Sunday, 6 January 2013

Splendid sunny Selcuk

No pix this time, we set off on our Selcuk expedition camera-free... [Pronounced Sellchook.]
Selcuk lies within walking distance from Ephesus, and we had visited it briefly before on the day we went to Ephesus. This time we found a delightful B+B right in the centre, close to the museum: the Pension Tuncay. Warmly recommended. We had reserved on internet but received no confirmation, so just arrived. A very locked gate... David phoned and within a few minutes up sped a young lady on scooter, unlocked the gate and ushered us into the courtyard. No one else around (in fact they were still closed for Christmas, as it were...). No heating. But the beds were made up. The young lady, Rose, gave us plenty of blankets and on the next day cooked us the most delicious breakfast. All was clean and unfussy, what more did we need? The weather was superb, cloudless blue, the white-plastered walls of the houses shining in the light, the grass gleaming. First we went to find the nearby museum. Alas, it is closed until September 2013, for major renovation. So no mother-goddess with fifteen fertile breasts (as shown on all the posters). But there were compensations. We walked up to the IsaBey mosque (11th century) sturdy and serene, the fountain in the courtyard quiet on this January day, no one else around. A mixture of Greek columns and Arabic windows, with something about it of a Crusader castle...
Then we continued up the hill, past small plastered houses, where the hens scuttled through the long grass, to the church of St John. B.t.w., the hens and roosters here have feathery feet, looking like fancy boots, and also display brightly-coloured streaks of feather. And a little later, I saw a bird whose movement was very like that of a wagtail, and the same size, but with a bright scarlet tail -- very striking. The church of St John is where supposedly the beloved disciple is/was buried. He came with Mary (in this country affectionatley known as Meryam, mother if Isa) the mother of Jesus, and here the two of them spent their later years, and indeed Mary's House is another of the attractions close to Ephesus.
The remains of what was once an enormous church with seven domes, surmounts a hill on the edge of Selcuk. The castle-cum-fotress, a little higher up the hill, is unfortunately also closed for renovation. But on this day of joyful sunlight we didn't mind at all walking slowly round examining the many fallen white slabs and marbles, some with Greek inscriptions faintly legible, and studying the information posted up on boards, showing what the church had once looked like, and explaining about the archaelogical work ongoing. There was also a very clear maquette, showing the whole area, including Ephesus, and a blue dotted line to indicate where the shoreline had been before silting up.

Back down the hill (after a chat in our minimal Turkish with a group of young Selcukians who were pleased to hear we came from Amsterdam (knew the Ajax football club!) and who were themselves playing a spasmodic game of football in a narrow dusty street). By this time David realized he hadn't had any lunch, and a helpful man who was sitting outside his shop (the general habit here) showed us to a nearby restaurant where he assured us we could get good Turkish food, not too expensive. He was absolutely right. Delicious soup for David and moussaka for me.
Then we went to look for the shop we had asked about earlier where we might buy material on the bolt, with which to make fitted sheets for the boat. This part of Turkey is famous for its cotton, but in fact I wanted a cotton-polyester mixture. Better on a boat. After some hunting we found the shop, and inside two wonderful women, one of whom spoke fluent German (they were Turkish). Total competence. It was truly impressive, we soon explained by gesture (this was before we discovered the German fluency aspect) what we were looking for, and David made diagrams to indicate the curious shape of the boat's mattresses. Here is the scene: David and I speak English, the two women speak Turkish with each other, then one of them and I speak German (my German is not wonderful, I have to add!) and gradually we establish all that needs establishing. They offer to make the fitted sheets, the tube-seam for the elastic, and David plots how to get the mattresses to them so that the fitting can be perfect. What a satisfying enterprise. We exchange phone numbers and emails, and depart triumphant.
By now the sun has set and mist is rising. But we have one more quest. A carpet for the boat. We spy a small carpet shop NOT in the touristy part of town and in we go. The owner is a Kurd, so I explain:  'Man farsi balad nistam' which he is sorry about. (All speakers of Farsi will recognize immediately that this is me saying: I don't speak Farsi.) It felt like being back in Iran, turning over the carpets, measuring them (David knew the necessary size) and asking about vegetable dyes, and so on. He said all the carpets came from Var province, though one that I turned over had a label saying it was made in Afghanistan. We did settle on three possibilities, the price he named was reasonable. I can't haggle (my son-in-law is really good at it, and acquired some beautiful items in Iran at reasonable prices).
When we left the carpet shop it was getting really cold though still above freezing. We found aother simple Turkish restaurant and supped.
Then back to out Pension Tuncay (remember no heating, and by now outside is about six degrees Celsius) and as quickly as possible into bed, snuggling uner the blankets and waiting for warmth to spread. Sometimes washing is not a priority...
Tomorrow we plan to visit Sirince high in the hills, refuge of persecuted Christians thousands of years ago, now a sparsely inhabited hill village where wine is made and organic olive oil and by-products such as soap and hand-cream. We fall asleep, and dream of white marble temples gleaming in the sunlight...

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