It’s very hot in July on the Turkish coast of the Aegean sea, so when my friend suggested a trip to Sinince, a ‘lovely mountain village’ as he put it, I was all for it, if only to get a bit of the sea cooled air. He wouldn’t say what else there was to see and do in Sirince; only that I should wear good walking shoes. I was quite happy to just go along and let myself be surprised.
We drove to the town of Selcuk, parked the car, headed for the central bus station, and hopped on the dolmus (public minibus) to Sirince. As soon as the minibus reached the outskirts of Selcuk, it took a right run and started a dizzying ascent on a twisting road further and further up the mountains. Deep valleys and ravines on our right, sheer cliffs on our left, we were definitely headed for cooler regions. Everything was very green and my friend pointed out to me that what grew on terraced mountain sides and in the sheltered valley were grape vines. The plants were low to the ground so I didn’t, at first, recognize them for what they were.
“Surprise number one,” he grinned, “we are headed for a famous Turkish wine making place for wine tastings.” That sounded great to me.
The dolmus bus deposited us in Sirince’s tiny village square and I knew at once that taking hiking shoes was sound advice. Narrow cobbled alleys wound around and between ancient stone houses, some of them converted into very romantic looking inns. And of course it was uphill and quite uneven under foot, so this is certainly no place to visit in sandals.
Trees, vines and oleander in full bloom were everywhere and provided shade whilst we meandered upwards, stopping frequently to visit the many small shops selling their wines (and, of course, offering tastings.)
Sirince is indeed a wine making center with a long Greek and Turkish Ottoman tradition. The wineries are small and there are dozens, all turned out beautifully with their individual displays. The specialty is fruit wine and you will find such exotic concoctions as banana and pomegranate.Whether you like it is of course a question of personal taste, but it’s no doubt an interesting experience.
Sirince is not only about wine. The buildings and surrounding countryside are a pleasant surprise because they are just so pretty and are not expected to be found hidden away among steep mountains. Like every Turkish town worth its salt, Sirince, too, has a bazaar, but in keeping with the place, it’s small, sedate and very charming. The vendors don’t hassle you, they just smile and politely invite you to visit their shops to look at their wares. And some very nice things are to be had, like handmade soaps and fabulous face creams made from olive oil, hand carved wooden objects, extraordinary wine bottle covers made from leather, and embroidered linen, towels and table cloths. If you want a tasteful and at the same time useful Turkish souvenir or gift, Sirince is the place to buy it.
Nobody is in hurry, nobody shouts and the wine tastings which lead to the occasional consumption of a full glass, contribute to a totally relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere which you don’t find often anywhere else in Turkey.
Tourists can certainly be found in this small town, but even at the height of summer there weren’t that many because Sirince is still very much an insiders destination and the organized tours to Ephesus and elsewhere bypass it.
To round off a wonderful day trip, I discovered that many of the restaurants which all feature vine covered court yards offer a great variety of my favourite dish: gözleme, which are crisp, thin pancakes filled with either sweet or savory ingredients such as spinach, minced meat, or honey and ground nuts.
The return dolmus to Selcuk runs, during the summer season, every hour on the hour and, loaded with a bottle of strawberry champagne, a bottle cover and a carved wooden box for my friend and a face cream for me, we were on our way back to Selcuk. It was a relaxing, but memorable day.
Written by Inka Piegsa-Quischotte for EuropeUpClose.com