Tag Archives: Didim Turkey

On This Day – Excursion to Ephesus

Even though travel restrictions are easing I am not yet minded to risk it so I still have no new stories to post so I continue to go through my picture archives and see where I was on this day at any time in the last few travelling years.

On 25th September 2014 I was on a coach excursion visiting Ancient historical sites in Turkey…

The problem with bus trips is that you cannot choose your travelling companions – it is a game of chance!

I imagined that we would be accompanied on this trip by middle aged historians in crumpled linen suits and battered panama hats, archaeologists carrying trowels and leather bound notebooks and the entire cast of a Merchant Ivory film but at the first pick up we were joined by a Geordie and boisterous Lithuanian family and then horror of horrors by a noisy bunch of women who looked as though they should really be going to a market rather than one of the World’s finest archaeological sites.

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Entrance Tickets, The Temple of Apollo at Didyma

It is claimed by some to be the finest single ancient monument in this part of Turkey and this is a part of Turkey which has an awful lot of ancient monuments.

I can confirm that it is very impressive indeed although little of the original structure remains standing; it was destroyed by the Persians in 494 BC, ravaged by time, rearranged by earthquakes and plundered over the centuries for convenient building material, but regardless of the damage I found this to be a stimulating place with history literally oozing out of the cracks and fissures in  the columns and the stones.

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Entrance Tickets – Ephesus, Turkey

turkey-ephesus

I am not a great one for ruins.  Generally it requires an enormous outlay of imagination and patience for scant reward but the site at Ephesus is so rich that I can walk on 2000 year old flagstones with recognisable buildings on either side…” – Michael Palin – ‘Pole to Pole’

Historically inspired by the visit to the Temple of Apollo at Didyma we were looking forward now to our bus trip to Ephesus and to Heirapolis (Pamukkale) to visit more ancient Hellenistic and Roman sites.

The bus was to collect us at eight o’clock so we woke early and after a modest breakfast made our way down to the appointed rendezvous point outside the apartment and then being the first to be collected began the tedious job of picking up our fellow travellers.

The problem with bus trips is that you cannot choose your travelling companions – it is a game of chance!  I imagined that we would be accompanied on this trip by middle aged historians in crumpled linen suits and battered panama hats, ladies in pencil-pleat skirts, archaeologists carrying trowels and leather bound notebooks and the entire cast of a Merchant Ivory film but at the first pick up we were joined by a Geordie and a noisy Lithuanian family and then horror of horrors by a misbehaving bunch of women who looked as though they should really be going to a market rather than one of the World’s finest archaeological sites.

You can call me a snob if you like but I couldn’t for the life of me understand why they were going on this trip.

It got worse.  It turned out that they were a darts team from Dagenham.  We were on a bus with an octet of middle aged women with inappropriate tattoos and piercings who were loud and embarrassing and behaved like escapees from a medical research centre.   I was horrified – we were going to spend two days with these people and as the journey started I looked out of the window and tried to block it from my mind.  I would rather have been travelling with a bus load of people suffering from an incurable tropical disease!

Ephesus Turkey

It took around about an hour to reach Ephesus and we passed through interesting countryside of agriculture, forests, villages, medieval castles and ancient temples but mostly through acres and acres of cotton fields which started at the side of the road and disappeared towards the horizon on all sides.  There was an awful lot of cotton out there and it turns out that Turkey is actually one of top world producers even though the product is of inferior quality to that of Egypt for example.

Eventually we arrived at Ephesus and ran the wallet robbing gauntlet of the hawkers and the unofficial guide book sellers and after a short break made our way inside the excavation site. It was busy of course but I expected that because this is one of the most visited tourist attraction sites in all of Turkey and we competed with bus tours and cruise ship day trippers from Kusadasi as we elbowed our way through the entrance and into the beginning of the tour.

Temple of Diana at Ephesus

We started at the top of the excavations and over the next two hours made our way down the ancient streets to the lowest point of the city which in previous times was the harbour which was difficult to imagine today because Ephesus is now a considerable distance from the shore of the Mediterranean.

