Monday, 23 September 2013

Selcuk. Break your fast like a princess.

The Agora
We were to visit Mary's house in the hills near Ephesus and stopped off for my second Turkish breakfast! Unfortunately, there are no photos of the first breakfast as despite the fact that it was a deliciously lavish affair as I had a tummy ache which stopped me from eating all of it, though I thoroughly enjoyed THIS breakfast!

The first breakfast was in Izmir at a place called Sir Winston's Tea House. The second was a little restaurant in Seljuk called Agora

Tomatoes, cucumber, olives, a chunk of cheese, an equally large chunk of butter and cold sliced sausage

Lots of freshly baked bread

Crumbled goat's cheese topped with blackberry preserves; and divine clotted cream and honey

Baked eggs

All washed down with copious amounts of Cay

After eating so much, we went for a teeny little walk around the restaurant. This is what we saw on the walk. 

Can you guess what tree this is? 

Oranges... they were orange trees and they lined the street next to the restaurant

A crane's nest and an interesting mosque roof with bottles stuck into it to draw natural light into the inside

And then there was the Ugur Mumcu (a Turkish investigative journalist assassinated in 1993) memorial 

Can you read it? 

I am a follower of Ataturk
I am a republican
I am a secularist
I am an anti-imperialist
I stand for the independence of Turkey
I am a libertarian
I am an advocate of human rights
I am against terrorism
I am an enemy of fanatics, thieves, opportunists and exploiters
Then shoot me, tear me into pieces
Every piece of my body will bring into existence
New ones who will even outdo me

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Ave Maria. Mater Dei.

After breakfast in Selcuk, we headed up into the hills near Ephesus to visit Mary's house. It is believed that Mary was brought to this house by the Apostle John

Mary welcoming visitors to her house

Mary's house

Spring water for cleansing

Thousands of prayers line the wall

Sun peeping through the tree with squirrels

Darling little squirrels... can you see them?

As you drive to and fro Mary's house, you will pass this statue of her. She looks out onto the valley below and is quite a magnificent sight to behold. 

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Mary looking out over the valley

This is part of the valley Mary's looks out onto. Spot the ruins 

More of the valley

Cottage nestled in the hill

Pretty roadside flower... well I think it's a flower

Friday, 20 September 2013

Urla. Wine to feed your soul.

The Urla Winery. A lot to sip, a lot to say. That's usually how it goes isn't it? (grin) We'll start with some interesting quotes I found on wine and move on to some photos; while I remember cool summer nights on a balcony by the sea far away, sipping the drink of Gods with friends. (wink)

"Beer is made by men, wine by God"
Martin Luther

"Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of all beverages."
Louis Pasteur

"It is the wine that leads me on,
the wild wine that sets the wisest man to sing at the top of his lungs,
laugh like a fool - it drives the men to dancing...
it even tempts him to blurt out stories better never told."
Homer, The Odyssey

"Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know."
John Keats

"I should say upfront that I have never been in a cellar in my life. In fact, I can see no reason why anyone should ever go into a cellar unless there is wine involved."
Rachel Hawkins, Hex Hall

"Wine is bottled poetry."
Robert Louis Stevenson

"If God forbade drinking, would He have made wine so good?"
Cardinal Richelieu

"In vino veritas."
Pliny the Elder, Historia Naturalis

"Go fetch to me a pint o' wine,
An' fill it in a silver tassie."
Robert Burns, Go Fetch to me a Pint o' Wine

"Wine is the drink of the gods, milk the drink of babies, tea the drink of women, and water the drink of beasts."
John Stuart Blackie

"Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle."
Paolo Coelho, Brida

"Either give me more wine, or leave me alone."

And that is all I really want to say. 

Thursday, 19 September 2013


I've always dreamed of visiting Turkey and now I have. Not Istanbul, but Izmir (once known as Smyrna), Turkey's third largest city on the Aegean Sea. A natural port, this city is built around the Gulf of Izmir. While I didn't spend much time in the city, I did spend a lot of time outside it.

I thought I knew what to expect, and yet I didn't. Getting into Turkey after being in Berlin for a week was a bit of a shock. For awhile my eyes couldn't quite adjust to seeing low-rise buildings set in a dull brown undulating landscape as far as the eye could see huddled close together around the Gulf.

Again, I arrived in a new place with a migraine and was only too glad to be whisked off home to a nice cool bath and dinner on the balcony with a cool breeze blowing in my face.

One of the first places I visited was Ephesus or Efes, one of the Seven Churches of Asia written about in the book of Revelation i.e. Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. 

