Even before we started our cruise we had heard how incredible Ephesus is. An ancient Greek city, later it was a major Roman city. Knowing we would want to see everything and have a guide, we booked a tour online. Our guide (Banu Akin firstname.lastname@example.org) was excellent. She had gone to college to be a tour guide and was an expert on archeology. On the road to Ephesus, she ran down what we’d see. For many visitors seeing the Virgin Mary’s House is must. Being Jewish, we decided to nix it and instead add a visit to the Terrace Houses, a part of Ephesus actively being excavated. (Making such changes is a big advantage of a private tour.) The Terrace Houses are a perfect way to see how the inhabitants lived. My advice, if you want to see Mary’s House do, but don’t miss the Terrace Houses. It was a highlight of Ephesus. I’m still talking about it.
What’s so amazing is how well they lived and how advanced they were. Located on the hill, these homes were also called “the houses of the rich.” Like developments of today there were a variety of homes, from smaller to massive. The homes mostly two-storied, had open courtyard, clay pipes beneath the floors and behind walls for hot and cold water, and indoor plumbing. Yes, no outhouses. Some even had a sauna. Back then it was important to have a large room for everyone to sit around and have discussions. The homes were finely decorated with beautiful mosaics and frescoes.
In Ephesus, you can imagine a once bustling city, the Agora filled with merchants and people shopping. There were fountains and temples, beautiful streets (Marble Sacred Street), the Great Theater and the Library of Celsus. The Library’s façade has been reconstructed from all original pieces. Ephesus had public toilets, baths, a small clinic and a brothel. The funny thing is that on the way to the brothel is a foot print pointing its direction. If your foot was smaller than the foot on the ground, it meant you were too young to go.
Lunch was at a Turkish restaurant, too small for tour buses. It was fun tasting the Turkish fare. There was eggplant, Kota (meatballs), humus, beans and onions, lamb and watermelon for dessert. Attached to the restaurant there was a small place where women and men were making carpets. And of course, we were lead into a place where you buy one. After seeing many, we did buy a small one that we could carry on the plane. Though we couldn’t help but wonder did we really get a good price.
When asked if we wanted to visit a museum, there was a resounding no. After Athens we passed on it. Instead we opted to go to a pottery factory and a leather factory. Neither was really a must see. Though at the leather factory they put on a fashion show and for a few minutes we felt like we were in Milan. After the rug, there were no more purchases.
Our guide dropped us back a little earlier. And what was really nice was she gave a small refund since the tour was somewhat shorter than we had planned on. Before getting back on the ship we walked through the streets. Was almost surprised they didn’t have a hook to pull you in. Once they saw the little black bag containing the rug, they said “now that you have the rug, you need something for yourself – a diamond ring, a bracelet, a scarf, leather goods, and on and on.” After a few blocks of that we were happy to back on the Noordam.