Tag Archives: Travelling

When in Rome

The three of us arrived in Rome on Friday morning after an early bus and train journey. We all celebrated our last ride on the coastal Amalfi road and we tried to appreciated our last glimpses of the beautiful views while we held down our nausea. Once in Rome we headed straight to our hostel, which happened to be in the middle of Chinatown – a phenomenon I didn’t expect to see in Rome!

Vatican Museum

After settling in a bit we headed straight to Vatican City. Mom and I decided to head into the Vatican Museum to explore (and especially to see the incredible Sistine Chapel) while Nick explored St Peter’s Basilica and the surrounding area. The museum was incredible with its collection of art – I especially enjoyed the Raphael rooms and the map room (full of maps of Italy throughout the ages). After escaping the crowds of the Sistine Chapel (how anyone expects a room packed with hundreds of people to remain quiet is a mystery, but the guards sure do try), mom and I headed for St Peter’s the explore the square and Basilica. We examined statues of the founder saints, the Pieta statue, and the many altars. Then we gawked at the Swiss Guard like awkward tourists while we waited to meet up with Nick.

After Vatican City we accidentally headed to the Spanish Steps, after we had discussed skipping them due to limited time and poor reviews from our friends! I got a bit of teasing from mom and Nick for that one! The steps turned out to be an interesting place – the use of public space in Europe is very different from in Canada. Groups of young people hang out and socialize for free on the steps – no need to buy coffee to sit in the shop or go to the movies or a restaurant. These spaces give people, young and old, a free space to socialize and meet and more than that, a public space people want to spend time in – unlike many city-based public spaces I’ve seen in Canada.

From the Spanish Steps we walked to Trevi Fountain, along the way visiting the Temple of Hadrian and the Column of Marcus Aurelius. At Trevi Fountain we tossed coins amidst the throngs of tourists and then found a nearby restaurant to have dinner. After a bottle of wine and some delicious food we wandered past the Piazza Venezia and the Victor Emmanuel Monument before meandering past the Forum on the way to see the Colosseum at night – its beautiful with the lighting and much calmer than during the day. It actually seemed much more majestic at night than when we visited the next day. After a long day we all turned in to prepare for our very busy next day!

Column of Marcus Aurelius

Trevi Fountain


The next morning, after breakfast at the hostel, we all headed out to see the Colosseum during the day. Despite the relatively early start, the crowds were huge and the line took a little while. Eventually we got in and spent some time following the crowds wandering through the levels. The Colosseum was impressively large, but like I mentioned it was much more majestic the previous night without the crowds. It was hard to get a grasp of the place with all the other tourists there – so far in most of my travels I’ve been very fortunate to avoid the tourist throngs and being a person who doesn’t particularly enjoy crowds, they throw me off-balance a bit! After leaving the Colosseum we headed into another crowd at Palatine Hill and walked through to the Forum. It was hot and sticky and also full of people, but very beautiful and the breeze at the top of the hill was cooling.

After a few hours of sticking out the crowds we headed towards the Pantheon, stopping for gelato beforehand. The Pantheon was an incredibly impressive building. Its one of the best preserved Roman buildings left and has been in use continually since its construction. Standing inside I can see why Michelangelo thought that it was the work of angels and why it inspired most modern places of worship. After stopping at a bakery for some sweets and coffee – a welcome break from the busy day – we headed to Piazza Navona where the famous Fountain of the Four Rivers designed by Bernini lives, situated beside Church of Sant’Agnese in Agone by Borromini. Longtime rivals, Bernini designed the statues on the fountain to look like they were holding up the Church – a testament to his lack of faith in Borromini’s designs.

Bernini’s Fountain

We headed back to the hostel for a rest and Nick started his long process of trying to figure out his flights. Mom and I went for a walk and stumbled into the San Giovanni in Laterano Cathedral – an incredibly beautiful building and we were lucky enough to witness Mass. After our walk we headed to a recommended local restaurant (the staff were very surprised to see non-Italians, but the food was delicious!) On the way back we stumbled onto a local festival celebrating South American immigrants and their culture (as well as its integration with Italian culture) that was sponsored by the local Church. The performances were lovely – lots of music and dancing and Mom and I were treated to a Sicilian immigrant’s cannoli which he was selling from a booth at the festival. It was the best cannoli I’ve ever had – amazing! Mom and I headed back to the hostel to turn in for our flight early the next morning – back home we go!