We parked at the exit area of the site and took a horse cart up to the entrance. Yay! I've never been on a horse cart before and it was quite an experience. It's incredible how people traveled such long distances in it. Imagine being bumped along the road for three hours with dust being kicked up all around you! Still it was a fantastic experience with a view of vines, olive trees and ruins. 

Founded in the 10th century BC, Ephesus was later abandoned in the 15th century AD, after silting throughout the ages kept pushing the sea further away cutting the city off from the harbour that kept it thriving for centuries.

Digging and clearing is still going on, so while its well worth a visit now, it will be truly fantastic if you are able to visit the site again in about 5 years. Just to see how much more of the city remains hidden in the hills.  

If you enjoy history, the best thing to do is to get an audio guide at the entrance. It will give you the detailed story of the site and some of its more important features, which are easy to miss. 

The beginning of a long walk

Curetes Street, a view of the hills in which parts of Ephesus is still buried and me

Stone carvings and Curetes Street

Stone carvings

The Goddess Nike or 'Victory'

The Library of Celsus, Curetes Street and the arch of Hadrian's Temple

The Library of Celsus

Walkway to the harbour

The Theatre, one of the first things visitors to Ephesus would have seen when walking up into the city from the harbour

View of the harbour walkway from the Theatre

Ephesus is gorgeous to visit. I was truly speechless (well, mostly) during the entire visit. It really is something special. It's place for one to experience, not hear someone describe. As much as all the photos you look at of it can be lovely, none of it does justice to the place. Be prepared to walk though, and if you go in summer watch out for the sun! 

Do stop at the Ephesus Museum Shop at the exit for a cup of coffee, Cay or to shop. It is worth picking up some souvenirs here as they seem to be of different quality and variety than the ones I saw elsewhere. You will not find the same souvenirs again in other parts of the country, as I discovered later. 

Pine trees at the exit

Monday, 16 September 2013

Berlin. A new dawn.

Echoes of voices in the high towers,
Shadows of spring trees in the park,
The libraried memories of a century narrowly escaped.

And everything Victor Hugo wanted made real now.

Berlin a new quiet place of children and flowers,
A place to talk about healing and new kinds of building
Europe a scarred and beautiful lighthouse of peace
Where our children can share each others cities and make new universities on the streets.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

More snapshots of Berlin

Unter den Linden is one of the more famous avenues in Berlin. It's a gorgeous promenade of restaurants, historical buildings and offices that lead to the Brandenburg Gate

King Friedrich II by Christian Daniel Rauch

Humboldt University

The Opera House under construction

A clock in the square in front of the Humboldt University where Hitler burnt books

Did you know that Nefertiti is right here in Berlin? No? Well, she is. Safely ensconced in the Neues Museum just off Unter den Linden. She really is quite stunning. Unfortunately, there are no photos here, as visitors are forbidden to take any photos of her in the gallery where she resides.

The Neues Museum

The Ishtar Gate of Babylon was commissioned by King Nebuchadnezzar II. Dedicated to the Goddess Ishtar, it was one of the Seven Wonders of The World until it was replaced by the Lighthouse in Alexandria. The reconstruction below is the smaller of the two gates that were originally built. It is said that the larger gate is in storage as it was too large to be reconstructed in the museum.

The Ishtar Gate of Babylon in The Pergamon Museum

A short walk away from the Pergamon Museum is the magnificent Berliner Dom. This immense reconstructed church is beautiful inside. You can walk all the way up into the dome and look out on Berlin if you like.

Berliner Dom

If you walk past the Berliner Dom and beyond, you come to Hackescher Markt. Thursday and Saturday are the market days. If you go on one of those days, you will be dazzled by the fantastic variety of fruit, vegetables, knick-knacks and sweets on offer.

Hackescher Markt and the made-to-order potato chips that were out of this world!

Near the Humboldt University is St Hedwig's, the first Catholic church in Berlin after the Protestant Reformation. This church was burnt down completely during the World War and has since been reconstructed.

St Hedwig's

Inside St Hedwig's

On the other end of Unter den Linden is the great Brandenburg Gate. It is round the corner from the Holocaust Memorial and the Reichstag

The Brandenburg Gate

Reichstag during the day

Reichstag at night

We are almost at the end of my photos of Berlin, so how can I not finish with some shots of FOOD!

Berliner Bouletten - Pork meatballs served with potato salad

Sweet, crunchy, delicious biscuit studded with caramelised nuts