We passed through hundreds of years of history, Greek theatres, Roman baths, ancient houses and even the public latrines and made slow progress towards the finest building on the whole site, the library of Celsus, which archaeologists have discovered doubled up bizarrely as a brothel!

TURKEY - Ephesus - The Library of Celsus

Ephesus was once one of the most important cities in Asia Minor, a natural trading crossroads between east and west and for a while enjoyed a status second only to Rome.  There is a lot of reconstruction of course but I am not averse to a bit of sympathetic reconstruction because without it it is difficult to imagine what it might have looked like.

After considering the issue I think I agree with Henry Miller who (writing about Knossos on the island of Crete) wrote in the ‘Colossus of Rhodes“There has been much controversy about the aesthetics of Sir Arthur Evans’s work of restoration.  I find myself unable to come to any conclusion about it; I accepted it as a fact.  However Knossos may have looked in the past, however it may look in the future, this one which Evans has created is the only one I shall ever know.  I am grateful to him for what he did…”

The guided tour through Ephesus was concluded by a visit to the Greek Theatre, which was later used as a Roman gladiator fighting venue and then we were out of the southern gate and heading back to the bus.  I could have spent longer at the site but our itinerary was determined by the restrictions of the tour bus timetable and it whisked us off now for an instantly forgettable lunch, which would have been alright in an emergency but not out of choice, at a tourist dining treadmill.

Temple of Apollo Didyma

Lunch over we now drove to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, although you would have to have a very good imagination to be able to understand how wonderful it was but could do no better than rely on the description by Antipater of Sidon, a Greek poet of the 2nd century BC:

“I have gazed on the walls of impregnable Babylon and on the Zeus by the banks of the Alpheus, I have seen the hanging gardens, and the Colossus of the Helios, the lofty pyramids, and the gigantic tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the sacred house of Artemis that towers to the clouds, the others were placed in the shade, for the sun himself has never looked upon its equal outside Olympus”

So it must have looked quite magnificent I imagine but except for one solitary column there is nothing there today and it turns out that if you want to see more, guess where you have to go, yes, the British Museum.  This was a staggering disappointment, it really needed some Arthur Miller approved reconstruction and interpretation and I for one was glad when it was all over and we were back on the bus and we could continue the drive to Pamukkale about three hours away to the east.

Ephesus Turkey

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Related Posts:

Spartacus the Gladiator

Rome

The Roman City of Pompeii

The Roman City of Herculaneum

The Roman Amphitheatre at Pula

The Aqueduct of Segovia

The Roman Buildings at Mérida

The Roman Ruins at Segóbriga

Diocletian’s Palace at Split

The Roman Buildings at Arles

Verona

The Greek and Roman Ruins at Empuria, Catalonia

The Palace of Knossos in Crete

Athens and Ancient Greece

The Acropolis Museum in Athens

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Trio

Turkey Altinkum Shop Sign

There was a perfect blue sky when I was woken quite early by an invasion of sunlight bulldozing its way into the room through the gaps in the curtains and I lay still for awhile contemplating being in a new country.

I began to think of the most obvious things that I associated with Turkey – Turkish Delight, Turkish Baths, Turkish Tea, Turkish Wrestling, Istanbul, Magic Carpets, Uncle Spike, Kebabs and Belly Dancers and when my mind was quite cluttered up with all of these thoughts I got up and opened the balcony door and was greeted with a powerful aroma drifting in from an adjacent apartment that reminded me of one more thing – Turkish Coffee!

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Turkey, Final Days

Turkey Souvenir Shopping Bag

On the penultimate day we were running out of things to do.  We were awake early and taking breakfast on the balcony and decided to take the bus to the nearby town of Akbuk which was recommended for its Friday market.

This being Thursday I was smugly certain that a bus ride there would do no harm.

So we walked to Altinkum and to the bus terminus at the bottom of Kemal Atatürk Boulevard and waited twenty minutes or so for a Dolmus to turn up.  The bus arrived and we set off on an uncomfortable forty minute ride to the town situated around the bay on the opposite side of the peninsula.

