Selçuk - Closer to the Real Turkey

Trip Start Apr 09, 2006
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Trip End Jun 09, 2007


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Flag of Turkey  , İzmir,
Monday, April 24, 2006

REAL Turkey
I was lucky enough to have a few great experiences with locals while here. The one worth mentioning is a wedding party that I fell into. I was on my way to St. John's basilica, turned the corner and saw / heard hundreds of people walking up the hill from the opposite direction. The bride and groom were leading the pack followed by the band playing Kurdish music (like most cultures, they are really into their music). So the entire party comes up to the small square I'm standing in and begins to throw money at the couple. This led to an extended kind of line dance involving the majority of the crowd.

Women were still dressed conservatively, but they were definitely in their party gear...some even with sequins, which I did not expect. Some of the women on the sidelines saw me taking photos and offered me some tea, which I gratefully accepted (it's a hot tea that is consumed constantly by the Turks...I believe it is in Turkish but is pronounced chai as in the tea we're all used to at Starbucks). I stood around a bit, took some pics of the kids who were enjoying goofing off for the camera and just had a great time. I was there for probably an hour before the whole party picked up and moved to the next square for, I assume, a full repeat.

Ephesus - A History Lesson
Ephesus is widely regarded as one of the best preserved classical cities and is at the top of most agendas in Turkey. At one time, about 250,000 people inhabited this famous city.

The Great Temple of Artimis, one of the 7 Wonders, was burned to the ground by a crazy man the same night that Alexander the Great was born. After Alexander defeated the Persians in 334 BCE he visited Ephesus and offered to pay to complete the temple renovations if they would rename it in his honor. The Ephesians declined but Alexander allowed the construction to proceed.

For a considerable time, Ephesus hosted Christian notables. St. Paul spent about five or six years in Ephesus trying to preach and proclaim the new Christian religion from his workshop. St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians was directed to its inhabitants (Paul was later encouraged to leave after upsetting local silversmiths by renouncing the worship of idols). St. John spent the last years of his century-long life here. Emperor Justinian constructed a church over his grave that was considered one of the most magnificent monuments of the Middle Ages (I visited the ruin).

It wasn't an earthquake or conquering forces that led to the decline of Ephesus. It was access to the sea and trade routes. Slowly, the harbor silted up and all attempts to keep it open failed. Ephesus lost its wealth and Sel絫 took over as regional capitol.

ANZAC Day
Tons of Aussies and Kiwis are in the region as ANZAC Day (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) is Tuesday. The holiday commemorates the more than 2,200 ANZAC lives that were lost in 1915. The big festivities are farther North near the Dardanelles / Gallipoli, which is why I skipped the whole region before heading to Izmir. Prices skyrocket and reservations are required.

The Ephesus Museum
It was raining the morning I arrived so I decided to catch the Ephesus Museum, which is only a half block from my hostel. It holds a few key pieces but the overall collection (and presentation) leaves a lot to be desired. Perhaps they just don't have the money. Seriously...so many bulbs were burnt out that it was sometimes difficult to see up in there!
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