If ever you find yourself in western Turkey the hidden away hill top village of Sirince is well worth your time. I can’t type the letters as they are in Turkish but I think the correct pronunciation is ‘seer-renk’. It is only a few kilometres on a hair raising narrow country road from the regional centre of Selcuk (‘Selchook’) which in turn is only a short dawdle from the Ephesus ruins and Kusadasi. Kusadasi is best left alone unless you like mobs of British holiday makers of various tomato skin shades promenading along the beach esplanade and seeking out eateries that remind them of home. The best and the worst of tourist strip beach resorts.
Ephesus is definitely a place to spend a few hours although you will likely share it with thousands of said tourists and predatory souvenir sellers (but souvenir sellers are pretty everywhere in Turkey and you soon learn to ignore them, or at least not to let them bother you).
I doubt Selcuk is at the top of anyone’s list of places to flock to but maybe it should be on a shortlist somewhere. The Basillica of St John, built on the orders of a long dead Byzantine empress (think it was Constantine’s wife but not sure) is a ruin, but a proud one. This is a site of early Christian worship and you can feel the presence and the spirit of those long ago parishioners. St Paul himself walked these streets, although the basillica was not built when he was alive.
If that doesn’t impress you the rumour is that the Virgin Mary lived in the district in her later years and her house is a shrine for pilgrims.
I feel myself digressing. Sirince was the reason for my post. A village in a time bubble. The 21st century doesn’t hang heavily on Sirince. Yes, it is geared for tourists but nobody seems to be too concerned about that. Life is slow and in an intangible way, complete here. Cars are best left at the edge of the village. Walking through the footpaths of centuries in Sirince is an experience I don’t think I can do justice to in this post. Sitting at a table of one of the many eateries will take you away from all cares and set you free to drift in romantic imagination. If you do not buy something from one of the village women who offer handicrafts in their lean-to stalls, you have no heart and less smarts. The prices are almost embarassingly low; even cheaper than most of the rest of Turkey, which is really saying something.
In the midst of the stone stair and alleys you may come upon, as we did, a courtyard of an old Greek Orthodox church- a remnant of the time when Greek people lived here and thrived. It has been used in the interim as a stable but is now being renovated and restored by a foreign organisation as a piece of the historic jigsaw that is this region of Turkey.
We stayed at a B&B called ‘Stonehouse’ just on the edge of the village. I assured them I would tell others just how wonderful the house and grounds are and they are indeed. Find it on the internet, book it and spend a night or two in heaven. Trust me. I have included a few photos of the place. Fairy tale oasis are two cliches that come to mind but it is really that good. Just be prepared to be persistent and resourceful when you are looking for it. There are few if any signposts and don’t drive a large van down the lane way to its front gate as we did. The long and difficult reverse was not even remotely any fun.