Kathryn and Ken's European Vacation
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Day 30: Kusadasi, Turkey
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Day 29: Istanbul, Turkey
Day 30: Kusadasi, Turkey
Day 31: Rhodes, Greece
Day 32: Alexandria, Egypt
Day 33: Cruise at Sea
Day 34: Corfu, Greece
Day 35: Dubrovnik, Croatia



MS Rotterdam


Hot, hot, hot with a high of 32C


Day 30: Wednesday, October 4, 2006     Kusadasi, Turkey

You Absolutely Must See Ephesus

Currency:  Turkish new lira
Language:  Turkish (English, French and German also spoken

This turned out to be the best day of the cruise so far.  Once a sleepy farming village, Kusadasi was transformed by the Turkish tourism boom of the 1980s. Kusadasi, which means "bird island", is set in a superb gulf in the Aegean region of Turkey and is known for its

View of Kusadasi port

turquoise sparkling water of the Sea, broad sandy beaches, bright sun and large marina with a capacity for 600 boats.  Kusadasi has retained a certain earthiness to it and inexpensive meals and pensions can still be found in town. Many shops do a brisk trade with passengers from hundreds of cruise ships that dock for the day.

Our friends had booked a shore excursion to Ephesus but Kathryn and I are not real big fans of cruise ship shore excursions.  Once we were on the ship, we started to hear great things about Ephesus and decided to try and make our own way there.  There were all kinds of guys outside the port gate offering taxi rides four anywhere from 75 to 90.  Finally one fellow offered us the trip to Ephesus for 40.  We were to find out later why it was so much cheaper.  We jumped in the cab and set out on the 18 km trip to

ruins that we had seen so far on our trip but nothing prepared us for this incredible site.  It would have been a serious error of omission not to have come here.  First a little history:

Ephesus, the most renowned of the ancient towns founded in the Ionian region in Western Anatolia, is located on the south of Izmir's Selcuk County. It is considered as one of the most important centers not only in Western Anatolian civilization but also in the history of word civilization. The ruins of Ephesus take on a value and a special significance among the innumerable sites of an archaeological interest: this is due to its inestimable artistic patrimony, its enormous heritage of history and culture, and the inexhaustible beauty and charm of its archaeological site. The original site of Ephesus was most likely established on the Aegean coast, on the shores of that sea which today is located eight km away from the archaeological excavations.
The foundation of Ephesus took place between the 16th and 11th centuries B.C., and its founders were of Greek ancestry. Visits of personalities such as Brutus, Cassius, and Cicero gave testimony to the importance which Ephesus held in the Roman world.
It was the Roman era in which the city grew to become an important commercial center. It was also one of the first five cities of the Roman Empire.
As a strategic coastal gateway to the Eastern World, this Ionian refuge grew to be the second largest city in the Roman Empire, the site of a Christian shrine, and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
During the Christian era Ephesus became a magnificent metropolis of the ancient world such as Alexandria and Antioch. The city was also one of the seven churches of Asia. John the Apostle, is buried in the church named after him located near Ephesus. Virgin Mary is also believed to have spent her life after the Crucifixion near Ephesus
and local Christians venerated a small house near Ephesus as Mary's. Both of these events make Ephesus one of the most important landmarks in the history of Christianity.
The decline of the city began with the invasion of Goths in 262 AD by which the town was burnt down. Ephesus was never to reach its former splendor again.
In 1869, an Englishman named Wood discovered the site of the Artemision. Excavations were carried out after this in 1904 by another Englishman named Hogarth. In 1895 the temple was first excavated by an Austrian team, and today excavations are continued by the Austrians and the Turks. Only about 2-4% of Ephesus has been excavated.

Our taxi driver dropped us off the entrance to the ruins.  He sold us a book on Ephesus and snuck us to the head of the line.  He said he would meet us in the parking lot at the bottom of the 1.2 km walk.  We then spent the next 2.5 hours in 30+ temperatures making our way through the ruins amongst hundreds of tourists.  Luckily it was a gradual downhill walk but we drank lots and lots of water.  We took many photos and you can see them in the slide show below.  For more information on Ephesus, I recommend the website http://www.ephesus.us/.

