To get to Selçuk, A and I flew from Istanbul to Izmir on Pegasus Airlines. When I walked up to the plane and I saw the “flypgs.com” site written on the side of the plane, I chuckled a little bit, because my first thought wasn’t “Fly Pegasus” it was “Fly Pigs”…. as in the expression “when pigs fly!” Perhaps not the best thing to be thinking about when getting onto a plane, but nonetheless, the flight itself was fine – decent food, for airplane food. Friendly service. Not at all bad for a regional airline! And it got us to Izmir on time! Getting from Izmir Airport to Selçuk was a little trickier though!!
In retrospect, I wish we had contacted our hotel – Jimmy’s Place (review will be forthcoming soon!) to arrange a pickup. Instead, we opted to take a bus. At first, it seemed really easy. We hopped on a luxury bus for the first part of the ride and it took us to the central bus station in Izmir. I wish I had taken pictures here, as it was a fairly impressive facility, but not having done enough research into the bus ride, I was a little thrown off by even being there because I hadn’t understood that we would have to change buses anywhere!! We had actually tried to plan for pickup through our hotel, but unfortunately there were communication problems, and we didn’t get a response in time. Armed with our Lonely Planet guidebook, we marched off through the bus terminal in the summer heat with our luggage in tow, trying to figure out where the connecting buses to Selçuk left from…. a pretty big challenge when you don’t
speak the language!! We had trouble finding anyone who spoke English who could help us, so after a while I left A with the bags and explored a bit. Finally fnding someone who directed us to go upstairs, we made our way up…. on the upper level, there were lots more full-sized buses and mini-buses going to all sorts of different destinations! First, we were able to ascertain that the Selçuk bus would actually say Selçuk and not some other final destination, with Selçuk merely as a stop along the way. Now we just had to figure out what kind of bus it was going to be…..We finally found a minibus that said Selçuk, and claimed seats on it. A went off to find some water & snacks for us while I stayed with the bus to make sure it didn’t leave in the meantime! It was incredibly cheap, so the challenge of finding it and the mild discomfort of the crowded & poorly air-conditioned ride weren’t all that bad…. but we did opt for a shower immediately upon arrival and to get a private car for the ride back to the airport when we left! Well worth the difference in price for a more comfortable ride – and to not be slightly unsure the entire time that you might not end up where you intended to go!!
We arrived in Selçuk, and then it was time to find our hotel. Thankfully, consulting the Lonely Planet map in the guidebook, we realized that the bus station in town left us a mere 2 short blocks from the hotel, and we went to check in. After a shower and a a bit of relaxation at the hotel, we went for a walk to explore the cute town. We stumbled upon the Pink Bistro after a couple of blocks, and it was time for a snack and a local beer. We found the Pink Bistro Cafe, which is really more like a pub than a cafe (at least as I think of cafes) and has a very friendly young proprietor/manager. He was a young Kurdish man, and had spent some time in Canada, so his English was excellent, and since it was a slow time of day when we stopped in, he was quite chatty. We talked to him for a while, and promised to come back again later in the evening, and we went off to see some of the shops, with thoughts of going to use the hotel’s pool (well, the pool that the hotel owners operate a couple of blocks away). We stopped in to buy some treats, like Turkish Delight and local nuts, and returned to the hotel. Our resolve to go find relief from the heat at the pool disappeared when we realized how well air-conditioned our room was, and instead of going swimming, taking a nap won out, and we relaxed & napped for a while.
Waking up refreshed, and finding that the outside air had cooled off significantly, we were off again in the early evening, going back to visit our friend at the Pink Bistro Cafe. He was working into the evening, but it still wasn’t too busy, so he set me up with a nice flavor of tobacco in a hookah pipe – I think it was apple – and we sat and people watched for a while. We continued to chat with our new friend, and watched the CUTEST stray puppies play and frolic. We listened to the Call to Worship, and relaxed as the sun set. Our new friend invited us to come back later on, when he was
finished work and to go with him to a family wedding. It was to be a traditional Kurdish wedding, and neither A nor I having ever been to a Kurdish wedding, and both of us feeling unlikely to ever be invited to another one again, we were certainly tempted…. but once again, not being familiar enough with social mores in this area, we decided to be conservative and decline his invitation. I think that if he hadn’t made it clear that it was a driving distance away, we might have gone… if it were somewhere in walking distance, or if we were in an area where taxis were more readily available, it would have been different. But being women, on our own, in an unfamiliar area, getting into a personal vehicle with a guy we just met, no matter how friendly he seemed, simply didn’t seem prudent. We regretfully declined, even though we knew we might be missing out on a very cool opportunity.
We did, however, allow him to walk us to a restaurant he recommended (and that I’ve since seen has gotten very good reviews from other travelers online who have touted it as a pretty cheap restaurant that is more for locals than tourists – an assessment that I would agree with), and that I think was owned by a relative of his. Rumeli Restaurant was fantastic!! We had an incredible meal, probably over-ordered a little bit, and enjoyed everything. This might actually have been my 2nd favorite meal in Turkey…. the story of my favorite will be forthcoming when I tell you about Cappadocia!!
After we wrapped up our meal, our Kurdish friend returned to take us to his cousin’s store across the street. He was friendly, but clearly knew a mark when he saw one, and knew that if he showed us a nice shop, we’d buy some more things!! And this store he took us to did have very lovely things. In particular, the embroidered pillow cases and throws caught our attention, and I wound up picking up a pair of beautifully hand embroidered pillow cases for my friend L in NYC, who I knew had been looking for red pillow cases, and a shawl for myself, because I have trouble resisting that kind of thing!
Well, that’s all for my Turkish adventures for now! Soon to come will be tales of Ephesus and Cappadocia!
Signing off for now,
Your ever-faithful TC2