Aegean Turkey: The Ancient City of Ephesus

I didn’t realize what a madhouse Istanbul was til I got off the shuttle bus in Selcuk and walked for about for 5 minutes trying to orient myself. I thought I was fuzzy from the nap on the bus. I crossed street to the bus station and thought it must be quiet because it was Friday. It took me a few hours to realize that this small town called Selcuk was as busy as it could be and that it was me. By this time though, all the pent up energy and stress of a rushed trip had drained out of me and I was well on my way for a 3-day adventure.

It’s a public holiday on Sunday and for once the school is closed. With my day-off on Friday, it was too good an opportunity to miss so I packed my bag (small duffle – ahhh the benefits, no lugging a large bag all over a country), booked my to and return flights and left to fill in the gap! This trip will also call for a milestone because for the first time in my life, I faked a sick-day! No shit. As an employer rep, it was my pet-peeve when employees just didn’t turn up to work without notice. I just couldn’t understand the irresponsibility.  Now that I’ve done it myself, meh 😀

Saturday markets in Selcuk. All streets in the town centre are closed off.
Saturday markets in Selcuk. All streets in the town centre are closed off.

Selcuk is a small gateway town to the ancient city of Ephesus. To get there, I flew with Atlasjet (despite the disappointment when I realized the fare I booked was not including taxes!) because they had a free shuttle bus from Izmir Airport to Selcuk and it continued to Kusadasi  if you’re interested in staying there. Great domestic service for this route as it’s relatively painless and drops you off in the town centre and it’s co-ordinated with flight times so there’s not much waiting around. Located on the Aegean side of Turkey, there is a strong Greek influence in everything; from the buildings to language and food.

The Ancient City of Ephesus

The city of Ephesus is an ancient Greek city on the Aegean coast of Turkey. The city was built in the Classical Greece era and the city expanded when the Romans took over.  Excavations are still happening all over the vast area the city covered however the restored sections are quite impressive in particular the Library of Celsus which is absolutely spell-bounding! I was lucky enough to be there just at the beginning of the peak season so the tourists numbers were low. It’s a marvelous of piece of recovered history and I took my time to linger and take it all in.

Temple of Hadrian
The city of Ephesus
The city of Ephesus
The Library of Celsus
The Library of Celsus

Actually I change my mind. I think the outdoor Roman theater where Greek plays and later gladiator displays were performed was more spectacular than the Library of Celsus! The theater overlooked the Harbor and on clear days, the Aegean sea sparkles in the distance.

Outdoor theater in Ephesus overlooking the Aegean sea in a distant.
Largest outdoor theater of the ancient world! Estimated seating capacity of 25,000.

Sirince – A Quaint Village called Ugly!

I had planned to go to Didyma the next day because my sister had insisted I must visit the Temple of Apollo but with logistics etc. I just had to let that one go. Instead the next day, I lingered over my breakfast (bread, fruit, omelet, jam, cheese and tea – A Turkish affair) and took a dolmus to a Greek village in the mountains called Sirinice.


Apparently this lovely village in the mountains was once called ugly in Turkish but then later changed to pleasant! And pleasant it indeed was. Cobbled streets laced with sweet honey-suckle flowers, music in the crisp air and plenty of sunshine. Sirince is well-known for its wines and I recall one of my corporate students telling me how he once came all the way to Sirince to buy a stash of wine, load it in his car and make a run for it…all because he was afraid someone might see him and his (good Muslim) reputation would be tainted!

I spent the morning lingering in the streets, talking to the locals and visiting the Baptist church. After working up a appetite walking the hillside lanes, I headed to some freshly-made gomezles (stuffed pancakes) and a big glass of ayran! Yum. And got back to Selcuk in time for my bus to Pamukkale.

The cobbled lanes of Sirince.
The cobbled lanes of Sirince.
Markets in Sirince
Markets in Sirince
Local Greek woman living in Sirince outside her house.
Making of Gomezles (stuffed pancakes)!

Travel Tip

If you need to buy your bus tickets or need some local bus/dolmus information, I suggest Aydin Ticket office (first shop from the left at the Otogar), there’s a guy called Tony and he’s an absolute gentleman. They don’t sell tours etc. but you will definitely be able to book all your connecting bus routes with them.

Tony at Aydin Buses. An absolute gentleman. See him for honest, reliable information on Selcuk and onward travel.

3 thoughts on “Aegean Turkey: The Ancient City of Ephesus

  1. Beautiful photos! I was in Turkey last May (2012) and I visited
    Ephesis, Pergamon & the Asclepion. All so wonderful.
    I took photos there too. I commend your work.

    Richard Vallance
    Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae (Blog)


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