Its my turn…
Day 116/138 2022/2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise. Kusadasi, Turkey.
If its the day after Rhodes, Greece, then we must be in Kusadasi, Turkey! It feels like a bit of a whirlwind having so many days in a row of visiting ports. I am not sure I would like a cruise that visits a port everyday, after having the benefit of time with some sea days in between ports to relax on the ship.
Arriving in Kusadasi, Turkey. The colourful hillside homes are very welcoming in this beautiful spot in Turkey.
Neither one of us has ever been to Turkey before so we were very interested in seeing this small seaside town in Turkey. Most people who visit Kusadasi come to see the ruins of Ephesus, which is very close to Kusadasi, and we were no different, having chosen the Viking “Ancient Ephesus” optional tour today.
We met our guide Bryan on the pier today, to start our tour, after going through the Cruise Terminal. What a snap to get from the ship to the bus. Bryan sounded like he was an American and sure enough he had been raised in Galveston, USA and was now living outside Kusadasi. Bryan’s wife is a marine biologist and she had the opportunity to move for her career, so Bryan gave up his commercial airline pilot’s job in the U.S. to fly a private jet for a wealthy family a couple of times a week, as well as doing about 20 tours a year for Viking, Seabourn and Regent Cruise lines. After only living in Turkey for 8 years, Bryan has an excellent command of the Turkish language from what we could tell.
Kusadasi is a large resort town on Turkey’s Aegean coast and tourism is the largest industry for the town. With a population of 120,000+ people, the town is overrun with up to 500,000 tourists in the busier summer season. Kusadasi actually means ‘Bird Island’ taken from the close by Island that is the home to many birds.
‘The Hand of Peace Sculpture’ on the waterfront in Kusadasi, which represents the city with its many birds.
Our drive to Ephesus to see the ancient town was to take about 25 minutes. During that time we received a history lesson from Bryan our guide, on Turkey. Turkish history dates back thousands of years before the Turkish Republic was actually formed in 1923 with Mustafa Kemal Ataturk as its leader. Ataturk undertook sweeping progressive reforms which modernized Turkey into a secular industrialized nation. Ataturk came to prominence for his role in securing the Ottoman Turkish victory at the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915 during WWI. Following the defeat and dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, he led the Turkish National Movement, which resisted the mainland Turkey‘s partition among the victorious Allied powers. He proceed to abolish the Ottoman Empire and declared the Turkish Republic in its place. Ataturk made education free and compulsory, opening thousands of new schools all over the country. He introduced a new Turkish alphabet replacing the old Ottoman Turkish alphabet. Turkish women received equal civil and political rights and were also given some voting rights in 1930 and in 1934 full suffrage. His government tried to create a homogenous unified and secular nation under the Turkish flag. He is known as “the leader of the first struggle given against colonialism and imperialism…and a remarkable promoter of the sense of understanding between peoples and durable peace between the nations of the world that he worked all his life for the development of harmony and cooperation between peoples without distinction”.
Bryan went on to speak about the current President of Turkey. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is facing re-election next month and has basically bankrupted the country of Turkey over the past few years with his unorthodox monetary policy, contributing to a significant currency and debt crisis. The Turkish lira has plunged in value, with high inflation and rising borrowing costs. Inflation in Turkey is running at 55.2% and our guide was happy that he was being paid in US $ given the low, and declining purchasing power of the Turkish lira.
Before we went to see ancient Ephesus, our guide Bryan brought us to see a typical nomadic family’s farm in Ephesus.
A small nomadic farm on the way to Ephesus.
A larger nomadic farm with baby goats trying to climb the sandy walls of the cliff. I have a cute video I will post on Facebook of the baby goats playing.
We walked back to our bus and quickly took pictures of the statue of the Virgin Mary that was on the hillside near Ephesus.
There were other tourists visiting the statue and they all wanted a photo with the Virgin Mary.
I guess the Virgin Mary Taxi business is pretty popular in Ephesus.
We entered the Ephesus Archaeological Site from the Upper entrance and walked the 3 km down to the lower gate. Ephesus was an ancient port city whose well preserved ruins are near Kusadasi, Turkey. The city was once considered the most important Greek city and the most important trading center in the Mediterranean region. Ephesus survived multiple attacks and changed hands many times between conquerors. It was also a hotbed of early Christian evangelism and remains an important archaeological site and Christian pilgrimage destination.
