The last day in Selcuk, after seeing Hieropolis and Palmukkale, I almost felt I'd seen enough and was ready to go home. However, I had arranged a two night stay in the seaside town of Kusadasi. Not so much for sightseeing, but I had a romantic image of myself sitting on the balcony overlooking the Agean Sea, just reading and resting while watching small fishing boats make their lazy way in and out of the port. In the meantime, I had a good half day to finish up seeing some of the sights in Selcuk, which by now had become one of my favorite Turkish townships.
Had I heard about Sirince? Well, no I hadn't to be honest, but when I heard the words "wine region" in connection to the community, that was all it took. Quite honestly, I have a thing for wine. I don't drink hard liquor as a rule, but a fat good deep red from the soil... the kind that sets me at peace and yet excites me at the same time... yes, I have a weakness for good wine. So I made my way to the dolmus center where I was told I could hitch a ride up the winding road to the hillside wine making region of Serince for about 3 TL. The ride started out in the fog and the road was the kind that I could easily imagine headlines about... you know "Tourist Bus Misses Turn... 12 Dead". It rained and dripped and dried and dripped some more as we made our twisty hairpin curved way up the mountain side, occasionally stopping to let passengers on and off. When we finally arrived at a seemingly nondescript hillside town, I disembarked, chilly and unsure as to exactly where the charm could be found. It didn't take long. Some kind soul pointed the way down a cobbled street and as I made made way in between narrow alleyways and paths, the whitewashed Greek community opened up to my sight like a flower that has just been watered by a heavy rainfall.
I strolled quietly along the street, spotting a sign pointing to a church or"Kilise", the rain started pouring again so I ducked into a felt shop, where no proprietor was evident. The most magnificent creations lined the walls and floor. The colors were so vibrant and the designs like nothing I had seen in Turkey to date.
Moving on and chatting on the way with wine sellers and trinket merchants, I made my way up the steep narrow cobbled sidewalks following the signs. The church was small and simple, fronted with a fountain, and of course a shop that sold candles and a shop that sold crystals and jewelry. I bought candles for the church and entered St. John The Baptist Church. According to signs, the church and the town sprang up somewhere near 4 AD... and it would appear that Serince was one of the places Mary was taken to by St. John. There is a venerated location near Ephesus that legend holds was the house of Mary, mother of Christ. Given the entombment of the apostle John in Selcuk, it is entirely conceivable that both he and she and possibly others had also walked this small village. The church is simple and has 0 accouterments. A defaced icon of Christ has been encased by thick plastic to prevent further destruction, and there is a stand where candles may be lit and prayers said, but the church is open to the elements and the swallows make themselves happy within it's cupolas. It was a very peaceful place.
Stopping on the way down for tastes of wine, I chose a lovely red blend. Serince is famous for its' fruit wines, of which I am not overly fond, and its jams and olive products. It is a sweet dear little village with a sad history. In the forced repatriation of the twenties, the Greeks were forced from their homes and lives to exile in Greece, while Turks who had resided and built like lives in that country were repatriated here in Turkey. It was a time of great heartache and brokenness for many. The sense of grief lingers, but the overriding mood of this hill town community is one of great peace and natural abundance. Another spot in this vast and beautiful country where I could imagine easily settling into.
I settled onto a picnic table overlooking a beautiful little valley and asked for a bowl of soup and a glass of wine. I was brought the soup and wine, accompanied by a lovely meat dish that I hadn't ordered, compliments of the house I guessed. I played with their puppy that looked as if it might be an Anatolian Shepherd and chatted a bit with my wait person. When I had paid and was leaving, I asked my hostess what the name of her restaurant was... as there was no sign. "I don't know." she replied.... "We aren't open yet." without skipping a beat. I was stunned and chagrined, but they assured me the practice was good for them and I was welcome any time. I met the dolmus in the pre-arranged spot and headed back to Selcuk where I would catch a bus to the Seaside town of Kusadasi, overlooking the Agean.