The Ancient Ruins of Ephesus

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Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Ephesus
June 8th 2011
Published: June 11th 2011
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As we pulled into the petrol station just outside Yalikavak, the attendants went crazy to get us to their pumps. It was obviously a slow morning. It was after all still 7am. With their confusion, 6 pumps, 6 guys, all empty and waiting, I ended up parking at the one and only diesel pump. A quick reverse and I was in place. “Good Morning, Sir”. I always cringe when I’m called Sir. He filled the tank for us. We had a 3hr journey ahead of us to Ephesus, apparently the best preserved city in the Eastern Mediterranean. I tipped the guy for his troubles, but more out of feeling pressurised that he had filled the tank for me. He was delighted but then decided to go and show me up. As I went to close the car door he put his hand in to stop it closing and pulled it back. Looking at Michelle he said “ Can I just say, You are a most beautiful lady”. She blushed with embarrassment and accepted the guys comments with a thank you. He giggled with her response.

Back on the road, I was using a brain imprinted version of Google maps directions to guide me to Ephesus. My trusty co-pilot can be very trusty but when we hit the road the passenger seat becomes a relaxant and she sometimes disappears into the seat. I was now relaying the map to myself, repeating the road numbers over and over. “D330 for the first half, D550 for the second”. I don’t know why, but I expected a motorway for most of the journey. I suppose anyone reading this would expect it to. Or would you? We did get dual carriageway in parts, but for a lot it was single lane traffic. Parts of the road were cut up so bad you couldn’t see the car in front of you from all the dust. One stretch had the car moving at 20kmph and a huge pot hole was to un-seat my co-pilot from her slumber. The time passed quick enough, and I arrived 18 minutes ahead of Google maps estimated time. I hate how they give you an estimated time. It makes a drive competitive.

I didn’t know about putting this next part in, but because it was part of our travels I thought it should. Its embarrassing you see. Basically I became the dumb tourist. To make a not so long story long, here it goes. Ephesus is best walked from the top down to the bottom. There are two entrance gates. Higher and Lower. As you walk down the sun is behind you for taking photo’s. As you walk up it is in your face. We were unsure had we parked at the higher or lower gate. We were in the middle of the mountain side. It could have been either way. A guy approached me trying to sell me a horse and cart ride to what I understood to be the higher gate. He said we could walk from there all the way through Ephesus back to our car. From where we were we would have to walk 2km through Ephesus and 2km back. “Oh, I said”. It was hot out. Mid-day sun was just around the corner. Without consultation with my trusty co-pilot I beckoned her to jump on the horse and cart and explained what he had told me. As we left the car park we turned right. Downhill. There was a silence between us. I thought maybe at some stage there was a turn that would bring us back up hill. It never came. There was even more of a silence between us. Actually it was more like tension. After holding up and creating a long line of empty tour buses behind us, we arrived at the lower gate. The reason the tour buses were empty is that they had dropped them at the higher gate. Where we had parked!! Michelle didn’t say much but my eagerness had put us at the wrong end of the ancient city. We hummed and hawed for awhile before deciding to grab a quick taxi back to the top. I wanted to correct my mistake. Back at the higher gate and tickets bought, I was soon forgiven. I had learned a lesson. By the way, the horse and cart man got a bit of a finger wagging off me for what I saw as misleading information. The crisis was over though.

The crowds at Ephesus were crazy, as is usual with important sites in Turkey. Mediterranean cruises arrive in Kusadasi and ferry bus load after bus load to Ephesus. Kusadasi is one of the busiest cruise stops on the Med so you can imagine how busy it was. The lonely planet said we should use the large crowds to imagine what the city was like when in full swing and even though I see their point it would have been nice with a little less people.

Only 18% of the city has so far been uncovered. It was once home to over 250,000 people and was a huge centre for trade. It was fantastic to walk through what was uncovered. It contained all the usual sights like, theatre’s, fountains, columned streets, monuments, baths and much more. It was the most interesting was the Terraced Houses, which had recently been roofed while excavations and restoration work continues on it. It costs more to visit and is definitely worth, of only that not many actually go into it. What is inside is spectacular though. There are fantastic paintings and mosaics to view and what I found amazing is the giant jigsaw puzzle that they are trying to put together. 120,000 pieces of broken marble. Yes, 120,000 broken pieces are being put back together. Imagine the day the boss said to his restoration workers. “Jesus lads, I reckon we can put this back together”. “??!!”. Where do you start? How much patience and time would you need. I watched a guy at work. He was at a table of broken marble surround by at least 20 tables of broken marble. One piece in hand he tried to match it up. I wouldn’t say it’s a place for anyone with OCD!

We left the building and wandered down the battered old cobbled street. There were many temples to view. Some very ornately designed. Everyone clambered up the temple steps to get the best photo. You tried to get pictures without people and you also tried not to get in peoples photo’s. It was one of those days where the camera was best left in your bag. As we went to leave Ephesus, we happened upon the beginning of a theatrical display of Roman times. It was a bit of fun to watch and brought a moments rest from dodging crowds. Theatrical Display - Click Here To Watch

Back at the car we had our lunch that we had packed for ourselves and then set off for Kusadasi. We only drove through it. We decided to keep driving. In fact we drove so much we were soon back in Yalikavak. We hadn’t explored the town yet so we parked up and uncovered a sleepy tourist/fishing village. Restaurants lined the promenade and waiters beckoned you in with some cheesey lines that made you laugh. We sat and had a kebab(again) before deciding that we would return on our last night for a meal.

In a bit. DH

Additional photos below
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11th June 2011

It is always good to tell on yourself.
Loved hearing about the horse cart and taxi. It made us chuckle. We've done something similar in the past. Looks like a great town.

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