San Giovanni in Laterano

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The Amalfi Coast

After another lovely breakfast at the B&B with homemade cake we headed back to the train station to meet up with my friend Nick who was the original reason for our visit to Italy (his friend was getting married in Atrani on the Amalfi coast and Nick was the best man). He’s been a friend of mine for about five years (and he can’t seem to get rid of me!) We bought bus tickets and took our first trip on the very winding coastal road from Salerno to Amalfi. We were supposed to have our host stop the bus outside the apartment we were renting but the bus refused to stop for him, so he called and told us to look for an old man with white hair in Amalfi town to give us further directions. We were a little worried about such vague instructions, but as we got off the bus, an old gentleman with unruly white hair approached us and told us that his son, the apartment owner, was coming to pick us up. He drove us back to the apartment, which was lovely with an absolutely beautiful view of the ocean and coast line.

Nick and the view out of our apartment

View on the walk into town

Mom and I in Atrani

After unpacking a bit, we headed into Maiori (our nearest town) and had gelato (as well as a nice conversation with a local business owner). We wandered around the town for a bit, checked out the ruins of an old Roman villa (with completely intact staircases) and went to a bakery for some treats (yum macaroons!) Next we decided to walk into Amalfi town which took about forty minutes, but was worth it for the gorgeous views of the coast. The only concerning bit was avoiding traffic on the very tight roads. When the road was built, it was for much smaller vehicles and now the road can’t be expanded without cutting into properties and making the coastline unsafe. So now huge coaches and tour buses get to try to pass each other at strategic points while motorcycles weave in and out and it’s all a bit nerve-wracking!

At the Roman Villa

Cathedral in Amalfi

On the way past Atrani we decided to stop in and see the church where the wedding was due to take place. While there, we ran into the bride and groom and Nick decided to head off with them for bit while mom and I headed into Amalfi and wandered for bit. We saw the Cathedral and stumbled upon some locals playing water polo in kayaks before heading to a lovely seafood restaurant owned by the father of our host. I had homemade pasta with swordfish sauce which was incredible. I noticed a market across the street and wanted to grab some stuff for breakfast before it closed, so I left my meal and went over, only to be followed by one of the waiters who announced that the market’s owner was his cousin! The cousin was lovely and told me all the fresh produce he had available before I headed back to the restaurant with my shopping to have dessert! We met up with Nick on the bus home and had an early night so we could get a good start for our trip to Pompeii the next day!

Above the cathedral steps

Water polo in kayaks

Our day to Pompeii started early with another windy bus ride out of the Amalfi coast area. We caught a train from Salerno and walked through Pompei town to get to the ruins. We went in what amounts to the ‘back’ entrance because it was recommended as less busy, and that certainly panned out for us. We barely saw people for the first hour of our wandering. The site itself is huge, covering 67 hectares, four-fifths of which have been excavated. It’s laid out like a typical Roman city and like Paestum; the ruins were much more complex and impressive in person. The frescos in some of the houses and shop were incredibly impressive and well-preserved. It has certainly given me my best feel for what life would have been life for the people who occupied such a time and such a city. A particular highlight was the well-preserved brothel complete with illustrative frescos! The only downside of the site was the difficulty in navigation – the map wasn’t very accurate and we had no idea which sites would be open or closed, which meant we spent time wandering to the far reaches of the site only to discover the site we wanted to see was closed. It was also incredibly hot and sunny – good for a beach day but less good for wandering around ruins and I was left with an impressive sunburn!

Overlooking Pompeii

Mom in one of the villas

Courtyard

At one of the bath house complexes

In front of Venus Rising from the Sea

Art from the brothel

The Villa of Mysteries

We took the train to Sorrento after leaving Pompeii and then took the coastal bus around the other direction on the Amalfi coast – through Positano and the beautiful coastline back to Amalfi town. There we ran around town madly gathering ingredients from small groceries for dinner (clams, vegetables, bread, pasta and wine) before catching the bus back to our apartment and cooking dinner.

