We spent today in Kusadasi, Turkey. It was another hot one. And crowded with tour groups. And dusty. And windy. And by the end, wet. We had it all!
In the morning all four of us took a guided excursion to Ephesus -- an ancient city located in Selcuk, a small town 30km away from Kusadasi. Ephesus contains the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean. Only an estimated 15% has been excavated. The site was in great shape and definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the area.
Ephesus has a rich history. It was founded as an Attic-Ionian colony in the 10th century BC on the Ayasuluk Hill, three kilometers from the center of ancient Ephesus. The mythical founder of the city was a prince of Athens named Androklos, who had to leave his country after the death of his father, King Kadros. It was a Greek city, was under Persian rule for a while, liberated and then much later became a Roman city before being taken over by the Turks. Ephesus was an important seaport and a wealthy city in its day. With a population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BC, it is thought to have been the second largest city in the world at the time. Another claim to fame is the Artemesium, Temple of Artemis, built in 550BC by Greeks and one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.
Ephesus also has a notable Christian history – it was one of the seven churches of Asia mentioned in the Book of Revelation and the site of several 5th century Christian Councils. It is speculated that the Gospel of John was written here. While our tour didn’t extend that far, the Basilica of St. John and the House of the Virgin Mary were nearby. The Basilica was built in the 6th century AD, under emperor Justinian I over the supposed site of the apostle's tomb. The House of Mary is thought to be her last home.
We spent about three hours wandering through the crowded ruins, learning about the city from our entertaining tour guide and stopping to look at some of the more notable examples of its preserved past.
Ephesus had several major bath complexes, built while the city was under Roman rule. The city had one of the most advanced aqueduct systems in the ancient world, with aqueducts of various sizes supplying water to different areas of the city. The major aqueducts also fed a set of water mills, including a saw mill for marble.
The Odeon was a small roofed theater, built around 150 AD, that could hold about 1,500 people for plays and concerts. Red granite pillars in the Corinthian style graced the upper part of the theater.
|Street of Curates - with the library at the end.|
As we wandered down the main street, we encountered several remnants of buildings and statues, including Nike and a pillar marking a hospital.
(Above & below) Fountain of Trajan - 2nd century. A two-storey building, 12 m high, surrounded a pool in front on three sides.
The Temple of Hadrian (pics below) dates from the 2nd century, but was repaired in the 4th century and has been reerected from fragments. The reliefs in the upper sections are casts (the originals are in the Ephesus Archaeological Museum).
The Library of Celsus, originally built in c. 125 AD, once held nearly 12,000 scrolls. Construction of the library was paid for by Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, an Ancient Greek who served as governor of Roman Asia in the Roman Empire.
|The library’s façade has been reconstructed from original pieces.|
After touring the ruins of the library, we came upon some artifacts stored in a chamber and then made our way along a long, open area lined with columns. About this time, the wind really kicked up. Had I known we’d be in a mini sand-storm, I’d have skipped the facial at the ship’s spa since I was now getting an ancient microderm abrasion treatment for free.
|Roisin, being pummeled by gusts of sand.|
It was originally used for plays and such, but during later Roman times gladiatorial contests were also held here – a gladiator graveyard was found nearby.
|Me, taking a seat in the theatre.|
|Looking into the theatre from the chambers below & behind the stage.|
|In the chambers under the theatre|
|Doorway leading outside|
Leaving the historic site, we came into a mini-bazaar –basically the tourist gauntlet as you had to walk past the booths of vendors on each side of you trying to get your attention as you made your way to the lot where the buses were waiting. I especially liked how some of the vendors tried to ease any doubts as to the quality of their wares.
Our tour bus took us back to the port, where we had a few hours to ourselves before our ship sailed again. Along the way we had a good view of the bay, beaches and the bevy of cruise ships docked that day.
We searched out a late lunch at outdoor spot that had great food, entertaining waiters and where we could watch a Kusadasi afternoon unfold. Men on scooters carried coolers of fresh fish from which shop owners made their selections. Locals and tourists strolled by or stopped in one of the many open-air cafes in the little square.
Our first waiter – probably the owner – started out as a gruff, no nonsense sort, taking our orders of fish sandwiches and donairs with little more than a hmphff and a nod. And, when there was a mix up with Carolina’s order, he swiped the offending plate away, grumbling under his breath as he took it back to the kitchen (where the grumbling became louder as I suspect by this time it was being directed at the unfortunate staff who made the blunder) and was back in seconds to deposit the correct order.
|Carolina and I ordered a local specialty – fish sandwiches. Mine was grilled sardines in a fat, tasty bun. Hers was fried clams. A plate of garnishes included some very tasty pickled cabbage.|
The younger waiter who also looked after us was much more charming, joking around, trying to guess our country of origin (sadly, Canada was about the only country he didn’t list) and flirting shamelessly – especially Roisin. He confessed to me that he had a love of gingers.
By this time the older, grumpier one (who Carolina nick-named Luke, a la Gilmore Girls) was in a more jovial mood and popped by to cameo in one of our pictures.
After lunch we shopped for a bit in the local bazaar, by now a little more used to the aggressive sales calls and tactics.
As we headed back to the ship, it started to rain, leaving streaks of red mud running down my once-white hat and clothes. But after the heat of the day, the light rain felt good. So did the hot tub, a bit later, for our aching feet and legs. Despite my practical and comfortable Ecco and Birkenstock sandals, I’ve never had such sore feet in my life – it’s the new normal!
Dinner that night was the Chef's dinner and featured a few more courses added in. I felt obliged to sample something from each of the five courses ...
1st - Quail and venison terrine; 2nd - Boston lettuce salad; 3rd - Strawberry & thyme infused lemon sorbet; 4th - Orange Roughy poached in champagne broth with scallop mousse, wilted spinach and lobster & cognac cream; 5th - Menage a trois (Chilled raspberry panna cotta, Tiny gateau opera, Honey hazelnut semifreddo with nutella twist)