Now we come to part four of the Mediterranean Cruise: Kusadasi / Ephesus, Turkey.
I was really excited for Turkey, but I honestly had no idea what to expect. There was only one thing I knew I had to do while I was there: find some Turkish Pizza (or lahmacun). Randi, Amber, and I tried some on our last day in the Netherlands and loved it. We haven’t been able to find it in the States (or at least, anywhere near us in the States), so I was having some major withdrawals.
We had originally signed up for an excursion that would take us through the Ephesus ruins and then onto a wine tasting adventure in a small Turkish village. When we went to the excursions presentation the first morning of the cruise, however, we realized there was a different excursion we were more interested in..
Man, am I glad we changed our minds.
The wine tasting excursion mentioned we would see excavation sites, which we thought meant the Terrace Houses of Ephesus. Turns out it didn’t. We were really interested in seeing the Terrace Houses, so we dropped the wine tasting and picked up the excursion that included the tour through the Terrace Houses excavations.
When we arrived in port, we were greeted by Caucasian people in traditional Turkish clothing performing traditional Turkish dances.
We found our (thankfully air-conditioned) tour bus and started on our Turkish adventure. Our tour guide was about 34834x better than the Greek tour guide, which might be one of the main reasons I loved Turkey so much. I can’t decide if it was because Ephesus was so cool, or because Athens had been so disappointing the day before, or a combination of the two.
We learned a lot about Turkish culture on the way to Ephesus (about a 30-45 minute drive), and I was really excited to discover that we were actually in Asia. Only about 3 percent of Turkey is considered Europe (from Istanbul northwest to Greece and Bulgaria), while the rest is considered Asia. Three bodies of water separate the two sections: the Bosporus Strait, the Dardanelles Strait, and the Sea of Marmara. Turns out we were in the 97 percent!
When we arrived in Ephesus we toured a large portion of the ruins, which was really interesting. The pictures will do it more justice than my words ever can, so I’ll just share a ton of them:
It was really hot in Ephesus, so I’m glad we dressed for warm weather. We did a lot of walking around, so wear some comfortable walking shoes as well.
We had some free time to walk around Ephesus, which is when I found (da da da daaaah!) Turkish Pizza! Sean also tried some Turkish beer, which he liked a lot.
We then left Ephesus and made a quick stop at the Temple of Artemis (or rather, a recreation of it), which is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. (Disclaimer: After this trip, I have officially been to more of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World than of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.) It was very much a tourist trap filled with cultural appropriation and tacky gifts. Sean and I tried Turkish coffee, which I was not a fan of. I now understand what they mean when they say that Turkish coffee is the only coffee you drink and eat.
We then returned to Kusadasi (the port city) and had a demonstration on the making of Turkish carpets. It was really cool, but a bit overwhelming. I was open to buying one, but they were way too expensive. We shopped around outside the carpet shop and I ended up finding some awesome pillowcases instead. They cost me a whopping $21 (he had asked for $30), rather than $500 for a rug I wasn’t absolutely in love with.
The man I bought the pillowcases from was the only one who didn’t overwhelm us as soon as we walked in the vicinity. Most shopkeepers jump on you as soon as you’re in front of the shop, and if you walk in, they won’t give you any time to process your own thoughts. It’s part of Turkish culture that is a little hard to get used to.
Once we were done looking around, we headed back to the ship for lots of food and entertainment!
tl;dr – Ephesus, Turkey
- Visit the Terrace Houses if you can, even if it means skipping out on something else
- Try Turkish pizza and beer, but be cautious if you want to try Turkish coffee
- Be ready to be hoarded by shopkeepers, and if you decide to buy, don’t pay the asking price
- Dress for warm weather; a hat wouldn’t hurt
- Wear comfortable walking shoes