Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Honeymoon: Ephesus and the surrounding sights

To catch up on my previous honeymoon posts, go here:
Honeymoon Part One
Athens Day Two
(There is a video at the end of this post that isn't great quality but it gives you some views of our drive in Turkey.)

We flew from Athens to Turkey in the evening, and we ended up getting getting to Izmir really late, like close to midnight. We had taken a tiny plane (because tiny scary planes are cheap!) and we landed waaaaaay far out in the boondocks of the airport and had to be bussed to the terminal to make it through customs. Believe it or not, Turkish customs weren't even half as terrifying as Candian border control! We were staying in an "Airport Hotel," which was just a hotel really close to the airport. We decided to walk (in the middle of the night... in Turkey...) to the hotel because we could see it from the airport. This would have been fine except there was a giant fence around the hotel! It took us about a half hour to find our way to the entrance and I was terrified the entire time. I mean, hello, we were in [basically] the Middle East in the Middle of the Night. I thought we were going to be abducted.

I also really, really wanted to go to sleep.
A quick aside about our hotel: our room had two twin beds! Not two twin beds pushed together, just two twin beds with a large space in between them. We were much too tired to take a picture but you're all super imaginative people with  bright and shining minds and I'm sure you can picture it if you try hard enough.

We began the next day at the very reasonable honeymoon hour of 5am. We did this in order to [hopefully] avoid the hoards of crowds who also decided to get some culture, and I'm so glad we did! Here's a picture of the two of us with our breakfast in the car in Turkey.

(Everything in Turkey was so much cheaper than in Greece! Sodas were a dollar, water bottles were like $.30, chocolate was less than a dollar... it was heaven.

The driving in Turkey? HORRENDOUS. There are no rules. We rarely knew what the speed limit was supposed to be. It took us about 5 hours before we realized that these certain signs we were seeing everywhere were stop signs. People cut  you off seemingly just for fun. NOT COOL, Turks!
Below is a map of Turkey. Aaaaaaaall the way to the left and in the middle is Ismir, and just below is "Ephesus Museum." That's where we were.
We were the very first people to arrive at Ephesus. Our tickets cost 40 Turkish Lira each, which comes out to $13.33. SO CHEAP FOR ALL THAT WE SAW! It was incredible being the first people to arrive. Everything was so quiet and fresh! Here is the entrance to ancient Ephesus.
The old Theater. It was so early the sun hadn't risen over the top yet!
We spent a lot of time sitting and picturing all the amazing events that had occurred here.
The Celsus Library, built in 117 A.D.! This was an amazing structure. 
A shot from inside the Celsus Library, behind the intricate facade.
You can start to see how many people are arriving.
The Celsus Library was just to our left.
A view of the road leading down to the Celsus Library, and beyond is the Mediterranean Sea. Ephesus was a port town and was an extremely important commercial center.
We paid extra to visit the Terrace Houses. These were houses that the rich people lived in, and the houses are slowly being uncovered and preserved, not recreated like most everything else. We were stunned at the intricacy of the mosaics, and Keith's new dream is to have a lion mosaic in the library in our house.
There were feral cats allllll over the place and I was often sad because they didn't like me much.
The Marble Road. There were signs warning you how slipper it was!
Another shot looking over the library and toward the Mediterranean.
Now you can really see how many people were filling the place up! After we'd been there a couple of hours there were people everywhere and it was almost impossible to get a picture of anything without a dozen tourists standing in your way. 
The Temple of Hadrian.
Temple of Domitian.
The Latrines. There were dozens of tour groups who had a guide explaining fascinating facts about everything we were seeing. You could also hire a local person to be your personal guide. Most of these things were very expensive, and there were so many tour guides that you could just stop and gaze at something and hear what another group was hearing!

We overheard a guide explaining that these toilets were ONLY for men to use, and that only "good friends" sat in the corner seats. Also, there was a person whose job was to hold a wet sponge on a stick over the side so men could pay to use it to clean themselves after going #2. And they reused the sponge! So, if you were a woman or a poor person and you needed to use the bathroom, you were SOL. Pun intended. Also, gross.

We did enjoy commenting on how we were literally looking at where the Apostles had used the toilet. Our senses of humor are very mature and advanced.
After we'd spent several hours walking around Ephesus and getting lunch, we headed off to see the Basilica of St. John. This wasn't very far away from the ruins, but we had to pay very close attention to the signs and Keith's crudely drawn map, because there wasn't much else around here. Also, all the signs were in Turkish which was exactly 0% helpful.
The Basilica was truly incredible. It was hard to grasp the importance of this place, and hard to comprehend that we were actually there! Also hard to believe that so much of the Basilica is still standing. It must have been so magnificent when it was built!





Off in the distance we noticed a castle, and we had no choice but to see if we could go inside.


There was a gate just behind Keith, and we thought we were going to miss out on the castle, but then we saw some regular looking tourists exit the gate and we were like Ok well now we have to go inside, even if we aren't technically allowed to.



The gate was open, and we noticed a few more people walking up to the castle! At this point we figured we were going to be allowed to walk up to it, but surely not actually go inside. You can imagine our surprise and delight when we saw the door was wide open!



There was a rope fence trying to keep people from siting on the edge like I am in this picture. What can I say? I'm so rebellious.


Look closely and you'll see Keith up there. He said he felt like he was a part of Monty Python. I don't know what that means but if you do you can be his friend.
 Next, we went to the Temple of Artemis, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. We could see it from the Basilica/castle! However, it was ridiculously difficult to find. Apparently being a Seven Wonder doesn't guarantee that you'll get large signs telling people how to get to you. Finally though, we found it. Here is a picture I found online of what it apparently looked like in its full glory. There were 127 columns in total!


What's left of the Temple of Artemis has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. Now, this is what it looks like. 


  


It was really beautiful, but there wasn't much to see. It's amazing to think of all of these things beingr man made and lasting for thousands of years! The architecture and engineering and everything was fascinating and impressive.

Sadly, this was the end of our trip to Ephesus. On our way back to the airport we took the scenic route and drove on a beautiful road right by the Mediterranean Sea! Naturally we had to stop and dip our toes in the sea. Neither of us are ocean people but when in Rome, right? It was gorgeous! Part of the beach was roped off because it belonged to a "resort," but there were miles and miles that regular peasant tourists like us could walk.




This is the road we drove on. Keith said he felt like James Bond.
We were driving pretty fast on the winding roads, and then we got stuck behind a watermelon truck. It was pretty funny and also I wanted to eat a watermelon.


Ephesus was my second favorite place on our honeymoon. There was so much to see and it was all so beautiful! Going to the ruins super early was one of the smartest things. We loved being able to experience everything just the two of us for a bit!

I added a video of what we saw, mostly so you can see what the scenery looked like. So gorgeous! Their roads are really nice, too (for the most part). 



7 comments:

  1. So stinking gorgeous!!! It's on my to travel list to go here :)

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  2. Oh my GOODNESS, the pictures are incredible. What a beautiful trip!

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  3. I've never been to Turkey and I really want to go! It looks like you guys got to see so many amazing things on your honeymoon... even if Keith made you get up at 5am.

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  4. Funny story - I've actually been to the castle in Monty Python that Keith is thinking of - it's in Scotland :)

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  5. I have now added Turkey to my travel list. However, I do believe that I will be abducted trying to simple "walk" to my hotel, because I am dumb like that. I also want to say, I love the picture of you two at the Mediterranean Sea.

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  6. I want to go basically everywhere, but Turkey has never been high on my list of priorities. That may need to change! This looks amazing!

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