ABOARD THE MV AEGEAN ODYSSEY –Today is a full day of touring, with the ship docked in Izmir for two days.
Izmir is a sprawling city, the third largest in Turkey, with modern suburbs but an ancient city center. We had an early start, with buses leaving the ship beginning at 8 a.m. And it proved to be a long and tiring day, though certainly a totally fascinating one.
We began with a visit to the ancient agora, constructed during the rule of Alexander the Great. It is a small but well preserved archeological site, with an exceptional arched stone tunnel and a graveyard where Ottoman and Jewish dead had been buried.
There are dozens of cats here, and someone obviously feeds them. They were sleeping in the sun on top of stone walls and at the feet of marble pillars. Maybe it is a cat sanctuary, like the one in the center of Rome.
From the agora we went to the Archeological Museum and then to Izmir’s bazaar, an outdoor market full of spice shops, fruit stands, bakeries and shops selling nuts and Turkish delight.
The guides are very good, informative but not dry, and the “quiet boxes” make it easy to wander through a site to look at things that may attract your interest, or to take photos, without missing the narrative.
We returned to the ship for lunch and then set out again by bus for Ephesus, one of the highlights of the tour, and an important archeological site. The Library of Celsus, the terrace houses and the grand theater are wonders to see. Our guide explained that at one point, there would have been over over 250,000 people living in Ephesus, with running water, bathrooms, finely decorated homes and even brothels.
We dined again on the back deck, watching the sunset. I am particularly enjoying the salads and grilled vegetables that are available every night in the dinner buffet.
It was a full and satisfying day, although a long and hot one. We had drinks in the lounge and listened to Babette sing some light jazz before an early bed.
Photos by Barbara Ramsay Orr