When we arrived I was in for a shock because on account of this being a religious holiday weekend the Friday market had been brought forward to Thursday and the bus dropped us off at the market car park and there was no way of escaping it.  Kim didn’t want to escape it of course and I had some difficulty in keeping up with her as she set off into the labyrinth of stalls like a child visiting a Father Christmas grotto!

There was nothing I could do but tag along.  A week ago in Didim market I was able to volunteer to take the grocery purchases home but here in Akbuk I was thirty kilometres away from sanctuary so there was nothing for it but to grit my teeth and put up with my hopeless predicament.

Poseidon Altinkum

Actually, it wasn’t that bad I have to say, it was a relatively small market and within a very short time we appeared to have seen all that there was to see so we left by a back exit on a dusty street and made our way to the sea front where we wandered around the boats in a way that we hadn’t been allowed to at the Didim Marina and then we found a comfortable bar next to the sea and stopped for a drink before taking the Dolmus back to Altinkum.  Akbuk had been an interesting distraction for a morning but I won’t be rushing back!

For the rest of the day we didn’t do anything that we hadn’t done before so I have nothing really to tell you about except that we did go out for dinner rather than stay in and cook for ourselves and we took the Dolmus to Yesilkent and back and in between we enjoyed a final last evening meal before returning to the apartment.

On the final day we did even less.  Got up late, cleaned the apartment, replenished any supplies that we had used and then went for a final swim and a lunch at Paradise Beach.

The mood there was much calmer today and the owners appeared to have settled their differences because there was no arguing.  The man had a smart new hair cut so perhaps that was what the savage argument had been about? Who knows?

Today we threw calorie caution to the wind and ran through the entire menu of pancakes, meatballs, salad and fries and then we washed it down with an Efes or two and just sat and looked out over the sea and let the afternoon slowly slip carelessly through our fingers.  It would be a long time before we would enjoy the sea again so we were reluctant to leave but eventually it was time and we made our way back to the apartment for final packing.

In the late afternoon the airport transport bus (not IMX) arrived to collect us and soon we were making our way out of Altinkum and Didim and making our way around the southern shore of Lake Bafa and towards the airport at Bodrum.

As we drove I drew up a balance sheet of our visit to Turkey.  I had enjoyed the antiquity and the ruins, the temples and the ancient cities; the long walks along the coast; the friendly people; Bodrum; our excellent apartment courtesy of our friends Steve and Kath and the weather.  On the other side of the balance sheet were the dogs, the litter and IMX Travel but overall I declared the holiday a resounding success and look forward to returning to Turkey as soon as the travel itinerary allows.

Temple of Apollo Didyma

 

 

Turkey, Pancakes and Domestics

Altinkum Turkey

Wednesday began early for me, I was beginning to return to my UK body clock regime and I was up at six o’clock sitting on a chilly balcony with a first cup of tea.  Even the sun wasn’t up yet, Kim certainly wasn’t!

It was a crisp, clear morning with a faint orange glow crawling slowly over the hills to the east like a creeping red wine stain on a tablecloth and I sat outside and watched the sunrise just because I could and I knew that there wouldn’t be many more opportunities this year.

Suddenly the sunrise became rapid and considering how long it took to clear the mountains within an hour the sun was surprisingly high in the sky and was a reassuring ball of yellow flame.  It was becoming warmer by the minute, I stopped shivering and had a third cup of tea.

The days were slipping away in the way that final moments of a holiday seem to accelerate at a disproportionate speed to the start but we weren’t in the mood to do anything dramatic because we were staying in an excellent apartment, there was a shop around the corner that sold cold beer and splendid beaches nearby.

The day after the dog walk we decided to go back to Paradise Beach and have a swim and a pancake lunch at the beachside bar/shack.  We had already declared them to be the best food we had eaten in Turkey all fortnight so were happy to go back.  This didn’t take an awful lot of planning so I had a fourth cup of tea and waited for sleepy Kim to make an appearance.

About mid-morning we left the apartment and before going to the beach we did the Yesilkent walk again, strolled along the road, stopped for a drink at a favourite bar and then walked back along the coastal path to Paradise Beach.

