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May 31 2008

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European Wander ’08

Part 5

Selcuk to Istanbul – 218 miles (plus a ferry crossing)

5th Map

20 – 24 June

Selcuk to Istanbul: Turkey 252 miles.

Not too much biking content for a few days; you’ll see why at the bottom.

Well, where were we? Oh yes, in Selcuk near Ephesus. Beautiful place, dripping with history.

20 June, Selcuk 0 miles

Today we were just happy to sit and read for most of the day, well we are on holiday after all! The Hotel Akay is staffed by very friendly, warm and welcoming people and they can’t do enough for you.

Hotel

Hotel Akay

There is a restaurant on the roof…

Rooftop

The view from the rooftop was stunning

…and we had a lovely meal there. Yes Lisa, Kevin had his first kebab. It was chicken and very tasty. The chef cooked it up with rice and chips! (note from Kevin: It was very tasty because in Turkey they don’t cover it with all the gunge they seem to in the UK. It was so nice I had another one the following night!)

Kevin Kebab

Kevin’s first Kebab…that’s a salt pot, not a fried egg!

21 June, Ephesus 0 miles

We had a leisurely breakfast then the hotel’s driver took us to the top end of Ephesus where we purchased some souvenir baseball hats (saves the sunburn) and a booklet.

Real Fakes

Well at least they’re honest about the quality!

Apparently most people spend a couple of hours there, we managed to spend nearly 5. It is quite a large site with many streets and buildings. Some buildings are along the street, others off to the sides. The site is on a hill and you start at the top and walk down to the exit at the bottom – a very good plan in this heat.

Sprawling

Sprawling Ephesus

Side street

A side road off the main street.

We went into the Odeon (no films showing though) and thought it was big, it would have housed about 2,500 people; later on we went into the Grand Theatre which would have held 25,000! It really was quite mind boggling.

Odeon

The scale just can’t be appreciated from the photo

Whilst we were there there must have been thousands of visitors. Unusually, the crowds didn’t detract from the experience at all, it seemed to enhance it somehow. Perhaps the fact that all those people were there but it didn’t feel too crowded emphasised how big this place really is.

Crowds

The crowds waxed and waned as the coach parties moved through

They have partially restored a series of terraced houses. Not the 2-up 2-downers we’re used to, these had London main railway station architectural proportions and quite a few, reasonably intact(especially considering all the earthquakes), floor mosaics and wall decorations.

Mosaics

The houses were very grand

There are quite a lot of Roman buildings, including the communal latrines – I had to have a sit (I said sit!). They were very comfortable. Mind you I can only imagine what it would have been like to use them for real – I don’t suppose they were so sweet-smelling then.

Loo

It had to be done!

In another place on the pavement there was a carved footprint pointing towards the brothel, I guess they didn’t have red lights in those days.

Signpost

The oldest profession – she looks a bit hoity toity to me!

There are tons and tons of blocks of worked stone lying around, it must be like a huge 3-dimensional jig-saw trying to put it all together especially when you find out that over the years various different buildings have used the stone from the ruins. We wondered how such a large city could suddenly be abandoned. There were several large earthquakes, so perhaps they got fed up of them or maybe it was to do with the decline of the Roman empire. Some homework there to find out.

We also visited St John’s church which is a short walk from our hotel. This was the place where John the Baptist retired to with Mary (not sure what happened to Joseph – more homework!). The view from there was stunning including one of the original 7 wonders of the world, the Temple to Artemis, which is also now sadly derelict – there’s very little left except storks nesting on a column that has been created from various blocks of stone from the site.

StJohns

The view from St John’s…the ‘chimney’ is actually an ancient minaret. Our hotel is one of the buildings on the left.

There is so much to see in this area it would definitely be worth revisiting but next time, one of the hotel employees told us, we’ve got to bring a car so we can fit a carpet and other souvenirs in (which we must purchase from him of course!).