The Celsus Library

Below is a layout of the Ephesus ruins.  We entered at the bottom right of the photo and made our way down to the large parking lot in the upper left.

This was taken from the book on Ephesus that we bought.  Click here for a larger view.


Our cabbie was anxiously waiting for us in the parking lot.  On our way back to Kusadasi, he insisted we stop in at a leather "factory".  It was a lovely store full of beautiful leather jackets.   We tried on a few jackets.  They also brought Ken a beer.  The original prices were in the 700 - 800 range each but the price kept coming down.  The salesman was really slick but we kept resisting.  As we way trying to leave, our cabbie got involved.  The owner of the store was his "cousin" and he would talk to him - I think he got a cut if we bought something.  The jackets were really nice but we had no room in our luggage and hadn't planned on buying any jackets.  Finally the cabbie asked me to name a price so I said 400 for the pair.  The owner said we had a deal.  Then when we went to pay for it, our Visa card was rejected.  They tried phoning to Visa in Canada but we had no luck.  No problem, they said, we could pay in cash.  But we didn't have that much cash on us.  No problem, the cabbie would drive us the 5 km into the next town were we used a machine to withdraw the cash.  They would make the minor alterations while we were gone.  When we came back, the alterations weren't quite finished so they brought Ken another beer - not bad in a Muslim country. We finally got our leather jackets and we both them love. 
We also had to stop at a jewelry store but we simply walked in looked at the prices and walked back out.  He also tried to get us to stop at a carpet factory

but we said no and went back to Kusadasi.

We found a place that had Internet so we sent out another email to everyone back home.  WE also bought a phone card and cleared up the problem with our Visa card.  We had time left so we tried to phone Kathryn's dad but there was no answer.  We tried Kathryn's sister, her friend Judy, my sister and our godchildren Avery, Miller and Amy but no one was home.
Kathryn did not have her fill in Istanbul, so we went shopping in Kusadasi's bazaar. 
You can find a big variety of leather clothes, gold jewelry and many souvenirs in the shops which are located side by side. If we hadn't already been to the Grand Bazaar, this would have been impressive.  Ken stayed with it for awhile but soon left Kathryn to enjoy shopping by herself and went back to the ship.

When we were in Constanta a few days earlier, the Lunns and MacDonalds had wandered into a Romanian wine shop.  Dave said he wanted to buy some local wine, so the shop owner picked up a plastic 2L bottle and filled it from a tap.  They almost died laughing.  That night at dinner, Dave Lunn had a special treat for our Wine Steward (in red) and the Cellar Master (in white), who had taught the wine-tasting class earlier.  He called them over and asked them to taste his "special wine"  He then reached down and pulled out the plastic bottle that you can see on the table in the photo.  They were good sports and made

"Tasting" the Romanian wine

a big show of tasting his wine.  We all had a taste and it was not very good.  Later some of the servers entertained us with some tricks.  After dinner we went to the Queen's lounge for a nightcap to see a comedy magician by the name of Woody Pittman perform.

We did not set sail until about 11:00 pm and we got to see nearby Pigeon Island all lit up.  Pigeon Island is the symbol of Kusadasi. As the island was much-frequented place of birds during the seasonal migrations, it was named as Bird Island. In the times of Ottomans, the name of the island

was given to the town and the town was started to be called as "Kusadasi" (Bird Island). Since then, the name of the island was changed into "Pigeon Island". The island was used for military purposes during the Ottoman Era and before, as the location of the island was strategic for securing the shores or preventing the attacks from the sea. The Byzantine castle standing on the rocks, used against pirates, is known as "Pirate Castle". Pigeon Island , unlike its name, is now connected to the land by a causeway.

Pigeon Island at sunset

Click here for a slide show of Day 30 photos.

Day 31

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