The last day of the year started ridiculously early with a drive to Izmir Airport to farewell our daughter and son-in-law who were returning to the Netherlands after a busy Christmas holiday with us in Turkey.
We arrived in plenty of time for their early morning flight and after sad “goodbyes” we left for the two hour trip back to Didim. As we drew away from the airport precincts Jonathan told me that the heater wasn’t working and that the turbo was only working intermittently. We decided to go straight to the main Ford dealer to try and find out what was wrong.
Fortunately we found the dealership easily and soon we were in the garage with not one but eight people looking under the bonnet trying to see what was wrong.
There was a loud discussion in Turkish which sounded as though blows were about to be struck but in reality I think they were just excited to see a French camper van in their garage!
We told them about the cat-astrophe that had happened recently when a street cat had gone to sleep in the engine bay and apparently had a close encounter with the fan belt. The result was that the hair the poor kitty had lost when the engine was started made the fan belt slip and then fall off! That had been fixed around ten days previously but it seemed that the puss cat had caused more damage than first thought – what a cat-astrophe!
The mechanics told us that a reservoir of water was completely empty and this was causing the heating and turbo problems. It seems that the cat had hauled itself into the engine bay by digging its claws into a hose which was probably warm and therefore a little soft. The little holes left by the cat had become bigger as the days wore on – eventually opening right up and causing the fluid to leak out which explained the empty reservoir. We were told if we had left it any longer it could have caused calamitous consequences – possibly the engine would have blown up!
The mechanics said that we shouldn’t drive the van in its current state and they wouldn’t be able to get the spare part until after the New Year’s holiday. We decided we would try and hire a car and the garage very kindly supplied a car and driver to take us to the airport where there were several car hire companies.
Unfortunately there were no companies that hired cars one-way so we decided to catch a bus back to Didim. First we had to get to the bus station via a shuttle minibus.
Eventually we managed to book ourselves on a bus and when we went to climb aboard, were amazed at how luxurious it was! Such good value at 175 Turkish lira ($17.50 (Australian) or 11 Euros all up) for two bus fares and a huge chicken sandwich each to eat en route! We were even served snacks and a juice on the way.
That night was New Year’s Eve and a few of us gathered on Entre Nous, a 65 foot Lagoon motor yacht belonging to Australians Peter and Deb. Despite everyone saying they had no intention of seeing the New Year in, we found ourselves doing just that!
Without the van our wings were clipped, so we had a quiet few days pottering around for the first few days of the New Year.
At the end of the first week our friends and neighbours on Anthem, Jan and Jack, decided to hire a car for a few days and asked if we would like to go to the Turkish carpet shop in Didyma (on the outskirts of Didim) as they wanted to buy a couple of small rugs for their boat.
As many of you know, we always jump at the chance to visit this beautiful shop so of course we said “yes”.
As always, the owner Öztan was very welcoming and in addition to the usual apple tea, Turkish delight, and sweet biscuits, he served us luscious fresh fruit from his own orchards.
Jack and Jan chose a couple of really good looking small carpets and while they were making their choice we enjoyed looking at the amazing array of carpets in the store.
Afterwards we went round the magnificent Temple of Apollo which is just across the road from the carpet shop. I’m including some photos but as I’ve already written about this site in a previous blog I won’t go into details.
As we wandered round we were accompanied by a very happy and friendly dog who decided to be our guide!
We had discovered there was another ancient site close by to Didim (about 12 kilometres) called Miletus. Compared with nearby Ephesus, this site has very few visitors however, it was once considered to be among the greatest and wealthiest of Greek Cities. Miletus in its heyday challenged the power of Ephesus.
It was here that the Greek philosophical (and scientific) tradition originated. Scholars in Miletus were among the first to speculate about the constitution of the world and to propose naturalistic (as opposed to supernatural) explanations for various natural phenomena.
There was a small museum on site and while looking round it, we discovered that the city had once acted under the leadership and sanction of the Apollo oracle in Didyma.
There had been a sacred road from Miletus to the Temple of Apollo (where we had been earlier in the day) which was used for religious ceremonies.
Some sections of the “Holy Road” have been discovered and excavated but there are other parts that have not yet been uncovered although there are excavations currently underway.
Sculptures and statues were placed either side of the road and during the first excavation in 1857/58 a statue of a lion and ten other sculptures were discovered. Unfortunately they were taken to the British Museum in London but the museum at Miletus does have a few less impressive examples on display.
The Miletus site was quite spread out and we didn’t really have time to properly do it justice. However, we spent a good while exploring the incredible amphitheatre which was originally built in the 4th century BC, and then enlarged in the Hellenistic period. The Romans greatly extended the theatre so that it could sit as many as 15 thousand people.
Standing at the top of the structure, 30 metres high, it was easy to imagine how impressive it would have been with its wonderful panoramic views of the harbour (now completely silted up).
We wandered through an olive grove following the dull clang of the bell attached to the neck of one of the sheep feeding on the juicy grass.
In a clearing we came upon a tiny mosque which turned out be the İlyas Bey Mosque, built in 1404.
Inside the mosque was very simple but the windows were covered with pretty lattice work and the walls were of many different shades of marble.
While we were having a look round the mosque we heard the sheep bell clanging once again and noticed – trotting up the path – the guard dog who lives with the herd to protect the sheep. Then the whole herd followed him into the grounds of the mosque and started munching loudly!
Once in amongst the sheep these beautiful dogs are so well camouflaged that you really can’t tell them apart from their charges – a very useful element of surprise if a predator tries to attack the sheep!