Christians, Greeks, and Native Americans – Just Another Day in Ephesus

15 Jul

After another great night of sleep, I started the day with a bang. Literally. Unthinking, I plugged the breastpump that I’d brought with me into the wrong socket and blew out the electricity in our room. Crap. Luckily the hotel maintenance guy came up and fixed it quickly, shooting me a look of mild disgust.

I slept through the flight to Izmir, because there’s no such thing as too much sleep when you’re a mother of three. From Izmir, a city on the Aegean Sea, we drove an hour to Ephesus, of New Testament fame. We were joined by a tour guide that we all wanted to throttle pretty quickly. He was hopping all over history telling us the most boring and mundane details. He would lead us to a “sheddy (shady)” place, warn us that he was only going to speak for a few minutes and then would proceed to pontificate endlessly on what happened in 932 B.C. In fact, for the rest of our Turkish vacation, we made fun of him wherever we went by saying “in 2000 BC, blah blah blah. In 1999 BC, blah blah blah. In 1998 BC…” You get the picture. Bilal couldn’t stand the guy and kept trying to get as far from him as possible. I was delighted by his sidekick, who I called Mose, after Dwight’s strange cousin on the office. Turkish Mose was from the tourist board and silently accompanied us everywhere, just lurking around. He wasn’t creepy, just always silently there, making sure none of us wandered off and got beaned by a crumbling column.

The ruins of Ephesus were amazing. I think they were better than the ones in Rome. You could actually walk through the ancient city and get a sense of what it was like, with parts of temples and baths still remaining. The intricate friezes and carvings were breath-taking. It was very hot and crowded though, so negotiating crowds of cruise-ship Italians was a headache. We kept having to stop while our tour guide gave his lengthy manifestos to a zoned out audience on what minute thing happened in Antolian history. We entertained ourselves by taking pictures of Patrick and Scott relaxing on the ancient toilets. These pictures were later sent to their Dean via iPhone.

The remains of the library were incredible, as was the 24,000 seat amphitheatre with perfect acoustics. How do I know the acoustics were perfect, you ask? Well, my dear husband stood in the middle of the stage where ancient Greeks performed classic works of tragedy and belted out “the hills are alive, with the sound of music!” in Operaman voice. The tourists in the amphitheatre burst into applause for his rather moving performance. He even got a smattering of applause from the opera-loving Italians. I was so proud of him. We later learned that not only could you hear him inside the amphitheatre, but outside it and up the hill as well.

We went to lunch at an outdoor restaurant shaded (shedded) by overhanging trees. We had rice, kebabs, various mezzes, and rice pudding. Again, sitting around to a huge lunch made us all incredibly sleepy. From here we drove up a winding mountain road to the House of the Virgin Mary. The road felt treacherous at points, climbing higher and higher, but the view was spectacular.

Tradition holds that after Jesus’ death, having asked John to care for Mary, John took her to Ephesus to live out the rest of her days. The remains of the house are at the top of a mountain surrounded by a lush landscape and a crisp mountain spring. The was a beautiful little chapel. I lit a candle for my mom, which I always do when visiting historic religious sites. Outside the chapel by the spring was a wall of prayers, kind of like a Christian wailing wall. On the way out, we lingered at the gift stand, looking at paintings on wood. Mose crept up behind us and hurried us back to the van where most of the rest of our group was waiting. Luckily, Scott and Barb were later than we were. No one wanted to be labeled the stragglers, but I think they took the title.

I slept again the whole way back to Izmir. We showered and napped and then took a long walk along the Aegean Sea with Scott. At one point on a bench on the boardwalk sat a man dressed head to toe in Native American costume, shaking a seashell rattle and chanting, his bow and quiver of arrows sitting on the bench beside him. The funny thing was no one gave him a second glance, as if an American Indian chanting at the Turkish seaside is a common occurrence. We walked on and picked up some roasted salted corn from a vendor then sat a small café and chatted.

Dinner was a great affair. We went to a famous restaurant and were seated in a private dining room that was set up like a traditional home, with cushions and carpets and everyone taking off their shoes before entering the room. We were joined by four or five Turkish academics and had great dinner conversation. I sat across from a couple who spoke English pretty well. He was a microbiologist and she was a veterinary surgeon. I talked to her about cultural topics and had a great time. We had more kebabs and massive amounts of traditional Turkish fare. I tried a common Turkish drink of yogurt and salt called Ayran that Turks drink at their meals. It was everything I had to keep a smile on my face and not spit it out. It was freakin’ salty. It was nice to get to know real Turks, especially women, and learn about their lives and their thoughts about where their country is going. At the end of the night, they presented us with gifts of chocolates and candies. The hospitality here really is overwhelming. It’s very genuine too. We never felt like people were faking it, they really seemed excited to get to know us.

We headed back to the hotel to get some sleep before a morning flight to Antalya, aka paradise on the Mediterranean.

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4 Responses to “Christians, Greeks, and Native Americans – Just Another Day in Ephesus”

  1. Grandma LeAnn July 16, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    I am sorely disappointed that Patrick didn’t reprise his performance of “Million Dollar Baby” at the amphitheatre. It was cute when he was 3, probably not so cute at 33, even in a setting with perfect acoustics.

  2. Ephesus Tours December 6, 2010 at 9:00 am #

    Very good information, I’ll write it verywhere.

  3. Travel Turkey December 15, 2010 at 7:58 am #

    It’s fantastic…

  4. Ephesus Turkey December 28, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    It’s wonderfull…

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