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ETERNAL EPHESUS

October 30th, 2010 1 comment

We recently rented a car and traveled about 260 km from Marmaris to the modern town called Selcuk, about 3km from the ancient city of Ephesus which is described as “one of the best preserved classical cities on the Eastern Mediterranean”.  Since arriving in Turkey we have been asked repeatedly whether we had seen Ephesus, and we were ready for some land touring, so off we went.

Selcuk itself is a charming little village with numerous small hotels, pensions and restaurants.  The remains of a Byzantine aqueduct run through the town, and provide a summer home for storks that nest on the top of the arches.

A stork's nest is barely visible on the top of the aqueduct that runs through Selcuk

A stork's nest is barely visible on the top of the aqueduct that runs through Selcuk

Selcuk is also home to the Ephesus Museum which contains some of the most notable archeological finds taken from the ancient site.  The museum contains many statues, sarcophagi and decorative items that originated during the Hellenistic and Roman times during which they were created.   Foremost among them is a famous statue called the “Beautiful Artemis” depicting the “Goddess of the Hunt”.

Ancient cult worshiping Artemis shown here dates back to 6th Century A.D.

Ancient cult worshiping Artemis shown here dates back to 6th Century A.D.

Sarcophogus. . .

Sarcophogus. . .

paying honor to the dead.

paying honor to the dead.

2nd Century A.D. Bronze sculpture "Eros and Dolphin" is a diminuative 5 in. x 8 in.

2nd Century A.D. Bronze sculpture "Eros and Dolphin" is a diminuative 5 in. x 8 in.

Just outside the museum a stand was selling freshly squeezed pomegranate juice.  The luscious red pomegranates were too tempting and we had to try some.  It takes three pomegranates to make a small glass of juice, from the ripened red fruit, making it a seasonal treat.  The vendor wore rubber gloves to keep the juice from staining his hands–the juice also reputedly makes great dyes for Turkish rugs.

Fresh squeezed pomegranate anyone?

Fresh squeezed pomegranate anyone?

A short walk from the museum on Ayasuluk Hill overlooking Selcuk stands the remains of the Basilica of St. John built in the 6th Century A.D. by Emperor Justinian over the small shrine that preceded it and housed the sacred grave of St. John.

Model of Basilica of St. John the Baptist, 6 Century A.D.

Model of Basilica of St. John the Baptist, 6 Century A.D.

Partial facade of Basilica of St. John

Partial facade of Basilica of St. John

Basilica has massive walls and many columns

Basilica has massive walls, many columns, and. . .

delicate mosaic floors that have survived the elements.

delicate mosaic floors that have survived the elements.

St. John reportedly lived on the hill that became the site of the Basilica, and wrote his gospel and letters at that location.  When St. John died at nearly 100 years old he was buried there.  The Baptistery was a central feature of the Basilica and featured an immersion pool with steps leading in and out of it set under one of the six domes of the Basilica.

Bapistry was under one of the 6 domes of the Basilica

Baptistery Pool--enter a sinner, exit saved.

 The domes of the Basilica, none of which remain, made the shape of a cross when viewed from above.  The central dome was built over the grave of St. John which bears a small marker set above a marble floor with columns on four corners that remain. 

A guide reviews St. John's life at his tomb

A guide reviews St. John's life at his tomb

A simple stone marks the tomb

A simple stone marks the tomb

Further up Ayasuluk Hill stands a Citadel constructed by the Byzantines in the 6th Century A.D. 

Citadel sits above site of Basilica

Citadel sits above site of Basilica

After a good night’s sleep in a small, local hotel we were off to Ephesus first thing in the morning.  We had been warned that when cruise ships were in port at nearby Kusadasi, tour bus after tour bus would converge on Ephesus—such was the case by the time we were leaving.

There are two entrances to Ephesus and it was recommended that we start at the northernmost entrance because the tours tended to drop passengers at the other end.  That strategy worked very well.  The parking lot was nearly empty when we arrived.  We scooted through the ticket window and gate without a wait and saw at least half of the site before we met the hoards of people coming from the opposite direction.  Of course, there was a little detour as we wandered off the main street having missed it due to some construction around the large amphitheater which was our first stop.

 Kent addressed “Friends, Roman & Countrymen” from the stage of the Grand Theater, and it was amazing how the sound carried.  The amphitheater, originally constructed over 2,000 years ago, holds 25,000 people and is still used for performances. 

