From Rugs to Ruins !

Trip Start Sep 22, 2009
Trip End Oct 14, 2009

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Flag of Turkey  , Turkish Aegean Coast,
Saturday, October 3, 2009

Merhaba!  That's Turkish for Hello! 

The sail down the Aegean coast offered large swells among clear skies.  Despite stabilizers on our 100,000 ton Ruby, the swells provided an interesting experience during my mid morning spin class.  It's one of the few times I experienced movement from side to side while I was cycling.  It felt like I was cycling on a tilt-a-whirl at the fair!  Now I know what it would feel like if I were road cycling during an earthquake.

The longer distance from Istanbul had us scheduled to arrive in Kusadasi at 12:30pm.  On today's intinerary, a tour to the ancient Roman city of Ephesus.  It's been described as one of the most fascinating archaeological sites available to the modern day traveler.  The ruins of Ephesus take on a value and a special significance among the numerous sites of an archaeological interest. This is due to its inestimable artistic patrimony, its titanic heritage of history and culture, and the inexhaustible beauty and charm of its archaeological site.  It's easy to imagine the days when Ephesus was the capital of Asia Minor and a major commercial center. 

The original site of Ancient Ephesus was most likely established on the Aegean coast, on the shores of that sea which today is located 8 km. away from the achaeological excavations. In Roman times it was situated on the northern slopes of the hills Coressus and Pion and south of the Cayster (Kucuk Menderes) River, the silt from which has since formed a fertile plain but has caused the coastline to move ever farther west. In Roman times a sea channel was maintained with difficulty to a harbour well west of Pion. By late Byzantine times this channel had become useless, and the coast by the mid-20th century was three miles farther west.

Ephesus once had a great harbor, but because of the lack of tides in the Mediterranean to clear out the debris, the harbor tended to silt up. It was probably from this harbor that Paul set sail for Macedonia after the Ephesian riot.

The main street of the city was the Arcadian Way which led from the harbor to the theater. The street was over 100 feet wide and paved with marble slabs. The street was often used for parades and ceremonies, and was flanked on either side by rows of columns 50 feet deep. The street was named in honor of the emperor Arcadius (A.D. 383-408) who enlarged and restored it. At night the street was lit by lanterns.

The great theater at Ephesus gives us some idea of the elegance of the ancient city in the time of Paul. The construction began during the reign of Claudies (A.D. 41-54) and was completed during the reign of Trajan (A.D. 98-117). This massive structure measured 495 feet in diameter and seated an estimated 25,000 people. The great uproar over Diana of the Ephesians took place here.

The Library of Celsus built in A.D. 135 by Julius Aguila in memory of his father, Celsus, who was a Roman senator and governor-general of the province of Asia. Here thousands of parchments and papyri were stored, protected from dampness and worms by a double wall. Estimates of the number of rolls that could be stored in the library vary from 9,500 to 12,000. Celsus was a lover of books and was given the honor of being buried, not only within the city, but in the vault of his own library among his books. On the first floor of its fašade there stood four female statues representing wisdom, fortune, knowledge, and virtue.

Another important street was Curetes Street, which derived its name from the Curetes (priests), who guarded the sacred fire of the hestia (hearth) in the prytaneion. The Curetes were a college of priests attached to the service of Artemis. Many inscriptions and reliefs may be seen along the street, including a relief representing Nike, the goddess of victory, with a wreath in her left hand and a spike in the right. The most beautiful building on Curetes Street is the Temple of Hadrian (A.D. 117-138). The Fountain of Trajan (A.D. 98-117) is located on the northern end of the street -- it was dedicated to the Emperor Trajan at the end of the first century.

The Odeion in Ephesus had 22 tiers and accommodated over 1500 spectators. Here musicians played their flutes, lyres, and citharas, and poets recited from Homer.

Returning back to Kusadasi, we got off the tour bus in front of another Turkish Rug store.  It seems that Turkish Rug stores are a regular stop on many tours as our tour of Istanbul yesterday also had us begin at a Rug store.  Upon entering, we're greeted with friendly and hospitable sales staff.  We're offered a cup of tea, usually apple tea.  Perhaps the tea is meant to be some sort of aphrodesiac.  You know, loosen our senses and inhibitions.  While sipping our tea, all guests are given a history of Turkish rug making and shown numerous rugs, of different sizes, quality, colours and of course, price!

The experience is similar to participating in a condominium timeshare sales pitch!  Very personable but smooth talkin' sales staff!  All they're lookin' for is one weak moment and "BAMM", your credit card is being debited several thousand dollars!  On the bright side, you'd be the owner of one very nice, high quaulity Turkish rug!  Probably the only one on the block!

We managed to escape (perhaps "elude" is a better word) the Turkish sales staff and walked out without making a purchase.  Nothing against the Turks!  The sales staff were very friendly and hospitable!  Their rugs are of very high quality!  However, we just weren't in the market for an area rug.  We then used our remaining time in Kusadasi to walk around the city center and do some leisurely browsing through the Grand Bazaar, making a purchase of, you guessed it, Turkish wine and freshly made Turkish Delight (the Turks call it "Turkish Viagra).  Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to partake in a Turkish Bath!   

As we disembarked the port of Kusadasi, we got a sense of why this area is a very popular travel destination for northern and western Europeans.  The citizens seem to be very friendly, the climate is very nice, and the costs appear to be very affordable!  The evening had us enjoy another beautiful dinner.  The entertainment in the Princess Theatre had us laughing to comedian Billy Vader. 

One joke we remember had Mr. Vader describing a recent trip to Australia.  Upon filling out a visa application to enter the country of Australia, an immigration officer asked him, "do you have a criminal record?"  To which Mr. Vader responded, "I didn't know you still needed one!"  ha!ha!  That Great Country DownUnder still gets kidded about it's penal origins.  
Tonight we head west to the center of Greek mythology, Athens!  See ya tomorrow!!

Hoşšakal (I hope that's Turkish for good-bye)  Cheers, Rick & Elsie! 
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