From Pamukkale we took the bus to Selçuk, which is best known for its proximity to the ruins of ancient Ephesus. We had booked our bus tickets online through a site called Bus Ticket Line Turkey, you pay for the ticket through Payoneer. Afterwards I found out that 2 of my credit cards have been compromised. I can’t be 100% sure but I strongly suspect it was this site that messed up my cards. Knowing what I know now, I think, the best way to buy bus tickets in Turkey is to go to the bus station (otogar) and pay cash for your ticket. I was I little bit scared to do this because I don’t speak Turkish but there is absolutely no need. The Turkish people are so helpful, they will find someone to help translate if they can’t understand you.
We arrived in Selçuk in the afternoon and found that our hotel, the Urkmez Hotel, was only a short walk from the bus station and right in the center of this small town. After checking in we went out to explore. Right around the corner we found the remains of an old aqua duct with storks’ nests on top. The storks had only recently returned from wintering in Africa and were busy rearranging their huge nests. There is also a really nice park right there and the Carpouza Café where you can get a meal sized “snack” for a really good price. They also have the best chocolate cake ever! Needless to say we came here a lot.
Selçuk’s downtown is not huge but there are some great shops and lots of restaurants and cafés. As everywhere in Turkey cats are respected very much here. Most shops have their doors open and have food and water dishes in some corner, and the cats wander in and out of the stores as if they are shopping. It’s the funniest thing ever. We even saw a cat walk into a butcher’s and ask for a piece of meat. He cut her a small piece of chicken which she ate. Then she went into the phone shop next door, perhaps she needed more minutes for her phone.
Next morning our friendly hotel manager arranged for us to share a taxi with another couple staying there to take us to the ruins of Ephesus. You can also walk there, it’s only 2 km, or take the minibus, but he wouldn’t let us.
The taxi dropped us off at the upper entrance to the archiological site after passing through a police security check point (so remember to have your passport handy) Before you can purchase your ticket you pass through a bunch of people trying to sell guide books, guided tours in your language and anything else you can imagine. The ticket for the Ephesus site only is 60 Lira. There are also combination tickets available so it’s a good idea to have a plan of everything you want to see, you might be able to get a discount.
The ruins are absolutely amazing! We have read a lot about the history of this area, but to actually stand where some of the stories took place is absolutely mind blowing. March is a great time to visit as it’s not too hot and crowded. We spent several hours here, I think, it’s a place that deserves the extra time.
After leaving the site we decided to walk back to our hotel. This is peach growing country, and the middle of March is blossom time here in Turkey, so we enjoyed the sight of all those pink trees very much.
The next day we visited the Ephesus museum in Selçuk. This is a total treasure house of marble statutes, many interesting household items, coins, jewelry and so much more, all discovered at the Ephesus site.
Later that afternoon we walked up to Selçuk Castle. We met a man there who told us an interesting story about the place. It is said that once an occupying army was fooled into withdrawing by approaching the castle at night with a large flock of sheep that had torches attached to their horns, making them look like a huge army. So the castle is known as the sheep castle. The Turkish people are very friendly and love to chat, this has been one of our favorite things about this country.
Someone also approached us with an offer to buy ancient coins which we turned down. The Turkish government is very strict about taking antiquities out of the country, so never be tempted into accepting anything like that!
Ephesus was a real treat that I had been looking forward to and planning for a long time. Selçuk was a pleasant surprise, we really didn’t know anything about it until we got here. This has been such a highlight of our Turkey adventure. Next stop Istanbul!