Day 9: Ephesus

Trip Start Jul 05, 2008
Trip End Jul 19, 2008

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Crystal Serenity

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

To borrow the line from a movie (Field of Dreams I think), "If you build it, they will come." The founding fathers of Ephesus dared to dream of a city to rival all others. Architects, draftsmen, stonemasons, woodworkers, laborers, artists, and sculptors all worked to create the Asian trade center of Imperial Rome: Among the buildings-a Temple to Artemis (Diana), which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. When Ephesus was at the height of its prosperity in the 2nd Century AD, it was home to more than 300,000 people.  The city was relocated 4 times when silt made the harbor inaccessible.  Paul the apostle lived there from 49 to 52 AD.  But I will get back to Ephesus in a moment.
Saturday night, we had dinner in the Vintage Room. This is the only "restaurant" that charges extra.  The emphasis here is not on the food, although that was excellent, but on wine. It was an International Wine Tour. There were 12 of us with the head Sommelier as our host. We ended up trying one champagne (a Dom Perignon), 2 white wines (an Austrian Reisling and Western Australia chardonnay), 3 red wines (a Brunello, A Bordeaux, and a Sonoma Bordeux blend) and an Austrian Eiswein.  (No, we didn't drink 7 glasses. I think I drank all the champagne and all the California Bordeux, only because it was the glass on the end. If you want to know the specific wines, let me know and I'll send you the list.) The food was paired to go with the wines and it wasn't pedestrian fare.  We started with an Ahi Tuna Roll, then Duck Prosciutto with Fig Brulee, Lobster Tail with Artichoke Ravioli, Seared Scallop Saltimbocca, Kobe Beef with Fois Gras, Roquefort and Pear and ending with a chocolate trilogy. The only thing that no one really liked was the Roquefort and Pear.
 Back to ancient Aegean history: I think I can safely say that seeing Ephesus may be the highlight of our trip. Maybe it was standing on the stage of the amphitheater and looking up to see what Paul saw as he preached; maybe it was walking down the Marble road, past columns that lined the street to the reconstructed fašade of the Celsus Library, or maybe it was just the wonder at seeing such ancient things up close that made it so memorable. Whatever it was, visiting Ephesus was a trip through ancient history.
We docked in Kusadasi at 8 AM.  We opted for a private tour here, as it wasn't that much more than a ship's tour. I also knew that a ship's tour wouldn't take us to see the Terrace Houses in Ephesus and that it was on the must see list.  Turkish drivers are nuts. Maybe the strong coffee makes them pass 3 tour buses on a winding mountain road or maybe the driver was 5 seconds behind schedule, but driving in the van was an experience in itself. We first went to the house where it is believed that Mary the mother of Jesus lived until her death. Some dispute this, but don't tell that to the locals here.  I found it interesting that at one end of the complex was Mary's little home and at the other end was a soldier with an Uzi.
After that, we went to Ephesus. We walked through 1.5 km of it-all of it amazing. The Terrace Houses were incredible-private homes built one on top of another with shops at the bottom.  We could see the original mosaics that decorated the floors, the wall paintings (one had Socrates on it) and the open courtyards that let in light and rain water. Each home had hot and cold running water and indoor plumbing.
We walked past the Public Bath and gymnasium, down to the Celsus Library and gateway to the Harbor Road. Here the road split-one road led to the harbor, then other to the Temple of Artemis. All that remains there is a single column of a structure that was 4 times the size of the Parthenon. The columns were taken to build a structure in another location - Saint Sophia Basilica in what was then Constantinople. 
We then went and saw St. John's Basilica.  The ruins of this church overlook the site of the Temple of Artemis. There is a tomb to John the Apostle here, although he isn't buried there.
After all those ports, we were glad for a sea day the next day. We made reservations at the Italian restaurant, Prego, and invited a couple from our table to join us. The food was great, especially the Cream of Mushroom soup.
As I write this, we are at sea heading toward Athens and the end of our trip. I am low on internet minutes and will have just enough to post this. I will write about the rest of the trip when I get home and update the blog to include pictures and some things I have inadvertently omitted and go into more detail on some other things.
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wolflady on

Sounds wonderful!!
I would love to see just a portion of the places you have described. I sure look forward to the photos you plan to post. Sorry your trip is coming to a close but, we missed you on the boards.
Have a safe trip home.
Just realized that you posted this blog on the 14th and I just received notice of it tonight, the 17th. And we thought the post office was slow.:)

Brandy on

I was just wondering who you booked the tour through in Kusadasi? We are looking to book a tour but the ones the cruise offers just dont cover enough of what we want to see. Any help would be appreciated. brandy

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