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These pages document my time spent flying balloons in Kapadokya . . .
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Chapter 36
Didym, Priene and Milet
I awoke that morning, not having slept much or well the night before, not feeling so great. I felt better than when I went to bed, so I thought I would get better as the day went on. But when I went down to eat breakfast (included with the price of the room) I couldn't eat anything. I think the owner thought I didn't like the food, but I told him I wasn't feeling so well. This day, our first full day in Selçuk, we had planned to take the drive south and visit the three ancient Greek cities of Didym, Priene and Milet. Not knowing how far it was and thus trusting the travel agent who said, with a car, we could see all three in a day easily, (turns out he was right again) we headed out around 9 am.
This was our route from Selçuk to Didym
It's a pleasant drive, the sun is out and the cotton ball clouds are small and few. I have a good sense of direction and am good with maps, so as we start driving, I'm confident we won't have any problems finding these places. We went by or through a couple of villages on the way. Near Söke, I saw some objects in a small field by the roadway. Luckily we had to stop for a traffic light so I was able to see what was in this field. There were some people harvesting this very tall grass-like stuff and tying the individual shafts into small bundles. They would then stand these bundles on end and lean them up against other similar bundles, so that these stood up bundles resembled a teepee. I have no idea what it was, or why they were doing it (although I assume it was to dry the stuff) , but here are the photos :
Workers stand the grass bundles on end
Teepees of grass stand in a small field
I don't know how long it took us to get there, probably around and hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. We weren't quite there yet when coming around a corner and cresting a hill, right in front of us was the Aegean Sea! I had to stop and take a couple of pictures. I had never seen the Aegean Sea before. If we had been closer to the water, both of us would have gone and stuck a foot in it I'm sure.
This is the first look I had
Joanne standing by the Aegean Sea
There was this small harbor here also
I knew immediately when we were there. How? Because long before you get there, you can see the two tall columns rising into the air.
This is the first thing you see when you go to Didym
There is still a small village at Didim, and the ruins are right in the middle of it. There is not a lot of parking real close (I wouldn't want to go during peak tourist season) and once you get out of the car, be prepared for the onslaught of hard sell souvenir vendors. After you get inside, you are safe until you return to your car. For more pictures of the ruins at Didym, see our gallery here.
From Didym, we drove to Priene. Logically we should have stopped at Miletos on the way to Priene, but I didn't know where I was going, didn't see any signs for Miletos, so missed the turn. There were plenty of signs pointing the way to Priene.
Our route from Didym to Priene
By the time we got there, I was starting to feel worse and did not feel like walking a whole lot. I toughed it out though and am glad I did. Priene was built on a high spot and the mountain that sits behind it makes it quite a site. The ruins here are much more extensive as well. The ruins at Didym were just the Temple of Apollo. Priene is almost the entire city. The most spectacular parts of the ruins at Priene are the theater, with its armchair seats and the columns of the Temple of Athena.
You can see the armchairs in the
front row of the theater
Me sitting in one of the armchairs
Jo sitting in one of the armchairs
Boy was I glad to get a chance to sit! Alexander the Great stayed in Priene during his siege of Miletos. Alexander had many of the temples rebuilt in the cities he conquered. The columns of the Temple of Athena here in Priene stand out against the mountain behind them. Having to crawl over and around some of the parts of fallen columns makes you appreciate the size and scope of a lot of the buildings back then.
The last standing columns of the Temple of Athena
Jo standing in front of the columns
For more pictures of Priene, see our gallery here.
As we made our way back to the main road, we stopped at the little collection of tourist trap shops at the base of the hill coming down from the ruins. We walked into this rock shop I guess you would call it. The guy had all kinds of carved marble stuff. He was very nice and even took us to the back of his shop and showed us how he does his craft. He took a small piece of stone and in about 5 minutes had made a little egg out of it. Polished and everything, he just gave it to Joanne. We asked him, and he told us how to get to Miletos from there.
Our route from Priene to Miletos
Luckily, when we got to Miletos, there were a couple of places to eat. I hadn't eaten all day, and although I wasn't really hungry, I knew I should try to eat. It might help me feel better. Joanne had lunch. I picked at mine and had very little, I was really starting to feel worse. But hey! We're here, so I might as well walk a bit and see it, even if I am going to be a bit slow.
Miletos used to be on the coast where the river meets the sea. But the river carried with it lots of silt, and now, several centuries (1000 to 1300 years) later, it lies miles from the sea. Today it is known for its huge theater. Until the Byzantines built a fortress on the top (reducing its seating capacity to 15,000) , the theater would hold a crowd of 24,000. About the only columns you'll see are whats left of the Ionic Stoa, a market that held 19 shops and had 35 columns in front of it. It was located near the head of Lions Harbor. Miletos at one time had at least 5 harbors. Lions Harbor and one right in front of the theater, so that when seated in the upper rows, you looked out over the harbor. You see water in the photos. Places that used to be harbors are still low lying and when it rains, the water sits.
The huge theater at Miletos
From the top of the theater looking
across Lions Harbor at the stoa
For more pictures of Miletos, visit our gallery here.
When we arrive back in Selçuk, I'm in no shape to eat or do anything. I go right to bed, although I won't sleep very much tonight.
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