Greece for the price of Turkey
25.04.2016 - 29.04.2016 19 °C
After our overnight experience at Gallipoli we were pretty shattered, but it was only 1pm. We got a 15 minute car ferry across the Dardanelles to Canakkale.
We had some lunch and walked along the pretty waterfront, which had the horse they built for the movie Troy.
We then drive to actual Troy, and started with a little nap on the grass to recharge. We then explored the ruins themselves which were interesting but didn't blow us away. Having said that, it was still cool because it was Troy, and some parts were almost 5,000 years old!
Still being tired, we decided not to do any more driving that day and found a local place for the night. I went to bed at around 7 and David followed just after 8. Refreshed, we set off down the Aegean coast the next morning. The drive was beautiful and the roads were very good, although there was a fair amount of crazy driving in the towns.
We crossed a bridge to have lunch on a pretty island which felt very Greek in style, as did much of the Aegean coast.
We also stopped at the 5th century BC acropolis of Pergamon, which had a 360° view. I particularly liked the Roman columns and the amphitheatre, which had seating for 10,000 people. There was one tour group and a few individuals but we almost had the place to ourselves.
After that we drove to Selcuk, where we stayed at a place called ANZ guesthouse, partly because we liked the name. The owner was friendly, and managed to narrowly beat David at table tennis.
We found an amazing restaurant nearby where we finally tried pide, Turkish pizza. It was so good we came back the next night. We got a free salad, Turkish tea, and dessert pizza with a sesame paste topping, and the bill was NZ $18 even with a tip.
I has also decided to try a Turkish drink which sounded interesting, and tasted even worse than the description sounds!! Imagine unsweetened juice from pickled gherkins, with lots chili added.
The next day we took a break from ruins and went to a national park. It was really nice to be somewhere where we didn't have to cover up in the heat of the day for a change. The beaches were more rocky than sandy, but the water was so clear that it more than made up for it. We swam in the cool water and sunbathed to warm up.
We also visited the "cave of Zeus", where legend says that Zeus used to hide from his brother Poseidon. It was ok, but nothing special and we only stayed 5 minutes.
On our last day we visited the main attractions of Selcuk, the ruins of Ephesus. We started with a visit to the ruins of the 4th century church built in honour of St John, who allegedly spent the last years of his life there. It was impressive, and would be the seventh largest church in the world today if reconstructed. We also found a turtle in among the ruins!
There was also an old castle on top of the hill which had a great view and looked amazing with the vibrant colours of the poppies which were everywhere.
We also visited the local museum where most of the important historical pieces from Ephesus are kept so we would know some of the background. We had an amazing lunch in a nice plaza in the centre of town, again for less than $20 for both of us.
We then visited the ruins of Ephesus, which was originally a Greek settlement from around 1,000 BC and one of the largest cities in the world during Roman times. It was ultimately abandoned in the 3rd-4th century AD following a number of earthquakes. These ruins were way better than any we had seen before and we really enjoyed them. David took the opportunity to do another beer ad, with an Efes beer from the area. The ruins had an amphitheatre with seating for 25,000 people where allegedly St Paul delivered his gospel, and a nice main street where Cleopatra and Marc Antony had a famous procession.
Outside the main ruins there was one attraction left - the ancient temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Today there is very little left so it was a pretty quick stop.
After that we did a quick trip to a nearby town famous for its delicious fruits and fruit wine. We did a tasting and bought a bottle of pomegranate wine which I really liked but was too sweet for David.
The next day we headed to yet another beautiful beach, Cesme, which fitted exactly into our mental picture of the Greek coast. We saw a beautiful pier in the water and asked the adjacent resort if we could buy a drink and use the pier. The place actually hadn't opened yet and the guys were really glad for us to use their deck chairs for free, which will cost $40 per day from Monday. They took selfies with us and a we fed the fish with them. Once it was just us we lay back and enjoyed the stunning views.
We dropped off the car and flew inland to Cappadocia.