Ersan and the kids
We had arranged for a driver, and not just any driver, either. Ersan, who we'd met in Istanbul, a smallish, tidy man with sly wit behind his spectacles and an overwhelmingly conservative driving manner who is also something of a celebrity driver. Many of his jobs entail carting around journalists and the media, especially those from Al Jazeera.
He was generous with us, the verdict stated a few days in that we were different to drive around than the news folks, and at least we never fretted about the light or the angles or tried to make him drive 360 degrees around something we wanted to film, regardless of the roads.
This was being generous as, on the day of the comment, we'd had a particularly loud and cranky child who wasn't afraid of expressing herself, loudly, repeatedly, and in the enclosed vehicle. We also had to pull over for pee stops. Ersan remained calm and agreeable, and was good at shooing away agressive sellers of various and sundry goods at tourist stops.
So, with not having to get a rental car, not having to worry overmuch about other Turkish motorists, not having to deal with (or at least be responsible for) getting lost, let me tell you, Ersan was worth every penny.
In Selçuk Ersan parked the van beneath an ancient aquaduct, upon which storks had built their giant nests. He folded in the mirrors and removed the radio faceplate...good to know.
After the massive undertaking of finding an ATM machine that would accept any of our debit cards, He had a suggestion of a place for us to eat, restaurant owned by a relative's friend or some such thing. We found it after walking down a few of the small, pleasant streets, occasionally having to step quickly out of the way for a motorcycle, stepping over cats and HOLY CATS!
No, that's no illusion. That cat has one green eye and blue eye. It's called a Van Cat, and they're actually from Turkey.
Now, Van Cats are a rare critter, originating in the Van (duh) area of the country. They have white fur and are distinguished by those brilliant, differentlyly colored eyes. I had never heard of them before, but that being no excuse, once I read about Van cats they went directly onto the "must-find-and-photograph" list. I had been on the lookout for the unique breed ever since we placed foot in the country, and believe me, there are a lot of cats in Turkey.
So, Colleen and I, the two shutterbugs, having spotted not jsut one but three Van Cats, went a little nuts chasing after these felines to try and secure photos. Little cat hunt instead of big cat hunt, but quite satisfying nevertheless. The cats seemed to know we were trying to get photos and perversely made it as difficult as possible. The ratio of usable photo to crappy ones was about 1:35.
Thank goodness for digital, huh? In the meantime we were being as polite as we could to their owner, a rug seller, with impressively overpriced textiles (50 TL, which is 32 bucks, for a small pillowcase?!) whose pedigree he lied like a son of a potato about. I don't mind when sellers exaggerate, but when you flat out lie to me...see ya, cats or no cats.
We ate outdoors at the restaurant, watching life wander by.
The beer wasn't bad either. And oh, did it go well with the wickedly spicy charcoal-grilled meat, called Adana Kebab. Lamb, papper flakes and salt. What a fantastic combination.
The restaurant was so good we ate there for dinner too. And I had Adana Kebab again. (Guess how I felt the next morning?) Sellers of various things would wander by, including, more than once, people offering wicker shelves, and also Spoon Man. I read about him later on our favorite Turkish travel website (http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/Aegean/Ephesus/sirince/kasikci_zeki.html) and I felt a bit sad I hadn't realised that the spoons weren't made-in-China stuff but all pieces he carves himself from Bodrum juniper wood. At the time I merely thought it humorous that someone would putter along the streets selling spoons.
Shows what I know.
We chased up our meal with ice cream that we didn't need but couldn't resist trying thanks to the interesting flavors offered: among others, chestnut, mulberry, and kiwi. I had fig and walnut. Tasty.
There was a market nearby, selling, well, everything. I loved the farmer's market portion, where, with Ersan's urging, I picked up some strawberries for the kids, and admired the piles of tomatoes, peppers, beans, garlic, eggplant, and pears.
Except for the sock seller, (selling at the top of his voice and doing a steady trade) there was little else that interested me, except, as you already know well, the siren call of the spice merchant.
To round out the day, we extracted ourselves from the town and headed nearby to see the remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis.
Artemis has always been my favorite goddess, (yes, I AM a geek. Have we not established this yet?!) the Goddess of the hunt, protector of the wilderness, wild creatures, young girls and childbirth.Independant and beautiful, fierce yet nurturing, she's a goddess, if one is needed, for all the ages.
The temple was built about 2500 years ago and in its day was a beautiful white marble multi columned Greek building, similar to the Partenon but about 3 times the size. Artemis' temple fell and was rebuilt several times, including one time funded by Croseus (yes, the king synonymous with being über rich) and once burned by the arsonist, Herostratus, for no reason other than to secure his infamy forever. (Even 2300 years ago...wackos and the media. The Ephesians, understandably perturbed, vowed his name should be forgotten but somebody wrote it down, and from this I understand we get the phrase herostatic fame.)
A mighty flood, the Goths, and finally the Christians, also brought the temple down during her history. The last time the temple fell, 1600 years ago, many of those columns ended up being used to build Hagia Sofia in Istanbul. Funny world, isn't it?
I was looking forward to seeing the site of the Temple of Artemis, even knowing that there is only one column left, in the middle of a swamp, and that column was recreated from disparate bits and pieces of marble found on the site.
The column, deemed by guidebooks as hardly worth stopping for, is perhaps overshadowed by the citadel behind it, and yes, it is surrounded by mud and water, even in the summer, but what a peaceful place. Storks, also associated with childbirth, have built their nest on top of the last column to the Goddess Artemis.
I think she would like that.
So, a day of an eggplant Mercedes van, watching for turtle speed bumps, cats with different colored eyes, a spoon man, spice sellers, storks and, to round it out...a Goddess. Sort of.