Day 9: Ephesus
Trip Start Jul 05, 2008
14Trip End Jul 19, 2008
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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
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
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.