Ancient Ruins in Asia Minor

Trip Start Apr 03, 2007
Trip End Jun 16, 2007

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Today we toured the ancient ruins of 3 Greek and Roman sites in Turkey: Ephesus, Miletus, and Didyma.
We pulled into port fairly early in the morning (around 7:00 AM), so we caught an early breakfast at the buffet and met up with our tour group around 7:15 AM.  We were assigned to "lollipop" #12, which we followed around for the rest of the day (a round sign held up by our tour guide).  We disembarked from the ship, past the Turkish welcome band, and there were dozens of tour busses waiting to take people to various destinations around Kusadasi (the port city).  Kusadasi has a lot of shops, and a neat little fortress out on a place called "Pigeon Island", but it's basically just a port city.  The real action is inland at the sites of the ancient ruins.
Our tour guide was a Turkish young lady named Jana.  On the bus ride to Ephesus (our first stop), she answered a lot of questions about Turkey.  One thing we noticed was that nearly all the houses here have water tanks and heating panels on their roofs to heat their hot water.  Good idea, probably saves a lot on electricity/natural gas.  The weather in the morning was sunny and pleasant.  It took about 45 minutes to get to Ephesus, and we got off the bus and followed Jana through the ruins as she explained what each portion was.  Among much else there was a bathhouse, toilets, the famous Celsus library with its impressive front, and the large outdoor theater that could seat 25,000 people in its day.  It was hard to imagine that the apostles Paul and John at one time walked the same streets we were walking (it must have looked much nicer then, though).  It took around an hour to go through the site, and then there was a little show called the "Interactive Show" where some locals dressed up in ancient garb and enacted some ancient things such as juggling, fire breathing/swallowing, and gladiator combat.  On the way back to the busses, there were a bunch of shops and hawkers with spices, bookmarks, books about the site, etc.  Some of them were quite pushy and persistent to try to make a sale, but we managed to fend them off.
Next stop was a nearby ancient Roman ruin at Miletus.  It was most impressive for its theater, which held around 10,000 people in its day, and we got to go climb up the steps and admire the view.  After walking around the rest of the ruins, we went to a Turkish restaurant and had a buffet lunch with lots of various Turkish dishes.
After lunch, we made our last stop at another ruin in ancient Didyma at the Temple of Artemis.  This ruin dated all the way back to the 3rd century B.C.  It's incredible to think that this building was over 2300 years old.  They think that it was never actually completed, and only a few pillars are still standing to their full height today.
With the tour completed, we headed back to the ship for dinner, and then the show after dinner was a wacky juggler and comedian.  The ship pulled out of port and sailed south for the Greek island of Rhodes.
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