Part of the quandry I had in visiting Turkey lay in the fact that I had already been here before. It had only been a fortnights blaze around the main tourist attractions during a particularly scorching August, but I had seen the Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia, the Calcite Terraces of Pammukale, the ruins of Ephesus. They were all UNESCO World Heritage sites and rightly so and I sruggled with the dilemna of whether I could afford the time required to visit them again, I would certainly have liked to. In the end I had to be strict with myself, god knows I had enough on my plate as it was with my ambitious itinerary and so the priority lay in what was pertinent to the job in hand. Since it lay close to my intended path anyway, Ephesus got the vote. They were all pretty to look at but the history was what mattered right now and it was hard to beat the history of Ephesus. Whilst many interesting locations are difficult to reach without your own transport, Ephesus also conveniently lay within walking distance of the well served town of Selchuk, so that was that. I was clearly well and trully back on the backpacker circuit here again and in search of a bed I was spoilt for choice between the Anzac Hotel, the Boomerang Guesthouse, Wallabies, or the Outback Pension. Good preparation for my planned trip to Gallipoli I mused, that would be crawling with Antipodeans.
It was a pleasant shaded walk out to the ruins with only the small but important site of the Temple of Artemis to delay me close to town. Though little is left of it now this had at one time been one of the Wonders of the World, a most famed and impressive building.
On a whim I decided I would try to circumvent the rip off tourist tax at the entrance complex by going bush, it sort of begged it and I fancied the challenge. I dodged across fields just shy of the access road and persevered uphill through jaggies and wild olive trees to find myself with an unparalleled view of the whole site. I'd also had the opportunity of checking out some ruins which were normally off limits to visitors and whilst I thought the encircling fence might scupper me at the last I eventually found a gap and joined the hoards free gratis, with a spring in my step and thorns in my breeks.
I walked back into town and wasnt done yet, for the size of it there was still plenty of interest in easy to handle Selchuk. I had a dodgy kebab in the town centre sat opposite some more imposing ruins and afterwards climbed up to them to check out the remains of the Basilica of St. John. This church was actually built on the spot where the dude is reputed to have written his holy book, but its in poor shape now and I stopped short of paying what could only have been over the odds to enter. The castle on the neighbouring hill was in much better nick however but sadly off limits, it had been extensively restored and still functioned as a military camp. Then to the Selchuk Museum which mainly housed artifacts from the excavations at Ephesus including many good sculptures, busts and a 5th century black glazed vase in perfect condition which especially impressed me. Of particular note was also a bronze boy riding a dolphin (probably Cupid) and representations of phallic gods. There was also a separate gallery on gladiators, a special recent addition which had been created to display the discoveries from a recently investigated gladiator cemetery. From the remains they had been able to reveal some gory deaths, the examples explicitly illustrated being a trident to the skull and a sword thrust to the throat. The gladiators went through 4 years of training only for some to perish immediately, remarkably though there was no lack of volunteers. They were the popstars of their day and many nobles and even the odd emperor partook. They received fame, adulation and the best health care of the day, and were attended to by Galens, one of the founding fathers of medicine. The record of those graves investigated however also listed a few veterans, one gladiator died at the ripe old age of 99 after being pensioned off after many victories. Everybody loves a hero!