Our first holiday in Turkey, with trips to the ancient city of Ephesus, the spa pools of Pamukkale, and the markets of Kusadasi.
We stayed at the Ephesus Princess for a week at the start of May 2000, in the early weeks of their season. The hotel was immaculate and the staff spoke reasonable if sometimes amusing English!.
The food was excellent – international buffet style with freshly cooked main dishes served from hot counters by the staff. During the day, there was a hot food bar near the pool which did proper kebabs on plates (and hot dogs, bbq etc for the kids). Plenty of room around the main pool, although I should imagine it gets a bit crowded in peak season. The beach was a little disappointing – a bit too deep and rocky to let the kids go paddling (ours are 5 and 9), but the pools kept them occupied. Didn’t really try the sports facilities though.
We did plenty of day trips. If you like ancient ruins, you can get to Ephesus on the ‘Dolmus’ buses in about 10 minutes. Pamukkale is a long journey by organised coach, but it’s a unique sight and we thoroughly enjoyed swimming in the spa pool with the roman columns (naturally heated – gorgeous!). The market in Kusadasi is a good opportunity to get some cheap ‘designer’ gear- we’re taking an empty suitcase next time we go to Turkey!
Things we found out while we were there:
Once you’re outside the hotel, toilet standards are poor – take toilet rolls on your trips.
One or two mosquito’s attracted by the lights in the evenings – pack a good repellent like Jungle or Autan.
Don’t miss the hotel entertainment – two very funny guys who were fronting a revue-style show when we were there! The kids loved it.
Thanks for visiting – enjoy your holiday!
A few views of the hotel and surrounding area.
We stayed in one of the apartments slightly higher up the hillside from the hotel reception. It looked identical to the photo below which is lifted from the hotel’s own publicity, with a separate twin bedroom for the kids and a small bathroom with shower and toilet. The door in the photo leads out onto a small balcony with a sea view. The odd shaped hotel next door is the Hotel Surmeli. This is the nearest hotel to the Ephesus Princess, clearly visible about 15 minutes walk around the bay. It really does look like a pyramid from that distance!
The Hotel Pools.
The main outdoor swimming pool. There are a few more outdoor children’s pools nearby of varying depths, one of them just a small paddling pool. The water flume only seemed to be working at certain times of the day.. The indoor heated pool is right next door. Because of the hotel’s elevated position on the hillside, the pool area has a sweeping panoramic view of the bay. There are a couple more hotel complexes further round the bay, and when we were there in May work was in progress on a water theme park perhaps 30 minutes walk away. The pool area is catered for by a hot food bar doing kebabs etc, and a well-stocked bar (all-inclusive!!). Background music is played all day, and there are frequent events staged by the resident entertainment crew. The main pool is a sun trap from mid-morning until the evening, but loungers and parasols are readily available. The pool is on the same level as the bottom floor of the hotel, and access is via two lifts or the stairs. The photo of the pool from above is the view you get from the two glass lifts mounted on the outside of the hotel. The reception and lounges are at the top, and the pool level is six floors down. Further steps lead down through the gardens to the beach.
The beach below the hotel.
The hotel complex is built into the hillside overlooking the bay. Two passenger lifts serve the hotel and pools, but the access to the beach is by a long series of steps down through the hotel gardens. It’s a good 5-10 minute climb, although there’s a bar half way!
It appears to be a man-made beach, with a short stretch of good sand below the hotel. It’s not really suitable for kids though, because it’s too steeply shelving into the water. A small jetty caters for the hotel’s own speedboat and a few pedalo’s.
There’s a beach bar of course, and it also has a supply of ice-creams brought down from the hotel throughout the day.
We took the local dolmus bus to Ephesus – it’s only a ten minute trip. Then we had to walk for another ten to the main entrance. You can easily spend several hours walking and looking around the extensive site – it was a major ancient city after all. Most of the walking is over rough roads (the originals!) and there is some hilly ground to cover. If you go climbing the amphitheatre you’ll need to be fit!
This is the HUGE amphitheatre at Ephesus. I think the guidebook said it could hold 25 thousand people.
It took me several minutes to climb to the top, but once there the view was terrific!
The road beyond the theatre leads down to what would have been the harbour in ancient times.
The facade of the Library of Celsus at Ephesus, just one of many impressive remains at the site.
Next door to the library are the Public Baths and communal roman toilets! Then the long walk home.
Pamukkale, or ‘cotton castles’, is a natural formation caused by the dissolved minerals in the spring waters at Hierapolis. It’s a long coach journey from Kusadasi but well worth it. As the coach climbs the mountain road to the springs, it passes through the huge necropolis outside the ancient city of Hierapolis, much of which can still be seen at the summit. As a measure to protect this natural wonder, visitors can only walk barefoot on a small part of the rock formation and can no longer swim in the rock pools. There is one hotel remaining with a swimming pool fed by the spring waters – the Cleopatra Pool, with its bottom strewn with some of the original stone columns. The spring water emerges into the pool at the temperature of a hot bath!
Kusadasi was a short bus ride away from the hotel – perhaps 15 minutes.
Head for the Caravanserai with its narrow winding streets and bargains galore, then on to the sea front dominated by the Greek Island cruise ships in the harbour. Be sure to visit Kusadasi on market day!
Kusadasi harbour at night; sunset over Kusadasi harbour; a fountain in the park at Kusadasi; a map of Kusadasi Town;
We bought Charlotte (5) a belly dancing costume from a little shop near the Caravanserai at Kusadasi, and she wore it to go to the evening entertainment on our last night in Turkey.
A music shop near the harbour does cheap CD’s of Turkish music, and sells all of the instruments.
You know when you go on holiday, and there’s always one song that’s played over and over until it sticks in your mind…
“Lilali” by Kim Kay (a Belgian pop star) will always remind me of the Ephesus. Search for the MP3 on Kazaa!
The Hotel’s own website: http://www.princess.com.tr/