The brief period of indifferent weather had passed now, the winds had dropped, the temperatures had risen again and the beach and the sea was back to its very best.  There were only a couple of other families on the sand so there was plenty of room to spread out so we left our things and went for a long refreshing swim.

Turkey decorated containers

After half an hour or so we dried ourselves off and made our way to the shoreline furniture which belonged to the shack.  I really liked it there, the furniture was old and storm battered, faded, creaking and as dusty as an undisturbed library, it was shabby and worn and Kim said that it suited my style down to the ground.  I think this was meant to be a compliment?

We sat for a while and waited for service but something didn’t seem quite right today.  The owner seemed to be sulking and his wife had a bit of a face on.  Eventually he came across and took the order and took it back to his wife.  I don’t think she wanted to do the cooking today and snatched the order from his hand and passed it on to her daughter who set about it straight away.

We had stumbled across a domestic!  At first we could hear them shouting at each other in whispers in the way people do in the hope of not attracting attention to themselves but as the minutes passed the volume was raised and they completely abandoned any attempt to keep the dispute in any way private.  Soon they were yelling at each other, arms were waving and there was the dramatic posturing and gesturing that accompanies an argument such as this.  We felt rather embarrassed but we had ordered now so we turned our chairs to face the sea and tried to ignore them.

I confess that I found this impossible so gradually turned my chair around again and watched the dispute play out.  Finally he had had enough of the ear bashing that he was taking and tried to make a get away. He got into his car and started to reverse away.  She heard the engine and chased after him wielding an empty beer bottle and threatened to smash it over the windscreen.  He obviously thought better of his plan to escape and as he got out of the driver’s seat she threatened to smash it over his head if he tried it again.  I was convinced that we were only seconds away from physical violence.

But then it seemed to suddenly calm down, she went off to sit in a shady corner, he went to the shoreline to rake up some sea weed and the daughter finished cooking our food and brought it to our table.  It was delicious again and as we finished a second bottle of beer we agreed that we would come back here in a couple of day’s time for our final meal and perhaps some more entertainment.

 

 

Turkey, A Storm and A Market

Market Shopping Turkey

““Do you like that?” I’ll say in surprise since it doesn’t seem like her type of thing, and she’ll look at me as if I’m mad.  That!?” She’ll say, “No, it’s hideous” “Then why on earth,” I always want to say, “did you walk all the way over there to touch it?”                                                                                                                                             Bill Bryson – ‘Notes From a Small Island’

After the excursion tour bus breakdown fiasco we were so relieved to be back at the sanctuary of the apartment so we sat on the balcony with a beer and debated dining options.  It was our intention to go out for a meal but as we sat there the clouds began to crawl over the hills, it started to rain and a greyness descended all around us like a damp soggy blanket.

So we abandoned the dining out option and I went to the shops and to a nearby restaurant for some carry-out food.  As I walked back the sky transformed itself dramatically from grey to lilac and then to purple all fringed with black thunderous clouds and then the electrical storm began.  I only just made it back before the heavens opened, rain ran like a river down the road and there was a total power-cut.

So we had a difficult candle-lit dinner and afterwards watched the electrical light show as the storm continued to rage all around us.

The lights stayed out so eventually we gave up on restored power this evening and went to bed but sleeping proved immediately difficult.  The wind outside was howling like a pack of wild dogs and our bedroom was on the top floor underneath the balcony where furniture was being continuously rearranged and above that on the roof were the satellite dishes and the solar panels and water tanks – quite a lot of cables and ironmongery and anything that wasn’t firmly bolted down was banging and crashing away as the gusts swept through.  It was like trying to get to sleep in the front row of a Cream concert while Ginger Baker performed an all night drum solo.

Market Trash Turkey

In the morning it was still disappointingly grey and every now and then there was a squally shower of rain so we drank tea and ate breakfast inside and then I remembered that this was the day that I had been dreading – Market Day.

I have explained before that I don’t like shopping.  Kim would crawl over hot coals to get to a market but personally I would prefer to walk through Palestine wearing a Star of David tee shirt.

