Chance encounter on Turkish road trip

After a week of waiting we finally got word that Frieda, our campervan, was now ready to go on her travels again. She had been in the Ford garage in Izmir, in western Turkey, since New Year’s Eve with a leaking hose caused by a chilly cat with sharp claws that had slept in the engine bay.

Frieda ready and waiting

Our yachtie friends and neighbours Jack and Jan kindly drove us to Izmir to collect the van from the Ford garage. As is normal in Turkey, the consumer experience was a delight – tea served and help at every turn! And the repair only cost the equivalent of a tick over Aus$100 (67.50 EUR or £56).

Frieda’s new hose
Tea served and help at every turn

We decided to make a day of it and head for the amazing archeological site of Ephesus which is reasonably close to Izmir.

The Main Street in Ephesus which once
led to the harbour

We had been twice before but it still captivated us. Every time we visit this fascinating archeological site we see more and learn more.

Every visit to Ephesus we see more a
nd learn more

This time we met some beautiful cats – one very friendly one decided to be our guide around the excavations of terraced houses that once belonged to the rich and famous of ancient Ephesus. Cat-agorically the best way to see these wonderful remains!

One of the many cats we met in
Ephesus that day
Cat-agorically the best way to see the remains
This puss cat decided to be our guide in the terraced houses
So much to see!
Spot the cat!
Amazing mosaics

Back on board S/V Sunday we had a quiet few days as the weather was woeful. We had several shocking storms with thunder and lightening all night and boy did it rain! When the sun finally came it felt distinctly cooler than previously.

The lovely sunset on our return to
Didim Marina

A few days later we welcomed back fellow Didim marina yachties Ken and Eiloo who had been in Thailand on holiday for Christmas. We had a great catch up in the Yacht Club only hours after they arrived back.

Buffet brunch in the Yacht Club restaurant
A great catch up

We needed to do a couple of errands in Bodrum so we decided to have a day out with our buddies Sue and John as Sue wanted to do some shopping for her forthcoming trip to Australia.

After some successful shopping we of course set out to find a good place for lunch and found the perfect spot – a restaurant on the water dedicated to the most famous sailor in Turkey – Sadun Boro – who was the first amateur Turkish sailor to circumnavigate the globe.

Sue and Jonathan learning about Sadun Boro
Rather worse-for-wear information
on Sadun Boro
The lunch was excellent!
Bodrum castle at sunset

A few days later we embarked on a road trip adventure and invited our friends Jan and Jack to join us.

Our first stop was Selçuk – the charming town two kilometres northeast of Ephesus. We were especially keen to visit the archeological museum there which houses finds from the ancient site.

On the way to Selçuk we stopped for breakfast at a tiny roadside “transport” cafe where we were served a delicious soup with a mound of bread served in an enormous plastic container. With bottomless tea, the food for the four of us cost a total of Aus$10!

Breakfast of champions

The only negative was the guy sitting at the next table solemnly slicing up a massive mound of meat while we ate.

The guy on the next table solemnly slicing up a massive mound of meat while we ate

When we arrived in Selçuk we headed for the small hotel Jan and Jack had booked for the night which happened to be very close to two of the town’s tourist highlights – The 6th century Basilica of St John the Apostle and the Byzantine Castle.

Our parking spot outside the 6th century Basilica of St John the Apostle and the Byzantine Castle

We paid our small parking fee and asked how long we could stay – “two hours, 24 hours, as long as you want” was the reply! Excellent, we could sleep there undisturbed!

After locating Jan and Jack’s digs for the night we set off to explore the Basilica which was believed to have been built over burial site of St John.

The remains of the Basilica which was believed to have been built over burial site of St John
A gorgeous rose in the grounds

The main entrance gate to the basilica was called the “Gate of Persecution” by European travellers in the 1800s who incorrectly assumed that stone reliefs on the gate depicted the persecution of St Paul during his time in Ephesus.

The “Gate of Persecution”
A closer view of the gate
The site purported to be the burial place of St John the Apostle (right)
Jonathan and Jack trying to figure out what the engravings in the stone were
Remains of the basilica

Set on the slopes of Ayasuluk Hill just below the fortress, the Basilica was once an extremely impressive piece of architecture with five beautiful domes supported by massive marble pillars.

A model of the Basilica
The Basilica was once an extremely impressive piece of architecture

The view from the site was immense and in the fertile valley below we could see the beautiful Isa Bey Mosque built in 1385.

The view from the site was immense
The Isa Bey Mosque
Jan and Jack enjoying the view

We walked further up the hill to the impressive fortress which was originally built to protect the basilica after Arab invasions in the 7th Century but was rebuilt and expanded in the Selcuk and Ottoman eras.

A quick coffee break before climbing up
to the fortress
The impressive fortress which was originally built to protect the basilica
The entrance to the fortress
The fort was rebuilt and expanded in the Selcuk and Ottoman eras.
The imposing fortress walls
A great view from the battlements

We were walking back down the hill when we saw two familiar figures coming towards us. It was one of those amazing coincidences that happen when you travel – the figures belonged to yachtie friends Liz and Steve from S/V Liberte who we first met in 2017 on a small sailing rally in Kalimantan, Indonesia. We had caught up with them again at Finike Marina in 2021 but hadn’t seen them for months!

What a coincidence – bumping into Liz and Steve (centre)

They were on their way to visit the Basilica and the fortress and we were heading for the Ephesus Archaeological Museum so we agreed to meet later for a coffee and a catch up.

The museum was full of fabulous finds from nearby Ephesus – sculptures, carved stone reliefs, glassware, pottery, gold jewellery and wonderful statues of the goddess Artemis, one which is arguably the most important exhibit in the museum.

Some of the sculptures found in Ephesus
A beautiful frieze found in the remains of a burnt out house in Ephesus
Clay figurines on display
Gorgeous glassware
A lovely statuette of Eros on a dolphin from the second century BC
I loved these gold artefacts

We met Liz and Steve later in the museum cafe and had a good catch up. During the conversation they recommended a nearby restaurant for dinner and joined us there before leaving to catch the bus back to their marina in Kusadaşı.

Another detailed frieze in the
archeological musician
Statue of an Egyptian priest
A gigantic bust of Domitian, the emperor of Rome from 81 to 96 AD. The head alone was almost as tall as me!
A statue of the goddess Artemis – arguably the most important exhibit in the museum

The food was delicious, plentiful and amazingly inexpensive and best of all we were kept toasty with a brazier of hot coals that our hosts popped under our table! Blissfully warm but a little hazardous!

The food was plentiful and delicious
A brazier of hot coals that our hosts popped under our table! Blissfully warm but
a little hazardous!