Published: May 29th 2012May 23rd 2012
GROAN! This morning we had an even earlier start. The alarm was set for 6.15am, but we were woken an hour before that by someone ringing Bernie to ask if he would play badminton. We managed to doze off again for an hour and then it was time to get ready for our 7.00am pick-up for our day trip to Ephesus. We were on track to be ready by 7.00am too, but our ride arrived at 6.50am!! We had been led to believe that we would be picked up at 7.00am or maybe 7.10am - we didn't expect our ride to be ten minutes early though.
The bus took us to a side road near the freeway where we met up with a number of other mini buses and coaches. We all had to be shuffled between the vehicles depending on whether we were taking the day trip to Ephesus or the two day trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale. Usually this is managed quite efficiently, but one of Tour Express's booking agents only advised them this morning of an additional six passengers. Having to find seats on the buses/coaches for six more people had thrown things into a bit of
Eventually, about 15 minutes later than scheduled, we were on our way to Ephesus. After our early start, we slept most of the way to our morning tea stop at Bafa Lake!! It was a very boring section of road with mile upon mile of roadworks. At our morning tea stop we ate the fruit that we took from the dining room last night because we knew that we would be leaving before the dining room opened this morning. As we left the restaurant by the lake our guide Cemal told us that the lake used to be part of the Aegean Sea until the mouth of the bay was silted up. Although it is now considered a lake, subterranean tunnels connect it to the Aegean Sea so its water is salty. The lake is home to a variety of eels that migrate between Bafa Lake and the East Coast of America ... just like the ones that we heard about in France last year.
Oh dear, we dozed off again until we arrived at Galata, the gold and jewelry showroom. BORING!! Why do these sorts of tours have to have the obligatory stop to try
to sell you expensive stuff that you don't want?? On the plus side, it was another opportunity to stretch our legs and go to the toilet before the main event. It also meant that our arrival was timed so that the tour groups from the cruise ships had been and gone. Our coach driver Mustafa dropped us at the top gate and we entered the ancient city of Ephesus with our guide, Cemal.
In its heyday, Ephesus was a city renowned throughout the ancient world as a major trading port and a metropolis of some 250,000 inhabitants. It was also a religious and cultural centre and the home of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the monumental Temple of Artemis. There is not much of the temple still standing - just a couple of columns.
Cemal guided us down through the remains of the city, explaining the ruins along the way and giving us a few minutes here and there of free time to try to take photos. With a bit of patience we even managed to take a few shots without masses of tourists standing around in them!! The most impressive ruin at Ephesus
has to be the facade of the library. Wow!
Cemal entertained us with a story about the tunnel from the library to the brothel opposite. Allegedly, the city's male inhabitants could tell their wives that they were going to the library but, once there, they could sneak over to the brothel??! And how do they know the building opposite was a brothel? Because they found a statue of Priapus, the Greek God of Fertility - you know the one, short bloke with a big ... penis!!
Our time at Ephesus concluded at the 24,000 seat D-shaped theatre. Cemal spent some time explaining the distinction between a theatre in the Greek style and an amphitheatre in the Roman style, but now I am confused about which one was which!! While we were there we had a couple of small children trying out the acoustics by singing their ABCs to the tourists!! They certainly upstaged Cemal, but he took it in his stride!
Back on the bus we were taken to a restaurant for a late lunch and then we had the option of spending an hour in the town centre or visiting Mother Mary's House. We decided that
we would go up the hill to see Mother Mary's House where Jesus' mother is reputed to have lived out her life after Jesus entrusted her care to John the Baptist. When Saint John left Jerusalem to preach about Christianity he went to Ephesus, taking Mary with him. Saint Paul also spent time preaching in Ephesus and it was to the Ephesians that he addressed some of his memorable teachings.
And then, after our big day out, our return journey to Torba commenced. We dozed again during the hour back to the restaurant on the shore of Bafa Lake where we stretched our legs and had ice-creams. When we re-boarded the bus this time, Cemal talked with us a bit about Turkey's economy telling us that the country's income comes from agriculture, textiles, the automotive industry (Ford mainly) and tourism. Apparently almost everyone in Turkey is involved in agriculture with most people growing some sort of crop in addition to whatever other job they have. For example, Cemal is a tour guide for 200 days/year and he also farms hazelnuts and kiwi fruit and the coach driver, Mustafa, also grows olives.
Cemal also told us that Turkey wants
to be admitted to the European Union. One reason there are so many roadworks being undertaken is because the EU requires the roads to be brought up to an acceptable standard. Funnily enough this comes at a time when the Euro Zone is under threat because Turkey's neighbour Greece is currently talking about abandoning the Euro and returning to its own currency, the drachma.
This is a complex situation that we don't really understand the implications of. Something that we watched on the BBC channel indicated that it is complicated economic and political problem that is going to get worse before it is likely to be resolved ... if there is a resolution. The program alleged that the problem stems from Greece being admitted to the EU on the basis of creative accounting that indicated it had the required economic surplus to be admitted to the union when, in fact, it had a deficit???
After another hour and a half on the bus we stopped beside a road near the freeway to swap buses again to be taken back to our accommodation. Fortunately this roadside stop was only about five minutes away from Torba and we managed to
meet Kath and Albert for dinner by 8.00pm after more than 12 hours out and about!!
He's back!! Bernie was absolutely unstoppable tonight when we played Jo. Albert was desperate to play something different after Bernie winning AGAIN so we played a game of Crash ... which I won. The Gaffneys certainly are enjoying the most incredible run of luck!! Albert has threatened that he's not going to play cards tomorrow night!! We'll see??!
There are more photos below