Meanwhile back home in Turkey, we will have more to say on Kerkini and Greece later.
June is our time for the Arts scene here in Selçuk. It is the International Izmir Festival. Some events are always staged locally, which means in Ephesus. This year, two concerts in front of the Library of Celsus and one in the Odeon, (upper theatre) so sadly none in the great theatre, but no matter, these make for great nights out.
It is all a bit haphazard with semi random seating, we never get tickets with seats next to each other, but as long as we sit in the right block it is all fine.
So this year we have a Piano recital, mostly Chopin and Debussy, a chamber orchestra doing Bartok and Liszt, and an Italian Ensemble. The recital was interesting, and was a lovely evening with friends and a bottle of wine. We still have the other two to look forward to.
There are also events in Izmir and elsewhere, but concerts in Ephesus are just wow. More details can be found at http://www.iksev.org/en
After what has been a cold March, cold in the UK, then cold here, the weather is finally warming up. The storks have arrived, the first of the swallows have arrived, but as the say, one Swallow does not make spring.
So, on the first warm and sunny day, we decided to take a stroll around some of the local archaeological sites. Ephesus on a Sunday is never going to be empty, but it is nice to stroll through, laugh at some of the tours and, well we have Muze Kart so it costs nothing.
The Artemis Temple is now as deeply flooded as it ever gets. There are a few guys selling post cards, guide books, and dodgy coins. Mostly it is a quiet place, the tours rarely stop and those which do move on pretty quickly. So we were left with the geese, the turtles, frogs, a snake, storks, and a visiting heron.
Confirmed by a friend and others as a Night Heron, this one clearly did not know is was early afternoon.
The museum was closed for about two years whilst the building underwent renovation. For quite a while it was just a huge hole in the ground. Nobody was very sure precisely what was going on but a modern building gradually went up and finally, in December 2014, the museum re-opened. And finally, earlier this week, we got around to going to take a look at what had been done inside.
The ethnographic section appears to have gone, leaving it as a purely archaeological museum. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. The oldest finds from the area are pre-6000 BC, there are bronze age items and, of course, plenty from the Greek and Roman eras.
The museum now contains displays arranged in chronological order which does make the progressions easy to understand. The labeling still leaves something to be desired as it can be difficult to identify the items to which the labels should apply. The rooms are darkened. Quite honestly, it is a while since we last visited the museum, we visit a lot of museums and we didn’t think that it was all that different!
Which is not to say that it is unimpressive…
A Roman copy of what may have been the Artemis Cult Statue
Bronze of an Egyptian Priest
Some years ago it used to be illuminated at night. Then this stopped, apparently something to do with a dispute between the Belediye and the electric company. Most holidays it gets decorated with huge banners of Ataturk. Now it is illuminated again. Recently a lot of work was done on restoring the walls and shoring up dangerous structures. Through all of this the castle has been closed to visitors. This has now changed, it is open.
It has actually been open for a month or so, but were were busy. So recently, as we needed to renew our Muze Kart (easiest done at the entry gate to the Basilica which is also the entrance for the castle), we thought it time to visit. We did not actually get new Muze Kart (another story for another time), but since we were there and the things had not quite expired we braved the tourists in the Basilica and went to the Castle.
It is interesting, an old mosque, a church converted to store water. Some other buildings, and imposing walls. Not all of the castle is open and it is not possible to access most of the walls – probably a good thing given how narrow the walkways are. Well worth the visit.
Given we had to walk through the Basilica we took a few shots. Some more restoration is being done, including quite a few new marble blocks. We are not sure what the plan is, it seems to us to be more like reconstruction than restoration. It got us talking, in our younger days we were taught that it should always be possible to distinguish between the old parts and the reconstructed, often by using concrete. The model in Turkey seems to be more to restore or reconstruct to how the monument was. We guess both are equally valid. Anyway taste aside, some basilica photos (before the next stage of restoration) and a shot of Isa Bey Mosque and the Artemis Temple from the Castle gate.
Last year it was cold, the ground muddy. I remember my feet getting freezing cold, but at least it was not raining. This year Selçuk Camel Wrestling Festival took place in glorious warm sunshine, unseasonably warm perhaps but we are not complaining and neither were the large crowds out for having a good time. A good time seemed to include drinking vast amounts of rakı, outdoor cooking, gambling, dancing and music. It was all very loud, colourful, entertaining, chaotic, good natured, and great fun.
