We are trying to remain positive as we plan for our last day in Turkey. Thursday morning sped past completing COVID forms for entering the U.K. and trying to resolve where our belongings being shipped to Wales are. They appear to be stuck in Holland. Hopefully they will arrive within a week or two! Tomorrow, Friday, we will be back in the U.K.. Our return to the U.K. has not progressed quite as planned as Swansea is now in COVID lockdown, with limited access to and from the county. We have rented an apartment in Swansea marina, at least we will be near boats and the water.
Mazu is now on the way, with her new owner, to Naples Italy, where she will spend a year or two before heading across the pond.
As we have been boatless for a few weeks now, we decided to spend some of our time exploring more of Turkey, but only after we had packed our boat gear into 19 boxes and sent them to the U.K.
We hired a car for the month of September and drove to Izmir on Turkey’s west coast. Birol, our agent accompanied us on this leg, before we dropped him off in Izmir. He, very kindly through his contacts, had arranged a room for us in a 5-star hotel; somewhat more luxurious than the boat or apartment we are renting in Marmaris. Anyway, Izmir is not for us; way too many people and sprawl. It’s the third largest city in Turkey. However, it was a good point from which to explore the surrounding area.
From Izmir we drove along the peninsula to Çesme. A visit to the castle overlooking the town gave a good view of the Camper and Nicholson marina. We had planned stopping in Çesme on our passage to Istanbul in March, before this trip was abandoned because of COVID. A few hours drive east took us to the St. John hotel in Selçuk. We spent two nights there. The first evening, after a short drive into the hills, we stoped in Şirince, a fascinating Greek-style village with lots of history. Among the very narrow streets, no cars, there were hosteleries promoting the local wines; mulberry, peach, melon, water melon, cherry, etc. after some samples we bought a few bottles, delicious.
Most of the following day was occupied wandering the ruins of Ephesus. It was originally a Greek city, established in 10 BC, but flourished under Roman rule starting 129 BC. The city was noted for the nearby Temple of Artemis, the library of Celsus, and its theater capable of holding 25,000 people. It was sacked by the Goths in 263 AD, and although rebuilt, its prominence waned due to the silting of the port. An earthquake in 614 AD also inflicted considerable damage. The library facade, restored by the Italians, is the major tourist attraction; hyped in numerous locations. Although very impressive, we found other sites, e.g. Perge, Arykanda, Phaselis, Heirapolis and Aphrodisias more to our liking, and with a lot fewer tourists.
We did, however, purchase some handmade leather shoes from Ali at his shop, Tulip, in Selçuk before heading further east to Pamakkule. Our hotel proprietor drove us up the hill to Heirapolis, another mega site. Founded in the 2nd century BC it was ceded to Rome 133 BC and flourished. It was rebuilt after an earthquake in 60 AD and became a spa town, with its calcite-laden waters purportedly deriving numerous health benefits, though there did seem to be a lot of tombs so presumably not everyone was cured! Saint Phillip was martyred there in 80 AD and in 330 AD, with the rise of Christianity, it became a bishopric in the Roman Empire. The photo at the top of this post is of the theatre at Heirapolis.
The calcite-laden water and thermal springs have created an exceptional landscape, downhill from Heirapolis. We walked down the white rock formation, with its multiple pools and rippled surface. Quite an experience and the need for a good coating of sunscreen. Although a UNESCO world heritage site the usual 3 million annual visitors are adversely impacting the site, as are the small recurrent earthquakes. The latter diminishing the quantity of water flowing down the hill as compared with previous years.
Our next stop, en route to Marmaris, was Aphrodisias. This was certainly one of the best sites we have visited. It is off the beaten track. We probably only saw about 10 other tourists when we were there. The temple of Aphrodite was the focal point of the town. The site with its museum is endowed with numerous sculptures and marble-laden restored ruins, most in an amazingly well preserved state. The local white and blue-grey marble was used extensively. The Hellenistic-Roman city was destroyed by an earthquake in the 7th century AD. However, there has been considerable recent restoration. The vast sports stadium is the most intact specimen in Turkey. It is well worth a visit.
Over the last few days we have been organizing our stay in Swansea, trying to sort out where our shipped packages are, and taking a day to visit Giles and Julia on their boat in Bozburun (lunch at Osman’s, our favorite watering hole there), and taking our last swims in the clear, warm water here. We will definitely miss Turkey.
However, we are moving onto our next challenge. Can we adjust to life in the U.K. and assuming a positive vibe find a suitable abode to purchase? Time alone will tell, although we have given ourselves a six month window of opportunity to reach a decision about remaining in the U.K. before we moving on to Portugal or Spain, to assess opportunities there for passing our dotage. We still have our place in Delaware but are thinking of selling that in order to be closer to Scott, Kendal and Arlo plus several relatives in the Pacific northwest.
Is there another boat on the horizon? Definitely not this year. We would, however, still like to explore the Greek islands, Madeira, and the Canaries. So who knows. Let’s see what transpires over the following 6 months and how fit we are/become.
We trust that you have enjoyed these blogs, learned a bit more history, and will be enticed to explore some of the locations we have visited.