One of the highlights of this itinerary was Ephesus, only a stone's throw from Kusadasi, last stop of our trip. We'd heard of the place before - Edna and Gordon, my parents, had enjoyed a stop here and warmed to the Turkish people as a result of mooching around the town some years ago and people we'd met along the way spoke warmly of their previous experience of being here.
We arrived early this morning. In fact, as we woke and opened our curtains, we found land right outside our window and after a quick breakfast, we went ashore to meet our guide for the day - Tuba. For once, we got her name correct, for she explained that it was indeed the same as the musical instrument!
We were a small group, only 10 of us, so our sightseeing was more efficent than usual. Straight to the site, then, and before 9am there we were, gobsmacked from the off. Who wouldn't be, when such treasures were at our feet, so unspoiled and ready for us, some of the first visitors of the season.
We were so fortunate to visit in comfortable temperatures, for Tuba explained that, for much of the tourist season, the heat is overwhelming and the site is nowhere as green and lush as we saw.
By the time we reached the library, we could hear the sounds of a string quartet, a fine accompaniment to our visit, thoughtfully arranged by the cruise company for our enjoyment. Those who had been here previously had not been able to access this fantastic structure at such close quarters, so we all shared the delight in discovering the fine architectural details and marvelled at the fact that we were able to be here and appreciate it first hand.
Sadly, time was short, there was more on our schedule, and we must move on
past the advertisement for the brothel
to the Theatre and back to our vehicle for further stops on our tour.
Firstly, to the museum in Selcuk, where some of the original components of the ruins were kept, since in some cases, the reconstruction had involved the use of replicas.
Next, past the site of the Temple of Artemis, another of the Seven wonders of the ancient world, to St John's Basilica, his burial place, where we had a short lesson in some ancient Christian symbolism. Interesting.
By now, we were getting towards lunchtime but there was one more important site to visit
This small building was said to be the last house of the Mother Mary, place of pilgrimage and scene of several miracles, according to local history. Once again, we were fortunate to have the place (almost) to ourselves. What a privilege.
To lunch then, in a local garden which just happened to be alongside a carpet making school. No hard sell here, though, just a delicious "picnic" from a local hotel and then a chance to see some of the processes involved in the making of a Turkish rug of the highest quality.
We saw the double knotting, on silk and wool carpets
and then went next door where the dyeing process was under way and a few large pots bubbled. Gasps of amazement were to be heard when the yarn was pulled from the indigo vat - truly magical even when one knows what happens!
The "evil eye" was never far away as we sped back into town and were set free to roam the streets of Kusadasi in search of bargains. But the salesmen had to work hard, for their colleagues had already sold us Indian gemstones, gold in Dubai, Arabian pashminas and fine Egyptian cotton. But here there was leather...
Having spent up, we changed and went out on deck for our last sailaway, waving goodbye as the last rope was untied and we sailed off toward Pireus, from where we fly home tomorrow.