The Amalfi coast

The next morning we were all up early – Mom went down to the market and picked up some pastries for breakfast and we all set about getting ready for the wedding. We left with Nick (who as the best man had to be there quite early) but Mom and I headed into to down and picked up some souvenirs (including some at a paper shop we’d been peering into for quite a while!) Amalfi paper is world-renowned for its quality; it’s made from just water and cotton in a tradition that dates back eight hundred years. As a lover of traditional crafts I had to have some! We also picked up some limoncello for my brother and candied citrus peel dipped in chocolate – the very best of sweets in my opinion! We headed back to the church for the wedding (an afternoon service at a beautiful Catholic church overlooking the sea) and then continued on to a local café for drinks with the small number of guests (just over twenty in total) before heading to a local restaurant for dinner. The bride decided she wanted to toss her bouquet after dinner from the steps of the main cathedral in town and, of course, with my luck, it managed to find its way to me…

The best man

Outside the church

Nick and Mom

Church frescos

Groom and best man

Nick and the groom’s nephew

Catch the garter!

Bouquet toss

Whoops?

After a bit too much wine we wandered back to the apartment and packed up in preparation for another early start the next morning – this time to Rome!

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Salerno and Pastum

We arrived in Salerno midday and took a taxi from the train station to our B&B. We had a slight problem contacting the owner, who wasn’t there when we arrived, but once we got in touch he had another guest come down and let us in. The room we had was large and airy and had a balcony facing the ocean. It was a beautiful view and Mom spent much time out there doing her readings while I messed about or played with my camera. The sunsets were beautiful there.

Our View

Mom on the balcony

Into town

That afternoon we headed to the beach (avoiding the nearest beach on the recommendation of our wayward host) and found a beach full of locals (large woman sunbathing, old men smoking, young girls giggling with their friends and young men showing off their prowess at sports). They seemed quite surprised to see tourists there (and I, with my blindingly white skin was obviously not a local) so we got gawked at a bit, but everyone was friendly. Because it was Sunday we were worried a lot of the shops and restaurants would be closed and at six, after we’d gone back to the B&B to get changed and find dinner, seemed to be the case. But we wandered through the little side streets to the main thoroughfare of our neighbourhood and found a few bars and restaurants that were open. We ate at a pizzeria which was pretty average, but everything tastes better when you’re hungry! When we left we hit a local gelateria which seemed to have a very loyal customer base, all around the shop were little kids playing and people chatting with their friends and neighbours. As we walked back to the B&B around eight we saw more and more shops opening and realized that in the very non-touristy parts of Italy, shops have very specific opening hours and restaurants do open (even on Sundays!)

Beach day

The next day our host’s wife showed up to make us breakfast which consisted of pastries, strong Italian coffee, tea and orange juice. She was an artist and her art was displayed all around the B&B (mostly ceramics) and she was just a lovely woman. She and Mom really seemed to hit it off, although we had to use the translator on her phone to communicate sometimes! Mom bought a couple of pieces from her that were reminiscent of the bright local style and she showed us pictures of her kids and family. That day we were heading out-of-town to Paestum, the ruins of an old Greek settlement. On the way we ran into our hostess again and she helped us buy umbrellas because of the pouring rain. Of course, once we bought the umbrellas it promptly cleared up and we didn’t need them again. She put us on the right bus to get to the train station and even set a gentleman getting on the same bus to make sure we got off at the right stop.
The train didn’t leave for a few hours so we wandered around central Salerno for that time. We spent a bunch of time in a bookstore where I searched the shelves for an Italian cookbook I could both carry and understand (my search was in vain unfortunately) but we found a fruit market and bought some cherries to eat on the boulevard after finding a little art gallery and wandering through the main religious complex of Salerno. Despite not being a touristy city, Salerno is very pretty with very friendly residents! We had some more pastries and coffee in a very glitzy café before grabbing the train out the Paestum.

