Day 5 – Kusadasi Turkey and Ephesus
Catching up on the blog today.
Kusadasi turned out to be a real eye opener for us! We sailed into the Kusadasi harbour in the early morning before breakfast and I had a private tour booked to go to Ephesus –not really knowing what to expect.
Our tour guide, Ayse (pronounced Ossie!) an official licenced guide from the region was a great young girl who turned out to be very knowledgeable about the area and spoke really good English. It was great being on a private tour as well just the two of us where we could go at our own pace and keep away from the crowds (mostly).
We started off by going to the Virgin Mary’s house up on top of the hill outside of Kusadasi in the Ephesus area. There is a little church / shrine there now which has been visited by 3 popes and is generally acknowledged as the place where Mary ended up with St John after the crucifixion. The house was rediscovered last century after visions from a German nun (with stigmata) and rebuilt on the original foundations restoring some of the original structure that was dated back to the first century. Really a special, holy and spiritual feel to the place. Pauline made a wish and tied that to the thousands of other wishes from pilgrims at the site.
St John’s tomb is also in the area in the (now) ruins of the St John’s Basilica church which is just below the site of the original town of Ephesus. The original 6th Century Basilica built by the Emperor Justinian would have been enormous making it the 6 or 7th largest church in the world today if it was restored. An earthquake levelled the church in the 13th century.
The ruins of the Roman city of Ephesus and the Library of Celsus were the most remarkable. The original city of Ephesus from the first century BC had a population of over 200,000 and was the largest port in the Roman province of Asia Minor! The library, which was built around 100 AD, after Alexandria and one other was the third largest ancient library in the world at the time. The excavation of the ancient city started in the 1800’s by a British railway engineer and is still going on today – only 25% of the city area has been excavated and that is pretty impressive including a huge 20,000 seat amphitheatre.
We had a delicious traditional Turkish lunch at the Carpet factory where they weave silk and woollen carpets (which we weren’t tempted to buy!) and then headed back to Kusadasi. Which gave us some time on our own and some shopping for “Genuine fake watches” and other local bargains! We ended up bargaining with some pretty eager and aggressive Turkish shopkeepers (one even got upset because we just weren’t too good at playing the bargaining game!).
I had a bit of a scare with my camera after I dropped it at Ephesus and it wouldn’t work (looked like the SLR Mirror was not working properly) – however luckily back in Kusadasi at a camera shop we found that it was working perfectly – like magic! Another really great day, which whet our appetite to explore Turkey further.