Happy Wednesday! Today marks the anniversary of Jessi and I starting this link up! I can't believe it's already been a year! Hopefully you've enjoyed the link up as much as we've enjoyed hosting it!
Today I'm gonna recap our trip to Kusadasi, Turkey (Ephesus). Originally I was going to combine this with Aegina Island in Greece, but there was so much stuff from our day in Ephesus that it deserves its own post.
On Thursday, we ported in Kusadasi, Turkey. Prior to this trip, I had no idea what this place was, but I quickly found out that this city houses some incredible historical sites, mainly in Ephesus (for religious folks, you know "Ephesians"?)
We had been hooked up with a private tour guide, and our cruise guy found another Australian couple interested in coming with us--and then our new friends DeWayne and Emily decided to come with us too. 6 people versus a charter bus tour group was WAY nicer and we had a pretty sweet luxury van to ride around in. Not to mention, our tour guide was incredible! (People from the big charter bus groups started hanging around when he would talk because he was that good). Plus, with 6 of us, the cost was less than what the charter bus people paid.
We got to Ephesus and our guide got our tickets. We also saw a bunch of kittens at the front gates, which our tour guide fed. He brings a big container of cat food every time he comes to the site, and feeds the cats. He knows each and every one in the whole grounds (which is big). Just shows how big of a heart he has.
We got underway and saw all kinds of sites. There is still a TON of this area that has not been excavated yet.
|the symbol for medicine|
|The Goddess Nike....the swoosh from Nike was taken from the swoosh in her gown--do you see it?|
|(that floor is ALL tiny mosaic tiling)|
|some of the details were awe-inspiring|
|the public toilets--where there was a communal sea sponge used to clean your hiney|
On the main stretch, walking toward the library, we encountered another cat--this one was a cute little calico cat. Our tour guide said that he would name that one Jenn, after me (and I believe him, because later in the day he told me he would take a photo of that cat the next time he came, and send it to me--and he described right where the cat lives).
We got to go up to the Terrace Houses, which is where the rich of the rich used to live. The details in these rooms was incredible--the mosaic floors, the marble walls (which they are working to repair and preserve).
|each one of those slabs on the wall is made up of tiny pieces of marble that have been pieced together from the tables at the bottom of the photo, and used to take up the entire wall of this room|
|that floor detail is all tiny mosaic tiles|
|again, this is all mosaic tile of Medusa (top) and Athena, I believe, on the bottom|
|more, insanely detailed mosaic tile|
There was even tiny drawings on the wall from kids, back then, who etched into the wall drawings of gladiators!
They are still working to excavate more of these houses which were buried in a earthquake many moons ago. And also continuing to work to restore the insides of these terrace houses. I can't wait to see what they uncover in the coming decades!
We went to the amphitheater which seats 25,000 people! Sting has done a concert here before (and Elton John)--it was very cool to see and sit in the stands.
|(it is said that St. John and Mary walked down this pathway on their way in to Ephesus; also Cleopatra)|
After Ephesus we went to Isa Bey Mosque. Isa Bey means Jesus which was built in 1374/75 and is one of the oldest from the Anatolian beyliks. It sits outside of St. John's Basilica. The mosque is beautiful and so is the courtyard outside of it.
After this, we went to a genuine Turkish lunch. This is another time the private tour was better than the charter tour. We went to a local spot--a place our tour guide goes. We were the only tourists there. And we all got to try out several items offered including fried eggplant, meatballs (regular and spicy), and some other things that I don't remember what they were called, but were freaking delicious!
After our most delicious lunch, we headed to St. John's Basilica. We had a choice between here and the House of the Virgin Mary, but as a group we all agreed to go to St. John's Basilica because there is no proof that the House of Virgin Mary is actually legitimate.
|the public viewing/waiting area for during ceremonies|
This is the site where it's believed that St. John/Apostle John is said to have done a lot of his writing, and where he'd been buried. It's been around since the 500's A.D. It has been visited by Popes as well, and there is legend that breathing the air/dust in this area has healing powers.
The view from up here was incredible! You can see the Temple of Artemis, the Isa Bey mosque, and some areas of Ephesus.
(Our guide named a cat after Emily at this site. And that cat got the leftovers from our lunch--her lucky day!)
After this, we went to a school where they make rugs by hand. We saw the rug-making process, how silk is spun, and then we had some Turkish coffee while we were shown rugs that they wanted us to buy. DeWayne and Emily almost bought one, but we all left rug-less.
|if you look closely, you can see the fine lines of the silk against her arm|
|Turkish coffee before the rug show|
We headed back to the boat, and before we got off the bus, our tour guide gave us each a box of Turkish Delights which was incredibly sweet of him. I was sad to leave Levent, as he was just such a sweet soul, and a very smart guy!
Afterwards, we wandered through the Grand Bazaar and did a little window shopping (while also getting harangued by the shop sellers to come in and buy things like leather jackets--keep in mind it was in the 90s and we were covered in sweat! haha)
We decided to stop and grab a couple of drinks in the middle of the bazaar and just reflect on our awesome day. It really made us all wish that we were still going to Istanbul (although you all know that would not have ended well since the coup happened 6 hours before we would have arrived). Turkey really is such a BEAUTIFUL country, full of all kinds of history and culture.
That night we spent on the sunset deck for a bit, but turned in kind of early after several days of go-go-go and late nights.
The next day on the boat was one we spent at sea. MG and I posted up on one of the sunbeams and enjoyed the weather and all of the activities around the pool (including the teenage talks about hickeys and recovering from hangovers).
We met up with our friends that night on the sunset deck to watch the sunset and enjoy a glass of wine, while taking in our final sunset on the boat.
Afterwards, we went and watched the final show in the theater (another cirque du soleil inspired show) and then did some karaoke in the fancy lounge with our big group of cruise friends that went well past midnight. (DeWayne serenaded Emily at one point and it was adorable!)
Overall I could not say enough good things about the cruise itself. The food every night was spectacular (and the food in general elsewhere on the ship). The entertainment was awesome and the staff were so fun, too. I would 100% do another cruise with Celebrity in a heartbeat!
Phew! That was a LOT! Hopefully you made it all the way to this point :)
Tomorrow I'll wrap up the recaps with our day in Aegina Island, Greece!
In the meantime, link up with us and share what's hap-"pinning" with you!