Thursday, June 21, 2012

Getting dizzy in Sirince/Turkey

I just love to ride the Turkish minibuses called dolmus and to find great hotel deals on They depart when they are full, stop when you call out to the driver and cost very little. When I was visiting Selcuk near Epesus I happened to see a dolums which was just about to depart. Destination: Sirinci.On the spur of the moment I decided to go and have a look at this picturesque mountain village. I knew, that the place was famous for its wood carvings and for wine making as well as for the stone houses climbing up steep mountain sides and a tiny bazaar. More than enough to warrant a visit.

My first opportunity to get slightly dizzy happened already on the way there. The ride from Selcuk is only about 10 miles, but boy, what miles. Hairpin bent after hairpin bent with a deep ravine on one side and steep cliffs on the other. One wrong movement by the driver and you go either over the edge or crash into the rocks. None of which was a very enticing prospect, but I’m sure the driver knew his way with his eyes closed because he got us all there without incident. Still, I was happy to get off and catch my breath. Which was indeed needed, because the cobbled streets climb up so steeply that I sometimes wondered how the stone houses kept to the mountain side as if glued on. But they did and they were really lovely to look at. And there they were, tiny winery after tiny winery, with bottles of fruit wine displayed on wood carved racks and the owners sitting beside them inviting visitors inside for tastings. You do so at your own peril because the wine may taste sweet but it certainly has its effect.

Prudently I stopped after one tasting, not particularly liking the sweetness anyway, but the whole atmosphere is like out of a movie. I much preferred to wander the tiny bazaar which offered the usual Turkish artifacts but also some very pretty local wood carvings. The artists whittle away in front of their stalls and you can watch how a face emerges out of a piece of wood. Fascinating to look at. Even more pleasant is that the mountain folk do not believe in the usual verbal assault which so often mar a bazaar visit in Turkey. They will smile at you, perhaps make an inviting gesture with their hand pointing at their wares and that is that. You can browse at your leisure and I found some excellent olive oil soap and smooth body lotion.

The ride back was even more hair raising and for a few moments I wished I had tasted a bit more of the wine, but apart from a cramp in my clenched fists, I returned to Selcuk unharmed and one travel experience richer.

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