The next stops on my vacation in Turkey were to the areas of Izmir and Selchuk.

From Istanbul my friend and I made our way down to Izmir on a night bus (which if you want to sleep, I don’t recommend). We went to Izmir because we heard this was the place to go for beaches! It’s not. We were also going to go on a day trip to Sardis—a place with ruins. We arrived in Izmir in the morning, found the place to drop our stuff off, and then asked directions to Sardis. NO ONE knew where this place was. We walked around a bit and asked more people. They gave us the shoulder shrug and said “Sorry, I’ve never heard of this place.” If the locals don’t know where it is, it probably isn’t worth going to and impossible to find. Instead we walked around Izmir. Izmir isn’t an exciting place, tourist wise. The big attractions were a tower and a clock. It did have some good night life though!

Our next stop was further south to Selchuk. On the way to Selchuk we decided to go to the beach in Kushadasi. The beach time was so nice! Although the beach strip was small which made it difficult to find a place to lay out, the water was beautiful and clear. This was actually one of the great beach attractions in the area with a great night life (so the locals say). After eating lunch, we hopped on a bus to find our host in Selchuk.

After 6 great days of traveling and wonderful hosts, we ran into some problems in Selchuk. The place we were couch surfing was at a hotel. Businesses are not suppose to use couch surfing as a way to promote their hotel. What this hotel did was allow couch surfers to stay for free, but you were not guaranteed a room. If all the rooms were not booked, you could stay in a room. If they were booked, you slept outside on the couches or other lawn furniture. We slept outside under the palm trees. This wasn’t too bad. During the second evening, we had a communication problem with one of the hotel managers. To make a long story short, we ended up leaving the hotel the next day because of the tension. I no longer felt comfortable staying there. We knew of another host in town that another PCV had stayed with beforehand. We thought we would go down there and ask to stay with him. We left this hotel around 7 am and walked into down near the other host’s shop. We sat down at some tables to each breakfast and wait for the shops to open. As we were sitting and waiting, we met the most decent man in the world! After speaking with him a little, we went to his shop and had tea. During our conversation the condition of our present situation came up. He said he would help us out. After calling people and figure out a place for us to stay, he ended up giving us his place to stay while he spent the night at his sister’s. We also had iftar (the meal to break fast during Ramadan) with his family. We hung out at his shop for a good portion of the day (I bought tons of stuff there, including 2 pairs of shoes!). We met his brothers who took us around town and drove us to the beach in Pamakkale. We were very thankful for this guy’s kindness and generosity.

I know what you may be thinking. “Beware of strangers! What if something happened?” After living in a country for 2 years where you have to be on your guard around men all the time, you hone your creepy guy scale. He never flirted with us never hit on us was never inappropriate. While you may think I got lucky that nothing happened, I say it’s not only luck. You have to know what to look for. Many of the people we met that day, I would not have stayed with. From our interaction and conversations over the course of 12 hours, we were certain we would be ok.

While we were in Selchuk, we made a day trip to Ephesus to see the ruins. Ephesus is 10 minutes away by car. We went early in the morning in order to beat the heat. Although in July it’s hard to ever get away from the heat. It was so hot, you sweat while doing nothing! Getting into Ephesus cost more money than we were expecting. Therefore we did not do an official tour. We split up our tasks. One person took pictures. One person went through the guide book and read about what we were seeing. It took us about 2 hours to walk from one end to the other and return. The guide book said it would take about 8 hours to do Ephesus. With the heat, there was no way I wanted to be outside with the sun blazing down on you for 8 hours listening to a person speak about how people built these now broken-down buildings. Some people may be horrified that I spent so little time in Ephesus and didn’t really get a sense for it. I’m happy with what I did. After a while, seeing so many ruins is like the castle syndrome in Europe. It’s another castle that looks the same as the previous 10 where some guy who I won’t remember only spent 2 days a year there. It’s another “building” where I can only see the foundation built in a certain style of the day. It’s important to preserve and see, but I don’t want to spend 8 hours doing it.

After our time in Selchuk, we went back to Izmir to catch a flight to Cyprus!

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