Founded in the 11th Century B.C., the legend says that Androclos searched for a new Greek settlement, so he turned to the oracle Delphi for guidance. The oracle told him a boar and a fish would show him the new location. One day as Androcolos was frying fish over an open fire, a fish flopped out of the frying pan and landed in the nearby bushes. A spark ignited the bushes and a wild boar ran out. Recalling the story told to him by Delphi, he built his new settlement where the bushes stood and called it Ephesus.
Much of Ephesus’s ancient history is unrecorded and sketchy. Ephesus fell under the rule of the Lydian Kings in 7th Century B.C. and became a thriving city where men and women enjoyed equal opportunities. The Temple of Artemis was rebuilt in Ephesus and as Artemis was the goddess of the hunt, chastity, childbirth, wild animals and the wilderness, she was much revered. Her temple was burned down in 356 B.C. But it was rebuilt even bigger and it became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Alexander the Great defeated the Persians in Ephesus in 334 B.C. In 236 B.C. Ephesus fell under Egyptian rule and in 129 B.C. the Romans took over Ephesus, until the 3rd century A.D. While Caesar Augustus ruled, Ephesus enjoyed its most prosperous time flourishing as a port city with massive amounts of goods arriving or departing form the man-made harbour and from caravans travelling the ancient Royal Road. Ephesus was second only to Rome as a cosmopolitan centre of culture and commerce. Mary the mother of Jesus is thought to have spent her last years in Ephesus with Saint John. We did not visit her house or John’s tomb on our visit though. In the New Testament in the Bible, written around 60 A.D. Paul pens a letter to the Ephesian Christians who are based in Ephesus. In 262 A.D. the Goths destroyed Ephesus and during the Byzantine era, Constantine the Great declared Christianity the official religion of all of Rome and made Constantinople (Istanbul) the capital of the Roman eastern empire. That left Ephesus a city facing decline due to accumulating silt in its harbour. Massive earthquakes in the 6th and 7th centuries, along with ongoing Arab invasions forced most of the population of Ephesus to flee and start a new settlement. The Ottoman Empire took final control of Ephesus in the 15th Century but by then the city was in dire straits and was eventually abandoned.
Odeion of Ancient Ephesus is a small, semi-circular Theatre originally constructed in the 2nd century A.D. The building would have served as a space for political meetings, social events, concerts and theatrical performances.
Odeion of Ancient Ephesus which had a capacity for only 1,500 spectators. The odeion was built by the Greeks, because we learned that the Greek amphitheatres were no more than 180 degrees or a semi-circle, compared to the Roman (later) amphitheatres.
The arched entryways that are shaped like mouths are called ‘VOMITERIUMS’ for their shape. Vomit is the Greek word meaning mouth. Who knew? These vomiteriums would have served as entrances for latecomers who were looking for seats.
The Agora in Ephesus which was the shopping and trade street where the slave market operated. Goods were brought in from cities all over the world through the harbour. There was a large courtyard in the Agora, with shops on both sides. A large pedestrian walkway with a covered ceiling surrounded the area.
Another view looking down upon the Agora, or shopping street. The marble on the street was extremely slippery and I was very worried about falling. If you go to Ephesus wear good shoes with sturdy grips! I had on my very best Vessi walking shoes today for our walk through ancient Ephesus.
Our guide was good but was clearly not interested in photography with the photographers having to figure out where to climb up to get the best shots of Ephesus. If it had been up to our guide, everyone would have just followed the lollipop and the shots I took above would never have happened.
The Heracles gate is located on the Curettes road and separates uptown from downtown. Two monumental pillars from the structure hold reliefs of Heracles. The gates date back to the 2nd Century A.D. however archeologist believe these reliefs were brought from other buildings to be used in the construction of the gate sometime in the 4th Century AD. These gates would have narrowed the access for vehicles to pass through the street.
The public latrine constructed in the 1st Century B.C. could be reached from the covered ‘Academy Street‘ and the 48 public toilets made of marble were free for citizens and visitors to sit on three sides of the colonnaded courtyard.
Fresh water flowed in the channel in front of the seats for cleaning and in winter, the latrines were kept warm by an underground heating system that funnelled steam from the baths into the latrine.
