From Izmir to Selcuk
Turkey was one of the locations I pulled out of random on my wish list.
We simply asked the travel agent to give us ticket availability and cost for Amman, Istanbul, Rome and Marrakesh. From the quotes and travel dates Istanbul was the most attractive. Rome was the cheapest but we both have been there already, and Istanbul was the best compromise it seems, a midpoint from the Middle East and Europe.
With my new job and the exhaustion of Ramadhan I hardly did any research for this trip. Normally I would be the designated travel planner, pinpointing the points of interests, places I would like to go, things I would have wanted to see, try or buy. So my DH took full reign this time.
Just one day before flying off, I discovered that the weather would be colder. A kind friend sent some guide books through her driver. And I frantically tried to pack 7 days worth of clothes for the 3 of us.
We were so excited we could not sleep the night before, which was a mistake really because our flight was at 2:30 am in the morning. We arrived in Istanbul at 6:30 am and had a connecting flight to Izmir at 9:00 am, arriving at 10:05 am. After clearing customs, we waited patiently for our pick up for our ride to Selcuk, an 80 km drive.
We were greeted with a warm and friendly smile by our driver Billie. He duly apologized for waiting at the domestic hall. Even though we did embark the plane at Istanbul, we did not go through customs there and had to go through customs at Izmir.
Billie was friendly and an amicable guide. He explained to us the sights as we drove past them. He even offered to rent his car to us at YTL 60 per day. I was just exhausted and clueless. Was it a good rate? What do we plan to do anyways? I know we're going to Ephesus and we thought we were just going to take day trips tours.
Trust on my decisive DH to say Hey why not. The rate is not bad and the car would be very useful has Billie pointed out. Traveling with a 2 and a half year old has its own challenges, especially one who has been driven round with in a gas guzzling SUV.
The weather that greeted us was just glorious clear blue sky and beautiful serene landscape. Even The Little one remarked, "Blue skies make me happy Umi." Yes my child, clear blue sky makes me happy too. We have just stepped foot in the country and the charm and the serenity of the countryside has made us feel most welcomed.
As we approached the Selchuk city limits, Bille began pointing out the different sights to us. First was the Ayasuluk castle fort on top of the hill. Not open to the public as it is still being used. A straddle between Selcuk past and present.
I was getting more and more curios and excited. The views were stunning and the fresh air, just amazing. The fact that Billie's car didn't have any airconditioner didn't bother me at all.
Of course, when driving is an option, the cost of petrol does become a concern. We were amazed that petrol costs YTL3.25 a litre. Thats close to 10 r/yals, a luxury indeed since we are accustomed to paying merely 60 halala.
When Bille asked us what we planned to do on this trip, we mentioned the beach, Ephesus, Mary's house. He suggested that the best way to the beach would be by use of a rented car. But he didn't pressure us or anything. He said we can discuss and think about it and he also needed to confirm with Suleiman, the owner of the Rebetika Hotel, his good friend, who had sent him to pick us up, was ok with the idea of us renting his car.
In the meantime I was enjoying the scenery as we drove by. Tractors are not only used in the olive fields of Selcuk but is also used as a mode of transportation of the local folk. I am just so amazed to see the people, mainly from the older generation, sitting by the side of the road, some in coffee shops, others under the olive tree, just watching the world past by them. This aspect of Selcuk reminded me of the kampung life in Malaysia, something I haven't seen very often lately.
to be continued ...