March 12, 2015
After breakfast we went round to the Kamil Koç office, from where a minibus took us to the brand new otogar, which was a long way out of town. Our bus from Çanakkale to İzmir was very new-looking too, and only about one-third full. The trip to İzmir took a long time because we stopped at all the small towns along the way, and we finally arrived there at about 4 pm.
We walked to the upper level of the otogar to find the dolmuş to Selçuk; it wasn’t hard to find because the driver was walking up and down the platform yelling “Sel-ÇUK” and pointing at the minibus. We had to wait half an hour or so before it left, but luckily the trip was non-stop and we arrived in Selçuk at around 5 pm.
All afternoon we had been going through rain showers and we were hoping to have dry weather when we arrived. No such luck, but at least it wasn’t raining too hard. We had a map, so we followed it (and numerous signs) through the maze of streets to Homeros Pension. We were greeted warmly by Şaziye, who offered us tea and cookies. She showed us to our room, which would be our home for the next five nights; it was elaborately decorated with textiles, jewellery, and antiques. Anywhere else it would look cluttered but here in Turkey it was perfect.
We had asked to have dinner there, since we were arriving late in the day. The dinner was excellent, all home-made Turkish food including stuffed eggplant, Turkish meatballs with rice, spinach salad and three other small salads. Dessert was mastic pudding with grape syrup. The only other guest there was Blair, from Seattle. We had an interesting evening with him talking about travelling. His travelling style puts ours to shame—he has been to Yemen, Afghanistan, and North Korea, and tomorrow he’s off to Tajikistan to catch a buzkashi match!
March 13, 2015
Breakfast this morning was amazing. So much fruit and vegetables and cheese that we couldn’t finish it all. But we gave it a good try, so that we wouldn’t be hungry for lunch. Our rental car was delivered early (before breakfast, even) so we were ready to head out right after breakfast.
Our plan was to start by driving to Pamucak beach, where there was supposed to be good birding. But there was a problem. No, not the standard transmission, we were used to that. We needed to back up to get the car out of the parking spot, but neither of us could figure out how to get the car into reverse gear. But it was Mr. Google to the rescue—it was just lucky we needed reverse gear now and not some time later when there was no wi-fi!
After finding the petrol station and filling the tank, we drove down to the beach. Supposedly there are sometimes flamingos here, but not today. But there were a lot of Cetti’s Warblers in the bushes by the water. Down at the beach there were a few people fishing, and a Crested Lark landed nearby and hopped around for a bit.
Not many birds, so we decided to move on. We headed south towards the Dilek Peninsula National Park, passing through Kuşadası, where there are 100,000 apartments which are almost empty at this time of year. The traffic must be crazy in July! Anyway we stopped at a grocery store to buy some lunch stuff and then just followed the signs to the park. We paid ₺14 for us and the car, and then stopped at the place with information signs. This was a good place for lunch, but as soon as we sat down at the picnic table it started to rain, so we retreated to the car.
The peninsula juts out into the Aegean Sea, with a good view of the nearby Greek island of Samos. It is covered with large pine trees, and there are four beaches along the road here. There was also one hiking trail, but because of the weather we opted to just look around the park instead. At the end of the road was a gate, preventing us from entering the military area, and a road down to a day-use area. There was a very strong honeysuckle scent and there were birds singing in the trees. The beach was shingle stones of various sizes, but there was winter storm debris all over the café patio. The Aegean was brilliant turquoise close in to the shore, but then the rain started up again and we decided to head back to Selçuk.
Back through Kuşadası we went and as we were about to turn off onto the Selçuk road Paul said “That looks like an osprey nest.” And Rosemary said “There’s something sitting on it.” And Paul said “Stork!” Yes, it was our first White Stork. Selçuk is famous for its nesting storks but we hadn’t seen any yet.
Back at the B&B we squeezed the car into a spot so it wouldn’t block the road and then went up to sit in the lounge. About 5 pm it started to rain, quite heavily, so we waited and hoped it would let up before we went out for dinner. But close to 6 pm the rain let up enough to encourage us to go out. We walked across the main street to an area full of shops and cafés, where we wandered around for a bit. The restaurants were all similar so we picked one which we had seen when we first arrived. Rosemary had chicken shish kebab and Paul had the same only with lamb. Not the greatest meal—the rice tasted of chlorine—but it served its purpose.
As we walked back past the old aqueduct we noticed a nest with two storks. And across the street was another nest with two more storks. So yes, the storks were back from Africa now.