Friday, October 22, 2010

Şirince: Ottoman houses, Cobblestone streets & Wine

Posted by Thane and Melissa - a joint effort this time.

September 11, 2010
This lovely morning we headed out for a little excursion to Şirince (pronounced shi RIN jay), a small hilltown above Selcuk. We rode a packed dolmus (14 passenger van/bus) up the narrow road, switchbacking it's way up steep, dry canyons dotted with vineyards, olive groves and peach orchards.

This little village traces it's roots to about 1,000 BC when Greeks started building settlements in the area. It was inhabited by Greeks until a population exchange in 1922 when most Greeks living in Turkey were "relocated" to Greece and Turks living in Greece "relocated" to Turkey. Today it is a picturesque village with views of the valley below.

The architecture is Ottoman Greek and is protected by an historic district regulation. The houses have changed little for centuries. Many are dilapidated and cannot be remodeled without going though extensive applications.

Bring your walking shoes if you want to check out this little village, the cobblestone streets are steep and uneven - built to handle donkey carts. We especially enjoyed exploring the back streets, away from shopping and crowds.  Although several little grannies did shout at us and tried to get us to go into their houses to look at their handcrafts. Since we are traveling for seven months with a backpack each, we have to stick with photos, memories, or food as souvenirs, so we passed on their kind (pushy) offers.

We didn't think about it before heading up the hill, but today was the 2nd day of Bayram, a three day celebration at the end of Ramizan (Turkish Ramidan). With perfect weather and a holiday, the town was filled with Turks on vacation. We were so thankful that we had taken a bus and did not have to find a spot to park a car off the edge of the road somewhere as so many tourists were attempting! We had a great time despite the crowd, wondering the busy little lanes.

We sat down to eat at this outdoor cafe where the gozleme (often described as a Turkish pancake or crepe) was freshly baked on a wood fire.

Melissa had a spinach one with Ayran (a yogurt drink) while Thane chose the meat and cheese with Turkish tea.

We shared a table with a family from Kusadasi. The Dad was a Principal at a K-12 private school and the Mom was an English teacher which was very helpful. We enjoyed chatting over lunch about our different cultures.

We came upon several women dressed in village dress selling freshly baked bread. This bread was on it's way to the oven.

It came in all different sizes and shapes and appeared to have been baked in whatever container they could recycle. We picked up a very hefty loaf (3-4 pounds) from this sweet lady. It was tough getting it home without eating it as the smell was amazing but we had promised to bring a loaf for our lunch at Adem and Sheryl's the next day. It turned out to BE amazing - much moister and heavier than the typical lightweight, fluffy white bread that is ubiquitous in Turkey. That's our loaf, wrapped in white paper!

Oh, must not forget the wine. Although vineyards have been tended in Turkey since 4,000 BC, Turks are not known for their wine. There is a reason folks... it's just not that good. That might be because wine consumption was prohibited for about 500 years under the Ottoman Empire. Little Şirince now has a reputation as a wine town and it certainly has plenty. Much of it is sweet, syrupy stuff made from various fruits such as peach, cherry, strawberry, raspberry, kiwi, melon, and blackcurrants. We stopped in and tasted a few and somehow got caught up in the moment and purchased a bottle. We enjoyed drinking it as an aperitif and somehow, by the time we left Selçuk several days later, that wine bottle was empty!
I didn't take this - pulled it from the web -
Misc. pics from our day in Şirince.
Dried peppers and mushrooms
Motorcycle with sidecar - just the right size for local roads!
Squash or melons

Next up a visit to Tire (prounounced tea ray) a little, non tourist town for a big market day.

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