Day 5 of Contiki already! As per usual, we all rose bright and early and boarded the bus to get to Ephesus, one of the most important Biblical ruins in the world. We all seem completely incapable of spending more than 10 minutes on a bus without either trying to break noise barriers or falling asleep! Today was the former…
We arrived at Ephesus in blindingly dry heat and were pleased to find that the entrance fee was included in our Contiki package, such is its historical importance! Although you can’t go up to it, Ephesus is the official location of Mary, Mother of Christ’s house and is therefore considered an essential pilgrimage for many young Christians. Aside from Religious significance, the site is also important because it was buried in a landslide, meaning much of the city has been preserved.
Likewise, archaeologists have been able to uncover heaps of information about how the city would have originally looked and are working to reconstruct the main street and library. The city was famous for its wealth and inhabitants liked to show off by having massive fountains in their front yards. As water is such a precious commodity in dry climates, fountains indicated that you literally had money to throw away, as evaporation meant that fountains constantly had to be topped up. Manual labour was also intensive as rock had to be cut by hand, so the bigger the fountain, the more it cost.
I thought the above photo was the facade of someone’s house, but it turns out it’s actually a fountain! One of the things I’ve noticed about Turkey is that there are cats and dogs everywhere! Although I assumed they were strays (they don’t have collars) apparently most of them are tame and owned by locals, but are just allowed to roam free and frolic through thousand year old ruins.
The most well-known monument in Ephesus is the Celsus Library, which was originally built between 100 AD and 110 AD as a memorial to senator Tiberius Iulius Celsus Polemaenus by his son. The library was built over the senator’s tomb and his huge book collection was donated to the city. The pillars which are front and center are actually bigger than those which are off to the side, which makes the library look much bigger than it is and thus a much more important tribute to Celsus! The library is a reconstruction and provides some much needed shade from the sun.
After trekking through hot, dusty ruins, it was a relief to find our next stop was a leather factory, which opened with a catwalk demonstration of some of the products. Although the models were talented (including the two from our tour who found themselves strutting their stuff) it was this little beauty which caught my eye.
Isn’t it a knockout?? Although I’m not really into labels, this baby was certainly much more subtle than many other bags and it’s the quality and workmanship that I’m after. After this extravagant purchase, we headed off for a traditional Turkish bath, where I decided I could officially star in Real House Wives of Turkey. Although we couldn’t take photos inside, (I hear water and electronics are not a good mix) the outside was gloriously lush and the foyer beautifully cool.
We striped down to our bathers and spent 15 minutes in the sauna, sweating it out to see who could stay in the longest. We moved to a giant tilted room with benches around the outside and a round, raised bench in the middle. There, four or five Turkish men either exfoliated each person from head to toe or soaped them down. You showered between each station and we all wandered out thoroughly drenched but surprisingly refreshed! I wish I had a photo to show you what we looked like as we wandered back up to the change rooms! We had towels round our waists, shoulders and wrapped round our heads, very fetching!
Seeing as it was our last night in Turkey, our fabulous and exceedingly knowledgeable guide, Sayat, took us out to a waterfront bar with views of a castle. It put Cargo Bar in Sydney’s Darling Harbour to shame!
The barmen also poured very generous drinks, but considering the price of them it was well worth it! It was great to round up our last night in Turkey and farewell our guide in such style. Much drinking, dancing and many laughs were had by all!
Everyone wanted a photo with Sayat as he has just been fabulous! He never skipped a beat, regardless of what we threw at him and always had a story to tell about wherever we were. He is ridiculously knowledgeable and always had a smile on his face.
Even the locals got involved. The girl in black was the DJs girlfriend and the girl to her right is also a local. They were very happy to have some Aussie girls and guys to tear up with dance floor with!
Turkey has been an absolute blast and complete culture overload! Even if you’re not a history buff (I’m certainly not!) I’d highly recommend a visit!