes and smells of sulphur. We were lucky to get the place to ourselves – we arrived as one bus tour was leaving and left as the next bus tour arrived.
Back in September we went Island Hopping. Apart from sheer enjoyment and recreation, we had two motivations. Firstly, friends were holidaying on Kos and we arranged to meet them for lunch and secondly we wanted to escape Turkey for Kurban Bayram.
We started out by heading for Marmaris to catch our (booked) ferry to Rodos. When you travel at the start of Bayram it is good to book everything well in advance. The bus station thought we were crazy trying to book our bus to Marmaris a week in advance, right until they discovered that there were only two seats left…
As it turned out, when we got to Aydin there was a man waiting for customers to inform them that the bus we had booked had been held up in Istanbul and was running 5 hours late. He booked us onto a bus with a different company (and we got 10 lira back as the new bus was cheaper). All went well till just before Muğla where the bus broke down…
Half an hour later the crew got it going again and we arrived in Marmaris with enough time to grab a late lunch before our ferry left. On the ferry my favourite waiter bought me the first espresso freddo of the holiday. It was not to be the last…
Rodos is lovely, but somewhat expensive. We stayed in the old town in a quiet little pansyon and took breakfast at the local bakery. We had a wildly expensive dinner one night (with avocado stuffed with prawn cocktail – very ’70’s as the couple at the next table commented – and swordfish) in a rooftop restaurant with a great atmosphere. We ate in Psinthos twice. That’s a lovely little village with several great restaurants round the village square. We hired a quad bike and rode around. We took loads of photos in butterfly valley.
Last time we went to butterfly valley we didn’t see any butterflies. It was the wrong time of year. This time we saw….. millions.
And some other creatures:
We left Methoni and rode through spectacular scenery in rapidly worsening weather. We managed to take shelter in a village during the first downpour and took the opportunity to eat a spot of lunch. We managed to take shelter in a garage cafe during the second downpour and had a coffee whilst waiting for the worst to pass. The final downpour occurred just as we got to Dimitisana. We parked the bike under a tree and took refuge under an overhanging roof. About half an hour later, a charming gentleman (Jordan) came out of his hotel and asked if we needed somewhere to stay. We had parked the bike right outside! As you can see above (in better weather).
Cold and dripping wet we inspected the gorgeous rooms of a genuine boutique hotel. We really could not turn it down after leaving puddles on the floor and water soaking into rugs, apart from which the rain was still torrential and being out in it was not high on our agenda. We decided to stay two nights and, after a hot shower and dry clothes, enjoyed a beer in the bar which has the most amazing view. With the weather clearing we strolled into town past the Roman bridge and found plenty of choices for dinner. We ate well in Dimitsana.
Next morning we had a huge homemade breakfast, including fried nettle leaves and morel mushrooms that Jordan had foraged from the forest. Then we set off on a walk. The trail was reasonably well marked and our first stop was a surprisingly interesting outdoor water power museum. The whole area was famous for water powered industry right up to the middle of last century. There was a fulling tub that resembles a huge top loading washing machine, a flour mill, gunpowder mill, raki still and a tannery. All with very informative videos.
This is the fulling tub:
We walked on down the trail but turned around after a few hours and came back by road. It was all down on the way out to the bottom of the gorge, and all up on the way back! We should have taken more water with us, we didn’t, but there was an abundance of fast flowing streams on the way down.
The walking was quite hard so we didn’t get too many views of the scenery. There were frequent stops to try and capture photographs of butterflies! We do want to go back to Dimitsana and do a bit more exploring – there is quite a lot to see in that part of Arcadia but, this year, we didn’t really have time.
Next day we headed back to Nafplio for a relaxing evening before catching the ferry to Chios then on to home via Çeşme.
Our next stop was Methoni. We visited there, briefly, in 2013. This time we went the pretty way, over Mount Taygetos which must be one of the best bike rides in the world. Scenery is spectacular but we were a bit concerned by the darkening skies. Which opened. Fortunately whilst we were fairly near to a village where we took a rain break for a Freddo Espresso. We managed to get to Methoni without getting seriously wet and checked into the hotel on the beach. This meant we could use the sun loungers and umbrellas without incurring extra costs but, sadly, it wasn’t really beach weather whilst we were there. The storm broke as we reached our room.
Methoni is a quiet, seaside village – which gains much (but not all) its income from tourism. It also has a spectacular Venetian castle which, this time, we managed to visit. In fact we spent an entire morning in there. Apart from the castle we spent our time making friends with the local wildlife in a pleasant bar and eating some excellent meals.