Anyway, it was only fair to go because after all Kim had indulged me for a couple of days visiting ancient sites so we took our umbrellas and made our way to the bus stop and then took a ride to the market.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I dislike markets.  Even after fifty years or so I can still remember the weekly trauma of being taken to Leicester Market by my mother and this experience has scarred me for life.  To begin with I don’t think it is cheap as people say it is because you have no control over quantities or selection and I don’t think it is much fun either.  I hate bartering, it is not in my nature and I much prefer to go to a supermarket where everything is clearly labelled, nicely washed and presented, where shop assistants don’t round things up to a kilo or so and I can buy a single grape if I want to.  In fact I am so far out of personal comfort zone that I could be walking about on the surface of the moon!

I don’t like the shouting, the pushing, the intimidation, the guess work and the random pricing.  I don’t like the lack of control over what I am spending and I am suspicious of the rapid transactions and not being absolutely sure that I haven’t been ripped off.  I was in such a state at one point that I walked off with someone else’s trolley bag and the distraught owner had to come chasing after me to get it back.  I could have ended up in prison for stealing!

We filled the bag with vegetables and I offered to take it back to the apartment and thankfully Kim thought that this was a good idea and released me from my ordeal.  I quickly made for the exit and the bus stop in case she changed her mind and Kim disappeared into the labyrinth of genuine fake stalls to try her luck at negotiating and to see if she could bag a bargain.  This release wasn’t so much an act of kindness on her part more a sense of relief that I was no longer tagging along.

I don’t want to generalise here but in my experience men and women have two distinct shopping styles.  Women browse and compare and ponder and take their time and men prefer the direct approach.  Women get pulled into shops by a sort of invisible tractor beam to admire shoes and drool over sparkly things but men are unaffected by this phenomenon and walk right by, women surf and men are purposeful and the two styles are completely irreconcilable.

I took the bus back to the apartment and on the short walk back stopped to do some proper shopping – beer and wine – and then I went back to the balcony to open a can and calm down.

After that there was no real improvement in the weather for the rest of the day so we spent the afternoon dodging the showers and using the balcony whenever we could and later as afternoon turned to evening we watched the sky turn from grey to purple to black and then prepared ourselves a meal (tuna nicoise and baked potato followed by baklava and ice cream) and hoped that there might be improvement the next day.

Didim Market Turkey

Turkey, Excursion to Ephesus

Ephesus Turkey

I am not a great one for ruins.  Generally it requires an enormous outlay of imagination and patience for scant reward but the site at Ephesus is so rich that I can walk on 2000 year old flagstones with recognisable buildings on either side…” – Michael Palin – ‘Pole to Pole’

Historically inspired by the visit to the Temple of Apollo at Didyma we were looking forward now to our bus trip to Ephesus and to Heirapolis (Pamukkale) to visit more ancient Hellenistic and Roman sites.

The bus was to collect us at eight o’clock so we woke early and after a small breakfast made our way down to the appointed rendezvous point outside the apartment and then being the first to be collected began the tedious job of picking up our fellow travellers.

The problem with bus trips is that you cannot choose your travelling companions – it is a game of chance!  I imagined that we would be accompanied on this trip by middle aged historians in crumpled linen suits and battered panama hats, archaeologists carrying trowels and leather bound notebooks and the entire cast of a Merchant Ivory film but at the first pick up we were joined by a Geordie and noisy Lithuanian family and then horror of horrors by a noisy bunch of women who looked as though they should really be going to a market rather than one of the World’s finest archaeological sites.  You can call me a snob if you like but I couldn’t for the life of me understand why they were going on this trip.

It got worse.  It turned out that they were a darts team from Dagenham.  We were on a bus with an octet of middle aged women with inappropriate tattoos and piercings who were loud and embarrassing and behaved like escapees from a medical research centre.   I was horrified – we were going to spend two days with these people and as the journey started I looked out of the window and tried to block it from my mind.  I would rather have been travelling with a bus load of people suffering from an incurable tropical disease!

