Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ephesus, Turkey

After a quiet night in Pamukkale and the exact same breakfast I had every other day in Turkey, it was time to catch a bus to Selcuk. I was heading for Selcuk and was told my bike would not be a problem. My first bus ride had been brilliant and the bike did not even cost extra. I was really looking forward to my second bus ride. I thought I was going to need to bike to a major town and then catch a bus. They said there was no need. When the minibus came, it was full. The bike was a problem. They tried to not let me on. I got insistent and we fit the bike inside the bus with the passengers. The attendant wasn't happy, but oh well. I was off to explore the ruins of Ephesus. I was told they were the best in Turkey. Can't miss.

Ephesus ruins.

When I rolled into town, I was starving. I found the first restaurant that looked good. It was called St. John's. It was a coffeehouse run by a Swiss couple. I suspect it looked so good because of its Western influence and I was looking for a taste of home. I polished off some Turkish hummus and something a little more Western, but I can't remember what to save my life right now. Ahh, I just remembered. It was a risotto with an egg on top, a Swiss recipe. The first time I had risotto was in Switzerland with Jay. Good memories.

Fountain of Trojan, I think.

After lunch, it was time to explore. I biked the 2km over to Ephesus. It is a linear site with two entrances. I randomly chose one and biked to it. I didn't want to leave my bike and gear in the main parking lot so I biked right up to the ticket booth to leave it there. On the way, two store owners told me that parking was back the other way. I told them there was no parking for bikes and kept on trucking. The ticket agent said it was no problem if I left by bike by him. Curiously, one store owner kept at it and came over and talked to the ticket agent who, more or less, told him to bugger off. I don't see how it affected him at all. Maybe he thought I was going to mow down his shoppers. I don't know.

Temple of Hadrian

I do know it was hot out and there isn't much shade at the ruins. Most of the ruins I have been to don't have much shade. The only exception I can think of is Olympos. Did the Romans cut down all the trees? Did we destroy the trees when we dug up the ruins? I have to think that the Romans appreciated the aesthetic value of trees as much as we do today.

Marble Street on the way to the theater.

Ephesus had its heyday around 50BC when 250,000 people lived there. All that we can see now is really a single curving main street with a side street to the theater. Where did everyone else live? I guess their homes were built out of matter more likely to decompose. It makes me wonder what would last of our current cities. Anyway, what was left of the Ephesus was sometimes put back together. Sometimes it was just a pile of cataloged rock. I am not sure if it was the heat, but I just wasn't in love with these ruins. Maybe I was get Roman ruined out. Ruined on ruins?

Library of Celsus and the Gate of Mazeus & Mithridates

I love that they left statues in place. The ones missing noses always amuse me.

There were two parts of Ephesus that did amaze me. The first one was the Library of Celsus. It was very cool to see such a complete building in one place. Also, they had some of the statues in place. Normally, all of the statues have been moved to a museum so you can only imagine what was there or go visit them and imagine back to the original site. It takes away a little something for me.

The puzzlers.

The assembler.

The other amazing part of Ephesus was the Terraced or Sloped houses. They cost extra, but were recommended to me by Judy and Herb. I am not sure why, but they were great. It might have been the fact they were in an enclosed shady building that wasn't hot. It might have been just seeing buildings where people actually lived instead of huge temples and civil structures. It might have been watching the men struggle through reassembling the worlds largest puzzle. They have workers trying to reassemble the walls and mosaics of all of these houses. They just have table after table of parts. A few guys search and another guy glues. I can't imagine the devotion it takes to stick at it. I wonder if the people they hired are archaeologists or puzzlers. I think the task might be better suited to a puzzler.

The bigger puzzle pieces.

The resulting product.

One of the Terraced houses.

After soaking up as much of the library and Terraced House shade as I could, it was time to scoot. I had ideas about heading down to Didyma (which makes me think of New Zealand's alien water species didymo). It was the location of the Temple of Artemis that was supposed to give you a double wow, instead of just a single wow of other amazing sights. Unfortunately, my map was wrong on the distance again (I never did get around to replacing that crappy map). There also were no tours running there and I was told there was no public transit near to the site, which surprised me. I had figured I could bike half and take the bus for half. I found out later, that wasn't true. Oh well. Another item for the next time list.

I love the honest of this advertising.

Skipping Didyma wasn't terrible. It almost put me back on schedule. I headed to the bus station to figure out how to get up to see the ancient site of Troy. While at the bus station, a Japanese girl approached me to ask if I had been the one on the bike she had seen earlier. I was. Small world. Anyway, while there I learned about an overnight nonstop bus to Istanbul with dinner service and transport into the tourist area. All the books I had read and the people I had talked to said that the Troy site was lacking. It was historically important, but there wasn't really anything left even though the rebuilt Trojan horse was supposed to be neat. Maybe on a whim, maybe because it was easier, I decided to catch the overnight bus to Istanbul. I just had to explore the town of Selcuk for six hours before leaving. After exploring and then hopping on the bus, I, unfortunately, found out the seller lied. It was not an express. They were stops. They gave us a single snack, not a dinner service. I also didn't get into Istanbul proper on a bus. I had to bike through the worst traffic ever. Luckily, that Japanese girl happened to speak great English and was on the same bus across the aisle from me. Meeting someone fun balanced out the bad. On to Istanbul!

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