22 June

Selcuk – Istanbul 218 miles (plus a ferry crossing)

We got up really early (for us) to get an early start whilst it wasn’t too hot. This worked well as we were on the road before 8 and the temperature was fine. We zapped up the motorway and main roads and, this time, managed to go round the outskirts of Izmir. We made good time and arrived in Bandimir just before mid-day.

We had arranged to meet Bora, a tyre supplier and GS rider, who had very graciously arranged to open up especially for us. A very friendly bloke, Kevin was quite taken aback when he shook his hand then kissed him on both cheeks! He’d also arranged for his mate Ilham to open up to fit the tyres, fit a new air filter and perform an oil change. Two really great blokes and we very much appreciated their efforts on our behalf (Thanks David for pointing us in their direction).

Bora

Bora and Kevin with Bora’s pride and joy

Ilham

Ilham – a great guy! (not that we could understand a word each other was saying!!

Once the bike was sorted out we had about 4 minutes to get to the ferry port, collect our tickets and then embark. Bora escorted us to the port, jumped off his bike to sort out the ticket – lucky he did as the machine wasn’t working and he was able to talk to the guy fixing it – and then point us in the right direction. We got on the ferry and had just found our seats as it left. The ferry is very civilised as everyone has a seat allocated to them so there’s no scrabbling for better seats. They also have catering staff wandering round dispensing drinks and ice creams – PandO could learn a thing or two from them.

Finally we arrived at our destination, Istanbul, where we had to find our hotel. We’d been told that if we reached the bridge we’d gone too far. It looked quite straightforward as we took a left to take us into Sultanahmet where our hotel is but, unfortunately, it wasn’t a left it was a ramp for the bridge we were trying to avoid! On the other side we started an illegal U-turn only to pull up behind 2 police bikes so we turned left instead. At that point we decided to use our trick from Sarajevo – Kevin pulled in to the next taxi rank and I jumped into a taxi. He was a very considerate, he drove nice and slowly to ensure he didn’t lose Kevin which meant chaos ensued as all the fast-moving traffic flowed around us. He also left his hazard lights on to ensure Kevin knew which taxi it was (there are thousands of yellow taxis here) which was fine except Kevin didn’t ever know which way the taxi was going to turn! Ten minutes later we were at our hotel and I don’t think we’d have ever found it without him.

23 and 24 June

Istanbul

We’ll be here for a few days now. As we’ve mentioned in the past Kevin’s back has been pretty sore and we’d been seriously considering leaving the bike in Istanbul while we flew home for a week to try to get it sorted out. Customs implications relating to the bike meant that wasn’t go to work very easily so, with the help of an online contact, we made an appointment to see an orthopaedic specialist in Istanbul with a view to getting a cortisone injection (Kevin tried to get one before we left but the local specialist couldn’t fit him in).

We saw the specialist at 10 o’clock on Monday morning, 30 minutes later we were sitting in front of a pain specialist and an hour after that he was having an MRI and was told to come back at 10 the following morning for the injection! Private medicine doesn’t work that smoothly at home. (The MRI cost the princely sum of approximately £83. I think the last one he had in the UK was £600).

This morning we went to the hospital for the injection. It was a bit strange being in a hospital where few speak our language but there was always an interpreter available at the end of a ‘phone if we needed one. They didn’t have any normal rooms left so we were put into a VIP Room – shame! Kevin said it was peculiar being in theater as in his experience the staff there usually chat to the patient but the language problem made that impossible. Anyway, the injection was given and we got back from the hospital at about 18:30. He’s still groggy from the sedative and, under Dr’s orders, I have the unenviable job of trying to ensure he stays in bed resting tomorrow. If I can get him to stay there for half a day I’ll have done well.

Kevin

Fetching gown – a little bit more discrete than the UK ones!

Note to Lisa: You should have seen Kevin’s face when he saw the meal they dished up in the hospital! They expected him to eat it before they would allow him out, so he had to eat some of it!!

Kevin

I’m cheating with this one but the face was the similar!!

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