170416 - EPHESUS
Woke up exhausted and cursing myself (see entry for 4/15). With less sleep than I should have had, I stumbled down to breakfast, which by the way, is not only amazing at the Hilton Garden Inn in Izmir, but is also free for guests. There must be twelve types of cheese, a wide assortment of olives (double yuck), delicious pastries (which I cannot have), fresh omelets to order, as well as cereals, fruits, salads and breakfast sausages.
After three cups of coffee and one to go, I felt closer to alive and prepared for our outing. Our hosts, Sila and her husband, took us to the ancient ruins of Ephesus, which was actually part of the original Greek empire. On the way, we passed lovely scenery and happened upon this rare gem.
We also visited a cave structure called Seven Sleeping Giants, where there was a wish tree. We all tied Kleenex on a branch and I wished for peace for the Turkish people following the referendum happening today.
Ephesus is not to be missed. I’m a history major but this place left me awestruck. Estimated to house over 250,000 residents, the city’s ruins wind down and around, seemingly endless and sprawling. There was an amphitheater there said to hold 25,000 people. The architecture was certainly a mix between Greek and Roman influence with many of the structures in tact.
Outside the gates of the museum park, you will find the trappings of any tourist attraction. I bought some tennis shoes, which I was originally told not to wear because they made me look “too American.” Of course, when I arrived Turkey, everyone was wearing tennis shoes.
Next up was the quaint village of Selcuk. The home of the Virgin Mary is close by this town, but since it was Easter Sunday and we have several recovering Catholics in the group, we skipped that site. With winding cobblestone streets, village traffic still runs through the thick crowds. We had traditional Turkish lunch of kepab (grilled meat on a stick) that we call kebabs. Every meal here is served with an abundance of vegetables and there is always an assortment of amazing cheeses. Over eager cats begged for food relentlessly.
After lunch we wandered along the crowded cobblestone streets filled with street vendors and Turkish coffee cafes. The girls were all wearing crowns of flowers and the sun streamed down on us while the cool breeze kept us perfectly comfortable. We headed back To Izmir, tired but thrilled by the day we had courtesy our amazing Turkish hosts – Sila and her band of merry men.