Kusadasi and Patmos

Trip Start Dec 27, 2012
Trip End Mar 26, 2013

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Flag of Greece  , Attica,
Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Good thing we are now used to early starts as this entire cruise we will have wake up calls before 7am :) I got up as late as humanly possible and raced up to breakfast as we arrived in the Turkey in Kusadasi. We met at our usual spot and disembarked in two groups as we were doing two slightly different tours. My tour was of the ancient city of Ephesus and while I have seen many ancient sites now I have been told by a couple of tour people that this one is amazing and definitely worth seeing. The ancient city was about a 30 minute drive from the port town so we hopped on a bus and met our tour guide for the morning. He was quite a character making jokes about how the western world has very wrong ideas about Turks, often asking him why he is white, not wearing a turban and why aren't we in the desert. He also talked about his life and how he trained to be an archeologist, spent a few months working at the site we are visiting and realised he was in the wrong career. He explained to us how this wasn't good news for his father who had paid the university bill, especially when the new career was tour guide! However his history did make him an excellent guide for us!

Ephesus is a Greco Roman city, i.e. built by the Greeks and later taken over and edited by the Romans. As with many ancient cities, it was primarily underground until archeologists started digging and the site is pretty big but they believe 90% of it is still underground and that it will hundreds of years before we have the whole city uncovered. They think at one stage (around 1st century BC) 250 000 people lived here and so it must have been big! Also like Troy it was once right by the ocean and had a very busy port but due to the flow of a couple of rivers the land has changed and now the area is a few kms from the coast. They think that various earthquakes were responsible for a lot of the damage here but a lot of changes were man made (or at least unintentionally caused by man). The city changed hands many times and had periods where it was very prosperous and then was rather poor and it was eventually abandoned in the 1500s. This city was famous for the Temple of Artemis. This was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world and was supposed to have been built in 550 BC. It was destroyed and rebuilt many times and they have only found fragments of the older versions. It is also supposed to be the site where the gospel of John was written.

When we arrived at the site we basically wandered around the sections that were uncovered and our guide stopped us every few metres to give us interesting facts. The whole tour was honestly amazing bit I will only put down the highlights. However even simple things were impressive, the roads we were walking on were made of marble and were as wide as our streets today. They even had grooves in the marble on the slopes so that they wouldn't be too slippery when it rained. I was very interested in these two symbols carved into the marble on opposite sides of the road that indicated where the medical centre and the pharmacy use to stand! I also love that people that long ago had a sewerage system. On the sloped roads everything would run down to the port under the ground without any encouragement but on the flat sections the slaves would be down in the tunnels shovelling the muck away from the city. We saw this public bathroom where the richer men would go to well use the bathroom but also to chat about important society matters. There was a fountain in the centre of the bathroom to create noise that would mask the sound of these important discussions to anyone walking past on the main street. Also another slave job would be sitting on the marble toilets to warm them up before their master came to use it. On our way down to the impressive library at this site we passed by a covered in section of the site that features some of the terrace houses of the city this part of the site was on the other tour but not ours but we were told that it cost millions to build the shade cloth thing over the uncovered foundations.

The Library of Celsus was seriously awesome. All the pieces were laying in the ground in pieces and archeologists rebuilt it using ALL original materials. The library was actually initially the tomb of a governor of this city but his son converted it into a library to ensure the beautiful tomb of his father had a purpose and hence would always be looked after. Our guide told us that the market was next to this library (due to its position down near the port) and that the brothel was across the road. Apparently there was a secret tunnel between the library and the brothel so the women could go do the shopping and would leave their husband at the library and he could sneak to the brothel without being seen! Pretty clever! Not far from here we were also shown one of the first ever advertisements/billboards. There was this one stone with a picture of a lady crying (to symbolise the brothel), a heart with 20 coins in it (it will cost you 20 coins to try and mend her broken heart), a left foot (its on the left) and a cross (it's before the intersection). There was also a hole in the stone where a candle could be put to light up the ad! One other thing that was cool was the Trajan fountain, this was relatively ruined but in its day it had a statue of the emperor Trajan standing on a globe with an inscription saying that he ruled the world with his foot. This is interesting as it was built in 100AD and all through the 1400s explorers thought the earth was flat. Somewhere in history our knowledge, well the ancient Greeks/Romans knowledge was lost. When we finished the tour we then had free time at the site and we explored the theatre which was very much like the one at Epidavros. It was then back on the bus, after fighting off the people selling stuff and we headed off to a Turkish carpet making factory thing. It was a bit gimmicky and it was obvious that there was a deal going on as we got free drinks when we came in. I couldn't afford to buy anything but I did really enjoy the demonstrations. I especially enjoyed the silk one as I used to have silk worms as a kid. They told us that the kill some of the moths in their cocoons to get the silk and the cocoons are out in this hot water bath thing. The girl then brushes them with this stick and gathers up the fibres using this foot pedalled wheel thing. It was very cool to watch! We also saw the ladies weaving the rugs which was awesome. It did make me appreciate why they are so expensive! Plus, as much as it was a big tourist selling thing apparently its like a collective and so they train women to make the rugs and then they can work from home and their stuff is all sold at a central location and so it keeps their traditional skill alive.