Aquaduct

Salerno town

Salerno Cathedral

Mom with the lion

The boulevard

The train to Paestum wasn’t long but the journey was very pretty, taking us through poppy fields and farmland with the mountains in the background. Once we got off the train (with about half a dozen other tourists) there was a distinct lack of signs or directions so our plan was to follow the other tourists who we hoped would know where they were going. Our plan backfired, however, when we accidentally ended up leading the little pack of tourists down this unmarked road away from the train station. Luckily it was the right direction and we happily stumbled upon the large and very impressive ruined city.


Paestum is exactly what you imagine when you think of Greek ruins (which wasn’t what I expected to find in Italy!) The city was founded in 600BC by Greek settlers from Sybaris. It’s funny to think of Italy as a place to be colonized like the Americas… but that’s exactly what we found! The city was named in honour of Poseidon but the name was converted to a more Latin form after the area was conquered by Rome. The Romans made some major changes to the city and its political structure, but the major religious temples were preserved. The three major temples at Paestum in the Doric style are supposed to be among the best remaining examples of Greek temples in the world. I’m very glad we had a chance to see temples that were still so intact. It’s hard to imagine how large the temples are without seeing them in person. I’m always surprised by how much larger things appear to me in person than they look in photos!

And I found the stray!

That evening we headed back to Salerno and had dinner at a seaside restaurant (spaghetti vongole for me) and a bottle of homemade wine before heading back to the B&B to prepare for an early morning meeting Nick and heading to the Amalfi coast.

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Naples and Caserta

Mom and I arrived in Italy on Thursday after leaving very early from Nottingham for our flight and found our hotel without too much difficulty. After getting food recommendations from our lovely host we headed out and stumbled across one of the few sites I knew I wanted to see before we had arrived – the religious complex of Santa Chiara, particularly the incredible cloisters decorated with majolica tile work and with gardens full of lemon trees. We happened upon a wedding in the church and then stopped for pizza and had our first gelato before crashing early!

Santa Chiara

At the cloisters

Majolica tile work

Pizza time!

Friday was our first full day in Naples and the temperatures were supposed to hit thirty degrees Celsius. We bravely donned our lightest clothes plus plenty of sunscreen and headed down the via Toledo to explore. The via Toledo is one of the busiest streets in Naples and one of the oldest – in existed since in the ancient city as well. It’s a main shopping thoroughfare with the higher-end shops concentrating towards the bay. The street ends at the Piazza del Plebiscito – the main square of the city. Its bounded by the Galleria Umberto (a huge beautiful shopping centre), the Opera-teatro di San Carlo (the oldest continually running opera house in Europe), the Palazzo Reale (one of four seats of the Bourbon kings in the area) and the San Francesco di Paola Church. They’re all incredibly beautiful buildings, but the gallery has one of the most beautiful interiors I’ve ever seen.

Galleria

San Francesco di Paola Church

By the harbour front

We arranged a tour of the opera house for later that afternoon and then we continued down to the harbour front and walked the promenade until we came to the Castel dell’Ovo. The castle was once on an island, but time and building projects have turned it into a peninsula. The name translates to Castle of the Egg because of a local legend about Virgil. During the Medieval Ages Virgil was thought to have been a great magician and it was thought that he placed a magical egg in a cage in the castle to keep it safe and stabilize the foundations. The legend was so persistent that during a storm when a rival prince escaped from the castle a rumour spread that the egg had been broken and panic spread throughout the city. This continued until the rulers issued a statement saying they had undertaken repairs to the egg and all was well!

Castel dell’Ovo

The harbour

Sunny day!

After a well-deserved stop for gelato we headed to a second major castle in Naples – Castel Nuovo – the architectural symbol of the city. It was built during the 13th and 14th century by Charles I of Anjou and his successors and has always been an important part of the city’s political life. It served as the seat of the city council until 2006! Then we headed to a café to wait for the start of the Opera tour. The building is incredible and very opulent. We were also able to witness last minute presentations for La Boheme which was opening the following week.

Opera house

The Royal Box

Later the evening – to top off our busy day – we headed to the Museo Archeologico Nazionale and the Secret Museum to see the impressive collection of marbles as well as many of the artifacts found during the excavation of Pompeii – the glassware was particularly incredible. Then, starved and tired we stumbled into a tiny restaurant and had one of the most memorable experiences of our trip!

