Below Priene

We drove into the village of Güllübahçe in the late morning. The UNESCO cultural heritage city of ancient Priene lies in the slopes of the hill at one end of the village. Exposure to the culture of Turkey had revived in us the totally Indian need to sit down with a cup of çay (pronounced chai) every hour. So when we saw a cafe in the middle of the village we parked right next to it.

In spite of the wonderful warm sunlight, the air remained cool. The village seemed completely deserted. It was in amazing contrast to Ephesus and Şirince, two places full of people, which we had visited in the previous two days. I took a photo of the sunlight on the whitewashed rubble wall of Cafe Defne, which promised breakfast, lunch, and dinner, on a faded board. Every place we had visited in three days was so charming that I wanted to spend a week there.

Defne had its complement of aged locals. They sat with cups of çay playing a game which I couldn’t make much of. The Family looked much closer and even tried to ask about the rules. She refuses to use any translator apps, believing that one’s common humanity is sufficient to communicate. Maybe it is, but it is certainly not sufficient to communicate the rules of a complicated game. In the meanwhile, I had better luck communicating our need for çay.

The water tap and trough next to the cafe (featured photo) proclaimed Priene rather than Güllübahçe; the baleful influence of tourism is visible everywhere. The cafe was a rectangular building with an internal courtyard. We would soon find that private houses in the ancient city of Priene had the same structure. I guess the family who ran the place lived inside, so we did not venture in. But it was amazing that for two and a half thousand years houses around this hill had been built in the same style! If you look closely in the shadows inside the door you can see a table set next to an ancient fridge. This looked like a charming place, perhaps a place where we could come back for a bite later. But we decided to move on to Priene before the morning advanced much further.

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


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