A week in Kuşadası right at the Ladies Beach is over. I actually spent most of my time visiting the surrounding natural and historical attractions, but I still had some time to chill out at the beach in the afternoon. I was lucky that a friend I met in Ireland moved back there and offered to host me. Since there weren’t many tourists yet some of the tours I wanted to do weren’t available for booking, so I did some tours on my own in public transport.
What can I say. Let the pictures speak for themselves.
If you want to see more about Kuşadası (for example what the beach actually looks like) check the fb page Kuşadasınfo. I never took my camera to the beach 😉
For fans of correct pronunciation, here is how to say Kuşadası correctly: [kuʃadasɯ] = Kushadase (the last vowel is pronounced like the a in ‘ago’)
Temple of Apollo (Didyma), Miletus, Priene – full day trip in public transport
I checked how to get from one place to the other in the Lonely Planet and off I went to see how much I could squish into the same day. My legs hurt for a few days after that, but oh well. I loved these sites because they not only allowed me to travel back in time and imagine how the people inhabiting them lived, I also found the landscapes especially at Milet and Priene quite unique. The museum in Milet is just the right size to learn about the three sites’ history without being overwhelmed by information. I tried to imagine how people would go to the Temple of Apollo (the second biggest in ancient times after Ephesus’ almost fully destroyed Temple of Artemis, therefore definitely making it worth to visit this site) and how they played board games carved into the steps while being bored of waiting in the queue to see the Oracle of Apollo. Or what the yearly pilgrimage from Miletus to the Temple of Apollo would look like. Some information about the Cult of Apollo Delphinios in Miletus with its yearly procession in short, or in long for history geeks with maps and all.
In Milet some cows wandering around in the ruins were an original addition in the pictures I took and made the visit seem like a pacman game. I was a bit scared of them and tried to find my way out avoiding them. Quite an adventure, I thought. The pacman cows kept changing places…
Priene’s location up on a hill make it a stunning site to see and I wish I had had more time instead of basically running through it. Just like Miletos, Priene used to be a city with a harbor, but the siltification moved it away from the sea.
With some jogging and nice people I managed to do it all in a day (e.g. people giving a lift to and from Milet, a bus driver waiting for me so I don’t miss the last bus).
The maps that are available in the museum for the Miletos and Priene ruins were very helpful to do self guided walks on the sites.
Handy information about Didyma, Miletus, Priene:
Turkish names: Apollon Tapınağı (Didim), Milet, Priene
Cost: 41TL for transport, 30TL for entrance fees (including audio guide in the Temple of Apollo), 21TL for food = 92TL in total (in my case 72TL, since I had the Aegean Museum Pass and didn’t need to pay entrance. This pass only is valid for 7 days, so actually only worth it for high speed travelers. It’s 75TL.)
Duration: 10 to 11 hours (counting a 1 hour visit at each site)
How I got there:
-bus from Kuşadası to Söke (5TL, 30 minutes) it leaves from here.
-bus from Söke to Didim (8TL, 1 hour). Buses leave from the center, or also from the bus station (garaj)
The easiest is to get off at the first square/parking in Didim which is next to Apollo’s temple. Buses back drive past this square, too. I didn’t realize and went to the city, which was actually not necessary.
-bus from Didim to Akköy (it’s the bus that goes to Söke; 4TL, 20 minutes)
-Akköy to Milet and back: I was lucky enough to find a lift for each. It’s 5km, so about an hour walk each way otherwise. Supposedly there are busses from Didim to Milet as well, but couldn’t find out how, when, where…
-bus from Akköy to Söke (6TL, 30 minutes)
-bus from Söke to Priene and back (4TL, about 25 minutes; last bus back leaving at 7pm)
-bus from Söke to Kuşadası (5TL, 30 minutes)
Ephesus – day trip in public transport
I guess I did well visiting the other ruins first. Even if they are also impressive enough , Ephesus is even bigger and vivid, especially the terrace house that is being restored right now. Beautiful mosaics and wall paintings are preserved in this house that was once inhabited by an important family. It was also a good opportunity to get some shade in the middle of the visit – the building is protected by a roof.
Some of the interesting things to be seen here include (here is a map):
-Cleopatra’s half sister’s Arsinoe IV tomb’s rubble: Cleopatra had her killed because of conflicting views about Egypt’s relationship to Rome. Indeed a skeleton of a 15 to 16 year old female who died around the reported time was found in the tomb. Not very healthy to disagree with Cleopatra…
-the Great Theater: It had space for 25000 spectators and was basically the first thing people saw when entering Ephesus from the port. The building still reaches its aim: to impress the onlooker by its size and splendor. At some point the theater was also used for gladiator fights. The port filled up with sand from the meander, thus putting Ephesus at 9km from the sea today.
-the Library of Celsus: It’s facade was reconstructed by a German archaeologist in the seventies, so that it now demonstrates a bit of Ephesus’ awe inspiring architecture. It was the third biggest library after Alexandria and Pergamon in the ancient world. Its librarians were academics, so that the library served as a sort of university. Actually the donor of the library, the Roman senator’s Celsus’ son, wanted to build a grave in his honor, but since that wasn’t allowed in the middle of the city he figured he’d build a library instead.
-the basement of the Temple of Domitian. Emperors were worshiped as gods during Roman times and even if Domitian was a an emperor feared for his cruelty, the people of Ephesus built an immense temple in his honor. When he died it was demolished.
Handy information about Ephesus:
Turkish name: Efes
Cost: 17TL transport, 70TL entrance fee including audio guide and terraced houses (in my case 20TL only for the audio guide, since I had the Aegean Museum Pass and didn’t need to pay entrance)
Duration: 5 to 6 hours
How I got there:
-bus from Kuşadası to Selçuk, getting off in Efes on the way (30 minutes, 6TL). Same back, just from the other side of the road where I had been dropped off.
–10 minutes walk to Ephesus lower gate, if walking straight ahead instead of taking the right turn cars are supposed to take. Same back.
I also booked some tours with a tour provider, but they can be easily done independently using public transport:
Şirince – half day trip
Several friends highly recommended me to go to the village Şirince, but unfortunately it has changed a lot in the years after they went. I felt I was on a souvenir shopping trip and I don’t have space nor need for souvenirs. At least I managed to find a way out of the shopping streets to take a few pictures.
Luckily I could book this trip for a reduced price and lunch was included. Maybe Şirince was worth the half day trip a few years ago, but I would not recommend it as it is now.
Pamukkale / Hierapolis – day trip
When I arrived at the lime terraces of Pamukkale I had no idea that just above it Hierapolis, a wide area of ruins, spreads out. I found that the site looks quite different from the pictures I saw on google, it seems that the thermal water only runs to part of the limestone basins now, but it’s a beautiful and impressive site nevertheless. I assume it has to do with the preservation of the site that is UNESCO World Heritage. We walked up the white hill (which against our expectations isn’t slippery) while taking pictures in the scenic basins filled with the warm water that flows down into a lake. Not fearing the rain we went on to explore the vast ruins. Probably I would also have entered the Antique Baths up there (32 TL entrance fee), if we had known about them, but since we already went for a swim in the hotel where we had lunch before we didn’t have enough time.
What comes next in my trip
I haven’t decided yet where I’ll go next, but somewhere further south anyway. I’ll keep posting.