Monthly Archives: January 2016

Eğidir and Sagalassos

 

Lake Egidir

In mid-September we set out on what was to be our last ‘big’ roadtrip of the year.  Well, the last on our own (we did go to a biker party on Lesvos which involved quite a bit of riding).

We set off from Selçuk and got to Eğidir in one day.  It’s a longish trip – a good six hours riding.  The weather was fine and we stayed in the same hotel we’ve stayed in previously.  The owners seemed pleased to see us and every year we are able to talk to the more and more as our Turkish improves.

We always enjoy Eğidir – we’ve been every September since we moved to Turkey.  It’s a lovely, relaxing little town with beautiful scenery and very little European tourism (and what there is, is mostly just passing through).

This year we decided to return to Sagalassos – one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Turkey (in our opinion).  I think we have written about it in this blog before.  It is described as a ‘tourist site’ but we think it is too far off the beaten track to attract many tourists.  We had the huge site almost to ourselves.

Sagalassos1509

Occupation of the area dates back to Hittite times.  Sagalassos was one of the richest cities in Pisidia when conquered by Alexander the Great.  It subsequently came under Roman rule and the Emporer Hadrian took it as a Centre of his personal Cult.

Sagalassos-P3The setting is spectacular but we did notice a few changes since our first visit (in 2012).  The building work that we thought might be for a cable car turned out to be for a smart new visitors centre (empty and largely shut during our visit).  The rock tombs are now accessible and interesting.  The archaeologists on site seem to be doing a really good job, but then they are fortunate, Sagalassos is up the side of a mountain, too remote for the stone to have been plundered or recycled, so most remains present.  Also remarkable is that two of the fountains still work, in September after the dry of the long hot summer water was flowing from natural springs.

The setting is wonderful with views of mountains to the south, and we saw quite a few bee eaters just past the carpark on the way out.

It’s impossible to choose just a few pictures so we shall leave you with a gallery.

Our First Trip to Samos

Samos-panorama

In early August we took a trip to the UK to visit friends and family.  Then, at the end of the month, we decided to take a trip to Samos.  That’s really easy from here.  A half hour on the dolmuş to Kuşadası then a stroll to the ferry.  Very straightforward.  The ferry out was very crowded with locals taking a weekend break.

Samos08Our ferry docked in Pythagorio where we got some breakfast and hired a quad bike.  We rode the quad bike to Kokkara and started to look for our hotel.  It was not very easy to find.  And, whilst we were trying to find it, the quad bike stopped and refused to be restarted.  We found the hotel on foot and the proprietor allowed us to use his phone to contact the hire shop.  They sent out a mechanic who swiftly gave us a remedial lesson in how to start the quad…

Our hotel was lovely with a glorious garden, interesting plants and a very welcoming family.

We spent the next couple of days buzzing round the island on the bike.  Everywhere we stopped there were spectacular views and all the food was delicious!

We found a congenial bar in Kokkari itself – we went there for breakfast every day Samos01and, in the early evenings, we were able to dive straight into the water and climb out again for a cold beer and snack.  Kokkari is quite touristy – lively but not noisy.  It’s a pretty little town with plenty of bars, restaurants and shops selling the sorts of things that tourists like to buy.

But, for us, maybe the best of all was the Hera temple at Pythagario.  It is a truly stunning site and quite huge.  We particularly liked the monumental feet!

A lot of people just go to Samos for the shopping – there are items you can buy there that you can’t get in Turkey (pork products) and alcohol is a lot cheaper, but we didn’t bother too much with that (well, we did not neglect to use our duty free allowance).  We got on the quad and explored.  This blog is called our first trip to Samos because we fully intend to go again!

Catching up -Ekincik

Ekincik04

We’ve been on several trips and took a lot of photographs.  Just, for one reason or another we have been very remiss about blogging.  We did write about our trip to Skala Sikamenia back in June…  In July we went to Ekincik.

That was one amazing place – we spent three days on the beach and didn’t take a lot of photographs.  Really, it is a place to go to relax and do nothing.  So we relaxed and did nothing.

The beach has a few restaurants and a few hotels.  There’s a load of concrete where it looks like they were starting to build some more hotels or villas then stopped.  There’s a campsite and, at weekends, the place fills up and gets a bit noisy.  During the week, though, it was wonderfully quiet.

We stayed in a family Pansyon about half a mile from the beach.  The walk to the beach was pretty and the pansyon has an arrangement with one of the beach bar/restaurants that allows hotel guests to use sun loungers and parasols for free.  We took advantage of this.

The family were friendly and the food….  Well, at some point during the day we’d be asked whether we wanted chicken, fish or kofte.  In the evening a mangal would be lit and the chicken/fish/kofte would be grilled.  Meanwhile five huge plates of mezzes would be brought to each table.  The grills were….. grilled.  The fish was the best.  But the mezzes were outstanding.

So, where is Ekincik?  Maybe we shouldn’t say….  It’s on the same peninsula as Kaunos.  You take the road from Köyceğiz towards Kaunos and just keep on going.  Eventually you see a signpost and drop down to Ekincik.

