March 14, 2015
We had the usual lavish breakfast this morning before setting out. The weather was good so far, but the forecast was for rain later.
Our plan was to explore the Selçuk area today, so we started by walking the short distance up to the Basilica of St. John, which is adjacent to the Ayasuluk Fortress just above it on the hill. The entrance fee was ₺10 each, which gave us access to both sites. The ruins of the basilica date back to the time of the St. John who was one of Jesus’s apostles, and who had come here to spread the gospel. They are gradually being restored, but it’s a long process. However the remains that are there give a good idea of its size. Throughout the site there are groups of marble blocks lying on the ground, like an enormous jigsaw puzzle. Most are pieces of columns but some have carvings and inscriptions on them.
After the Seljuk Turks took over the area in about the 11th century, they converted the church into the fortress, which was inevitably reduced to rubble by time and earthquakes. However it too is also being restored, and there’s at least a set of walls atop the hill, which were opened to the public in 2012. It took us about an hour and a half to walk through the whole site, and we thought it was definitely worth ₺10 each.
Today was market day in Selçuk, and it still wasn’t raining, so we headed down to wander through the market. There was a big section where people were selling shoes, clothing, coffee machines, basically anything you wanted. But the more interesting part was the fruit and vegetable market. All of the produce looked so fresh. There were lots of stands selling potatoes, peppers, apples, oranges, tomatoes, and even bananas (although the bananas didn’t look that fresh). It was getting closer to lunch time so we found the simit seller and bought a couple for lunch.
After lunch it started to rain as we drove up the hill to Meryemana, which is supposed to be the place where the Virgin Mary lived at the end of her life. There was a little chapel here, and taps dispensing healing water from the sacred spring, and that was about it. Although the site was very well maintained we were not happy about paying ₺50 for entrance and parking fees. On the way back we followed a side road to the “Seven Sleepers”. There was a sort of crypt which was buried in the ground, and there was a story about people who had miraculously slept there for 200 years. It was all fenced off, but there really wasn’t a lot to see.
Our next stop was the little town of Şirince. It’s up a windy road at the end of a valley, and it’s a tourist attraction because of its picturesque appearance. We found a spot in a pay parking lot and then wandered along the cobbled streets. Up and up we went past numerous shops selling ceramics, felted fabrics, soaps, and wines. Near the top we bought some hand creams which were actually made in Şirince. It was a pity it was raining so hard at this point in time, as we didn’t really look around very much, instead walking very carefully back down the slippery cobbles to the car.
Back at the B&B we sat in the lounge and listened to the rain on the windows. After a while the rain stopped, so we headed out for dinner. It was still a bit early so we walked through the market again, and both of us were surprised at how much produce had been sold during the day. Some of the stalls were almost empty. Closer to 5 pm we went to find the restaurant which had been recommended to us.
The Ejder restaurant was over by the aqueducts, and it was a small place with only three tables inside. Even so we were the only customers there. Both of us decided to have fish, but they only had one piece of fish in the fridge so the young man had to run over to the fish market to buy some more. Our meal was all cooked on the grill; potatoes, tomatoes, and sea bream accompanied by salad. It was all very tasty and fresh. The restaurant is famous for its lentil soup, but today it was off the menu because of the lack of customers. But they said they would make it for us on Monday if we came back, so we said we would. For dessert we found a baklava shop and bought four pieces, which we took back to the B&B to eat.