Kent checks out stage in amphitheater

Kent checks out Great Theater acoustics

Once we were back on the right track, we proceeded through the remains of the Commercial Agora. As its name implies, it was the business center of this ancient city of some 200,000 residents. 

The Commercial Agora leads to the. . .

The Commercial Agora leads to the. . .

triple gateway outside the Celsus Library built by free slaves whose names it bears

triple gateway outside the Celsus Library built by free slaves whose names it bears

Passing through the remains of the Agora you reach the Mazaeus- Mithridates Gate leading to the Celsus Library—one of the most impressive of all ancient structures that we have seen.  The remaining facade soars two stories high and has bigger-than-life size statues set into niches in the lower section.

Kent in foreground reads about Celsus Library

Kent in foreground reads about Celsus Library

 

Library facade pops against an azure sky

Library facade pops against an azure sky

Celsus Library 3rd largest in ancient world held 12, 000 scrolls

Celsus Library--3rd largest in ancient world--held 12, 000 scrolls

Intersecting with the Celsus Library is Curetes Street, a wide marble avenue that leads to the other entrance to Ephesus.  

Marble streets have withstood the test of time and thousands of tourists

Marble streets have withstood the test of time and thousands of tourists

The Terrace Houses located on Curetes Street, are one of the most well preserved examples (comparable to Pompeii)of how the rich lived in this era.  Not everyone opts to pay the additional 30 TL (or 15 Euros) to enter, but we had been advised not to miss the experience.  

The Terrace Houses are protected from the elements. . .

The Terrace Houses are protected from the elements. . .

to preserve the decorative painting. . .

to preserve the decorative painting. . .

and beautiful marble.

and beautiful marble.

The remains of these magnificent three-storied buildings with interior courtyards are now preserved under a modern stainless, glass and plastic structure that stands in sharp contrast to the frescoes, mosaics and marble that it protects.  

Glasswalks through the terrace houses

Glasswalks through the terrace houses

The largest of the terrace houses was reportedly 10,000 square feet, and all were opulently decorated.  Many of the statues and fountains that were found in the excavation of the site now reside at the Ephesus Museum.

One of the terrace houses was 10,000 sq. ft.--an early "McMansion"

One of the terrace houses was 10,000 sq. ft.--an early "McMansion"

In this sheltered environment archeologists painstakingly work to reassemble the past into some recognizable form. 

Millenium Puzzle

Millenium Puzzle

Tourists walk through history over plexi-glass walkways that allow an aerial view of the houses.  

The terrace house structure is a modern work of art

The terrace house structure is a modern work of art

Within the houses you see examples of Roman baths, and yes, even marble toilets, with a system to dispose of waste.  There was also central heating provided by heated water piped under the floors. 

Aerial view of Roman life

Aerial view of Roman life

Just opposite the entrance to the Terrace Houses stands the Hadrian Temple with Corinthian style columns and delicate carving. 

Hadrian's Temple

Hadrian's Temple

. . .the original "double" arches

. . .the original "double" arches

Near the end of Curetes Street is the Odeon, which has the appearance of a smaller amphitheater, but was in ancient times a covered building with stadium-like seating inside.  The Odeon served as a theater and Senate Seat. 

The Odeon

The Odeon

Columns and arches in every direction

Columns and arches in every direction

Unlike Pompeii that was frozen in time by the volcanic eruption that engulfed it, Ephesus succumbed to earthquakes, marauding invaders and decay brought about by centuries of neglect as the Roman Empire died.  Ephesus’s worst enemy now may be tourists who invade the place by the thousands to admire its beauty.

More people than monuments

More people than monuments

Nevertheless, the beauty that survives is a timeless tribute to the people who created and inhabited Ephesus.

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TURGUTREIS SUNSET

October 30th, 2010 No comments

Among the many cruiser friends we have met along the way, SSCA Commodores, Helen & Ed Muesch stand out not only for the wealth of information they shared but for their extraordinary hospitality.  

Ed & Helen welcomed us into their home

Ed & Helen welcomed us into their home

Helen & Ed arrived in Turkey about five years ago shortly after surviving the tsunami that devastated Thailand as they were completing a circumnavigation (BTW, Ed has authored several books, one of them about their tsunami experience—check them out on Amazon).  They fell in love with Turkey and have stayed on, purchasing a home, although they spend several months each year on their sailboat,  Tahlequah, which brought them here in the first place.

