The air is thick with tobacco and barbeque smoke. The hills surrounding the sandy arena is filled with crowds of Turks, smoking, drinking tea and raki, eating barbequed camel in baguettes. There are about 100 camels, all dressed in their finery. There is a real festival atmosphere in the air.
The Beyoglu/Taksim area is my favourite neighbourhood in Istanbul.
I love Sultanahmet for ease of access to Istanbul’s most famous sights and museums but when it comes to life and nightlife, I really enjoyed being on the other side of the Golden Horn.
Barry and I were lucky enough to stay at the Witt Istanbul, a funky studio apartment style hotel 10 minutes walk downhill from busy Taksim Square. It was also less than a five minute walk to the tram stop at the bottom of the hill but instead of taking the rails across to Sultanahmet I strolled across Galata bridge, walking among the fishermen and arrived at Topkapi Palace within about 30 minutes (I had been eating lots of baklava after all).
I went to Selcuk primarily to visit Ephesus, the best preserved ancient cities in Turkey. Luckily for me there’s a bunch of other interesting sites too and I was armed with a list of all the wonders I wanted to lay eyes on. Thanks to one of the managers at Cella Hotel offering to be my driver for the day, I saw them, and more. Oz also became my photographer for the day and I’ve more pictures of myself at sights then ever before.
Selcuk is a lovely Turkish village with incredibly friendly people but most people only stay long enough to explore Ephesus and a couple of other sites. Some even dash down in one day on flights from Istanbul. I was lucky enough to have a more relaxed experience and to enjoy the hospitality of Ayasoluk Hotel.
From the moment I arrived I felt part of the family. Management staff for friendly and so helpful I almost made up some problems so they could enjoy fixing them. They helped me plan my onward journey almost before the words were out of my mouth. I even joined the staff for family lunches (most of the staff are in fact related), giggling with the shy young girls and practising my awful Turkish on the chef who in turn threw out some English words and phrases.
A Turkish/American couple designed then opened the 17 room boutique hotel on Ayasoluk hill in the middle of Selcuk, in mid 2014. The architecture fits well among the quiet village backstreets with it’s stone walls, wooden doors and window frames. The owners have a passion for service and hospitality which shows in the warmth of their staff.
As I write this, I’m sitting at an old pedal singer sewing machine table, converted to a writing desk, surrounded by the smell of lavender form the reed diffuser in the corner. I drink my tea from a proper sized mug, no dinky little tea cups here. Speedy Wi-Fi is keeping the frustrations of technology away. I can hear the sounds of birds flitting about through the open balcony door. I look up and the enormous bed invites me to crawl under the covers for a nap.