It is almost impossible to convey the sights, sounds and smells of camel wrestling in words. The cheering is very loud, the music louder, the commentary often barely audible. The smells of camels, barbeques (both commercial and personal), rakı and people packed tightly together.
It is quite hard to imagine the concept of the most beautiful and best dressed camel. No matter what the added finery, garters and all, they are not exactly going to the ball. The following day they will be off to Pamucak for the camel wrestling, but on market day it was the best dressed camel competition. We have no idea which camel won or what the standards for judging are, but as ever when camels are about there was much excitement, playing of drums and wind instruments as loudly as possible, and freshly cooked sucuk.
The jasmine in the garden is still flowering, OK, not like it does in summer, but there are still some flowers. Today there were honeybees on the jasmine. We were going to spend some time in Cafe Carpouza sitting outside in the warm sunshine and drinking tea but all the tables were taken by others with the same idea. So instead we wandered around for a bit, found a camel, got given some camel meat sucuk which was delicious, and then made tea at home.
We have been in the UK and Ireland. Hence quiet. Seeing family was great. Gaelcon was great. But it is good to be home.
It’s odd because the clocks went back whilst we were away – it now seems to get dark far too early and we are not used to the sun going down before we start cooking dinner. The weather here continues pleasant. Thundery showers were forecast for today but have not yet happened. It’s misty and difficult to see the more distant hills, but Selçuk is still a beautiful place.
Sadly the kitten who adopted us has not turned up. He went missing about a week before we left for the UK.
About all we have done since we got home is shop (there’s a market in Belevi on Sundays), cook, wash and clean. Hoping to be back to normal in a day or so!
We spend a lot of our time sitting on our back house terrace. It’s sheltered there, shady for a lot of the day in summer and protected from the worst of the wind and cold in late autumn and early spring. The only issue is that our back terrace is very small. Just about enough room for the two of us (unless both of us have a project which needs the table) and just about enough room for our breakfast (though it is a bit of a puzzle finding space for all the different dishes). So Ashley has had this brilliant idea to extend the terrace – this will mean less steps but steeper ones. It will also mean more tiles are needed.
We went into Kuşadası earlier in the week to look at tiles. We only went to the big places Koç Taş and Tekzen (though there are many very fine looking smaller tile specialists in the town). We were not impressed. Nor could we match our present tiles.
So we consulted our neighbour who we believe did the original build. He didn’t have a spare tile (nor did we) but he knocked a part tile off the stairs and took it to his builder’s merchant. Who, he said, was able to match it. We found out where this builder’s merchant is (it took a few tries and misunderstandings) and headed there early this afternoon.
Sure enough – they were able to match our tile. We bought 12 square meters. And went to collect it from the depo in a tractor (which then bought us home with the tiles, much to the amusement of our neighbours).
We are thought very odd for this. We do not have an usta to advise us. We have not bought the cement and adhesive and sand and grout or other supplies that we will need. We are probably not going to have this work done till late in the autumn. But, we have the tiles. And they are the same tiles as we have on the terrace now (so we only need them for the new bits, and won’t have to have the whole terrace redone) but they match the tiles in the back house which pleases Hilary. All that, plus a ride on a tractor at about two thirds of the cost of the cheapest tiles we saw in the big DIY shops…
Selçuk festival takes place every year at the beginning of September. Dates are variable and it’s often very difficult to find out precisely when the festival is going to take place until pretty close to the last moment. This year we thought we would miss most of it as we were off on a roadtrip (of which more later) right at the beginning of the months, but we were in luck and the festival didn’t actually start till after we got back.
There are stalls selling crafts (traditional and modern) and various other goods all over town and concerts at various locations. There was a film show running more or less constantly under the aqueduct. We took our longest wander round on the Friday night and the town centre was packed with people strolling around and enjoying themselves. There were camels! I think they were young camels. They were not wearing their finery.
There are cookery demonstrations and competitions and some very interesting demonstrations of local craftsmen and women. There was a tinner and people making the decorations you see on the camels in wrestling season.
There was a music programme and we heard some of the concerts were very good though we didn’t actually catch any of them. There was also a lot of music on the streets and some of that was very good indeed.
We did do some shopping. We bought a couple of beautifully made stools – turned wood with woven string seats. They are comfortable and look very smart on the back terrace.
We didn’t get any good photos of the festival, despite having returned on a second occasion specifically to take them. The living statues, however, were standing very still….