Turgutreis is at the very end of the Bodrum peninsula reached by a winding road along the coast that gradually narrows until you reach the Aegean.

A scenic turnout along the road to Bodrum

A scenic turnout along the road to Bodrum

We were invited to spend an overnight with them at their home in Turgutreis after they put “Tahlequah” on the hard for the winter.  Turgutreis was our first landfall in Turkey and we admired the white houses that covered the hillside overlooking the marina, so we jumped at the chance to spend a night on shore and to see the view from this unique vantage point.  Our trip back to Marmaris from Ephesus provided a great opportunity to visit them.

From sea level we followed Ed & Helen up a narrow winding road that leads to their home near the top of the hillside.

From sea level we followed Ed & Helen up a narrow winding road that leads to their home near the top of the hillside.

View down coast to D-Marin, Turgutreis

View down coast to D-Marin, Turgutreis

Helen & Ed’s property is on one of the upper roads of the development, and extends down the hillside.  On the lower level is a compact but beautifully landscaped yard with breathtaking views across the Aegean to several Greek islands including Kos. 

Green grass and flowering plants make a little oasis

Green grass and flowering plants make a little oasis

We had hoped to watch a day of the Bodrum Cup—an annual wooden sailboat race that pits gulets against one another—from their house, but a last minute change in the course took the boats off in another direction.

Despite that we were treated to one of the more amazing sunsets we have seen from a vantage point high above the Aegean looking out over Greece, and had a wonderful dinner with new friends.

Turgutreis Sunset--Going. . .

Turgutreis Sunset--Going. . .

Going. . .

Going. . .

Gone!

Gone!

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WILD, WILD WEATHER

October 20th, 2010 No comments

Since last Friday we have been sporadically battered by high winds and deluged with rain.  Other cruisers who have been in Turkey this time of year say it is the worst weather they have experienced in October.  We are glad to be safely moored at Marmaris Yacht Marina.

Flag stands at attention in 30 kts.

Destiny's flag stands at attention in 30 kts.

The weather comes in violent micro-bursts of wind and torrential rain.  Yesterday we clocked a wind gust at over 40 kts.  Ten minutes later the wind was under 5 kts.

Snug inside the dodger & bimini

Snug inside the dodger & bimini

. . .while the storm rages.

. . .while the storm rages.

Wind indicator clocked gusts over 40 kts. --one was 44 kts!

Wind indicator clocked gusts over 40 kts. --one was 44 kts!

Despite this wild weather, the marina has been hauling boats at a steady clip until 10 p.m. everyday.  The docks are emptying as the yard fills.

Last night the rain stopped and the setting sun turned the clouds a gorgeous pink. 

A respite at sunset. . .

A respite at sunset. . .

brings a pink sky overhead.

brings a pink sky overhead.

But morning brought another gloomy day and heavy rain.

But morning brought another gloomy day and heavy rain.

The sun came out in the past few minutes so we are hoping that the weather system that has kept us holed up in Destiny for the past five days has finally passed through.

Finally, sun and blue sky.

Finally, sun and blue sky.

We had some rainy weather in Croatia in October of last year, but the weather seemed to move through much faster and without the intensity that we have experienced here.  On the other hand, Croatia was quite chilly and in Turkey at least the temps are moderate and very comfortable despite the rain and wind.

We had hoped to do more cruising this month but the unpredictable weather and stormy weather patterns have kept us in the marina.  This coming week is Marmaris Race Week, and weather permitting we will be out watching some of the races.

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TURKISH MYSTERY TOUR

October 19th, 2010 No comments

I recently boarded a bus at 7 a.m. for a one day “mystery tour” that would take us to an ancient historic site, a natural phenomenon and a up close look at Turkish life.  Kent decided it was a perfect time to do boat work without me under foot and stayed behind.

The bus, loaded with a dozen cruisers from both Yacht Marina and Netsel Marina, a driver and a guide headed north out of Marmaris and then west along the coast before climbing over mountains from which we could see the fertile valley floor below and beyond that the Aegean Sea.

Valley Floor and Aegean

Valley Floor and Aegean

The roads were modern for the most part, with many switchbacks up the mountain and then back down, although a portion of our trip was on two lane highway.  Sporadic rain dampened the road and limited visibility.