The latrines were a meeting place to chat and exchange gossip and news. People spent a lot of time reading or thinking in the latrines. Since there was no toilet paper, the clients used sponges attached to sticks, that were stored in vinegar for hygienic purposes and they washed in the channel with running clean water after each use. Interesting. I prefer privacy and toilet paper still!
Our guide suggested that we pay the extra 8 Euros and visit the Terrace House 2 project that is currently still under excavation in Ephesus. Most people on our tour agreed to pay the extra money and go inside to see what the excavation looked like. The guide suggested that if we agreed to visit the Terrace House 2 project we would add an extra 30 minutes to our tour, but he said it would be so very worth the time and the money.
Terrace House 2 project in Ephesus is all enclosed and has multiple steps and railings for visitors to see the progress that is being made to uncover these Terrace Homes.
The level of detail on the homes, with their painted walls and intricately tiled floors was absolutely stunning!
Looking down from above on the archeological site. I was astounded by the size and scope of this project and how beautiful the tile work on the floor was, as well as the intricate designs on the walls.
The plot of land on which these terrace homes were built dates back to around 200 B.C.
The narrow archways from room to room in the Terrace Homes.
The designs for me were breathtaking and I was able to get up very close to see the designs.
The structure consists of six or seven separate residential units of roughly equal size, each with its own direct access to the street These separate homes directly adjoined one another, but shared only few common spaces including the access roads and lanes around them. The ground levels vary considerably given the slope of the surrounding land. Each home was designed around a large central courtyard, in some cases supplemented with a second one, open to the sky and serving as a source or light and air as well as a hub of circulation within the unit. A reception room, dining room and other rooms were all finely decorated. Smaller bedrooms are located throughout the homes.
The Austrian Archaeological Institute is responsible for most excavations at Ephesus since 1893. The Terrace House 2 as a wealthy residence area came to a halt around AD 280, when the complex suffered substantial damage from a major earthquake.
Library of Celsus.
A close of up the Library of Celsus. We did not have much time for exploration of the Library, since we had gone to visit the Terrace Home 2 excavation. The Library of Celsus building was commissioned by Roman Gaius Julius Aquila as a funerary monument for his father Tiberius Julius Celsius Polemaenus, the former proconsul of Asia. The Library of Celsus is considered an architectural marvel and is one of the only remaining examples of great libraries of the ancient world located in the Roman Empire. It was the third largest library in the Greco-Roman World. Again the interior of the library and its contents were destroyed in a fire that resulted either from an earthquake or a Gothic invasion in 262 AD.
A Judas Tree in full bloom! It was stunning! There is a myth that Judas Iscariot, after betraying Jesus, hanged himself from a tree of this species, causing its white flowers to turn red. We were painting one of these trees in art class but I have not yet finished that project.
The Marble Road which led to the Roman Theatre. Check out the cat lying on the stone wall.
I am not normally a cat person, but this cat gave me a good photo opportunity with the Marble Road in the background.
The great Theater of Ephesus has a width of 145 metres and its auditorium once reached up to 30 meters. The theatre could accommodate 24,000 spectators and construction began in 41-54 AD. The building is important as an example of a Greek building later enhanced by Roman architects. The theatre was never covered by a roof. The earthquakes between 359 to 366 AD destroyed the upper caves. The Theatre was one of the first structures excavated by archaeologist before WWI. In the 1970s and 1990s the caves was completely excavated and restored.
Pondering the size of the Theatre from the stage.
Our guide had us watch a pretty hokey theatrical performance put on by some actors on the Marble Road which consisted of Cleopatra visiting Julius Caesar and some Roman gladiators having a fake battle in front of the stage. After that pretty bad performance, we were told not to speak to any of the vendors lining the souk outside the ruins of Ancient Ephesus, so we could get back on the bus to go back to Kusadasi.
Our port talk on Kusadasi had warned us that all buses after our tours would be going to the carpet manufacturer/retailer/wholesaler downtown Kusadasi and that we were under no obligation to go inside to share in any beverages or snacks. We had one woman on our bus complain to our guide that our tour was running behind schedule and that she did not want to go to the carpet factory, instead wanted the bus to take her back to the port. It was kind of embarrassing frankly that the woman who was complaining had been warned in the port talk about the carpet factory visit and had agreed from the outset that our tour would be 30 minutes longer because we visited the Terrace Houses 2 at Ancient Ephesus. The guide handled it well and went off the microphone, went over to where the woman was sitting and tried to speak to the woman, who refused to look at the guide and instead stared out the window. I’m sorry, but people who are rude to guides are very annoying. We have had numerous incidents recently where people who are not happy with a tour or not happy with the timing of a tour, or what is included on a tour, take it out on a guide. That is BAD BEHAVIOUR and it needs to stop frankly! Guides do not deserve to be treated badly because someone is having a bad day or wants to get back to the ship sooner. It is not the guide’s fault. They are doing their best and frankly after Covid, we are lucky to have some of the very skilled, intelligent guides we have had on this trip. Let’s be pleasant and if we are having a bad day find another way to get rid of your aggressions, instead of reaming out the guide!
