Izmir - Ephesus or as known in Turkey: Efes
Our journey to Izmir, Turkey began by taking a ferry from the island of Chios (or Hios), Greece to Cesme, Turkey. We had spent the night in Hios after taking a ferry from Athens. It is a resort style island with a small town feel. The ferry to Cesme was only 35 minutes yet cost about the same (25 v. 27 €) as our six hour ride from Athens. I guess the result of having a monopoly on the market. In getting off the ferry we opted for the coach bus instead of the public bus to take us to Izmir. It seemed like an easy option. It ended up being a tour bus in Greek being shown the sites of Izmir. We had been told that it would drop us off at the train station, but it actually dropped us off near a tour agency. How convenient...
We knew we had to get to the long distance bus station (Otogar) for a ride to Efes but first we wanted to arrange our transportation for that night to Istanbul. We headed to the ferry docks in hopes of getting the night
ferry our guidebook (Rough Guides) mentioned. What it failed to mention was that it only runs during high season, which doesn't start for a few weeks. Once again can I say we do not like this book but we are too cheap to toss it and buy another book. On the way to the docks we passed and were passed by mass crowds of people waving flags and chanting. Also the police were out in full force with riot gear on. We had heard on the news that a few days earlier there had been a pro-secular rally 200,000 strong, so we thought maybe the same was happening. We were handed red carnations several times by people walking by. We were curious as to what was going on as we didn't want to be holding a carnation for a wrong cause. Finally as we were standing gawking a young man walked up and explained May 1 is a workers' day. As far as I could tell it is like Labor Day but with a rally and parade instead of BBQ and picnic.
After watching the rally and having a döner (Turkish gyro) we tried catching a bus to the LD
bus station but after waiting awhile we hailed a cab. The language barrier prevented us from getting to our destination but the cab did drop us off at a KamilKoc office, which does other bus trips such as the one we will take later that night to Istanbul. The lady was extremely helpful and had us take their free shuttle to the bus station. After wasting many hours it was a relief to be headed in the right direction.
At the Otogar we checked our bags into storage, bought a ticket and caught the bus to Selcuk the town 2 km from Efes. Once in Selcuk we hailed another cab (it was raining and I did not want to walk 2 km in the rain figuring we would get wet soon enough). This cab took off before negotiating the price and we ended up paying 10 Euro for a ride to the top entrance. For those traveling here in the future, note that it should cost 5 or less.
After walking in the gates we hit the upper agora of Efes and we were both less than awestruck other than the small amphitheatre which was well preserved with a lot
of the backstage area still intact. As we rounded the corner and headed down the street of Curetes, we realized the effort to get here seemed to be worth it. There was more shape to the ruins in forms of temples, shops, sidewalks, streets, etc. Looking down the marble street to the Library of Celsus was a beautiful sight even with the weather reminding us of Seattle mist. The benefit of the weather being not so nice was that many times we were the only tourists in sight. There was a tour group behind us but never close enough to hear or usually even see.
There is a lot of excavation still being done at this site; it would be interesting to see what they discover over the next few years.
We finished our touring and headed back to Efes by taxi, this time at a better price, and bought our ticket for a bus back to Izmir in an hour or so. We decided to have some food before the journey and ended up stopping in this little place looking for more döners. We had sat down when we were informed the only thing on the menu for the
rest of the evening was pizza. We decided “why not” try it. Well it was worth it. Probably the best pizza we have had in all of our journeys. Even better than Napoli pizza (Italian), which I love. The secret ingredient is egg, it may seem strange but it is awesome.
We made it back to Izmir in time to catch the nine o’clock bus to Istanbul. It should get us there by six to seven in the morning.
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