Cruising — Ephesus, Didyma, Miletus, Turkey

Today was another jam-packed day of sights and information and was very worth the time we spent on our excursion. We’ve had an amazing taste of some of the Mediterranean countries and are definitely ready for more in the next few years. This has truly been a dream vacation for us with Athens and Pompeii yet to come!

We started today with breakfast in the dining room, and it was chocolate day — chocolate muffins and croissants, chocolate pancakes and waffles, hot chocolate — what a terrific start to the day (I went the carb route with a chocolate muffin along with fruit and granola)! With last night’s propeller delay our excursion today was delayed until a bit after 9:45 resulting in bazaar shopping time being greatly reduced at the end of the day.

After our excursion left the port of Kusadasi we headed first to the ancient city of Ephesus, a former port city from which the water receded over a period of time leaving the town inland, and which is the best-preserved Roman city in the Mediterranean region. The site is mind-boggling, as there are so many gorgeous ruins there from the temple of Hadrian to the library of Celsus adorned with two stories of columns and statues, then on to the grand theater, with seating for 25,000, which is one of the largest theaters in antiquity. Several of the streets of Ephesus were made of marble; houses ranging in size from 650 square feet to over 6,000 square feet have been at least partially excavated; the grand bazaar is immense — what a shopping experience that would have been back in the day. Cleopatra visited Ephesus during its peak — bet she enjoyed the shopping there with wares from all over the world!

The temple of the goddess Artemus, twin sister of the god Apollo, was in Ephesus and was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. Her twin brother Apollo’s temple was the site we visited in Didyma and is incredible. A couple of its columns are still standing along with steps leading up to the temple and the lower portions of the columns, as well as walls in the priests’ area. It is amazing and definitely makes one feel very small physically. Apollo’s temple is actually larger in column height and width than his sister’s, however his was not restored while hers was, resulting in Artemus’ being named an ancient wonder. Why wasn’t Apollo’s restored, you might ask? It was political and had to do with Alexander the Great’s reception when he conquered Didyma, the home of Apollo’s temple.

Miletus was also a port city at one time, like Ephesus, and is famous for being the native city of several philosophers and sages. Additionally the theater there, which was built during the Greek period and reconstructed during the Roman period, is built against the slope of a hill and is very impressive (although not quite as large as the theater in Ephesus).

Arriving back in our port city with only an hour to wander the bazaar offering pashminas (scarves), silver and gold jewelry, sweets, and Turkish rugs among a multitude of other items was a bit frustrating. We ended our tour at a Turkish rug company viewing many rugs which ate up potential shopping time. There was barely a half hour to rush from the rug shop to the ship and do minimal shopping along the way — we definitely needed more time here!

After a wonderful meal tonight, we enjoyed a violin/viola/piano offering and then a guitarist before heading back to the room.

Our time in the Mediterranean is almost gone, however we’re looking forward to Athens tomorrow – both the Parthenon and the Plaka (shopping area)!

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