Ruins, Turkish buses and used car dealers

Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
Trip End Aug 01, 2007

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

He Said:

We reluctantly left our guesthouse in Pamukkale yesterday morning. The people who ran the Venus Hotel were unbelievably helpful and gracious. Actually, our experience with pretty everyone we have encountered in Turkey has been glowingly positive. People here have been universally warm, cordial, and helpful and really made our experience in this nation easy and pleasant.

Our destination at the end of our smoky three-hour bus ride (which I'll leave to Katie tell you about) was the city of Selcuk in which the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Ephesus are found. Ephesus was once a major port and the capital of the province of Asia Minor. The residents of the city actually had a book of the Bible written to them, Paul's Letters to the Ephesians.

Like Pamukkale, we visited Ephesus in the late afternoon once most of the tour groups had departed and the heat of the day was subsiding. The site was extraordinarily well preserved. Ancient colonnaded roads, bathhouses, triumphal arches, a library, and even the public toilet the Romans used (see photo) were all in striking states of preservation. You could really get a feeling for what the city was like in its heyday. I totally loved it, two days in a row visiting incredible Roman this heaven? It is nothing short of mind-boggling that the Romans were able to unite and control such a huge and disparate group of lands and peoples. If you look back at our travelogues and view our photos from Evora, Portugal and from Meknes, Morocco you will see the remains of Roman structures. Those places are both located over 2000 miles from Ephesus! EVERY nation we have visited thus far on our trip was once part of the Roman Empire.

We strolled back at sunset to finish the day with a delicious home-cooked meal at our guesthouse. After dinner we had an engaging and entertaining conversation with a friend of the owners. One topic that entered the discussion was used car dealers. Not surprisingly, it turns out that they have pretty much the same smarmy reputation in Turkey as they do in the USA! You know, the more we talk to people, the more I realize that even though a person may have spent their whole life half the world away from me, most of their concerns, values, wishes, and even daily life experiences really aren't that dramatically different than my own.

She Said:

So, we had our first Turkish bus trip experience and I must say, it was really different. The buses are really modern, have comfortable reclining seats, and are air-conditioned. Each bus has a "crew" of three aboard the bus - the driver, the steward, and the luggage attendant/Mr. Fix-it. The steward serves several rounds of free beverages - first the water, then an hour later Coke, then a bit later tea and coffee. In between these beverage rounds, he passes through the bus with lemon-scented cologne/water (smells like lemon Lysol) that he pours into your hands so you can apparently freshen up. People rub this on their face and in their hair, which I found kind of unsettling, and Todd LOVED. Meanwhile, Mr. Fix-it jumps off the bus at every stop to fish out people's bags from under the bus as passengers reach their destination, and tinkers with the bus at rest stops.

The buses are non-smoking for the passengers, and smoking strongly encouraged for the driver and the crew. They all huddle near the driver, chit chat and smoke every 10 minutes or so. Now this wouldn't really be a big deal if you were in the middle or the back of the bus. We were extremely fortunate to have the seat next to the driver and the steward, so we were right in the middle of all the action!! The driver had his window open, which sucked out all the a/c in the front of the bus, and a small, small portion of the smoke. The guys were chatting so much, that the driver was literally driving 35 km/hour (about 22 mph) for about 45 minutes (we were right on top of the speedometer in our front row seat). Once the driver realized that he was significantly behind schedule, he totally gunned it - up to 85/90 km/hour around tight curves and down this steep incline to try to make up time!! All of our harrowing NYC taxi rides definitely prepared us for this one!
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