Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cruising the Mediterranean - Part 5 Ephesus

I'm back and I've missed my little blog so much!  We moved to our new apartment and there was a 12 day delay in getting our internet connected.  Very frustrating! First World problems and all that, but I'm back.   

We are loving our new neighborhood and London is buzzing with the Olympics.  I can't wait to share more but before that I need to finish up a few more posts from our cruise.

Today, I'm recapping our visit to Turkey.  It was our favorite stop.  

This is TE stepping off the ship onto the soil of country number 100!!  He can now officially join the Travelers' Century Club!!  He's such a numbers guy.  

After a long, hot day in Athens the day before, we were a little concerned about another one.  But, decided to just make the best of it.  And this turned out to be the highlight of the trip.  

At the Port of Kusadasi, we got off of the ship early to meet our tour guide.  For Turkey, we pre-booked online with Ekol Travel, again using recommendations from  It was just the two of us for this tour with a guide and a driver.  

I highly recommend this tour company.  Our tour guide was friendly and so knowledgable.  We had a large air-conditioned van just for us.   

Our first stop was the Ancient City of Ephesus.  It was about a 45 minute drive from the port.  We were in a race to beat the heat and the crowds.  Turkey is just beautiful, green and lush.  We passed olive, peach and lemon orchards while our guide told us about this beautiful country. 

We arrived at the site of Ephesus just after it opened.  There is a small market outside the entrance.  Our guide quickly led us through the gates before the large crowds filled the streets.   

Ephesus is just spectacular and we definitely felt like we were stepping back in time about 3,000 years.   

 The site is massive but less than 20% of the city has been uncovered.  Excavation has been going on for over 150 years.  

This was once one of the largest and most important cities of the ancient world with a population of half a million people during its peak.  

We walked along marble streets where Alexander the Great and the apostle Paul once walked.  The access is amazing.  I was so excited to get some pictures with no tourist in them.  Within about 30 minutes the site was teeming with people.  

The Library of Celsus is one of the features of the site.  It was built in 125 AD and once held over 12,000 scrolls. 

These are marble toilets seats at one of the Baths.  They had slaves warm up the seats for them. 

The city also had a complete plumbing system.  You can still see the clay pipes that led clean water and waste throughout the city. 

We also paid an extra fee to visit the Terrace Houses which are located at the site.  For some reason, not many others were taking this tour, but I say don't miss it.  It was fascinating.  

Six "houses of the rich" have been excavated in the terraced hillside and are covered with a protective roof.  There is a metal walkway built up and through the houses with plexiglass flooring so you can see the interiors which are full of mosaics and frescoes.  

Some of the homes were built as early as the first century BC and they are so well preserved.  It's like a massive, decorative jigsaw puzzle.  

Turkish rugs are famous the world over and these must have been the inspiration.  There were many fully intact mosaics in the flooring and all of the rooms were painted and decorated.  It must have just been beautiful during it's heyday. 

 It's amazing to think of what they still might uncover someday as the excavation continues. 

One of the first excavations of the area was led by the British Museum and later Germany and Austria became involved.  There were many times in both Athens and Ephesus that we were told that to see the original you would need to visit the British Museum. 

Our guide was a young lady who grew up in Kusadasi.  She went to college for four years to be a tour guide and she was very passionate about the ruins at Ephesus.  We had some very interesting discussions about international archeology, politics and religion. She was terrific.

At one time, the city's harbor came right up to the end of this road where you can see the last column.  The harbor was eventually silted up and the ocean is now 6km away.  This is what led to the decline of the city and it was eventually completely abandoned during the 15th Century. 

Opposite the old harbor is the Great Theater which could seat 25,000 people.  The Apostle Paul preached here during his exile in Ephesus.  It was once used for gladiator battles and is still used today.  But for much less violent shows like Elton John.  

We spent a few hours exploring the ruins and then took a quick ride over to see what remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  The Temple of Artemis once stood on this site.  There were 127 columns 60 ft. in height.  The lone column with storks nesting on the top is made up of fragments and is all that is left.  The Temple was built to honor Artemis, the goddess of fertility.  

In the background of this picture you can also see three buildings.  The one to the right is the Basilica of St. John.  It was built in the 6th century over the believed burial site of John the Baptist.  To the left it is the Isa Bey Mosque built in the 14th Century.  The structure at the top is the Ayasuluk Castle built in the 7th Century.   Pagan, early Christian, Islamic and an Ottoman Citadel all upon this one hillside.  It's a fascinating view.  

Ephesus and Turkey is absolutely worth the trip.  I definitely "connected" with these ruins.  I was walking along the marble road and definitely had a moment.  It's a spectacular place and another time when I desperately wished for a time machine to see it in all its glory.  

Tomorrow I'll post about the rest of our day in Turkey.  Thanks for reading!  By the way, if you've found my blog through the forums on Cruise Critic then a huge WELCOME!  I hope my review has helped you plan your cruise.  You are going to have a wonderful time!   I'd love to hear what you think about this itinerary.  Feel free to stick around and leave comments.  


This is not a sponsored post.  All photos are ours.   


  1. I don't know, elton is pretty wild. Nice review, thanks for sharing on CC.

  2. Woo hoo! I loved Ephesus when we visited and it was just lovely reading about your visit there and your experiences! I love that you saw all of the indoor places - we didn't see any of those and only saw outdoors. We think they might have been renovated at that time or something, so this was a real pleasure to see. Very good that you arrived first thing in the morning, we arrived at lunch time and it was brutal.

  3. I loved Ephesus too! Turkey was one of our favourite countries to visit on our backpacking trip back in 1997....long ago. I have so many of the same photo's as you of Ephesus. We loved it so much that we decided to buy our own little Turkish carpet too! Thanks for bringing back some good memories of Turkey. Great photo's!!

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