It took around about an hour to reach Ephesus and we passed through interesting countryside of agriculture, forests, villages, medieval castles and ancient temples but mostly through acres and acres of cotton fields which started at the side of the road and disappeared towards the horizon on all sides.  There was an awful lot of cotton out there and it turns out that Turkey is actually one of top world producers even though the product is of inferior quality to that of Egypt for example.

Eventually we arrived at Ephesus and ran the wallet robbing gauntlet of the hawkers and the unofficial guide book sellers and after a short break made our way inside the excavation site. It was busy of course but I expected that because this is one of the most visited tourist attraction sites in all of Turkey and we competed with bus tours and cruise ship day trippers from Kusadasi as we elbowed our way through the entrance and into the beginning of the tour.

Temple of Diana at Ephesus

We started at the top of the excavations and over the next two hours made our way down the ancient streets to the lowest point of the city which in ancient times was the harbour which was difficult to imagine today because Ephesus is now a considerable distance from the shore of the Mediterranean.

We passed through hundreds of years of history, Greek theatres, Roman baths, ancient houses and even the public latrines and made slow progress towards the finest building on the whole site, the library of Celsus, which archaeologists have discovered doubled up bizarrely as a brothel!

Ephesus was once one of the most important cities in Asia Minor, a natural trading crossroads between east and west and for a while enjoyed a status second only to Rome.  There is a lot of reconstruction of course but I am not averse to a bit of sympathetic reconstruction because without it it is difficult to imagine what it might have looked like.

After considering the issue I think I agree with Henry Miller who (writing about Knossos on the island of Crete) wrote in the ‘Colossus of Rhodes“There has been much controversy about the aesthetics of Sir Arthur Evans’s work of restoration.  I find myself unable to come to any conclusion about it; I accepted it as a fact.  However Knossos may have looked in the past, however it may look in the future, this one which Evans has created is the only one I shall ever know.  I am grateful to him for what he did…”

The guided tour through Ephesus was concluded by a visit to the Greek Theatre, which was later used as a Roman gladiator fighting venue and then we were out of the southern gate and heading back to the bus.  I could have spent longer at the site but our itinerary was determined by the restrictions of the tour bus timetable and it whisked us off now for an instantly forgettable lunch, which would have been alright in an emergency but not out of choice, at a tourist dining treadmill.  Personally I would have preferred a packet of potato crisps!

Lunch over we now drove to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, although you would have to have a very good imagination to be able to understand how wonderful it was but could do no better than rely on the description by Antipater of Sidon, a Greek poet of the 2nd century BC:

“I have gazed on the walls of impregnable Babylon and on the Zeus by the banks of the Alpheus, I have seen the hanging gardens, and the Colossus of the Helios, the lofty pyramids, and the gigantic tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the sacred house of Artemis that towers to the clouds, the others were placed in the shade, for the sun himself has never looked upon its equal outside Olympus”

So it must have looked quite magnificent I imagine but except for one solitary column there is nothing there today and it turns out that if you want to see more, guess where you have to go, yes, the British Museum.  This was a staggering disappointment, it really needed some Arthur Miller approved reconstruction and interpretation and I for one was glad when it was all over and we were back on the bus and we could continue the drive to Pamukkale about three hours away to the east.

Ephesus Turkey

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Related Posts:

Spartacus the Gladiator

Rome

The Roman City of Pompeii

The Roman City of Herculaneum

The Roman Amphitheatre at Pula

The Aqueduct of Segovia

The Roman Buildings at Mérida

The Roman Ruins at Segóbriga

Diocletian’s Palace at Split

The Roman Buildings at Arles

Verona

The Greek and Roman Ruins at Empuria, Catalonia

The Palace of Knossos in Crete

Athens and Ancient Greece

The Acropolis Museum in Athens

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Turkey, The Temple of Apollo at Didyma

TURKEY - Didyma

It was day four already, three days had carelessly slipped through our fingers almost without noticing like sand spilling through an hour glass  so today we decided to do something different and walk to the ancient site of the Temple of Apollo at the northern end of Didim (previously called Didyma).

