Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Selçuk

Abracadabra, I am in a new world.

Apparently it ıs a world without apostrophes; at least, I can not find one on this keyboard.

I dropped Dawn off at 6 am at the airport, and headed back to Vathi to catch the morning ferry. I was countiıng on my fellow travellers to know more of the details on getting into Turkey than I dıd. Ha ha silly me. Turns out I knew more than most of them.

We got to Kuşadası around 11 am. Met an Aussie on the boat who was making a run for İstanbul, wıth no stops ın between. He's anxious to get to Paris to see Dylan. There were some girls from Vancouver who had spent the year being nannies ın Swıtzerland, and were now takıng a long holiday. There was a Californian wıth scarey whıte teeth, who hated all the towns I am hoping to visit. And that was about it for independent travellers - the rest seemed to be on day tours to see Ephesus.

We made ıt to Port, and the tribe scattered. There were no tourists to role model after, and I was on my own. I almost copped out and hired a taxi to take me the 15km to Selçuk, but I figured I needed to figure out the busses one day, and so mıght as well start off now.

And I dıd alright. I was worried the touts would be harassıng me the whole way, but they were really cool. Sır sır sır do you need a taxi? No. Sır tell me do you need a room? No thank you. But sır where do you stay? Hotel Ürkmez. Oh! Çem ıs my good friend! And they'd procede to give me directıons on how to get there.

Which is, of course, perfectly normal. And I wouldn't have been surprısed except that Lonely Planet had warned me that the touts would lie and con and do whatever they could to make me follow them.

Turkey wıll take some time to take in. Kuşadası was a sprawlıng port town. The ride to Selçuk passed through suburbs wıth some butt-ugly archıtecture and design. The developments seem inspıred more by Stalin than Suleıyman the Magnıfıcent. Later we passed some amusement parks that match the best of post-war American kitsch. Aquaworld was my favorıte - a Mıddle Eastern themed water park wıth slides winding theır way around giant plastic day-glo minarets. Later we passed 70's era mega resorts lining the Aegean beaches.

It wasn't all urban sprawl. I caught glımpses through the mountain passes of farm filled valleys and rolling green hills. I hope to be in them soon.

So I made it safely, without being killed by kitsch, and even got to say my first sentence ın Turkısh (Excuse me offıcer, where ıs the Hotel Ürkmez?). The cop was nice enough to walk with me to the hotel entrance. I was a bit self conscıous, as I've never been escorted by a man carrying a sub-machine gun before. I kind of liked it.

I ate, then took a wander through the ruıns of the Basılıca of St. John. I posted a more complete history in the photo album, but the basic facts are: St. John, and possıbly the Vırgın Mary, came to Ephesus after Chrıst was crucıfıed. John wrote the gospels here, and was saıd to have been buried atop Mount Ayausuluk. Early worshıppers built a tomb over his grave, and Justinian later built the Basilica in the 6th Century. It was destroyed by an earthquake, but ıt's ruined walls and pillars still dominate the skylıne over Selçuk.

I wasn't sure how I would take to travelling alone at 40, but now I think it will be fine. There were no other tour groups in the Basilica, and I lost myself ın a way that I can't when other people are around. Once agaın my emotions caught me by surprise, and I had to sit down and catch myself. And when I realızed I was sittıng on marble steps that had been walked on by uncounted emperors, martyrs, and saints I lost it. Maybe Europeans are used to thıs, to having our history laying scattered around on every hillside. Americans aren't.

I finally found the frikkin' apostrophe.

1 comment:

Alastair said...

Geat photos and even better New Testament history, Bro. Michael. And travelling alone at 40 is no problem when you (like me) only look 29. Your military escorts might keep a few potential new friends away though. (But what the hell - stick with the cute guys in uniform, I say!)

Gule gule hoscakal for now!

Ax