Sunday night at 7 pm we arrived at the Ulusoy bus station where we were catching our 8:45 bus to Sirince via Izmir. After confirming our online reservation we took a seat and waited for our bus to roll into the station. As 8:45 started to near we started to wonder if 8:45 was the arrival time or departure time and how we would know if our bus was here or not since we could not understand the Turkish announcements over the loud speaker. Adam tried to ask the Turkish speaking man behind the counter when we should expect the bus, the man’s response was to take a thick red Sharpie marker and retrace the circle around 8:45 that he had already drawn at our check in. The only thing that was certain was that something was happening at 8:45 (thanks for the two circles Mr. Attendent). So at that point we went outside with our luggage and started to ask each bus driver if his bus was the correct bus by showing them our bus tickets.
The bus arrived at 8:40 and took off not a second later than 8:45. We were then in route to Izmir, which we thought would be a 12 hour ride, putting us there about 9am. Between playing Nintendo on the built in TVs, checking email and snoozing off and on the ride really wasn’t bad at all.
At about 4:45 am the bus attendant tapped us on our shoulders to wake us. He didn’t say anything but just walked away. I was half asleep and my contacts were completely dry, but I could tell that the bus was pulled in front of a dark Ulusoy bus station. I noticed he didn’t tap anyone else on the shoulder nor was anyone else getting up (or awake at the matter) so we just sat still in our seats. A few minutes later the attendant came back to our seats and pointed at the dark building and said “Izmir”. Confused, we got off, grabbed our bags from under the bus and asked the bus driver who had gotten off the bus “Izmir”? He pointed to the dark building and said “Izmir”. Still confused we walked towards the bus office just as an employee was unlocking the door and turning on lights inside of the station. He asked us “Where you go?” and we told him “Sirince”. He thought about it, corrected our pronunciation, and told us “2 o’clock”. Adam pointed to his watch and asked the guy in a few different ways if he meant in two hours or at 14:00, but the guy didn’t understand and repeated “2 o’clock”. Tired and still confused we decided to sit it out awhile at the station, wait till some other busses arrived and other customers. At 6:45, 2 hours later, the station employee directed us to a bus that he told us would take us to the Otogar where we would catch a “minibus” to Sirince. Upon arrival to the Otogar we were able to confirm that a Otogar is a bus station, a hub for many busses and destinations. After walking around the entire station we were able to find someone to point us to the minibus going to Sirince. After about 30 minutes we arrived at the Seljuk bus station where everyone got off for us because we were under the conclusion that the bus we were on would continue onto Sirince(like the sign said on the bus). The driver directed us to get off and pointed us into the direction of another minibus that had the words “Selcuk – Sirince” painted on the back side. We hopped on our 4th bus within the last 12 hours and rode it into Sirince until they made us get off. We had made it our destination right at 12 hours after we left Istanbul.
Sirince is a very small,old village town so things we just about to get started at about 8:30 in the morning. We asked the first man we saw if he knew were “Ali’s Panysion” was located. He went inside of his store and came back with a torn piece of card board with the Turkish spelling of Ali’s written on it. He handed it to us and explained to us with hand motions and pointing the direction of the place we were staying. After following about 10 signs with the words Ali’s Panysion and a small yellow arrow leading up a steep hill on the edge of town (about a 5 minute walk from the “town center”) we found the small quaint panysion. Ali and his wife, the owners, were sitting outside. Since it was only 8:45 in the morning the guests from the previous night were still asleep and our room was not ready. So we waited till about 10 on the porch till we could get into our room and take a nap till about 1:00. We probably could have slept all afternoon but we decided to wake up, explore the village and have a late lunch at Okubasi ( a restaurant our parents had enjoyed the Thursday before when they were on the excursion to Ephesus). Later that night we were joined by our friends Mat and Kelsey who also had a fairly comparable travel experience getting out of Izmir to Sirince.
Sirince is known for their fruit wines. All four of us being wine enthusiasts (in 2008 we all traveled to Napa together) we were excited to sample the wines, but we were quickly disappointed. All of the fruit wines we tried had a sharp bitter taste, a finish not far from nail polish remover. The man serving us had put about 10 different fruit wine bottles on the bar in front of us ranging from pomegranate, strawberry to melon. After we would finish one sample, he would pour us another, each one tasting the same or worse than the one before. We felt obligated to at least try all the other flavors, and we were also hoping that we would find one that tasted different, one that was good. No luck. After dinner we thought we would try our luck with their local grape wines, but we found the same disappointing flavor.
After a great nights rest, Adam and I enjoyed a spread of delicious breakfast foods cooked by Ali’s wife. Fried eggs and handpicked/homemade cherry compote were among one our favorites and firsts while in Turkey.
Tuesday the four of us took a minibus to Selcuk, a mini bus to Kusadasi and a dolmus (another minibus) to the Kismet Hotel where Mat and Kelsey were spending the night. The only thing on our agenda that afternoon was to be at the pool- mission accomplished. After sweating constantly and being in the heat being poolside was the perfect way to spend the most part of the day. Late that afternoon Adam and I did the reverse trip back to Sirince (by now we have become pro at the minibus hopping city to city) shopped, had dinner, gave the wine a second chance (no bueno) and went to bed.
After another great breakfast Wednesday morning we caught the 8:00 minibus from Sirince to Selcuk. In Selcuk we hopped on a bus to Antayla. Including several stops we have been on the road already for about six hours. We should arrive in Antayla in about an hour where will catch a mini bus to Olympus/Cirali where we will spend the next four nights and meet up with the Hencys again.
Looking forward to time in the water, good company and new experiences!