Up in the hills 9km east of Selçuk, amid grapevines, peach and apple orchards, sits Şirince (population 800). The old-fashioned stone-and-stucco houses have red-tile roofs, and the villagers, who were moved here from Salonica and its vicinity during the exchange of populations in 1924, are ardent fruit farmers who also make interesting grape and apple wines. Locals regale you with the story that in Ottoman times, when it was populated mostly by Greeks, the village was called Çirkince ('ugliness'), but that it was changed to Şirince ('pleasant-ness') shortly after they arrived. A century ago it was also much larger and more prosperous - the economic focus for seven monasteries in the hills around.
Stroll the winding cobbled streets, peek at the Byzantine churches and monasteries, walk in the hills, and haggle with local women for handmade lace. If someone invites you to inspect her 'antique house', you can be sure she'll have lace for sale. Mostly the invitations are genuine, although one reader complained of being charged an outrageous amount for a 'welcoming' glass of tea.
Places to Stay & Eat
Of the several pensions, the welcoming Esra (232-898 3140) has fıve simple, waterless rooms; the best of them upstairs. Beds costs US$10 per person, with another US$5 for breakfast. Others are nameless, but similar to Mrs Naciye Çatal's Şirin Pansiyon (232-898 3167), offering clean beds in waterless rooms for US$15 a double.
Fancier places in restored village houses include the German-run Erdem Pansion (232-898 3430; in İzmir 481 4928) and the picturesque Hotel Şirince Evleri (fax 232-898 3099 in İzmir), with a lovely traditional sitting room and nicely decorated rooms for US$60 a single/double. The Erdem was under renovation at the time of writing.
The minibus from Selçuk drops you at the centre of the village near the restaurants. Köy Restaurant and Sultan Han Cafe have the best shade and views, and specialise in village dishes like mantı (Turkish ravioli), gözleme (thin pastry folded over a filling), yayık ayran (churned yoğurt and spring water) and ev şarabı (homemade wine).
Getting There & Away
From 8 am to 7 pm hourly minibuses connect Selçuk and Şirince (US$1) in summer.