The museum

We walked in and sat down. The owner came over and asked if we wanted appetisers and we said yes. First he brought us bread and a bottle of his homemade red wine. We chatted for a bit and watched as he fussed about in the kitchen and then suddenly brought us plates of food filled with different preparations of eggplant, salami and mozzarella, marinated peppers, bruschetta and two types of greens. It was incredible and then followed by pasta with eggplant, tomato and mozzarella. Finally be brought out a platter of seafood – fried squid and octopus, shrimps (heads and all) and deep-fried minnows , all served with green beans and potatoes. Despite being stuffed, our lovely host then brought out berries and melons marinated in sugar and basil. Once we finished our wine he poured us each a shot of limoncello – a lemon liqueur produced around the Gulf of Naples that’s bright yellow, tart and strong. One of the older men who worked there kept petting my hair as he went by and encouraging us to eat. We got hugs and kisses goodbye when we left and it very much made our day!


Saturday we slept in – not late really, but it wasn’t the early start to the day like we’d hoped and was partially due to the 32 Swiss youth staying down the hall from us who were particularly rowdy. I slept through it all as usual, but mom didn’t. After we got going we stopped for a croissant and headed for the train station in order to get to Caserta. It’s a lovely little town about thirty kilometres out of Naples and the home of the former Bourbon kings of Naples. In fact the palace that was constructed there was built to rival the grandeur of Versailles and although I’ve never been, Mom said it definitely kept up! The main complex is beautifully maintained and the royal apartments were spectacular – the king’s private chambers were renovated in the 19th century to include electricity! The entire palace is gilded to the hilt and they had maintained some very special artifacts from the monarch’s lives in the palace before the last king went into exile in 1861.

Entrance to the Royal Apartments

Curtseys!

In the apartments

In the throne room

The rear gardens had a very different feel to them from Versaille – much cleaner, simpler lines as we exited the palace. However, as we progressed through the gardens they became much more ornate. It was quite the walk in another day of extremely hot weather and we stuck to the shade as much as possible, only coming out to see the increasingly intricate fountains. The gardens ended in a waterfall cascading off a mountain; and just off to the right was a spectacular twenty-one acre park and English garden with plants and trees from all over the former British empire. Overall the site was absolutely beautiful but certain elements (like the front gardens and two flanking buildings had been left to decay and were in a sorry state. I always find old buildings nostalgic and wistful – I wish I could have seen them how they were. After six odd hours wandering around the palace complex we caught the train back to Naples and hunted for a place to eat.

Looking back towards the palace

Walking in the gardens

At the largest fountain!

Full stretch of gardens

The english gardens

Mom in the rose gardens


We were thrown off track by our first and only pickpocket who unsuccessfully grabbed at the necklace I was wearing and got an elbow for his trouble. I was slightly shaky after that but settled once we found a pizzeria and had enormous pizzas (breakfast the next day too!) which were delicious with fresh tomato sauce and thin crispy crusts. We spent most of our time there watching the organized team churn out pizzas every five minutes! After we’d boxed up our leftovers we wandered around the cute streets and shopping district and then made our way over to our hostel owner’s favourite gelateria where we had our last gelato in Naples. Next we’re off to Salerno!

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Weekend in London

Kelsey and I also spend some time in London while she was visiting at the end of her trip. I’ve always stayed at St Christopher’s hostels in London, but this time instead of staying at the one near Tower Bridge, we stayed at the one located in Greenwich. I’d never been out to Greenwich before, and although it’s a little ways out of the city centre (and the tourist stuff), it’s a very cool, vibrant neighbourhood. We found plenty of good cheap places to eat and lots of bars around to drink in! The first night we were late going out to find dinner, but we found this fabulous cheap 24 hour noodle bar that was full of long bench tables and drunken club goers! We went out that night, but because we had an early morning we didn’t stay out long, especially after we found an unfortunate ‘friend’ who, when offered a mint, licked my hand. Gross…

During our major ‘tourist’ day in London we decided to go on a Sandeman’s walking tour. The guide was funny and informative and he took us past many of the classic monuments that I will show you on a photo tour of London!