This was a long way which required walking once more along the Kemal Atatürk Boulevard but on this occasion there was no option to give up half way along because to get to the temple we had to walk the full six kilometres or so, uphill all the way with the midday sun getting hotter and hotter.  To be absolutely honest however we couldn’t make it all the way without taking a break half way along the route.

Finally we began the final approach to the ruins of the ancient site which were predictably surrounded by tourist shops selling all manner of cheap rubbish and carpet shops selling all manner of expensive floor coverings.  The owner was quite persistent that we should go inside and seemed quite unable to interpret our response that we had come to Turkey for a holiday and not to buy a carpet not least because we were travelling skinflint class on Monarch Airlines and only had a ten kilogram baggage allowance.

Temple Didyma Turkey

We carried on to the entrance and then paid the entrance fee of ten Turkish Lira (about £3.50) and then went inside where there was a crowd of people whose attention was grabbed by two mating tortoises.  I have often wondered how they manage this so I was intrigued to watch the smaller male chasing the love of his life and head butting her rear end to get her attention until he had her wedged in a crevice and could have his wicked way.  She wasn’t very attractive I have to say and after all that head butting and finally getting a good look at her I am surprised he didn’t suddenly claim to have a headache and show no further interest!

With the tortoise bonking show over the assembled crowd dispersed and we carried on down the steps and into the ancient site.  Next to Delphi in Greece, Didyma was the most important oracle of the Hellenic world, first mentioned among the Greeks in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo.

Temple of Apollo Didyma

This place would have been huge, one hundred and twenty columns, fifteen metres high and each taking an estimated twenty thousand man days (fifty-five years) to cut and erect.  It was never completely finished however because during the construction process the money kept running out but if it had been then it is said that this would have been one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World in precedence over the Temple of Artemis at nearby Ephesus.

It is claimed by some to be the finest single ancient monument in this part of Turkey and this is a part of Turkey which has an awful lot of ancient monuments.  I can confirm that it is very impressive indeed although little of the original structure remains standing; it was destroyed by the Persians in 494 BC, ravaged by time, rearranged by earthquakes and plundered over the centuries for convenient building material, but regardless of the damage I found this to be a stimulating place with history literally oozing out of the cracks and fissures in  the columns and the stones.

Didyma Turket 01

At the centre of the structure was the inner temple and in ancient times the only person to go inside was the Oracle who would take water from a sacred natural spring and then deliver predictions and advice.  In Classical Antiquity an Oracle was a person considered to interface wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future. Oracles were thought to be portals through which the gods spoke directly to people.  Some now believe the water contained something that induced a hypnotic or psychedelic state in the drinker.  Alcohol probably!

We walked around the entire site and then as we left and read the information boards it was suddenly time to feel guilty again.  Apparently there were once statues and friezes surrounding the temple but at some point British archaeologists uncovered them and carted them away and they are now in the British Museum.  I felt my palms getting sweaty, my pulse rate increasing and an Elgin Marbles moment coming on!

Kim at Didyma Turkey

Our plan now was to walk back the way that we had come but a convenient Dolmus came by just as we approached a bus stop and neither of us had the willpower to resist the lure of a ride back to the apartment.  The cost of a Dolmus ride is a flat rate two Turkish Lira and this particular fare turned out to be very good value indeed as it took us back via a long winded circuitous route which provided us with a thorough introduction to the town.

By late afternoon we were ready for a swim so we took the track to Paradise beach, which today, in contrast to only the day before was almost completely deserted.  This might have been because it was a week day or because the holiday season was now over or it might have been because today the sea was rather rough and agitated with a keen wind that whipped up the surface into waves and which made swimming rather difficult.

In addition to the wind it was becoming increasingly cloudy now so we dried ourselves off and took the track back to the apartment where we closed the door behind us, prepared a second self-catering evening meal (kofti meat balls in a spicy tomato sauce with rice and salad) and over a few hands of cards worried about the weather for the next day.

Walking in Altinkum Turkey

Turkey, Grocery Shopping and Self Catering

Altinkum Grocery Shopping

It was another glorious morning and after breakfast on the balcony we put our agreed plans immediately into place.  Kim stayed in the apartment sitting in the sun and I went food shopping at Carrefour.  I really must try and remember that Kim is so much better than me at seven card stud poker!

