Monday, November 2, 2015

November 2 – Kusadasi for Ephesus

It is another early day.  We dock at 8 and we prepared most of our stuff for the day the night prior including putting out the room service menu with a light breakfast for 7-7:30.  We set our clock so we would wake at 6:50.

Darn that alarm comes quick and we decide to start to get ready until breakfast arrives.  Normally it arrives earlier than your stated time but I am sure they are busy today.  So once we are showered and dressed it is 7:25 and we are meeting our friends at 8:15 so what to do.  Bernie is in need of some food and a tea and I tell him lets just head up to Horizon Court as they may have lost our order.

Up in Horizon Court it is crazy, which is to be expected. Both sides are hoping and many tables are full.  But I have to say I find this Horizon Court well designed and flows well.  I get some cream cheese, and a yoghurt and then I go out to the front of Horizon Court where they have the pastries, breads (I get a bagel), drinks, and the bar (where I pick up a latte). These pictures were not taken at this time but may help see the changes.

We agree to head down to the cabin and watch the arrival at Kusadasi from our balcony.

Of course just as we arrive in the cabin, room service is just there!  They are running late and apologize but we are fine and totally understand.  I like to say “heck as long as I don’t have to cook it”.

There are two other ships in port with us (busiest I have seen since the start of the trip).  The Holland America Rotterdam (funny cause we’ve seen this ship – along with the Island in Vancouver and now here it is on the other side of the earth), and a Regent Ship.

We gather all our necessary items and meet up with Tate and Nathalie in Crooners and head ashore to meet Anil from VIP Ephesus for a private tour.

This port has set things up well.  As soon as you exit the port building but before you leave the secure port area there is an official Private Tour meeting spot.  Here we a large board with people’s names of guides trying to meet up with their clients.  Anil is right there holding a sign with our names (although last name spelled wrong – everyone throws an R in) but no big deal we quickly introduce ourselves and off we go.

I will add that I found Anil and VIP Ephesus a long time ago.  Bernie was the one who was very excited about Ephesus, me not so much, as I just didn’t know much about the area and what it offered.  One day Anil had joined my facebook fan page – Cruising Princess Cruiseline with Vickie and posted that if I was ever looking for a tour in Ephesus I should contact him.  Great timing!  Anil is the owner of this business and takes great pride in his tours as this is his livelihood.  He tries to do the guiding himself but if he can’t he has a fellow classmate lead the guide that he trusts.

Right at the outside of the port our van is parked and our driver Dedi (I hope that is correct – nickname for grandfather) is waiting.  A lovely big Mercedes van is our chariot this day.  Very comfortable and lots of legroom and height room – Tate comments he loves that he can stand in the van.

Ephesus is about a half hour from the port and as we drive there Anil gives us a running commentary on Turkey, the people the history, their current politics – they just had an election.  He has a map right there so we can visualize things too. 

We arrive at the Ephesus site – Anil advises us to use the washroom and buy water if necessary as there are no facilities until we leave the site.

A Shepherd and his sheep

Anil owner of VIP Ephesus

As soon as we enter I am struck by two things, how very warm it is (especially compared to yesterday) and how not crowded it is.  Anil comments that often you can’t even see the marble sidewalk cause there are so many people.  Not today there are groups but the places is very easy to maneuver and even easier to get pictures.  I would hate to see this place on a summer day with the crowds and the heat – I just don’t think I would be able to handle it.

 Anil takes the time to give us an overview and to explain every single site.  He makes is interesting and funny too at times.  Bringing our minds to 1000 BC and imagining a grand city of over a quarter million, the second largest in the empire, second only to Rome.

This area reflects many civilizations, Greek, Persian, Roman, and Christian.  Julius Caesar, Anthony and Cleopatra, St. Paul, St. John and possibly even Virgin Mary have all walked these same marble roads.

the only crowds we saw were when the ship's excursion came thru

In the end I was blown away.  Nathalie who has never been here either and who stopped in Pompeii says that this is so much grander and of course much much older.

The fact that they were so intelligent and the architectural design with extensive water systems, and sewage systems.  Even the clay pipes that are still visible show an interlocking system that didn’t leak. 

After about two hours on the site we all comment on what a great time we had here.  Doing it with Anil and the very small group is the way to do it too.  He was able to answer all our personal questions, to get us to a quieter spot to explain things and lead us to special areas for the perfect picture.

Back in the van we agree to head off to eat something.  Anil explains that the place we are going is a government run spot that offers lunch and then you get to see exactly how the Turkish Carpets are made.  The art of Turkish Carpet making is a dying art and to help preserve it the government has created this center to provide a stress free place for people to learn about the craft and then to see carpets.  No worries if you don’t want to buy Anil tells us.

