The flight from Istanbul to Izmir was only 45 minutes, but Turkish Airlines managed to serve us a meal and drinks in that time. How's that for service?
To see Ephesus, cruise ships come into Kuşadası and Izmir has the airport, but I'd decided to stay in the town of Selçuk, which is the closest city to the ruins. It was about an hour journey from the airport and since it would be after dark and I'd be alone, I paid the extra bucks to have the hotel arrange a shuttle. The hotel owner himself, Osman, picked me up in Izmir and off we went, driving through the dark Turkish countyside while Katy Perry accompanied us. Me and an older Turkish man alone in a van - high awkward potential, but it was totally fine.
I settled into my little room for the night at Hotel Nazar (I'd recommend it) and caught up on all those Kindle books I'd downloaded from the library. Next morning I went downstairs where Osman and Asim were cooking breakfast for the handful of hotel guests that were around. Turkish breakfasts are excellent. Not that they eat anything that we don't eat, but the foods are eaten a different hour and their produce is really fresh. Tomatoes, cucumbers, a variety of olives and cheeses, bread, cherry jam, eggs, and apple tea.
My tour group was supposed to pick me up at 9am, but the guides are friends with Osman and called his cell phone to let me know that they were running late. I love how tourism functions in small places - everyone knows each other. I headed upstairs to the hotel roof deck to read and see the city.
We drove down the hill towards the ruins of Ephesus to get into the meat of the tour.
Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, founded in the 10th century BC. During the Roman period, it peaked at a population of maybe 400,000 and was a major port city and center of Christianity in Asia Minor. The Apostle Paul spent some good time there, John may have written his Gospel there, right right.....Only 15% of the city has been excavated, and I could've easily spent a full day exploring the site. It was probably a pretty cool place back in the day. It's been through lots of earthquakes, so who knows how many times these ruins have fallen and been put back together.
Walking into the site, it's mostly ancient plumbing.
And then here's a bunch more stuff that was cool to look at and learn about, but I'll spare you the details.
Because I know you just want to see the Library of Celsus from the early 2nd century. Earthquakes and fires have destroyed most of it, but the facade has been restored and is about 70% original. It's the most famous part of this place.
Here's the view from the top of Curetes Street.
But before we get to the library, there are the Terrace Houses, where the aristocrats of Ephesus lived.
(Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius, in case you were wondering). Have we ever had Five Good Presidents in a row?
Finally, we reach the library! Notice that there's no one in the photo? Yay for low season travel.
it's pretty cool.
The Stadium held about 40,000 people and was used for sports, ceremonies, and later gladiator stuff and throwing Christians to the lions. Elton John and Sting have both played there, too. Kinda wild.
We drove back into town to pay a visit to the Ephesus Museum which is small but worth a quick visit. There's the Ephesian version of Artemis.
The shop owner welcomed us and told us they had a little fashion show for us. I thought a couple people would just come out with some leather coats, he'd talk about them, and that would be that. Nope! The lights were dimmed, Lady Gaga came on, and as soon as those beats hit, it was spotlights and strutting. Full hair and makeup. I think we were all laughing really hard inside. How does one get this job? Do they really want to be models? Or do they know it's a joke like we all did? One of the funnier experiences I've had. A girl would walk out, followed by a guy who'd rip off her jacket, then turn it around and put it back on her, because it is reversible! Hilarious acting. I should've taken a video. Magical moments for sure.
I had dried apricots and chips for dinner that night, since there were no tourists around town and literally every cafe/restaurant was full of Turkish men, puffing away on their cigs. I didn't really feel like hanging out in that after a long day of touring.
Şirince the next morning, I decided to stay in town and see a couple other things. I borrowed a travel guide from my San Diego friends at the hotel and set off up the hill to the Basilica of St John. I didn't get too far when one of the shop guys called out to me (first in Turkish, of course) and we started to chat. Before I knew it, I'd accepted his offer of some apple tea, and he pulled out some benches for us to hang out. Şehmus was pretty captivating, not gonna lie. We chatted and flirted and 45 minutes later I promised to return after I toured the two sites. But only after trying on some hats.
To the Basilica of St John! Built in the 6th century, it stands over the believed site of John's grave. Except hmmm.....
While wandering the grounds, a guy came over and asked me if I wanted to go up and see the fortress, which I'd heard was closed for renovations. He assured me that he had keys and could get me in if I really wanted to go. Um, no thanks, dude.
Down the hill is the Isa Bey Mosque, aka the Jesus Mosque.
Şehmus a little more before catching the bus to the airport. If only I'd met him a day before, he said. He'd have taken me to dinner, talked with me, and maybe I'd fall in love and marry a Turk. He was amazed that I don't shack up with a boyfriend and don't drink, so hey, maybe he'd be cool with a Mormon girl.