Road along sea gives way to one of many sharp curves going uphill

Road along sea gives way to one of many sharp curves going uphill

After a bit it was apparent that we were heading in the direction of Bodrum, but we still didn’t know our destination.  We stopped for a Turkish breakfast in Milas which is inland from Bodrum.

Turkish breakfast includes cold sliced meats, thick Turkish yogurt, flat bread, hard cheeses, olives, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs and an assortment of honeys and jams—generally laid out buffet style. 

In Milas we visited “Gumuskesen”, a 2nd Century A.D. Roman mausoleum set in a small park in a residential area of the city. 

Milas Mausoleum

Milas Mausoleum

2nd Century A.D. Roman columns

2nd Century A.D. Roman columns

It was a green oasis with a perfectly preserved antiquity surrounded by grass, palm trees and still budding roses covered with rain drops. 

October Rose

October Rose

From Milas we picked up a two lane road that led to our next stop at Temple of Zeus at Euromos.

Rain drenched Temple of Zeus

Rain drenched Temple of Zeus

Euromos was an ancient city that reached the height of its prosperity between 200 B.C. and 200 A.D.  In addition to the temple, bearing a striking resemblance to a structure in Nimes, France, there are other remains on the site.   

Many columns remain. . .but only a few stand

Many columns remain. . .but only a few stand

. . .of the 9 by 6 columns that made up the effice.

. . .of the 9 columns by 6 columns that made up the edifice.

 

Inscriptions adorn the temple columns

Inscriptions adorn the temple columns

From the path to amphitheater you get an aerial view of the Temple nestled among the olive trees

From the path to amphitheater you get an aerial view of the Temple nestled among the olive trees

A portion of city wall fortification and the barely there remains of a the theater are a short climb uphill from the temple.

Fortress walls

Fortress walls

From the flat area that would have been the “stage” for the ancient theater, now overgrown with olive trees, the valley spreads out below. 

Moss covers the steps of the amphitheater now overgrown with trees

Moss covers the steps of the amphitheater now overgrown with trees

Dodging rain drops, we got back on the bus for our next mystery stop.  Winding up a narrow one lane road high above the valley we reached the small Turkish village of Comakdag.  Entering the town was like stepping back in time.  The villagers were all dressed in traditional peasant clothes—the women wearing pantaloons layered with dresses and coats.  

Villagers in traditonal dress

Villagers in traditonal dress

A cow meandered through the walled and gated Town Square, while others were at home on porches.

Camakdag Town Square

Comakdag Town Square

 We visited a Turkish family who allowed us to tour their 400 year old stone home.  The ground floor was for animals and the second floor reached by a wooden ladder housed people.  At present the family resides primarily in a larger home built on the same property, but cattle are tethered in courtyard and a donkey lives under the more modern house. 

400 year old house

400 year old house

Chickens and. . .

Chickens and. . .

cattle share the courtyard

cattle share the courtyard

While the donkey lives on ground floor of family home

While the donkey lives on ground floor of family home

The interior of the “old” house is decorated with ornate carving and colorful paint.  The size is stunningly small when one considers that when built a large family resided in one room that was no more than 200 sq. ft.  The fireplace defined the “kitchen” and a thin mattress on the floor provided a daytime seating and nighttime sleeping area.

Panel from carved door

Panel from carved door

Dried peppers hang next to a painted cupboard

Dried peppers hang next to a painted cupboard

We learned that weddings in Turkey were four day extravagances of feasting,  We were shown a 120 year old silk wedding gown that was modeled by Catherine, one of our tour members.

Silk wedding gown. . .

Silk wedding gown. . .

complete with headdress and fresh flowers

complete with headdress and fresh flowers

We were also shown an antique child’s cradle with a hole in the bottom and a small pipe apparatus that fit in it.  The village elder who accompanied us on our tour described that the one end of the pipe fit over the penis of a baby boy and drained out the bottom of the cradle—rather an ingenious solution for keeping baby dry. 

Our village guide describes the use for this interesting object

Our village guide describes the use for this interesting object

Our last stop was the ancient village of Herakleia (2,500 years old), which once stood on a gulf in the Aegean.  As the sea retreated over the centuries it left behind a lake (Lake Bafa) now some 20 miles from the sea, and far above current sea level.   The village is reached by a narrow road that winds through terrain dominated by huge rock boulders as far as you can see.  The so-called “Five-Fingered Mountain” towers over the village and lake.

