Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mediterranean Adventures – Part 8 (Kusadasil & Ephesus, Turkey)

We docked in Kusadasil Turkey. Okay I had my reservations about Turkey, but boy was I wrong. The people were super friendly (almost too friendly). I think they were going above and beyond to show people they were not anti-tourist…”yes come to Turkey, we don’t bite”.

The country is GORGEOUS! Seriously like something in a postcard.

We booked a trip to the ruins of ancient Ephesus. It is the city where the book of Ephesians was written. There were actually three cities of Ephesus over time. I know this because of our fantastic tour guide. He was a real Indiana Jones archeologist. During the week, he gives tours of ruins and on the weekends he goes out to new digs and gets his hands dirty. This guy sure knew everything historical about the area (or sure sounded like he did…maybe I should follow up with some wiki-checks).

So ancient Ephesus…the city we toured was the 3rd one built. The first one closer to the coast and destroyed by floods and plague. The second was “moved” by the Romans. Apparently, they felt the city would be better fortified if it was moved farther inland in the mountains, so they evicted everyone. Here you can barely see some of the wall on the ridge of the hill.

At the ruins they had things like forums, amphitheaters, library, and public toilets. Oh yes, of all the historic things, and I zero in on the toilets. There was long slab of stone with holes that you, um, sat on and dropped your waste down into a pit below. Apparently the servants would use this oar like stick to swish around stagnant poop and push it down to the drainage system on hot days. You had to pay close attention to make sure you held the correct end of the stick…in fact that is where the saying “don’t grab the wrong end of the stick” originated.

Famed Celsus Library

Ancient Angel Frieze

Bath of Varius

The Commercial Agora (marketplace)

Ancient Street with Mossaic tile

Temple of Hadrian

Odeon Meeting House

Gate of Mazeus

Fountain of Pollio

We marveled at the theater where Paula and John preached. If you read the book of Ephesians, it tells the story about their time here. Basically they told the town to be good and the town told them to fuck off.

Speaking of St. John, he apparently took care of the Virgin Mary after the crucifixion. They settled outside of town in a cute little three room cottage up in the hills. The house is called the house of the Virgin Mary (I know, original). We participated in a short mass outside and then toured the cottage.
Apparently there is a stream that runs underneath the place and since the Virgin Mary died there, the stream is considered blessed. Of course there are all sorts of signs up saying “don’t drink the holy water” because it may be blessed, but it sure aint sanitary. Well people were all unruly and crowded around the holy facets (yes the stream was in facet form) elbowing people out of the way, filling up gallon jugs, dunking their children.

After a sample of Turkish coffee (something like coffee with the consistency of syrup), we went to the ruins of Church/Basilica of St. John. By the ruins were the ruins of another temple, the Temple of Artemis. Yep, another wonder of the ancient world. Our second (but not last) one of the trip. All tht was left was one big column and some other small rubble. To give you an idea of the size, it is three times the size of the Parthenon and each one of the columns are 60feet tall. Oh and it is entirely composed of marble. Not bad huh.

At Basilica of St. John there were a bunch of stray puppies. They were just hanging out napping in the shade. Occasionally they would follow around a tourist. Interestingly enough, St. John isn’t buried at the ruins anymore.

Our lunch was at a carpet school where they served us a traditional meal from taken from the Old Testament (it was called a biblical lunch). Mostly it was just lentils, vegetables and fish. The old people on our tour (our entire cruise was mostly the 60+ crowd, so they were EVERYWHERE) were really picky eaters. They basically wouldn’t eat anything unless it showed up on the menu at Applebees. The cruise did cater to them so instead of authentic regional dishes, we dined on hamburgers and fries. Anyway, the old people were full of stories about how busted up they were. One woman had a replacement hip so strong it dented her car. Her husband died so she used the inheritance money to travel. Apparently she has done this exact tour three times before (why she was doing it again is beyond me).

We went into town to the Turkish market and toured a carpet making shop. They instructed us on how they unwound the silk from a cocoon. They didn’t mention price of the carpets and continuously alluded the question. We did happen to sneak a peek at a price tag and noticed a medium sized silk rug was $97,000. Yes, that is more than most American’s annual income. They did serve us Apple Tea and their “milk” drink which was like coconut milk, black liquorish and ouzo liquor.

The Turkish way for shopping was really pushy. Basically they follow you around till you buy something. We ended up bypassing all of the in-your-face venders and opted for the laid back nonchalant venders who actually sat back and let us browse first. We picked up the most beautiful hand painted bowls.

We attacked the all day buffet for sushi since lentils and vegetables frankly didn’t curb our fast food raised appetites. Therefore we didn’t eat much at our fancy dinner. Granted the best part of the steak dinner were the potato chips, so we didn’t miss out too much.

One highlight of the day (besides the absolutely gorgeous Turkish hills) was watching an old man walk face first into a glass door. It was so hard to not burst out laughing in front of him.
An example of the demographic on our cruise...a long line of wheel chairs

And now...funny signs and or pictures:
In case you were unsure, do not touch electrical wires!

This is the bathroom at the House of the Virgin Mary. It may be a sin to mock a sign at such a holy place, but isn't the drawing looking like she has to pee really bad?

Some Turkish Dancers that greeted us at the port


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