Sunday, January 3, 2016

Ephesus


The city of Izmir doesn't have a ton of sights to see in the heart of the city, but there is a decent amount to see if you're willing to drive outside of the city to see it.  Probably the biggest attraction to this part of Turkey is Ephesus, which is located about an hour and a half outside of the city.  The easiest way to get there is by train, which Mike and I have done.  Mike has also driven and said that it doesn't save that much time.  Poorna and I decided to take the train, but I'll admit, I was definitely nervous to do this without Mike.  I made him write out step by step instructions and explain it about a million times before we left.

We left around 8:15 on Tuesday and took a cab to the train station.  When we got there, we had to buy tickets and I knew it would probably be better to speak Turkish, even though hundreds of tourists come through here speaking English.  I put my two months of Turkish lessons to good use and asked for two tickets to Selcuk.  Not only did the man behind the ticket counter understand, he responded in Turkish, saying that two round tickets would be 20TL.  Guys, this was so exciting!  A small victory for me and the Turkish language.  

We found the train and were happy to see that it wasn't crowded so we were able to get a seat.  The train ride was extremely foggy, which made me concerned that we wouldn't be able to see anything when we got to Ephesus.

Selcuk is the town outside of Ephesus, so everyone comes through there.  It's interesting because it's so different from the United States.  In the US, towns near a major tourist attraction are huge.  There are hotels, restaurants and a ton of people.  In Turkey, the towns outside of tourist attractions are just like any other Turkish town.  There are a few restaurants and shops, but Selcuk is definitely not a major city.  They do have a bus station with dolmushes (mini buses) running back and forth to Ephesus, so we found a bus and made our way to Ephesus.

I think it's so much fun to travel with friends.  It's such an experience getting to witness all of these incredible pieces of history with friends.  I knew what to expect since Mike and I had been here before, but showing Poorna around and watching her reaction was so much fun.  The amphitheater is incredible in size, but the library wins the prize for most breath taking.  It's amazing.



Just a few little kedis hanging out at the amphitheater







I don't know about you, but I've never been to a library that beautiful!

The pillars of the library


Isn't the library in the background stunning?
 We walked around looking a different ruins and just admiring how much work and attention to detail was put in to creating all of these old buildings.  It's definitely a cool place to visit, especially if you are in to ancient history.

After we made it to the top of the site, we left and had to take a taxi back to Selcuk.  Apparently, the dolmushes only come to the bottom of the site where they drop you off, so you essentially have to walk all the way up to see the ruins and then back down without leaving the park to catch the dolmush.  Silly.  Once the taxi dropped us off at the bus station, we were both starving, so we found a little place to grab lunch.  We both got chicken pita type sandwiches and then split some yogurt/tziki and bread.  It was delicious and only about 4USD a person.  Gotta love the Turkish economy!

The only issue with taking the train to Ephesus is that you are at the mercy of the train schedule.  We went during the week in the winter, so there weren't a ton of trains coming to and from Selcuk in the middle of the day.  I think there are more trains that run in the summer and the weekends.  Once we were done with lunch, we still had two and half hours before our train came.  We searched on TripAdvisor (love love LOVE TripAdvisor) and found out that the Basilica of St. John was within walking distance.

Neither of us knew much about this, but it's definitely worth seeing.  It's believed that John the Apostle walked from Jerusalem to Ephesus and wrote Revelation when he reached Ephesus.  Pretty cool, right?  Even if you aren't into the Biblical aspect, the Basilica and the castle next to it have some incredible views.










I think we both enjoyed the Basilica and castle as much as we did the actual ruins of Ephesus.  We still had about an hour left, but we were both ready to just sit and relax, so we got some Turkish coffee and tea to kill time.   When it was time to get on the train, we were shocked at how crowded it was.  Coming to Ephesus, we hadn't had any trouble finding a seat, but this time, we had to stand almost the entire way. Where did all of these people come from????  The train ride back was less than enjoyable since it was hot, crowded and we were tired, but we made it back in one piece and were happy to be home.

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