Lakeside at Heracleia

Lakeside at Heracleia

Villagers still occupy part of the town--now called Kapikiri

Villagers still occupy part of the town--now called Kapikiri

View toward mountains

View toward mountains

Can you see the people in the middle--these are BIG boulders

Can you see the people in the middle--these are BIG boulders

There are ruins scattered throughout the village of a theater, temple and a necropolis as well as towers and city walls.

In the foreground the necropolis. . .in distance the lake

In the foreground the necropolis. . .in distance the lake

As we toured the town, village women followed us from place to place hawking their handicrafts.  As we moved on they gathered everything up into folded cloths that they carried on their backs and kept pace.

Turkish women carry their wares

Turkish women carry their wares

The day ended much as it started with the sun making a valiant effort to come out.  Our feet were damp, but everyone on the tour enjoyed our day.

At least the rain stopped

At least the rain stopped

One mystery remains—how did they keep the baby girls dry in that cradle?

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CLOSE ENCOUNTERS WITH GOATS & STARS

October 13th, 2010 No comments
Destiny is the barely seen blue hull on Juliet dock at "Yat Marina"

Destiny is the barely seen blue hull on Juliet dock at "Yat Marina"

Although we now have a contract at Marmaris Yacht Marina, we get restless after a week of sitting at the dock and ventured out recently with the intention of going whatever direction the wind was blowing. 

Once outside Marmaris Bay it became apparent that we could go anywhere because there was NO WIND at all, and we would be motoring—as appeared to be the case with a sailboat race that was standing by waiting for wind to come up.  It never did!

Where's the starting mark?

Where's the starting mark?

There's the mark. . .where's the wind?

There's the mark. . .where's the wind?

Who needs a sail when we have an engine!

Who needs a sail when we have an engine!

Since the prevailing wind is NW and there was a possibility that we might be able to sail on the way back to Marmaris, we motored about 25 NM west to Serci Limani, a long fijord-like bay that we had passed several times but not ventured into.  During the summer doldrums of July and August we thought it might be too hot.

The entrance to the bay is so narrow that it is not easily visible from a distance, blending into the rocky cliffs along this stretch of coastline.  Thanks to GPS coordinates, we pointed Destiny toward the shore and about a mile out could finally make out the entrance.

Now you don't see it. . .

Now you don't see it. . .

and now you do!

and now you do!

As you enter the bay through the rocky entrance, there is a sharp dogleg to the right and a rocky cliff rises straight up on the left side of the bay.  Captain Nemo’s Restaurant at the far end of bay has installed moorings and a boat assists in picking up the mooring and taking a line to shore—a necessity in this narrow anchorage.

Rowboat stands at ready to assist with mooring

Rowboat stands at ready to assist with mooring

Jagged cliff backdrops rocky beach

Jagged cliff backdrops rocky beach

There was a rocky beach just off Destiny’s stern and about dusk we saw mountain goats starting down the steep cliff to the beach.  We watched in amazement as goat after goat, after goat inched its way head first down the steep cliff toward the beach, grazing on low bushes along the way.

Head first down the rocks. . .

Head first down the rocks. . .

the herd gathers on the beach to drink, feed and play.

the herd gathers on the beach to drink, feed and play.

Unlike other goats we had seen that appeared domesticated and were tended by people, these goats were clearly wild and sported luxurious long coats that shone in the late afternoon sun.  There were goats of every imaginable size, shape and color.  They scampered over the rocks, nibbled trees, and surveyed their domain seemingly untroubled by the boats that lined the bay.

Goats parade by Destiny's stern

Goats parade by Destiny's stern

Goats sport long coats. . .

Goats sport long coats. . .

and a regal demeanor.

and a regal demeanor.

Because of its remote location, on a moonless night Serci Limani becomes a heavenly observatory. The constellations and Milky Way glowed brightly against the black night sky as the wind howled down the narrow bay at 20+ kts.

Jolie registers 20 kt. on the nose

Jolie registers 20 kt. on the nose

All in all this bay is idyllic, especially in the “off season” when it is not taken over by charter flotillas.  We stayed a second day while Kent replaced a snapped throttle cable.  If you have to have a mechanical this is not a bad place–as long as you have the necessary replacement part–which we did!

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