Alan and I just toasted to a successful day trip to Ephesus, ruins of a formerly major hub in the Greek and Roman empires.
He's drinking "Efes" beer, a local brew, and I'm sipping a local syrah and öküzgüzü grenache blend (red wine).
We thought the trip was successful as we made it to and from our desired destination at reasonable hours, and for a price that couldn't be beat! Except for the really expensive juice I bought to "fuel up" in the heat.
In any case, we went to some of the best preserved ruins outside of Pompeii. Turkey is a country of history, and the western region in particular was important and flourishing during Greek and Roman times. If you'd like to know more, I'll leave that up to you and Google. I'll tell you about my experience.
We took a pleasant train to the town nearest the ruins and walked about 4 km to the site. The walk was actually very nice, as the sidewalk was shaded by carefully groomed trees the entire way. The Turks seem to have a knack for this type of tree pruning. I love it. So practical in the heat!
The town of Ephesus was once a city of 250,000 people, and only about 15% has been excavated since the 1800s. That said, I was pretty wiped after a quick run through the place so that we could start our freebie Rick Steve's audio tour from the upper gate (we had arrived at the lower gate). The audio tour helped me zone out from the tourists swarming like ants between major sites. By the way, the butt-cheek short needs to go out of fashion immediately. I don't want to see the crease under your butt, ladies. Not at Ephesus, not at all.
The midday sun made the tour a sweaty, slow trek, but it was still pretty enjoyable. The highlight for me was an extra exhibition about the "Terrace House." This house is currently under renovation sponsored by German and Austrian agencies, so it was shielded from the sun--a huge plus! What I gathered was that this complex of housing units, built into the hillside, was a place for the prosperous residents of the time. Remarkably well preserved, the individual rooms had intricate details like marble paneling or paintings on the walls. I don't mean the pictographs seen in caves. I mean like-life paintings of faces and animals and flowers. Even the floors had tiles mosaics depicting beautiful scenes or geometric patterns. I would have loved to see this place in its prime.
The famous library facade was really impressive. The towering columns once housed a massive library, built to honor someone's father--an advocate of education and, presumably, literacy. Interestingly, many religions have intersected at Ephesus: the pageant built many of the building to honor Artemis, Jews lived peacefully in the community, and many important Christians from the Bible, including Paul and the virgin Mary, have ties to the place. Of course, it was ultimately Christians who pretty well destroyed the place in the end, but that was a different time. Now, the muslim calls to prayer from the town are just barely out of earshot.
What I love about Turkey is that I can have adventures, but they still feel manageable. Granted, the manageability reduces the easy blog fodder, but I could use a push as a writer, anyway. So, to sum it up, Alan and I had a great time touring Ephesus, we are happy to be back at our apartment, and Turkey is pretty awesome.