Monday, April 13, 2009

Ephesus, Izmir, and Kusadasi

Are you sick of our Turkey adventures? Last post, I promise. We just had so much fun and did a lot....and I don't want to forget!
After our Istanbul tour we woke up VERY early to make it to our 7 AM flight from Istanbul to Izmir, Turkey. From there our guide for the day, Igit, met us with a van and we were off to explore Ephesus!

It is mind boggling how much Christian history and how many relics are in this area of Turkey. We started by driving up a large mountain to a small refuge that was supposedly the Virgin Mary's house, where she came to live out her old age after Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. It is believed the Apostle John brought Mary here. We enjoyed the surrounding nature park and Connor got a kick out of spying the kitty cat in the hollow tree and charming the fellow tourists. This spot is sacred both for Christians (obviously) but also for Muslims who also believe in a Virgin birth and honor Mary.
When we were back in the car driving down the mountain the weather was starting to turn and rain began to fall, despite the rays of sun. Sure enough we saw a rainbow over this verdant landscape. It was so cute because we pointed it out to Connor and she immediately looked at us and said, "Noah, Noah!" Yep, the story of Noah had a rainbow too! I think Igit and our driver were pretty surprised at Connor's smarts!
We went to Ephesus and indeed had to battle out some grey clouds and distant thunder, but not for long. The brief rain cooled everything down and I just marveled at the green, lush landscape. Not at all what I pictured of Ephesus! The ruins were detailed and beautiful. I could really picture the Greek city with tradesmen and families bustling all about.
We especially liked the Library of Celsus and the grand theatre (can you spot me? a speck on the stage). The loving reconstruction and precise archaeological details are beyond belief. We adored Pompeii when we traveled there 6 years ago, but this was even better, bigger, and even more meaningful given its spot in the world.
Note that our sweet babe took her cue yet again, and napped the entire time we toured Ephesus, despite the rugged terrain. Thank goodness. Again.

Igit took us to a tiny spot for lunch; we were the only folks there. There was no menu, we were just served. When we asked for milk, the owner gladly went to the store to retrieve for us.
We beamed when he served us homemade baklava and then pulled out his guitar and Connor danced all around. She is a funny little girl!
That afternoon we went to the Tomb of St. John in St. John's Basilica overlooking the spot where the single column remains of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. And finally, because what would be a tour without a little buying persuasion? - Igit took us to a "craft museum" which he sold as having a "big, open space for Connor to run around in." Okay. We were tired so willing to go along with whatever. When we arrived we realized it was a fancy Turkish rug factory. We had a private demonstration of how silk worms make the fibers for the rugs and how the hand knots are painstakingly tied. Indeed Connor did love running all around and the owner gave us a thick and convincing pitch as to why his rugs are such superior quality. He served us apple tea and in a room had several of his staff roll out rug after rug after rug. Connor thought nothing could be better than jumping on the carpet rolls and diving from carpet to carpet, shrieking with glee (which the owner encouraged!) I did pick out two that I thought were nice and asked him to give me ballpark prices. Then this guy pulled out his big button calculator and I can't even remember now how many thousands of euros they each were. I guess I should have known when he was letting my Connor roll around on his silk carpets which he said were worth $40,000 each that we were way out of league. I tried to keep my game face on to humor him and we made a swift exit. I think I will stick with my machine made rugs and post card souvenirs, thank you very much. But what fun we had with the carpet show - especially Connor!
At long last, Igit took us to our hotel on the Kusadasi coast, Charisma . The ocean was stunning and the resort hotel was a five star gem. Don't ask me how our travel agency did it on our shoestring budget, but once again I think traveling during the low season makes a big difference. Unfortunately the weather was still cloudy and grey, but we took Connor to the indoor pool and she was absolutely tickled pink kicking from Mommy to Daddy in the water. Another exhausting, wonderful day and the perfect way to end our Turkey adventure!
PS - Aside from Connor pooping in her bath one night and us completely forgetting the Bob stroller in our hotel and realizing halfway to the airport (we went back to get it and still made our flight!) - it was a flawless trip. We are usually the plan-it-yourself, independent (anti tour group) travelers, but I must say if you can do it, this is a great option to see a lot very quickly and privately!
Click here for more photos of Ephesus (full album)

1 comment:

Shannon, Tony, Grayson & Max said...

I love your travels!

and fyi, the Ikea in Brussels has REAL hand-knotted Iranian rugs (not at all what you would expect at Ikea) that are beautiful, and very, very affordable (we bought 2)