We arrive and there are some other vans/buses here.  We head to the restaurant and we start with a glass of wine for me and Bernie gets a local beer – the cost of these are extra.  Ours came to 6E and we paid with a 10 but never got change and really didn’t bother pushing it, they got a big tip is all.

The starter arrives, then the main course and even a dessert of some fruit.

After lunch we enter the information center.  Around the places are women making the rugs – oh I could not sit on these benches all day – my back hurts just looking at it.

But to start where does the silk threads come from.  Yes the cocoon of the silkworm.  Small threads with a sticky substance wrap the worm in their cocoon.  To get at the thread (long after the worms have died) they soak the cocoon, a brush is circled in the water and it catches some of the cocoons’ threads.  Wow! 

The thread is then put thru a metal threader of sorts and then onto a catch that spins and then they turn the crank and the threads are unravelled from the cocoons!  I have never seen anything like this, how cool and I know my pictures just don’t do it justice.

We even get a chance to try some carpet making – don’t quit your day job Vickie.

Downstairs we are lead into a large rectangle room with a bench lining the wall.  We all sit and then the show really starts.  Oh I should add that ahead of time I checked with Nathalie and Tate to see if they were interested in getting a rug and they both said no, and neither are we as we are trying to get rid of items not buy more.

We are offered a beverage, what would we like?  Turkish Coffee, tea, Raki, water, wine?  We all decide we should try the Turkish Coffee – sweetened for me cause although I don’t usually drink coffee with sugar I may need it for this one.  It is served in a small espresso like cup and it is thick!  Strong tasting but very flavourful and at the bottom a thick sludge of ground beans remains.  I actually liked it and would definitely have it again.

The carpets are laid out by a guy very dramatically and then he will grab a corner and spin the carpet to show how the light changes the color of the silk when it is turned around.  Then another carpet is rolled out in a full swoop!  Is that a word, but it is the only thing I can think of that best describes it.

Bernie keeps commenting on how nice the rugs are and how that one, this one, or this one would be perfect in Grayson’s (their son) room.  Or how about for your office!  

Or on the wall at home!  Nathalie keeps touching them and commenting so I am wondering hmm maybe they are getting one.  Tate gets into now and he is up commenting on which one he likes.  Feeling them, mentioning the colors and which one is better for them.

Nathalie is sitting beside me and just saying nope, no carpet right now, in five years when they are back. 

Heck this is very entertaining, almost as entertaining as the guy flinging the carpets.  I am not sure if they are serious or not, we don’t know them that well.  But in the end we all walk away and giggle as Tate tells me he never was going to buy one he was just playing the game…. Oh he is good!

Back in the van we are off to the House of the Virgin Mary which is built on the hillside about the ancient city of Ephesus.  The whole area is very serene, peaceful.  Again we are thankful that Anil has brought us here later in the day when the crowds have left.  There is really only a handful of people and we are even able to enter the house on our own. 

We make a donation and get two candles and light them.
Down the walkway to a wall that has thousands of notes on wishing wall with requests for the Virgin Mary.  We add our notes too.

We now travel to a Mosque and there are some shops just outside of it where Nathalie and I are admiring some glass items when all of a sudden the glass items are filled with light as the guy in the stall flips a switch and they light up!  Ohhh Ahhh and he is such a dear, he is a past Oman at the Mosque and he shows us a picture of himself a long time ago, and then he writes our name in a card for a blessing.  Of course we are touched and we admire some of his items and we buy two tiles from him.

Anil promised us a great place to get pomegranate juice and he didn’t disappoint – for 1 Euro each we get a glass of fresh squeeze pomegranate juice.  So darn good!

Back in the van we are off to our last stop – Artemission Temple.  Sadly this site has fallen and many of the marble pieces have been used for other buildings in the area a long time ago.  Anil explains the importance of this site and what is left we try to picture what it was like. 

A very long day and we are on our way back to the Kusadasi and the ship.  Anil drops us off right in front of the port and we say our goodbyes and promise him we will be back to Turkey!  We hope to come back and spend a lot more time here and we will definitely look up Anil for more tours. 

Overall his tour was Excellent and I have to say one of the top ten we have ever done.  I don’t hesitate to recommend him at all.  Make sure when you book you tell him you read about him from my blog.

There is a lot of shopping here so we head off to check out a few shops.  But it is busy and feels a little like Mexico or Caribbean with them trying to get you in their store.  After about twenty minutes we have had enough and head back on board for around 3:45.  All aboard is 4:30.

Back on board we throw our stuff in the cabin, and I really want to see the sailaway so shortly before sailaway we head up to the Lido and Sun deck to see the sunset.  Beautiful.
Dinner tonight is in the Horizon Court for sure as it is German night and we love that meal.  We are tired, and we are back in the cabin at 7:45 and I was asleep at 8:30.  Every so often you need an early night!

Karin and John

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