Ephesus!

I joined a tour to see Ephesus (Efes in Turkish) and a few other sites in the area. It’s apparently a major site for early Christianity. Our first stop was Meryem Evi or Mary’s House, thought by the Catholic Church to be where Mary spent her last days.

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There were some spigots for water thought to have special healing properties/properties to grant the requester his prayer. Next to them was a wall where people had left their wishes and prayers written on pieces of paper

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I took advantage of the little post office to buy a bunch of stamps for postcards. Then next stop, Ephesus!

Ephesus is a large set of Roman ruins that are extensive and impressive. Not surprisingly, my favorite was the library facade, two massive stories of which have been restored

Ruins:

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Nike (check out the swoop that the company Nike uses for its logo):

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Ancient public toilets:

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Marble + sun = kitty

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The library from a distance

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I was the only one on our tour who opted for the additional entrance fee to see the Terrace Houses, but it was definitely worth it. The houses are still being excavated and reconstructed, so you can see the frescoes and mosaics as well as the in process restoration. Those scared of heights, though, beware! There are a couple of walkways that are about two stories up and made of glass so you can see the mosaics and frescos without damaging anything. Not my favorite part at all.

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I joined the rest of the group back at the library:

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This one gives you an idea of the scale (yes, I’m the bitty figure in one of the doorways)

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The rest of the ruins including the theater are also on a grand scale:

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After a buffet lunch at a not-very-good restaurant catering to tours, we visited a ceramics place. Yes, I admit it, I caved in and bought some! And now I have to carry them in my backpack the rest of the trip…but they are truly lovely and the glaze is lead free.

We then went to St John’s Basilica, believed to hold the grave of St John. Interestingly, this Seljuk (I think) church reused some columns from the Artemision (Temple of Artemis). So does the Seljuk Isa Bey mosque I visited on my own after the tour.

The church:

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Views of the Seljuk fortress and Isa Bey Mosque from the church:

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We also stopped back at the Artemision and then at a carpet school/workshop/store. I made the mistake of showing interest in some of the carpets and got the full carpet salesman experience. At least I got an idea of prices!

I ended my sightseeing at the Isa Bey mosque:

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Troy: From Moscow via Troy to Sirince

I had seen real Trojan gold in Moscow, Trojan ruins in, well, Troy, and now I was going to see the jeweler who made a lot of the jewelry in the movie “Troy” when I visited a little town called Sirince.

After my visit to Troy, I took a bus to Izmir (formerly called Smyrna for those fig lovers among you). I spent the night there, not being able to face the extra hour it would take to get to the town of Selcuk, my base for visiting Ephesus, after my night bus to Troy. In the morning I hopped on a dolmus (mini-bus, thus far much easier than in Russia because I’ve taken them for inter-city rides) and was off to Selcuk.

I decided to take a tour to Ephesus the following day as I’d heard that the site signage wasn’t great, so I had the afternoon to spend in Selcuk. I first set out to see the remains of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World but now only one lonely column and some tumbled marble blocks in a pool of water amid crowds of tourists and a few oh-so-persistent souvenir sellers.

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I then decided to take a dolmus up to the Greek town of Sirince, perched on the hills less than ten kilometers from Selcuk. Just the ride up there was amazing, over a steep road climbing through olive trees and some vineyards. It reminded me a lot of Tuscany. And in fact Sirince is known for its fruit wine, one of which I sampled with lunch. (Quince wine, cool and sweet.)

I enjoyed clambering around the rather steep streets. I had a couple of interesting encounters, too. One older lady sitting on her stoop asked me if I were looking for the Orthodox Church, told me it was under renovation and the gate was closed, but that I could cut through her garden to see it. She also asked me if I were married and had any children. I cut through her garden and enjoyed a lovely view, but I’m honestly not sure whether the church was actually a site or just another church. Does it really matter? I had a memorable time, anyway.

After lunch I passed a jewelry store which had a quote from Lonely Planet about the fact that this store supplied a lot of the jewelry for “Troy”. I wanted to look in the window but of course ran into someone who worked at the store, one of the nephews of the master jeweler. And so we chatted, I had tea, tried on some jewelry that was extremely tempting. He did a great job – I was very close to buying something, but managed to walk away unscathed. I’d rather spend the money on a balloon ride in Capadocia.

Some pictures from Sirince:

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