We left the Greek islands and arrived in Bodrum, Turkey after short ferry ride. It’s a nice Mediterranean coastal town, albeit heavily trafficked by day trippers resulting in most of the nicest waterfront eateries serving full English breakfasts complete with “M&S Pork Sausage”. The prices and the views were right, though.
We arrived just in time for the national day, celebrating their emergence as a republic 86 years ago. There’s nothing like tooting horns, dancing troupes and tens of thousands of red + crescent flags to let you know you’ve arrived in Turkey.
The Turks are spectacularly nice people. Even the touts – numerous and persistent as they are – are lovely to speak to and very helpful whatever the circumstances.
Unlike Greece, Turkey seems to have no problem enforcing anti-smoking laws. Also, their bus system – both local and intercity is of probably the highest standard we’ve seen in all of our travels.
So our initial impressions of Turkey were of a very civilized and developed place – in many ways much more so than Greece, something we were not expecting.
It’s often said that Turkey has more ancient Greek ruins than Greece does, and we’re inclined to believe it. From Bodum we headed to Selçuk, which is adjacent to the ancient city of Ephesus (Efes) which is probably the most impressive and complete ancient city in the world.
We tried to ride the bicycles from our hostel to Ephesus there on a sunny afternoon, but after missing the non-existent signpost of the turn off, getting a bit lost and heading back, Jess’ bike suffered a catastrophic failure and we had to walk home. After losing another hour picking up the broken bike on the proprietor’s scooter (as fun as it sounds!) we decided to save the ruins for the next day.
Which, of course, was rainy and very cold. So our trip to Ephesus was a pretty miserable experience, although the wow-factor was still available in between umbrella thwacks and trying to comprehend the Turklish audio guide. Needless to say in the afternoon, after we had left, the weather cleared up nicely. We did get plenty of use out of the jacuzzi in our “honeymoon suite” though. Turkish wine seems quite decent, too.
A rather strange attribute of Selçuk is the prevalence of Australian themed businesses. Including where we stayed The ANZ (Australian / New Zealand) Guest House, the Canberra hotel, the Boomerang guesthouse, and numerous others. We never really received a satisfactory explanation as to why this is the case, although one theory is plain old copy-catting.
Luckily we found a cheap flight to take us onto Istanbul and avoid the overnight bus. And in fact I’m writing this on the Turkish Airlines plane as we’re about to land in Istanbul. Once we arrive I’m hoping to find higher quality Doner Kebab (which, so far, was vastly superior in Berlin) than what we’ve seen so far in Turkey.