Saturday, January 21, 2012

Traveler Al’s “Almost a Last Hurrah”

Ephesus has many feral cats living in the ruins

Chapter 3 – Kusadasi and Ephesus, Turkey

When I arrived in back in my cabin to freshen up for dinner I found quite a bit of printed material to go through later in the evening.  One of the items was the notification to take with me to show the dining room Maitre D’ who had a waiter accompany me to my assigned table.

I met my table mates – two families from Orange County, California traveling with their wonderful daughters.  Both families are intrepid ocean cruisers; in fact, I was recently contacted by Richard Hardy who let me know that he and his wife, Michelle, are currently on a cruise to Antarctica.  The two daughters are both avid equestrians.  We had many wonderful conversations during our two weeks together.

My dinner companions - 1st formal dinner night

I got quite a surprise when I returned to my cabin after the first formal dinner on the night the ship departed Istanbul.  The agency,, who I had booked this cruise with gave me a “romance package”.  I suppose this was intended as an incentive reward for their customers. 

 I found my bed strewn with flower petals, towel animals shaped as two swans with their necks forming a heart shape and a bottle of wine.  I was taken by surprise and a little puzzled as they all knew that I was traveling solo and the only occupant of the cabin.  

I gave the bottle of wine to Santorino, my room steward at the end of the voyage – I don’t drink alcohol because of all the medications I take. 

 Early Morning Panorama of Kusadashi

We arrived early the next morning at the Turkish seaside resort city of Kusadasi (Coo–SAHH-dah-see).  Kusadasi lies about 8 or 9 miles south of  Ephesus on the coast of Turkey – or Asia Minor as it was called in ancient times. Ephesus was an ancient Greek city which became the 2nd largest city in the Roman Empire. 

Locations of ancient cities of Asia Minor 

Panoramic view of the fort on Pigeon Island at the entry to Kusadasi's port

The staff in the tour departments of most cruise ships have assembling people and getting them off the ship quickly for their tours down to a science.  I had an early breakfast and proceeded to the meeting point at the assigned time for my tour of Ephesus.  Things happened a little faster than I hoped for, so I was always hurrying to catch up to my group right from the start of all my voyages and tours!

 Here are the ticket receipt and notices received about the excursions I was taking on this voyage.

We boarded a beautiful tour bus and were given a small bag with a map of Turkey, a bottle of water and a small terra-cotta medallion that said “Ephesus” on it.  Away we went for a 20 minute ride North along the coast and then inland.

Our guide explained that Ephesus was the 2nd largest city in the Roman Empire with a population that numbered an estimated 300 to 400 thousand inhabitants at its peak during the century starting at 100 CE (current era) .

Our guide at Ephesus

The city was built in a river valley. The river carried silt down requiring constant dredging to keep the seaport open.   .The waterfront area of Ephesus kept moving closer to the Mediterranean because of the silting action of the river that caused the area to become a marsh.  Eventually the city was too far from the ocean, the marshes were breeding grounds for mosquitoes which spread malaria.  The city was finally completely abandoned during the Ottoman era.

We passed a turn off that went higher up the valley to the house purported to be where the Virgin Mary probably lived the final years of her life.  Our tour did not include viewing the house.

The bus parked at the top of the valley. We were one of many tour groups. There were several cruise ships docked at Kusadasi. Each of the ships produced 4 to 6 buses of visitors arriving at Ephesus all about the same time.  We started our tour near the bathhouses at the head of the valley.

Our tour started at the top left near the Varius Baths and State Agora

The State Agora area

The bathhouse area

 The Odeon 

In front of the Odeon

Greek, Latin and a feral cat

Hercules Gate   ?   

Detail of a Corinthian column capitol - laying
 upside down

 Trajan's Fountain

Ephesus was served by 3 major aqueducts providing water to the city. 

There is a caduceus carved on the left side of this block

Greek and Latin engravings

A Roman Goddess  -  Note resemblance to a Biblical "angel"

 Hadrian's Temple

 Hadrian's Temple - detail of Medusa as a keystone in the arch

Public outhouse with space for 48 occupants. Note  the trough in the floor that had running water to rinse the hands - they did not use toilet paper!  Imagine the sickness that was spread by the water from that trough!

Detail of outhouse seating

 Alytarchs' Stoa - note the spiral carving of the columns

Anthony and Cleopatra spent time in an elegant house in this wealthy area of Ephesus soon after their relationship started.  The houses here had hot and cold running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

This area is covered by a shelter which I did not enter.

Informational sign about this area of the city.

The library which contained about 12,000 "books" or scrolls - a very large library for the time.

A sign for a brothel on the street that leads to the seaport.  Archaeologists have discovered a tunnel that led from the library to the brothel.  "I think I will spend my day at the library, my dear!"

The beautiful 3 tiered theater.  Actors and speakers could be heard in all seats due to the natural bowl shape - there were no electronic enhancements.

It was at this amphitheater that Dimitrios, a silversmith and others, who made small idols of the goddess Artemis / Diana for religious pilgrims, fomented a riot against the Apostle Paul fearing that the success of Christianity would end his business.  The riot caused St. Paul to leave Ephesus. The Temple of Artemis was located very close to Ephesus. St. Paul mentions the incident in one of his Epistles to the Ephesians.  St. Paul or Saul of Tarsus (another name for ancient Turkey) spent several years in Ephesus.

We walked the old road to the seaport up and over a small hill to an area with many vendors and the bus parking lot.  We did not know it, but this lower area was actually the modern times main entry to the city.  

  Get your genuine fake watches here !

We then returned to Ephesus with the inevitable stop at a commercial establishment.  In Turkey with its famous rugs, that stop would be at a rug merchant's store.  One nice thing about these "sales" stops is that you may use the restrooms and they often serve refreshments.

The tools used to extract the silk from the cocoon

Demonstration of the technique of rug weaving

"Have we got Turkish carpets to show you ? "

"How about these beauties?"

All are beautiful - but none of them could fly!

Outside in the shaded resort shopping area - Summer temperatures near 120 F
(40 - 45 C) are common.

Kusadasi - resort waterfront area

Kusadasi - resort water front area - Celebrity Constellation in background

I believe that this boy is being driven to his circumcision ceremony. Boys in Turkey are circumcised  at the age of 7 to 12 years old.  The boy is dressed like royalty and given a party with many gifts as rewards for his bravery.

Soon we were back aboard the ship. I had a late lunch and later, I went to one of my favorite spots to read and take photos, the Sunset Bar on deck 9 at the stern of the ship.

Sunset over Pigeon Island - Kusadasi, Turkey - November 8, 2011

Next - Athens and the Island of Rhodes

Please click this colored link to view my other blog about living in Hawaii Life in the 50th State .

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Thanks for taking the time to read about my travels.


  1. Super job, Al. Not only your GREAT photography, but also your thorough reporting of the history--& even links to more! You should pass it by National Geographic or a "Discover" type TV station. Maybe even pbs.

    All I can say is HURRAY for you "Young Man!!!
    Sandi Blinn (

  2. Thanks for the compliments, Sandi! You give me enthusiasm to continue posting about the rest of my voyages.

    Thanks - Traveler Al

  3. Al,

    I love reading about your adventures. I also love the pictures and history you write about. It is a wonderful way to see these areas through your eyes.

    Laurie Parrack

  4. Aloha, Al you are National Geographic Blog. Hana Nui (good job). Jan needs see this
    at your place, since she does not have computer. Love the way you got pictures, etc.,
    explaining your travels. Marvelous