After we climbed the mountain last Sunday (and, of course, after a break for lunch and the purchase of village produce), we got back into our minibuses and coaches and drove on. We were obviously not heading back the way we came. The road ran along a ridge with steep drops (and spectacular views) on either side. We were able to watch a buzzard hunting. Our outing was clearly not over as we stopped for half an hour in Gölçük to take photos and buy more vıllage produce.
We were both rather taken wıth Gölçük. It’s a pretty little town on a lake, clearly laid out for local tourists (rather like Ahmetbeyli, our favourite beach). There were some hotels and pensions, a few restaurants and a whole line of stalls selling village produce. We will be returning to Gölçük – it looks like an ideal gettaway for a few days in the heat of summer. It has enough altitude to be noticeably cooler.
After Gölçük we stopped in Bergi where we completely failed to take in the famous tourist sites. We did not manage to locate the famous Çakırağa Mansion. Instead we bought village produce and drank coffee with an excellent view of the famous Aydınoğlu Mehmet Bey Mosque. We’ll just have to go back and look at those places properly!
A few miles from home and we go past it frequently so it is a bit remiss of us that we have not covered this before (although we have visited). The museum is easy to get to from Selçuk or Kuşadası and on the railway line between Izmir and Aydin. It is privately run, so Muze kart not accepted, but at 5TL entry is not expensive.
The museum has a fascinating collection of steam locomotives, many from Germany, but also examples from England, Germany, USA and Czechoslovakia. Sadly some of the locos could do with a new lick of paint, but on a positive note many can can be climbed into. There is also a workshop equipped with period tools, cart, carriages and a great deal more, all presented in a well maintained environment. The interior of the carriage used by Attaturk is particularly fascinating and very well presented, complete with kitchen, bath, wardroom, and cabins.
Across the road outside of the museum are remains of old railway buildings including the old station. The track has more recently been moved a few hundred yards to the south.
On Sunday we went walking with Zirve Mountaineering club. This time we actually climbed a mountain.
It was an early start to get to the centre of town by seven a.m. There was one mini bus for us plus two Belediye buses full of students from the THK University. It was nearly 09:00 by the time we got to Boz Dağ – a ski-ing centre – but there was no snow in the village and not a lot on the mountain. After breakfast and much çay, we set off.
As usual, we took a very steep (and slightly slippery) short cut en route to the top. Some people decided to wait just above the tree line whilst we and others made the push for the peak. We walked almost all the way up. It was hard going but well worth it for the views! We didn’t quite get to what there was of a snow line, not that there was much snow anyway. Maybe we would have gone all the way to the peak, but there were signs of the weather starting to turn less pleasant. There was some disappointment but it was a wonderful day out, and in our view snow is something best confined to photographs and postcards.
The day wasn’t over either. After a very late lunch back in the village (lunch that included chips fried over a fire in an oil drum), we set off on a tour of some of the local beauty spots. But that, along with pictures of the alpine blooms, is for another post.
We were very lucky with the weather. Thundery showers were predicted but it stayed clear all the time we were on the mountain. By the time we left Boz Dağ the clouds were rolling in. The rain, however, held off until quite late at night, when we were safely home and eating dinner. There wasn’t much of it even then.
Yesterday we went walking with Zirve. After a wonderfully sunny week, the weather was not great, overcast and raining at times so the climb up to the high meadows of Silver Mountain was not as much fun as it could be and the views of mist as we hit cloud level not what we were hoping for. We stopped by the meadows for an extended lunch break whilst a smaller group went for the mountain summit. Lunch was extended because the summit party got delayed as they needed to wait out some of the rain. Despite the near incessant rain at this time we managed to get a fire going, impressive with no dry wood or kindling and only a few sheets of dry paper and tissues, a small bottle of an alcohol based perfume, and a couple of plastic bottles – the plastic was at least dry. It took a while but eventually we had a roaring fire in the rain which we kept fed with an ample supply of very wet wood. Smoky but effective. By the time the climbing party got back the weather was starting to improve so we had a far more pleasant descent.
On Thursday we went walking from Çamlık to Şirince. A walk we do not think we’ve done since winter solstice in 2012 when Şirince was supposed to be one of two places in the world to survive the apocalypse predicted for that day. It is a really good walk – about four hours along forest roads. On Thursday we saw a great many wild flowers, also at least three species of raptor, along with the usual tits and finches in large numbers. Blackbirds, robins, thrushes of various varieties.
At one point, as we passed a farm where the dogs always bark at us, our route was blocked. At least one of the dogs was loose and it came towards us in a threatening manner. This was a large kangal type dog and it was apparent that it did not want to let us pass. We retraced our steps and found a sign… It translates to ‘beware of the dog, this is not a road, it’s land that belongs to someone’. Now, we have no idea whether that land (part of what we believed to be a forest road) actually does belong to someone but, deciding that discretion was the better part of valour we managed to find a way around the farm with the fierce, loose dog. We went through a small village (with no mains electricity but generators, mobile phones and solar arrays) then turned back towards the path.
We were not sure, at first, that we’d got back onto the right forest road (they all look pretty much the same), but it turned out that we had and we wound up in Şirince in good time to do a bit of shopping and catch the dolmuş home.
Şirince was incredibly crowded for a Thursday in February. Partly locals, partly the normal handful of travellers and partly, we think, a cruise ship. Our usual wine vendor was closed for refurbishment so we went to another place where, after we mentioned we lived in Şelcuk we picked up a couple of bottles of wine at ‘locals’ prices.
We can’t get celery here but all winter long we get fantastic celeriac. The leaves give soups and stews a celery flavour but the stems are too tough to use for anything that isn’t cooked for several hours. The traditional way to cook it here is as a zeytinyağlı mezze which is, indeed, delicious, but we have also roasted it and used it in soup. Recently, though we adapted a River Cottage recipe for celeriac and chilli gratin. Well, we did try the original and found it a bit too richly creamy and not cheesy enough. So we used bechamel instead of cream and, because fresh chilli is very expensive and difficult to come by now, pul biber or plain acı biber flakes.
First you make a bechamel with flour, butter and milk. For two people about 2/3 of one of those little cartons of milk is sufficient. The quantity is not critical but it should be around the consistency of cream. Grate some cheese (we use ordinary kaşar – you could use gruyere or cheddar). Then peel and slice the celeriac thinly (the original recipe says to the thickness of a 10p piece). Mix the celeriac slices in a large bowl with enough oil to coat them and seasonings – also a finely chopped up chilli if you have one and/or some chilli flakes. This is a hands-on job and quite messy. Then mix in about half the bechamel.
Spread about half the slices in a gratin dish (or anything shallow that will go in the oven), then put just over half the cheese on top. Put in the rest of the celeriac and arrange it a bit, then pour on the rest of the bechamel and scatter with the rest of the cheese. This goes in a hot oven for about 45 minutes and comes out done. You might want to put the cheese on top after it’s been in the oven a while – this depends how crispy you like your cheese.
Served with a julienned salad on a bed of rocket topped with chopped beetroot.
Third Sunday in January – Selçuk Camel Wrestling. This year with glorious sunshine.