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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

10/10 Goodbye Istanbul & Hello Sleepy Sirince

It was surprisingly easy and inexpensive to get from the Lotus Hotel to the main Istanbul airport; we got a taxi to the nearby metro station which took us directly to the airport. Luckily our experience with Turkish Airlines was far more pleasing than with Wizz Air when we flew out of Budapest for Targu Mures, Romania! Showed our passports just once and the boarding passes twice – what a breeze and it took only 75 minutes to reach sunny Izmir on the west coast of Turkey.

 We finally reached our hotel for the next 2 nights, Atilla’s Getaway, an hour by coach from Izmir and a 5 minute drive from the nearby town of Selcuk. We had come to Selcuk because it was the nearest town to wander through Ephesus, the largest Roman ruins of the Eastern Mediterranean. Since it was already mid afternoon, we decided to postpone our visit to Ephesus til the next day and visit instead the nearby wine and market village of Sirince high in the hills.

Since the hotel is outside of Selcuk on a deserted stretch of highway, we just stood on the side of the road and flagged a dolmus down that was going into the otogar or bus station in town and paid the driver 2TL, less than a buck each. A dolmus is a cross between a taxi and a bus: they run set routes, leave when full and make fewer stops than a bus. Then, after waiting a bit as the dolmus only leaves when it’s full, we paid only 3TL each, about $1.35, for the one way ride to Sirince. 
 En route to the hilltop town of Sirince required some white knuckle driving along the steep roads and hairpin turns.

Sirince’s a cutesy town, full of day trippers just like us wanting to see small town village life. There was nothing really to ‘do’ there but wander through more market stalls selling more spices and scarves and other souvenirs that we had already had our full of back in Istanbul. Did walk up to the small Church of St. John the Baptist though.
 He was dishing out ice cream cones a moment earlier to a crowd of happy customers and onlookers all watching his sleight of hands magic tricks with the disappearing cones just out of a customer’s reach.
Dried lavender possibly? Sirince is a big soap making town; almost every stall had their own handmade soaps for sale in a variety of labeled scents but I couldn't detect the difference from the lemon to the apricot to the pomengranate, etc so didn't end up buying any.
Selling lovely hand knit socks, fingerless gloves and slippers must account for a considerable part of people’s wages as we saw so many women showing their beautiful creations. This lady had got herself a coveted spot at the top of the stiars leading to the ruins of the Church of St. John the Baptist.
Certainly a new meaning for the word 'Mum'!

This was the first time it was warm enough to wear shorts in about a month – how fantastic to feel the sun’s warmth on our legs.
After wandering through the town's markets, we popped into the village museum that's now a restaurant but was formerly an elementary school. Then took the dolmus back to Selcuk and waited for the hotel’s shuttle at the otogar to take us back to the hotel.

What a totally relaxing dayin Selcuk and Sirince away from the hubbub of Istanbul. So nice not to have to worry about keeping an eye on each other as we waded often though crowds of people, rushing to get on a jam packed bus or tram, waiting seemingly forever in long lines to enter museums and being annoyed when so many people uncaringly jumped the line we’d been patiently waiting in for 45 minutes or longer. Now we just have to concern ourselves with what color shorts/skort to wear in the sunny weather and Steven can sleep in to his heart’s content!