After the tour of these amazing sites, we were taken (against our will) to yet another carpet weaving demonstration, where the salesmen were very insistent on trying to get us to buy a $30,000 hand-made carpet
. No one on our tour was at all interested in buying these carpets, but the salesmen would not stop trying to negotiate prices with us and we couldn't leave until our tour guide said it was time. Tara and I finally found the exit to the carpet store, but that only led us directly into a leather store, where the salesmen were waiting for us there, dressed like sleazy used car salesmen. We battled through that store to the exit which led us to a candle store, which took us to a tea store, and so on and so forth until we had just about given up hope and bought something just so they would show us an exit. Each "exit" that we went through only led us to the inside of yet another store, each store's prices and deals more fiendish and diabolical than those of the last. We finally came to a window where we could see and smell fresh air outside, and before I could hurl myself through the window, Tara followed the wall and found an actual door leading us outside to freedom. Some people from our group were not able to resist the "low" prices and came out with some garbage that they didn't want at all. Afterwards we were finally dropped back off at the terminal. We had a beer on the pier and then went back to the ship exhausted. Good times!
Today we arrived in Kusadasi, Turkey. It was a little bit more remote than Istanbul, but very beautiful and there were many sites too see. We decided to try and save some money by finding either a taxi or a tour company that would take us to the sites that was not in any way affiliated with the cruise ship we are on. We found a one for a decent price just off of the cruise ship. The first stop that we made on our tour was the house of the Virgin Mary. There was not much to see other than the inside of the house and of course the very high pressure salesmen outside trying to hawk there crap on us as we came and left. Nonetheless, it was definitely very a very worthwhile stop. The next stop we came to were the ancient Greek ruins of Ephesus. Ephesus was amazing! We spent around two hours visiting the ruins of this ancient city dating back 2,000 years. The city was huge and is Aegean's best preserved city. We visited every part of this ancient city, including the library, the marketplace, the stadium which could seat 24,000 people, and of course, the ancient toilets (see pic of Tara and myself sizing them to see which one suits us best.)