 

On the way back home we stopped for tea in Cine where we saw this little lizard.  We have seen them many times, in Antalya and around that area, but this is the furthest North we have seen them venture.

Ekincik05Ekincik08

 

 

 

Walking round Sardis

Sardis walk27

On Sunday we went walking with Zirve Mountaineering and Extreme Sports Club again.  This time numbers were more to our taste – 26 of us all together, including a very knowledgeable guide.  We were happy to be able to understand nearly everything he told us about the site.  He did speak good English, but the information was given to the group in Turkish.  It was an early start and a two hour drive to the village of Sart where we stopped for breakfast.  Parts of the ancient site are in that village.  We wandered around the gymnasium and synagogue area.  The synagogue was particularly impressive – huge, built in Roman times, it has some amazing mosaics, on the floor and mounted on some of the remaining walls.

The gymnasium has been quite heavily restored but one of the things we found most fascinating about it is the sculpted heads mounted on the capitals of the columns at the front of the building.  We have not seen anything like that before and we did manage to get a picture of one of them.

Sardis was an important city for more than 1,500 years.  It was, at various points, Lydian, Persian, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine.

Our minibus drove us up to the Artemesion.  Much better preserved than the more famous temple near Ephesus (the one we can walk to, the one that was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the one that is almost completely tumbled down but a great place for wildlife).  The temple has seen very little modern restoration, although there is a church at one end (built when Christianity became the official religion in the area).  The columns are of various dates (and some were ‘restored’ in Roman times) but they are properly tapered to give a good perspective.

Following our visit to the Temple we climbed up to the acropolis.  All that remains of the acropolis is Byzantine and most of that has fallen down the hillside, not least because the entire hill seems to be made of sand and sandstone.   We stopped for a tea break in a sheltered part of the acropolis walls.  Although the weather was overcast, the worst of the rain held off till late afternoon and we got some amazing views.

On the way back we stopped off first at the Kazak Centre where we ate Sutlaç, then on to Karabel where there is a wonderful Hittite relief cut into the rock.  There were more, unfortunately destroyed when the road was widened.

Sardis-P7

 

 

Inundation

Our garage

Our garage

We were planning on catching up on some of the trips we have not covered yet, but recent events have given an opportunity to kick off 2016 with a blog entry about living here is Selçuk. What some people may not know is we get roughly the same amount of annual rainfall as Dublin, but here pretty much all that rain happens in the three months of winter. December was unusually dry, no rain at all, pretty much day after day of unbroken sunshine. Then on Sunday night the rain arrived, maybe all the rain missed in December in one night.

We watched the road turn into a river. The river kept rising as the torrent came down off the hill. It rose above the kerb and into neighbours’ homes. And, as it rose further, into our garage. There was nothing we could do in the middle of the night, nothing could be got out against the water flow, the street was a knee deep torrent, it was hard enough standing up against it. Vodka seemed a very good idea at the time.

So, in the morning came clean up and a thick head. We got the bike out. Then phoned a friend who came around with a pump. Between the pump, buckets, mops, towels, and the help of various local children (who should probably have been in school) we got the water and mud out of the garage. A mattress we were storing has been consigned to the bin along with a load of spare cardboard we use to light the wood stove. This is all we have lost.

The Belediye (local council) workmen arrived with a JCB and a tractor with a trailer to clear the mud, stones and debris from the street and one nearby which was knee deep in mud.

The bike should be OK. We got it off the street, up by the side of the house. The Belidiye workmen helped us push it up the slope, hard work given all the slippery mud. I am going to leave it a couple of days to dry out, then charge the battery and see what happens. The water never got to the electrics or anything else sensitive, so I am hoping for nothing bad.

flood---bike-on-the-street

Before we could go inside and wash our feet, the children insisted on having their photographs taken with the bike. We’ve promised them hard copy of the photos tomorrow afternoon.

The street is a mess, there is still ankle deep mud in places. More rain is predicted, maybe it will wash the mud away. The clean up will take a few days. We’re more than half way up the hill, those lower down will, doubtless, have worse problems though the drainage around our house and a few nearby leaves a lot to be desired.

Happy New Year (and some new directions)

This year we have learned that a couple of the Blogs we follow here in Turkey are finishing. To be honest we had thought of the same, but, we think 2016 is going to be an interesting year.

Some of the plans we had when we moved to Turkey included the east, maybe even Syria. Obviously those things are out of the question right now. We might go as far east as Cappadocia, but probably no further. We may spend more time in Greece, well actually we will be spending some time in Greece. Plans are afoot.

We also need to write up some of our travels from last year. Expect some of these over the coming weeks since right now the weather is not good for travel. We can catch up on the neglected posts.

So, a good part of the blog will be about us and travel, life in the Aegean. Life in Turkey. Nature, wildlife, and the rest.

We will be doing some other things on the blog as well.

There will be some more political commentary; we’ll be applying the Amnesty principle so are not likely to comment a great deal on the political situation in Turkey, or at least not in a critical way. We are guests here; we intend to act as such. So maybe about the UK, or the EU, or the Middle East.

There may be more about motorcycles.

There may be other things as well.

2016 is going to be an interesting year with some new things for us. So, we will continue blogging and sharing some of the things we get up to.