Ephesus Et Al
June 1, 2015
Well our departure from Cappadocia to Pamakkule was by a 9 pass Mini Van with the 4 Singaporean women and the other couple from Singapore…We had the same driver, who we called Poncho…seemed to be a nickname he picked up because of his way with women. (-:
Well he treated all of us as if we were quite special…He bought me a lovely little bracelet with the “evil eye” to ward off bad spirits…so far so good…Our first stop was what is probably the most Conservative Muslim City in Turkey(and far more then anything I saw in Iran) called Konya. I think we really stopped here because the drive south was 8 hours and it’s almost the half way point…AND it happens to be the adoptive home of Rumi, the Poet and Sufi Mystic who founded the Whirling Dervish. Konya was also one of the most important trading centers on the Silk Road. But having said all of that, we all thought it was just OK…Mainly because Konya is a huge city and the Rumi Mosque and museum were packed with kids and other tourists. But I am told there are a lot more interesting things there…we just didn’t see them…But they do have a new High Speed Rail…soooo….The drive was uneventful and rainy most of the way…poor Poncho had to turn around and go back for another set of tourists…crazy…. and we finally got to Pamukkale at 6:30p. I was lucky enough to stay at the only Thermal Pool resort…The others stayed at different hotels….and it turned out we all ended up in different tour groups
the next day…Mine was jammed packed with 14 people from Argentina, Chile, Singapore, Geneva, Indonesia…but I really enjoyed it because it offered a chance to meet more people with new perspectives…That is my favorite thing about traveling solo…you actually do meet and chat with more people. My friends, who I met the first day in Istanbul(from Ireland but lives in Bangkok and her Thai friend) keep teasing me about how many people I keep running into who I know from various areas…They tend to stay together more and don’t socialize except with me (-: And we ended up on several tour legs together as well as at the same hotel in Istanbul. Ok back on track now…:
Pamukkale is really known for the Calcium Thermal pools…Usually they are so very white but there has been quite a bit of rain so they were not as majestic as usual and a little yellowish.
Pamukkale is the home of St Philips Tomb(you know the same St. Philip of the Gnostic Gospels who writes of Mary Magdeline as an Apostle and funder of Jesus’s travels!) St. Philip came here to preach and was stoned to death…but they seem to have thought enough of him to create a monument for him by way of a tomb. There are also many Roman ruins and one very large Theater…as well as many tombs of the dead…although most of them were severely damaged…Seems the Romans were big on cremation so that is why no bodies can be seen in the broken tombs….unlike my Salt Man back in Iran who was a beauty at 1700 years old! Maybe we should all consider a little more salt if it will preserve us that well! (-:
After wondering around the Ruins, I hiked up a bit and then headed down to the Calcium Thermal pools…dipped my tootsies in but decided that was as far as this old body wanted to go. (-:
After another full day, we headed back to a meet point for my ride to pick me up and take me to Ephesus…That is where I met up and saw my old Singaporean friends from the Cappadocia and Konya tours…Back together again with some new faces from new places…
The hotel in the Ephesus area was spectacular…on the water…very relaxing for the few hours there!
We had thunderstorms every night since Cappadocia but the days have been great…until Ephesus…but we were spared a total drenching…
I must admit, I do tire of Churches, Mosques, Palaces etc…But I never tire of Ruins and artifacts…maybe that’s because I get lost in my imagination of whose footsteps I am walking in…who stood in these same places…Sometimes Castles offer the same feeling but just looking at those old artifact and imagining who wore that necklace 2000 years ago…or drank from that glass…or, in the case of Ephesus, sat on those communal toilets!
Oh I forgot…before we went to Ephesus, we went to the Virgin Mary’s house of her final years. Seems Jesus(there are verses 26-27 in John.) asked John to take care of his mother…well John was off to spread the word and was heading to Ephesus. Fearing if he left her behind she would suffer a terrible fate since Christians tended to not do well in those early days…He took her with him to Ephesus…Now there are various theories on this, as our guide pointed out..but they feel fairly certain the facts lend to the truth that she was here…First off, the house…2nd and more importantly is there is quite a bit of archaeological evidence from the fact that the 3rd ecumenical council was there and it was ALL about Mary, which made no sense unless she was there…They also built a Basilica in the 2nd century named after her to honor her life here…and there have been many Popes, including Pope John Paul & Benedict who have made pilgrimages here and left offerings…Soooooo
John was stoned to death and as I mentioned earlier, he is buried in Pamukkale…St. Paul came to Ephesus and preached for 2 years…there are lots of stories about him too…quite a pushy fellow so thought! (-;
After a long day of touring off to the airport we went…the driver took us a lovely route around the coast…reminded me of the Pacific Coast Highway drive…gorgeous.
Our flight was delayed but the 5 of us(me, the Singaporean couple, a girl from Singapore and her traveling friend from Geneva)entertained ourselves…
There was a complete mix up with my transit pick up and once again I got to the hotel quite late…must say, I felt rather empowered when I was giving the driver directions to my hotel in ISTANBUL!!!
I had 2 free days but I had not been to the Grand Bazaar and I had booked a boat trip up the Bosphoros to the Black Sea on Saturday…
I don’t want to offend those that love shopping and Bazaars BUT just like with Churches and Mosques, I had seen enough…YES, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is the Grandfather of them all BUT I had zero energy for it…so I hustled back to be sure I wasn’t late for my Boat pick up.
Istanbul sits between Asia and Europe on the Bosphoros so I got a chance to shop a little in Asia when they dropped us off for a bit on the Asia side on the way back…I think this trip will cover 3 Continents for me…although they are 3 I have already been to but still 3 nonetheless.
I will do a last impression blog tomorrow and I do have some insights…I spent many meals and a lot of time chatting up people from all over…I had breakfast twice with an older Syrian woman who now lives in Saudi and her daughter who works in Southern Turkey for a Humanitarian group helping the Refugees…amazing stories…heartbreaking…I had dinner with a woman from Siberia Russia, spent several hours talking Economics and Politics with 2 Chinese businessmen on the boat…these are among the truly many people on this Turkey trip I have had the privilege to learn from…My brain is a fog right now so I hope while I am traveling tomorrow to Tunisia(all day and night 5am-midnight!…via Barcelona & Paris) I will find some time to compile my thoughts…
But I can truly say that Turkey is incredible and if you are at all interested in History this is a must see country…and it is useful to get guided tours along the way…and Istanbul is one fabulous collection of people, unlike any other….