Selçuk, Ephesus

  • Post category:Europe / Turkey

As we had an early morning flight from Kayseri to Izmir, we decided to spend the night there rather than get up before dawn for a 1 hour minibus transfer. 

The shuttle was direct to the airport, and we got a taxi fo our hotel which suppose to be 5 minutes away.  It was probably 3 minutes the way our driver drove.  Over 100 km/hour, in a residential zone totally ignoring the 2 sets of red traffic lights and then thankfully was forced to slow down when we met other (slower) traffic.

We got another (normal speed) taxi to drop us downtown where we had lunch in the food court of a small mall.  This was clearly not a tourist town, and they were so nice to us while we did our point and smile approach to ordering.  Later while walking the street an older man saw me looking at the maps on my phone and speaking no English /understanding no Turkish he recommended that we visit the famous Mosque in the city.  People went out of their way to be nice to us. 

Mall eating and a new Acrylic hat to beat the cold

After lunch we visited the Seljuk Civilisations Museum.  They have done a really good job of displaying the ancient civilization.  There wasn’t a lot of English descriptions, but we really did enjoy it.

The next morning when we stepped outside after a quick breakfast, we could see it was lightly snowing.  Up until yesterday temperatures on the trip had been sunny and 18-25 degrees during the day.  Never mind – we are going to Izmir and temperatures on the coast were back in the 18 degree range. 

At Izmir we took the IzBan which is light urban rail and would take us 60km north to Selçuk, home for the next 4 nights.  The train staff were also kind and pointed us the right direction.  We are definitely back in more temperate climes as there is kilometre after kilometre of trees laden with oranges. 

The UNESCO listed city of Ephesus was the reason we came to this part of Turkey.  It is an ancient city that has been an important part of the Roman empire and excavations in the last 150 years have revealed well-preserved ruins over a large area.  Originally it was a harbour city, but slowly the land encroached so that it was located over 5 kilometres from the sea by the time it started to be abandoned.

Our hotel owner kindly dropped us at the top gates as it was on the way to her house.  We walked through the ruins for a couple of hours.

The terraced houses – also known as the rich peoples houses – were worth the extra admission price and the conservation work being done on them was impressive.  They were certainly advanced for the time with both hot and cold running water and built to be warm in winter/cold in summer. They had been well preserved due to being buried and only excavated starting in the 1960s.

The library, and 2 theatres were also outstanding.  We were lucky to be there outside main tourist times, because even in November the tour groups were still numerous.

While we waited for the minibus back to the city we got talking to an American family who were on vacation from Chicago. They had 36 hours in Izmir/Selçuk Turkey, before heading to Rome for 3 days and then returning home.  Not really our style of travel.  Perhaps we should therefore have ignored his recommendation of Agora restaurant as the best rated restaurant in town.  Tourist Food – which was fine, just not outstanding.  Google maps told us it was a 2 hour walk to get from the bus station to there.  Instead, we walked across the street and we there in less than 3 minutes.  Google Maps in Tukey is not very accurate with directions or timings.  The Apple map version also has some weird walking routes, so it seems common for the country.

After lunch we visited the Selçuk Museum that had most of the artefacts that had been found at Ephesus.  They had done a very good job with display and presentation (English descriptions were again limited, but adequate) It was possible to imagine the items in-situ back up at Ephesus.

The temple of Artemis was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world.  Today it is a single, reconstructed column, and it is hard to imagine how it would have looked in it’s hey-day.  Models show elaborate and extensive building back in the day. 

St John, the apostle is supposedly buried in Selçuk and the ruins of an extensive 6th century Basillica was an intersting visit

We took the local van (Dolmus) to the mountain village of Şirince.  Sit on the bus until it fills up, and then it travels the 15 minutes up the hill.  There were a few characters on board who were carrying buckets of (olives spices and other goodies from the fresh market located just outside the town centre.  In Şirince we walked the streets and looked at the views. 

We stopped in a small café where the owner was very proficient with a speaking translation app.  We received the hard sell on buying the hand-made relishes, peach preserves and the like.  Instead, we drank or over-priced (tourist scam) coffee and smiled and left.  It wasn’t worth worrying about a couple of dollars – but would give a low rating on that unnamed place. 

There were a few tourists about, but no one was eating in the restaurants, so we decided to head back to Selçuk and eat there.  We chose a quick lamb kebab near the bus station – fresh and good value and not too filling – we had dinner plans we didn’t want to spoil our appetites for.  Today was the 1st day of rain we have had.  Not cold (about 18 degrees) but the rain was annoying, mainly because we had left our umbrellas at the hotel.

Our hotel In Ephesus was a fantastic small family run place. We were the only guests and they treated us very well. Each morning the breakfast terrace was ours alone and we feasted on Turkish breakfast with multiple plates – every day

Our hotel had recommended the Kybele restaurant, just around the corner.  What a great recommendation, as we went there on our first night in town.  The owner was a charmer – even with limited English, the lamb was unbelievably tender (like velvet) and flavorsome.  The Turkish red from a vineyard just down the road was 2022, but was stunning [7 Bilgeler, Hippokrates 2022].  We repeated the menu 2 days later – because I said Andrew wasn’t allowed to eat there every night we stayed in Selçuk.  It was funny that we saw the owner in the centre of the town on one day and we felt (a little bit) like locals as we greeted him like an old friend. 


We had a day trip into the city of Izmir.  We wandered around the enormous market, looked at the Agora, the clock tower and other sites around the old city.  We finished with lunch alongside the Kordon Market before returning to Selçuk. 

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