Ephesus

Trip Start Jul 01, 2007
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Trip End Sep 02, 2007


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Friday, August 10, 2007

Note: I screwed up when uploading the Ephesus photos. They are all on the next blog entry.

Today we took the first big road trip that we've had in quite a while. We struck out for Ephesus somewhere around 9 this morning. The drive was same-old, same-old through Milas since we've done it a number of times heading to and from the airport. It got more interesting as we turned north and reached out into new territory. Things continued to be very dry and rocky. The stone outcroppings from the mountains looked more like shale than what we have around our house, but truth-be-told, I took geology as an 8am class and I could be wrong on that. The amount of agricultural land seemed to increase significantly. It seemed to be primarily orchards over tilled land. Lots of figs, an amazing amount of olives and, as we got further north, a good number of lime, peach and pear trees. At one point up in the mountains, we came upon a short strip of people by the side of the road selling, not only the figs we'd been seeing, but various nuts, honey (pine, oregano and flower), some sort of syrup that is made from a pod that I couldn't identify and neither could my parents (I'll post a photo in case someone can assist), almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios from both Antep and Milas, dried figs (both regular and some dusted with an unidentified white powder that was not sugar), olives and some jars of various nuts stacked in layers and soaked with honey. There were other things there as well, but those are the ones that leap to mind. Have I mentioned that fresh figs, at least in this region, are sold in little baskets that seem to be used exclusively for selling figs? At any rate, we bought an odd assortment of things and hit the road again. Our next stop was for lunch. I spied a little place by the side of the road that wasn't much more than a frame with some greenery providing shade and a few plastic tables, but they had running water and a stove and a peach orchard. We ordered tea, water, gozleme, and fanta and asked if we could have some peaches. While we watched the lady walked over to one of the trees, picked us a bunch of peaches, returned to the sink to wash them and presented them to us on a plate. I'm not sure they usually serve peaches, but it made us very happy. We were also served a plate of sliced tomatoes that we didn't request, but enjoyed. Kate and Nanny fed gozleme to cats. It was a very enjoyable meal.

At that point we were just 10 minutes from the last home of the Virgin Mary. We drove up a pretty steep mountain to find the site. It is nicely shaded and very peaceful for the most part. There is a chapel where the house foundation is and a spring where pilgrims can fill bottles of water and a grate where they can tie rags for prayers. In the evenings the priests burn them and the grate is ready for another day of wishes when morning comes. We visited the chapel, lit some candles, said some prayers and collected some water. The area also has its own post office, so we took a few minutes to send postcards while we were there.

Next we headed down the mountain to Ephesus. The site has two parking lots, so we parked at one and arranged for a horse carriage ride up to the other so we wouldn't have to walk the length of the site twice. This turned out to be a good call for a variety of reasons, not least of which was the fairly late hour at which we got started.

Ephesus is a huge site that has a wide variety of ruins that you can study, admire or climb on. They range from a giant amphitheater that seated 25,000 people to one of the oldest libraries in the world. The city once had a population of 250,000 and was the capital of Asia Minor. We felt like we should have done more homework before going there so that we could have gotten more out of the visit, but it was still a very good experience. I'm also not sure how much more didactic conversation Alex could have taken. Luckily, he could run free and I brought snacks and drinks along to keep his blood sugar up.

One interesting diversion during our visit was the filming of a Bollywood movie scene while we were there. At one point along the path, the crew roped off an area so that they could get their shot and we couldn't pass. So we watched. From what we understood, the actress getting kissed by an actor to music that sounded very much like Alvin and the Chipmunks is very famous in India. We got many pictures of her while we waited, so perhaps one day we will learn who she is. Bollywood in Turkey, who'da thunk it?

One of our last stops for our stay was at another, smaller amphitheater that had two exit tunnels on the side. Josh and Alex played The Lady of The Tiger. Alex got the Lady, Josh got the Tiger in the guise of a stomach pain that made him want to go to the car. We were about done, so I walked him out.

At this point, we decided that getting a hotel for the night sounded much better than heading back, so we opened up our guidebook and picked a place. I think it's called Kaleman, but I'll have to check that (Josh and Alex are sleeping right now, so it's too dark to go look). We found it, got two rooms, changed clothes and headed to the hotel pool to take a quick dip. Nanny and Grandpa introduced the boys to the concept of charging drinks at the bar to the room. I'm not sure that is a good thing. Alex scooted up to the bar and ordered, "Bir Cappy Seftali, lutfen" (one peach juice, please) and charmed the bartender. Drinks done, we got dressed and headed to the hotel restaurant for dinner. All three kids chose spaghetti. I had a pasta dish with Turkish cheese cubes, locally produced olives and olive oil, fresh basil and tomatoes. The table was served with bread and olive oil with sun-dried tomatoes. Mom and Dad got a beautiful "Ephesus Salad" and a cheese plate that came with dried apricots and walnuts. Dad got a pasta dish with roasted vegetables and Mom got some sort of sandwich (oh, sorry, Mom and Dad are Nanny and Grandpa's other names-I'm getting tired again). Off to bed now!

Addendum: Kate: Yesterday we drove to Ephesus. We stopped for lunch at a family run gozdeme place located at a peach orchard. The food was fantastic and there was a mother and her kitten that lived there. They were named Sugar, (the kitten) and Rose, (the mother). After lunch we took a horse carriage to the top of a hill were we went on a ruin walk. There was a coliseum, an ancient library, and other ruins. We also saw Bollywood stars shooting a scene of a movie or music video. That was really cool. The woman movie star had her makeup crew and attendants that would shade her from the sun etc. When we were done with the ruin walk we checked in to a hotel for the night. It was a long, fantastic day.

Alex: Today we went to the Basilica of St. John (the St. John who wrote the Gospel of St. John in the Bible). When I went to the bathroom, a lady gave me some grapes.

I keep having flashes back to Monty Python Life of Brian. When we were in the amphitheater yesterday I was thinking about Brian selling snacks in Rome and today we were looking at some ancient graffiti and I was reminded of the soldier grabbing Brian's ear when he wasn't conjugating his Latin verbs correctly.
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Comments

lalexan
lalexan on

Letter to the Ephesians
So much fun! I love the idea of just deciding to stay over and finding a pool, a wonderful meal, and a bar tab awaiting you just around the corner. And an Internet connection! Oh yes, and all the ruins at Ephesus. Can't wait to see the pictures.

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