September 23 and 24th, 2013
Surviving Octoberfest, Rita and I pushed on from Munich, to Istanbul and on to our final destination in Ephesus, Turkey. We landed in Izmir, a city of 4 million people, and took a car and driver to Ephesus about an our away from the airport. From what we saw on the drive, this part of Turkey looks a lot like Arizona, although parts of it still looks very third world like. Low mountains rising out of nowhere, dry, pine trees and good roads. We arrived at our Hotel Nylia via a street, alley or driveway. We have no idea what you would call it! But, we thought we had returned to Marrakech by mistake. We felt a little better when we entered the stone-fenced-in courtyard which had a fountain and lime trees.
But, when we got to our room, it was definitely not up to our “lower” standards for a room. There was no TV, no clock, no bottled water, no closet, no wash cloths, a bed like concrete and a curious note on the bathroom stool advising that “NO” paper could be placed in the bathroom stool, but must be disposed of in the waste paper basket. Rita and I looked at each other after we read this note with a shared look on our faces that read: “we wish we had known about the note BEFORE we ate so many brats, sauerkraut and pretzels at Octoberfest. But, it was too late for that and too late to find another hotel room, particularly since this was the second highest rated hotel in Ephesus!!! So, we dropped our things in the room and headed to dinner at our hotel’s sister hotel, because our hotel did not have a restaurant. The sister hotel’s restaurant was on the rooftop, open air and offered cold and hot “mezzenes” or appetizers which I love. There were lots of healthy things like tabbouleh, egg plant, chick peas, etc. The entrees were chicken, beef, and lamb. Dinner was really quite good. Also during dinner we heard the Islam ezan “call to prayer” by the muezzin from the minarets, high above the mosques. The call to prayer was more melodious than the ones we heard in Morocco at least that was my impression or it could have been the wine! The now familiar to us “allahuh Akbar, allahuh Akbar” translated as “God is greatest, God is Greatest” rings out five times a day.
Neither Rita nor I slept we’ll on our concrete mattress. So, we were up early on Tuesday to enjoy the very healthy breakfast of one slice cheese, 1/4 piece of pretzel bread, 4 sticks of carrots, two cucumber slices, one tomato slice, two skinny pieces of apple and two olives. We also could order eggs, any way we wanted them. Not the pancakes, waffles, crepes, sausage and eggs to which one of us has become accustomed. But, nourishing just the same and fun to eat outdoors in the courtyard under the lime trees. We actually should eat this kind of breakfast everyday, as it is much healthier than what we usually eat. Don’t get us wrong, the hotel was pretty awesome, as its service was impeccable! The guys here waited on us hand and foot, and transported us everywhere, to Ephesus, to Mary’s house, to the ferry and back and to the airport and back. They really did a wonderful job!
Our goal on Tuesday was to see the ancient Greco-Roman city of Ephesus. Apparently, the 6,000 passengers on each of the 8 cruise ships in the nearby harbor had the same goal. Although Ephesus was filled with “waves” of visitors from cruise ships, Rita and I had a great tour helped along by a great local tour guide. Ephesus was very impressive. Although much has been damaged by earthquakes, Ephesus remains a great monument to history. The mosaics and frescoes are beautiful and well maintained. They reminded me of Ephesians answer to carpeting and wallpaper. The city had underground plumbing for water and sewers. It had communal toilets for up to 50 men to share. (Don’t know what the women did.). There was an amphitheater for just under 25,000 people and was the place where Paul preached to the pagans about Jesus and a library with storage for up to 12,000 scrolls. The Temple of Artemis, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was in Ephesus although there is nothing left of the Temple, but one column. But, the structures of Ephesus, as great as they are, are not the main draw for most Christians. It is the tie to biblical times and events that draws most Christians.
You see Ephesus was a city visited by the Apostle Paul. Paul lived in Ephesus for 3 years and it is believed that he wrote the book of Acts here. It is believed that the disciple John died in Ephesus, hence why St. John’s Basilica was built over his tomb. And, it is so believed that a small mountain top home nearby was the home in which Mary, the Mother of Jesus, lived and ultimately died. The first church of Mary, named after the Virgin Mary was in Ephesus, which was the first ever church dedicated to Mary, in 431. So, after our visit to all these religious sites, Rita and I think we should get a “get out of church” free card for at least a week!
We are posting this on Friday, September 27th, and we know we are behind, but we are going to get caught up soon, we promise. It’s just that after visiting this site all day, then later in the evening before we went to dinner, we also went to see Mary’s house and by the time we got back, we were so tired we just crashed in our concrete bed! Plus the wifi didn’t work very well, so we thought we’d get caught up in Samos, but OH… NO…. there was a lot to do and see there also! We’ll fill you in on that later. Promise!
So we are back in Turkey, just for the night, to catch our flight back to Istanbul, where we will spend about 4-5 days.
Hope Steph had a great B-day, wish I could post the picture she sent me from her hotel room! (Ben got her a night away from the kiddies and poopie diapers, etc.!) If anyone saw “this is 40” you can imagine what the pic was????
And today is Connor’s B-day! Hope he had a great day too! Wow! every one is getting older but us!
Love and miss you all. –Norm and Rita.
Ephesus, Turkey… Amazing place to know that we walked and sat in the same place that St. Paul preached to the people of Ephesus and that this is where the christian faith started and spread throughout the Roman empire. Both St. John the Theologian and the Virgin Mary spent their last days here. It is believed that Jesus told St. John to watch after his mother and it is here that St. John built the house for Mary to live in for the rest of her days. (See house at end of photos)
We were very excited to see this holy place, but the ride into Ephesus from the airport to our hotel almost made Rita turn back and say again to Norm….. “Where in the HELL are you taking me?” Remember, our ride to our hotel was in the dark!! not in the daylight as these pictures depict. So you can imagine…..
Continuing with our tour of Ephesus… there is proof from the year 2000 BC that Ephesus was a settlement even before Androclus landed with his Ionian colonists in the 11th century BC, and Ephesus was a substantial city long before Alexander the Great arrived in 334 BC. Ephesus is a city that in 281 BC had 300,000 inhabitants. Carrying its traffic were 27 marble streets lined with statues, although only four streets have been excavated to date. The silver and goldsmiths who made the idols for the temple aroused the crowd and drove out St. Paul and his Christian converts. The Cayster went on bringing the sands of Asia Minor to the shores of the Aegean, and the harbor continued to choke with silt. The sea front turned into a marshland. In the 6th century AD, an epidemic of malaria arose from the swamps killing 200,000 persons. The temple of Artemis, which only has ONE TOWER left standing, took 120 years to build and when it was burned down by a madman, the Greeks put it up a second time. To the temple came the pilgrims of the world with their donations they made Ephesus wealthy. Indeed, the first ever letters of credit were issued by the temple — it was, in a way, the first bank in history. We learned all this from our tour! We hope you enjoy these pictures as much as we enjoyed Ephesus!
And here are a few pictures of where we ate while we were in Selcuck ! And our hotel the last night before flying to Istanbul!