When we finished here our bus took us back into the port town so that we could do some shopping in the bazaars before getting back on board the boat. It was lovely and sunny down here and it was nice to do some shopping. As we have found in other areas of Turkey the store owners are very full on, approaching you in the street, offering you drinks and things. However if you were brave enough you could haggle pretty well. I ended up getting my silk carpet and Elysia got a fake bag. On the way back we had an awesome view of the whole ship and so we got lots of photos in the sun before we jumped back on board.

We had sort of organised a group lunch again and so we chatted about our morning, the funniest thing being Sheena having a $5000 ring forced on her finger. Once we had all had a good feed Harlen arrived and while we weren't intentionally avoiding him we were all done so we left him to have lunch on his own and we went out to one of the top decks to sit in the sun for awhile. It was a bit windy but the sun was lovely and warm so a few of us had cocktails and relaxed in the sun. After this we still had a few hours before arriving at the next port and so we decided to go to one of the only ship activities that would be interesting rather than awkward. We went and watched a cooking demonstration where they made a tzatziki dip and a saganaki. It smelt amazing when the cooked it and we got recipes so at some point I will have a go at making them myself. Directly after this there was a towel folding demonstration and the swans on how beds had looked awesome so we watched this as well and I bought the book so something else I can have a crack at later! After this I decided to have a shower because after our stop in Patmos we will basically go straight to our toga party and I had free time now. I also had a bit of a rest as I'm lacking sleep with the late nights and early starts. It was a bit bumpy as I laid down so I was pretty glad when we got the call to say we were coming into the port.

The South African brothers had a tour here in Patmos but the rest of us were exploring independently and so once we were off the boat Courtney walked us through town to start with and we decided to stop at one little restaurant t try the fresh local calamari which was delicious. The tour the boys were on went to the monastery of Saint John the apostle but we discovered you could catch a public bus up there and while we couldn't go into the monastery we could check out the outside and the top of the hill offered an amazing view of the island. We took lots of photos from the top and wandered around here for awhile. The monastery is pretty cool as it is in a fortress that was built because the island often had problems with pirates. We then found the walking track that would take us back down to the town. On the way down we also stopped at Cave of the Apocalypse in the Grotto. This is the cave where John the apostle lived when he was exiled by the Romans to Patmos and it is said that he wrote the book of revelations here. Today it is more of a church built into the cave and I didn't bother paying to go in but some of the others did. John apparently wrote the book of revelations after Christ appeared to him here and there is a 3 pronged crack in the wall of the cave (representing the father, the son and the Holy Spirit), that was caused by this spiritual event. It was then a really nice walk the rest of the way to town and when we got back we browsed the shops and stopped at an icecream parlour with Internet. We then got back on board for a group dinner before the Toga party.

On the ship tonight was Greek night so all the passengers had been encouraged to wear blue and white but just our contiki group were given sheets so that we could dress up in togas. Elysia and I had quite a bit of trouble getting our togas on but we eventually got organised and we met the group in the reflections lounge where karaoke was on. We also had a 1 hour free drinks session shouted by contiki but the ones of us with the drinks package didn't need to drink like crazy as all our drinks were free! The boat was pretty rough at this stage and after having the big dinner I had literally on drink and I wasn't feeling to well. I raced back to the room and got some motion sickness and nausea tablets and then rejoined the group. Thankfully these kicked in and the ocean settled a little bit so I felt fine the rest of the night. Once the drinking session was over we got into karaoke. Courtney and Alex did a number and so did Sheena before we split the group in half and had a contest. My group did bohemian rhapsody and despite me being slightly biased I think our group sounded better but in the official computer generated score we lost. Then we did our tour song Summer of 69 and crazily our score was 69! So crazy! We decided not to watch the fairly cheesy performance tonight so we headed up to the disco deck straight after the karaoke. Up here there was lots of drinking and we played a few card drinking games until we decided we were exhausted and ready for bed!
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