Buckingham Palace

Kelsey and the Canada Gate

Easter Egg Hunt that was going on in London…

The classic…

Hampton Court Palace – Home of Henry VIII

Westminster Abbey

Kelsey grumpy at photo-taking

Parliament

At the end of our tour!

That afternoon we had lunch at a lovely Thai restaurant in South Kensington before heading to the Natural History Museum to explore. We both loved the dinosaurs, stuffed animals and informative diagrams on human anatomy (including one on human reproduction…) Kelsey especially enjoyed the games for the kids! We finished the day with a banana split at a cute café before heading back to Nottingham.

The exterior of the Natural History Museum decorated with animals!

Kelsey and her new dinosaur pet!

The reason the dinosaurs went extinct!

Kelsey and her games!

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Bath and Stonehenge

I had the luck recently to have seen a deal on Groupon for a day trip to Bath and Stonehenge. I bought two tickets at very reduced prices and planned on going with Janice. As it worked out, Janice and I have very conflicting schedules and couldn’t get the same time off before the deal expired. Luckily Kelsey was heading back to the UK and she agreed to accompany on this adventure!

Kelsey is not pleased about the early morning…

Our morning started out super early. We stopped at McDonald’s for coffee and then meet our tour bus. We got on the bus and were met by our very grouchy driver (Tom) and our hyper and crazy tour guide, Mary. Mary started off giving us a tour of London as we drove past. We learned about arts and crafts studios, major sites of London (including St Paul’s which was a surprising focus considering we didn’t pass it!) We also learned about Tesco – the everyday supermarket of Britons! On the way out of London we hit some traffic and a car cut us off as Mary’s mike drifted near Tom just in time him swear profusely at the other driver! Mary then proceeded to give a history lesson on the English monarchy before telling us about her desire to go to Glastonbury festival that was continually thwarted by her fear of using the toilets there. Finally, blessedly, Mary stopped talking and let us sleep!

Kelsey is excited to be visiting Stonehenge!

Stonehenge and the storm clouds…

We arrived at Stonehenge and got marched into the site. It wasn’t all that busy there despite what I’d heard about the lineups and crowds! The weather was cold and wet and grey, but it did set off the stones rather well. It’s an impressive site – towering and ancient. It’s hard to capture it in photos. What I was struck by mostly was what life might have been like for those who built the henge and used it. It’s so foreign and distant from the life that we know. I couldn’t help the melancholy that strikes as you realize that these are secrets and knowledge and lives that you’ll never be able to touch, even if you tried. The landscape around Stonehenge is beautiful and its easy to imagine the wonder and awe past people would have felt walking the processional road towards the monument towering on the hill. After a slight delay (due to some mislaid passengers) we got on our way and drove through the gorgeous rolling hills to Bath.

A little chilly!

We arrived in Bath around noon, but after the winding roads and jolty driving I felt incredibly sick. To calm my stomach we stopped at a lovely teahouse for lunch. A pot of tea and a selection of local cheeses down, I felt much better! We decided to wander through the town and see some of the classic sites. Bath is a slightly creepy city in that every building is made of the same type of stone in the same style. Thus while it is a very pretty town, part of you can’t help but wonder if you’ve suddenly driven into some strange Soviet commune where they actually believed in pretty architecture.

At the teahouse

The Abbey interior

We visited the Abbey first with its lovely rose window and magnificent lighting, it was a lovely example what the town had to offer. After looking at the terribly long line into the Roman baths, we peered into the Pump Room and then we strolled through the streets and found the Circus (where we peered in the windows and imagined the lives of the rich and famous!) Afterwards, we found the Royal Crescent, where we visited Number One Royal Crescent – a restored town house that showcases life in Georgian Bath at the height of its heyday.

The Roman Baths

Kelsey at the Circus. Everyone we know combining all their money still couldn`t afford one of these!

The Royal Crescent

We then set out to find the Botanical Gardens but were thwarted by misleading signs. Either the Botanical garden is tiny, or we missed it, or it was stolen. I’m going to go with stolen. Watch those botanical gardens people! Instead we headed for a park by the river and saw the lovely cherry trees in bloom as well as the romantic Pulteney Bridge, which is said to be one of the most beautiful bridges in the world!

