When we left Manisa it was like we were actually on vacation. To be honest, since I’d known that the job interview was going to happen and I didn’t know how it would work out, I had been more than a little anxious. Choosing to move to another country is never a small decision and to do so with my new wife made the pressure even heavier. So I had really wanted us both to see the place we would live, meet the people we would be working with, and have the chance to discuss things. Our discussion went like this:
Me: So what do you think?
Her: It’s beautiful, they’re nice, and why not?
Me: So you think we should?
Her: Yes. What about you?
And there it was. Now we had about two weeks to really dig in and enjoy ourselves. Of course, we were still figuring out how to travel together. Now that I knew I had to move us to Turkey, money was sitting pretty heavy. In particular because the jobs aren’t for that much money, we don’t really have any money, and I still have about $35,000 in student loans I keep deferring in the hopes that Sallie Mae will fold, I’ll suddenly figure out how to get enough money to pay them off, or the United States will decide to forgive outrageous student debt.
After visiting at the schools we caught the bus to Izmir which took about a half hour and cost us just 6 lira each. Izmir is the second largest city in Turkey and famous for beaches, nightlife, and all around good times. We didn’t stop there though.
Instead at the Izmir otogar we caught a minibus to Selcuk for 8 lira each. A friend of mine from Lonely Planet had suggested a great guesthouse there and even though I’m not crazy about crowd filled historical tourist sites, I wanted to visit the ancient city of Ephesus. The ride to Selcuk took us about an hour.
Once we arrived we made a bee line to the Kiwi Pension (also known as Alison’s place) where we met up with Alison. My friend had told me she was terrific and no doubt about it, he was right. She put us in her air conditioned ensuite double for a big discount and spent time talking with us about life in Turkey, the challenges of running a business as a foreigner, and the joys of travel.
Alison is English but she’s been in Turkey for nearly 26 years. When we spoke she was going through the hassle of trying to get her son into a better than average school, it seems that they require a special physical and no one had told her.
If you go to Selcuk and are looking for a great pension with a friendly staff and reasonable prices, I whole heartedly endorse the Kiwi Pension but if you are looking for accommodation that is a little more upscale you should have a look at Alison’s other business Aegean Rentals which offers a variety of outstanding holiday rental properties for rates that will surprise you. Next time we are there, this is going to be the way we go. Can you say private pool?
By the way, Kiwi Pension actually has a private pool for guests. It was being cleaned during the time we were there so we didn’t get the chance to dive in, but when you are roasting in the Aegean Coast, it’s a nice option to have.
We weren’t sure exactly where to go for dinner and Alison recommended Ejder and gave us one of their cards. Hanane looked at the card and said “Wow, the owner of this place looks familiar”. I thought so too…the picture on the card was Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton having posing in front of the library at Ephesus. It wasn’t the last time we would see U.S. President’s used to promote Turkish business.
Ejder was amazingly good. We had a chicken shish, seasoned rice, a big beautiful salad, orange juice, mineral water, and stuffed eggplant. Totally delicious and filling for 22 lira. We splurged a little bit but the ambiance of dining under a Byzantine aqueduct was enough, at least once we figured out not to sit under where the birds were roosting. We figured that out when one of them shit on the table, luckily before our food arrived. We changed seats. We met and talked with the owner, Mehmet Ejder who is Kurdish and takes great pride in his food being the best in Selcuk. I don’t think there can be any question about that.
Back at the Kiwi Pension we relaxed in our A/C room and planned out our next day. A visit to Ephesus, the Basilica of St. John, and a nice wander through the town. Selcuk itself is worth visiting because of the friendly people and many sites. The Greeks had lived in this area from about 1200 BC. It is the home of what is left of the Temple of Artemis, one of the ancient seven wonders of the world, and was also the home of both St. John, one of the disciples of Jesus and the Virgin Mary who accompanied John from the Holy Land. It was here that St. John wrote the Gospel of the Christians.
Sadly, we weren’t there at the time of the camel wrestling festival or the oil wrestling festival.
I swapped a paperback in Alison’s exchange library and pretty soon we were sleeping like exhausted camels.