We decided to take this day slower, and just visit Şirince, a ‘traditional’ village close to Selcuk. We ate breakfast (simple tomatoes, cucumbers, boiled egg and bread) at Dreams Guest House, and then took the dolmus from the Selcuk otogar (bus station) to Sirene. JT was randomly moved to the front seat during our ride, where he met a young man named Doga after seeing that he was reading a Topological Vector Spaces text book in English. Doga is a master’s student from Istanbul, but he was heading to a math village where he was teaching a summer course for two weeks. We were intrigued by the idea of a math village in such a remote area – and Doga invited us to visit – so we walked about 1.5km with him to the math village. Come to find out, the math village was really a camp where high school and college students attended small classes in the summer (no credit – just for the sake of learning) and mathematicians escaped to work in the other seasons. It truly would be the perfect place to get away for thesis writing or a sabbatical.
The math village consisted of outdoor classrooms, a dining room, dormitories, cottages, overflow dormitory tents (for summer camps), and plenty of places to sit and work or relax. Doga gave us a complete tour, and then we sat near the dining room and enjoyed some tea (it was lunch time). Doga is studying pure mathematics, and hoping to start a PhD program in America in Fall 2012. Lastly, Doga showed us his beautiful cottage room (also with a beautiful view!) complete with pretty, intricate tiling in the bathroom and pretty wooden dressers and bed. We then parted ways, as Doga needed to prepare for his class that afternoon and we wanted to explore Şirince.
We walked back from the math village, and decided to walk into the heart of the little ‘traditional’ village. We stopped at a wine shop, where we enjoyed kiwi and cherry fruit wines (the area is known for its many fruit wines). Then we decided to attempt to walk up the hill to the small tower that we could see (and Doga has mentioned afforded a good view). After climbing steep streets and walking through local neighborhoods for a while, we gave up on reaching the tower, as it seemed it was not feasibly reached by walking from the village. We walked through the small bazaar, where we purchased 11 olive oil soaps (ranging from mint to rose to strawberry) as presents for family and friends.
After finishing up in the bazaar, we walked to the Artemis restaurant (recommended by one of our guide books). At the Artemis restaurant we sat on the patio and enjoyed apple and pomegranate fruit wines, gozleme, and Turkish ravioli (which Katie had been excited to try). All of the food was delicious, but the service was somewhat snotty. We took the dolmus back to Selcuk after finishing our meal.
Overall, Katie was disappointed by the lack of Şirince really being an ‘authentic village unchanged by time’, as had been claimed by one of our guidebooks. The village had certainly been changed by the many tourists arriving by tour bus, car, and occasionally dolmus and actually felt rather touristy in its current state.