Oh Ephesus. What a wonderful, bittersweet day on our trip. It was another hot day when we got off the ship in Kusadasi, and made our way to the public transportation spot indicated by our trusty Rick Steve’s book. Getting to Ephesus was probably the most complicated of all the public transportation that we took on this trip. Ephesus is far enough outside of the port city that we almost booked a tour…almost. We stood under the sign with a “D” on it waiting for the van marked “Ladies Beach” to come by, and it did, just as we hoped it would. Step 1: success! From here we were supposed to change vans (it was not clear where), but our driver luckily was helpful enough to tell us where to get off, and which van to catch. We had planned to make our way immediately to Ephesus, but we took a detour at the van transfer. The stop was right in front of the big public market!
Huge tables filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, dried fruit and nuts, spices, cheese, meat, honey…you name it, it was there. Clearly no longer in tourist-ville, we wandered the stalls taking our time to have quick, friendly greetings with the vendors. No one spoke English, and although we had been trying, even “hello” in Turkish was not sticking with us. Everyone was super friendly, and we ended up buying some local honey from a honey vendor. Matt collects honey, so it is always a focus on our market adventures. This bee keeper was very proud and opened a few jars for us to try. We ended up with a small jar of what we think is eucalyptus honey. Yum!
The market was scheduled to go all day, so we jumped back in a van to make our way to Ephesus. Now, the thing you should know about planning a trip to Ephesus is that it is basically a ruined city that is built on a hill. The tours drop you off at the top, and then you walk down to be picked up at the bottom. For us public-transportation-no-tour kind of travelers, you get dropped at the bottom (well, actually, a half mile from the bottom) and then you also have to end there. Because it was so hot, I convinced Matt that we should make our way to the “top” of the town, then we could take all the time we wanted coming down.
We wandered the marble streets in awe of how majestic this place must have once been. Everywhere you looked there were columns, streets, facades of old temples. They were all just there, and have decayed through the ages. Compared to Rome where ruins were just built over with new buildings, Ephesus was still the same city it was in it’s prime, only in ruins. It was very cool to see.
We made it to the “top”, dodging groups of tours like we practiced in Athens. We made friends with some Turkish kids on a school tour that wanted us to take their picture. On the way back down through the city ruins it was baking hot. The white marble reflected so much light, and there were no clouds or shade of any kind. I was not feeling all that spunky, and by the time we toured through the Terrace Houses, I was done. I felt faint, quick pulse, nauseous, cold and covered in goose bumps. It was horrible. I knew it was from the heat or the sun or a combination of both, so I found some shade and sat on an ancient column trying my best not to pass out or cry. We still had so much to see and this was one of the most important stops for Matt on this trip. I felt awful making him cut it short. But we had to get back to the ship. I wrapped my head in a dampened bandana (that helped a lot, even if it was the most unattractive accessory ever) and we made our way to the park entrance, and finally back out to the main road to catch the van. I slept most of the 45 minute ride back, then we quickly went through the market, and walked back to the ship.
On the way we stopped for a cool treat of Turkish ice cream. We saw gelato stands everywhere (though only in Italy were they homemade gelato), but the stands in Kusadasi served gelato and Turkish ice cream, the latter presented in a large barrel next to the gelato case. We had to try it. Matt ordered two cones of the only flavor, vanilla. The ice cream vendor scooped it out with a long, thin metal paddle. It was unlike anything we had ever tasted. Picture ice cream that is thick and rich, in the same way that full fat Greek yogurt is rich compared to regular, then add about 10x the richness and intense vanilla flavor. I was not even sure I could finish it! It was a good cool treat to finish the lackluster end to our adventure in Ephesus. I guess we just have to go back someday.