Carrefour was about three kilometres away along the Kemal Atatürk Boulevard and rather than wait for the Dolmus bus I decided to walk a while and see if one came along, which they frequently did but only between bus stops!

This reminded me of going to football matches with my dad in Leicester about fifty years ago.  Very close to my grandparents house where he parked the car there was a bus stop with a direct service into the city but dad rather cunningly always started out for the match at a time that was certain not to coincide with the bus timetable.  I never caught on to this little trick of course and he had a very brisk walking pace that required me to run along side him just to keep up as he strode out ahead.   It turns out that dad just didn’t like paying bus fares which he considered to be an unnecessary expense in life.  I have inherited that trait!

I eventually arrived at the supermarket and filled my wire basket with the items on Kim’s list and was feeling rather pleased with myself until I was suddenly aware just how heavy the trolley bag suddenly was and how uncooperative the wheels were when trying to steer it.  I really didn’t fancy walking all the way back with that because the town planners in Altinkum have done some curious things.  They have provided nicely surfaced pavements but then every few metres planted a tree in it, and trees so big that you are forever having to go up and down the kerbs to go around them and into the road so instead I waited at the bus stop until a Dolmus came by.

After only a short wait the bus turned up and the driver did that thing that bus drivers do everywhere and pulled up several metres after the spot where people were waiting so that they had to pick up their bags and walk to the door.  This is something that must be hard-wired into a bus driver’s brain at birth.

Altinkum Shopping

With the shopping completed and water supplies replenished it was time for a swim so we took a dusty track off the main road and made for a place called Paradise Beach and when we arrived we could only agree that it was so aptly named because here was a golden crescent of pristine sand shelving slowly into the sea.  A sea that was changing colours like a kaleidoscope – butter milk cream over the wave polished stones, vivid blue over the butterscotch sand and imperial purple over the swaying weed.

After the walk in the hot sun, the shopping expedition and the fight with the shopping trolley it looked so inviting so there was no time wasted diving in and taking a refreshing swim.

There is currently a beauty salon fad in the United Kingdom and elsewhere which involves parting with substantial amounts of cash, taking shoes and socks off and dangling them into a tank of fish which will nibble away at the dead skin and provide a natural pedicure.  The toothless fish are called garra rufa and are also commonly known as ‘doctor fish’, they come from the Eastern Mediterranean, mostly Turkey, and there were some in the sea today and when we stood still long enough they congregated at our ankles and shortly got to work.

Doctor Fish

While we enjoyed our free foot treatment it became obvious that the discerning little creatures preferred my feet to Kim’s and I could easily steal her fishy medical companions by standing close to her.  Kim became irritated by this so I explained to her as best I could that the only explanation I could think of was that while some men are ‘babe magnets’ I really couldn’t help being a bit of a ‘fish magnet’!

This alternative beauty treatment sounds weird but it might be considered positively normal compared with some others.  For example, bull semen, a moisturising hair treatment that uses the sperm of Angus bulls. Ox bone-marrow shampoo from Brazil, Nightingale droppings used in Japan as a facial cleanser, snail slime used in South America as a hand cream and snake venom in Africa which is claimed by some to have the same face-freezing effects as Botox – if you want to freeze your lips, simply kiss a cobra!

After the swim we walked back along the coastal track and came to a small cove with a shack made of driftwood and what looked like old canvas and curtains for shade.  This turned out to be Ray’s private beach and as we approached he came out to meet us and invited us to swim – so we did.  Having made use of his beautiful beach but not having hired a sun bed from him (5 Turkish Lira) it seemed only good manners to take a drink with him so we bought some beer (8 Turkish Lira) and sat and chatted to him for a while.

After the beer we wandered back to the apartment and as evening approached and the sun went down we now prepared for our evening meal and assembled a feast of barbeque delights and Turkish (Greek) salad and when it was gone we congratulated ourselves on a wonderful gastronomic effort (well, Kim’s mainly if I am completely honest) as we sat under the stars and reflected on an excellent day.

Ray's Beach