The mandatory or optional which ever way you saw it, trip to the carpet factory, was very interesting.
Cocoons soaking in boiling water.
Silkworm cocoons submerged in boiling water which is a process called stifling. Then the silk cocoons are unravelled and spun on a spinning wheel.
We watched Ayesha working on this beautiful silk rug that she has been working on for 22 months, double knotting the dyed silk yarn, and cutting the silk threads, to make the rug. Apparently this rug has already been sold and someone has been waiting a long time for it.
We were taken into a room where we were shown a lot of different varieties of rugs. Some silk, some wool and cotton and some a combination of these materials. We were not in the market for a rug today though, so we left after we had seen the rugs that were being shown to our fellow passengers. We do understand that from the 9 buses that visited the rug shop today, that many rugs were sold and the owner did quite well for himself!
Since our tour had gone on longer than planned and we spent a fair bit of time at the rug place, we had to get going. We were on a mission for another suitcase in Kusadasi. Richard had spoken to the Viking staff, who had told him that the best place to buy another suitcase was in Kusadasi. The Viking crew apparently also bought their suitcases there, because the shopkeepers were willing to bargain and negotiate.
We set off down the winding streets of Kusadasi to try and find a large soft sided suitcase. How difficult could this be after all? It turned out to be quite difficult actually because most stores were selling hard shell suitcases and we wanted a soft sided large suitcase, which not many shops carried. Richard was trying to negotiate for a large suitcase for 25 Euros and no one was willing to go that low for a super large suitcase. Finally after walking all around the area near the port, we got our suitcase for 40 Euros.
A very large soft sided suitcase. We did not bring 4 checked bags like many people on this cruise did. We had 2 checked bags - 1 large and 1 medium sized, and we had a golf travel bag for both sets of golf clubs. So we should be good now to pack up our souvenirs we’ve bought to try and get everything home!
We had not had lunch and it was going on 3pm so we decided to head up along the pedestrian mall in Kusadasi and find a place to eat. There were many lovely outdoor cafes in the pedestrian mall and we found a quaint little place for some authentic Mediterranean food, so we got a table with our suitcase, to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine.
Richard enjoying another local beer. He quite liked this one from Turkey called EFES.
While Richard waited for the food, I went and did some window shopping. The names on the stores just cracked me up.
The ‘Happy Wife’ store!
The ‘WhyNot’ Store.
The ‘Florida Handbag’ store.
Where they got these names from I have no idea! What I do know is that every time I passed by a store and didn’t go in, the owner or shopkeeper would come over to me and say “Its my turn” or “Where are you from?” or “Please come look, you need a purse, tshirt, shoes,……fill in the blank!” I didn’t buy anything frankly because they were just way too pushy and we really didn’t have a lot of free time for shopping, since we had heard Istanbul was the place to shop, in the Grand Bazaar.
Waiting for lunch, watching the people go by in Kusadasi, Turkey.
We shared this delicious lunch of chicken kabobs, salad, coleslaw, rice and fries and a nice Greek salad with fresh feta. We really have enjoyed the lemons in Asia. They are so juicy and tasty!
Waiting for Richard to get my Turkish apple tea in a ‘to go’ cup, so I could enjoy the tea back on the ship, once we got back to the Neptune.
We walked back through this very quaint seaside town of Kusadasi, enjoying the time we did have to spend here, reflecting on what a great day we had. Too short of course, but that goes without saying when we are only stopping for one day at a port.
We got back to the ship around 4:30pm for a 5:00pm back on board time.
Sailing away from beautiful Kusadasi. What a lovely place to visit.
We set sail for Istanbul and were expected to arrive at 6pm the next evening, so we had a quasi sea day to recover from our time in Rhodes, Ephesus and Kusadasi where we did a lot of walking!