Pulteney Bridge

Enjoying the stroll

In the park!

Thus our adventure ended and back to London-town we went!

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Selcuk

We arrived in Selcuk early in the morning and after a bit of difficulty, we managed to get in contact with our host Veysel who brought along his roommate and business partner Reco. They are opening a hostel and so we stayed in the building that they are transforming into a guest house – it was beautiful, large and filled with antiques. It also had a beautiful view of the town and valley, but this meant is was up a hill and a pain to walk to from town. But no one can really complain about free accommodation! The first night we gathered stuff for barbeque and headed up the mountain in an ancient Jeep to one of the guy’s summer places where we met up with his uncle and a couple of their friends. It was quite the ride on some of the worst roads I’ve ever been on, but we somehow made it up. I was a little more concerned about how we were going to make it down again (again we somehow managed). We had a fantastic evening with lots of food, playing with their dogs and watching a sheep give birth – yay? Late that night we drove down to the beach and hung out for a while before crashing back at the guest house.

Main street

The next day Janice and I decided we wanted to explore the town, so we headed down to the old Aquaduct and the Church of John the Baptist, which if it was still standing, would have been one of the largest churches in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately it is in ruins now, but it is apparently the burial site of John the Baptist and thus a big pilgrimage. We were lucky enough to have it pretty much to ourselves, and the sky was full of threatening clouds making for some interesting photos.

Aquaduct

Resevoir ruins

Entrance of the Church of John the Baptist

Arches

Out the old main entrance

After the church, we wandered up the road to the Temple of Artemis – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world but now to do earthquakes and the pillaging of stones for the John the Baptist Church, is reduced to just a column and a half with a few scattered stones. Sad really but something about it still feels like an impressive site. On the way out, we ran into the Australian doctor we`d met in Goreme and had a nice chat with him – it’s fun running into people you know in new places! We decided to walk down the road to the Ephesus site, but we underestimated the time it would take to get there and by the time we arrived, we would have only had an hour to explore the site. We decided to come back the next day and were advised to wait for a minibus that would run us back into town for 2 lira. While we were waiting for that, a white minibus pulled up (which we thought was the minibus) and offered us a ride. I realised once we had hopped in, it definitely wasn’t the minibus and was full of broken furniture and five large tattooed Turkish men, who turned out to be very nice. One was in the process of getting his visa to move to the USA and had lots of questions for us! They dropped us off right downtown in Selcuk and we realised that we had accidentally hitchhiked again!

Single column

We stumbled upon the big market in Selcuk and wandered through for a while before picking up stuff to make a treat for our hosts (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles) and a couple bottles of wine. After a gruelling hike up the hill, we made it back and had a lovely evening with our hosts! The next day we got up and decided to go back to Ephesus just in time for the sky to open up and a huge storm to roll in off the sea. The house slightly flooded and so we spent the next few hours running around with towels and mops. By the time it cleared it was quite late so we just hung around the house, cooked with our hosts and had an easy day.

Church of John the Baptist again (the gravesite)

Archways

The next day however, we managed to find a clear day and off we headed to Ephesus. It was pricy to get in, but so worth it. It’s an incredible site with another big ruined church, an amazing amphitheatre, a bath complex, a couple temples and the amazing and iconic Library of Celsus. It’s all been so well preserved that it’s not hard to imagine what it would have looked like when the city was occupied. Again photos can never do it justice, but I’ll try. We played on the stage, sat in the city council seats (we would have made great councillors!) and walked along the old processional road. The only unfortunate incident was two Turkish guys we kept passing as we wandered around. As we were walking back towards the entrance to leave, we passed the one last time and I smiled, thinking that it was friendly as we’d been running into each other all afternoon. Unfortunately that was perceived as an invitation and they proceeded to grab my ass before running away giggling like 12 year olds… I can’t say I’m a fan of Turkish men.

Amphitheatre

The main processional

Library of Celsus

Two levels!

What the fountain used to look like

What it looks like now...

Follow the yellow (white?) brick road!

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