The Celebrity Silhouette docked in the port of Kudasi, Turkey and my mom and I took an early morning excursion to Ephesus. Ephesus used to be a port town directly on the sea but over hundreds of years, the river has deposited so much silt that it is now about 6 miles away from the sea! We checked in for our tour at 7:30 and went straight to a bus that took us out of the port and on to the road towards Ephesus. Our tour guide for this tour was absolutely amazing, one of the best I have ever had. He spoke slowly and clearly and was informative but not boring. He had a sense of humor and made sure that everyone had a good time. My mom was definitely the youngest person on this tour other than me, so that sure was interesting.
Our first stop was the House of the Virgin Mary. Now, no one is certain that this is the exact spot of Mary’s house, but it seems to be pretty well backed up by historical accounts and some nun living in Germany claims she had a dream about the place that led to some people finding it. Two popes have been there and the Catholics acknowledge the small dwelling as being the house of Mary. This is where they say that Paul took Mary to hide her after the crucifixion of Christ. It all sounds a bit fishy to me, and the fact that the house has been almost entirely re-done (since it was found crumbling) makes the whole thing less of a religious experience and more of a touristy one, although still interesting. However, the highlight of our tour was our second stop, the ancient city of Ephesus. I was shocked to learn that visitors can only see about 25% of the old city – the rest is still covered by silt! I couldn’t believe how large the whole place was. You could compare its size to that of the Forum and Capitoline Hill area in Rome!
Ephesus is kind of like a Disney World of ancient history and archaeological remains. There are tourists everywhere, but as you are walking around it is easy to see why. The place is amazing! It is incredible what historians and archeologists have been able to unveil. Our tour guide highlighted the main buildings as well as some lesser-known areas. Trajan’s Fountain, the Library, and the Theater are definitely some of the most impressive. The Theater, where the Apostle Paul once addressed the crowds, had the capacity to seat up to 25,000 people! The Ephesians were also a technologically advanced people – they had a system of drains and running water long before anyone else. When the capital of Turkey became Constantinople – today Istanbul – most of the Ephesians choose to migrate there, leaving the ancient city behind. Seeing Ephesus was definitely one of my favorite excursions from the ship. I would recommend going to Ephesus over going to the Acropolis in Athens because I think it is much more impressive.
After spending a couple of hours visiting Ephesus, the tour bus took us back to the port of Kudasi, and we were ushered into Ottoman’s carpet and jewelry shop. The whole experience was very similar to being in Morocco. First, the owner of the shop greeted us and offered us a snack of some cheese and potato crisp. He also provided us with free refreshments – I choose Turkish white wine and I tried “Rocky”, which is some 40 something percent proof alcohol, it tasted faintly like liquorices. Then the carpet unveiling began. The men of the carpet shop unveiled carpet after carpet like a fashion show with the owner acting as an announcer and telling us about the history of rug making and the quality of all the rugs. The pure silk carpets were the most gorgeous, and so soft to walk on. All of the carpets were super expensive; most costing a lot more than something similar in Morocco.
After leaving the carpet shop, my mom and I walked around the shopping area in Kudasi and sent out some postcards. When we got back on the ship, I laid out by the pool for a bit before heading to the gym. It was formal night, so we dressed up and enjoyed filet mignon for dinner. The Celebrity Silhouette singers and dancer performed an awesome show called Velocity, which was super high energy with some well-known songs and bright costumes. The next morning we woke up in Rhodes, Greece. Rhodes Town is conveniently located right outside of the cruise port. The whole town is enclosed in an ancient wall. Knight’s Street is a road along which several old inns are located – we visited the old Inn of Spain, which is in the process of being renovated to show what a typical inn may have looked like during the Middle Ages. We walked into town and visited the Palace of the Grand Masters, which was really more like a castle than a palace. The palace was a popular place, and we had to pay 6 Euros to get in. My advice would be this: unless you have never seen a castle or are really interested in mosaic floor art, do not go. The mosaics on the floor were really cool, but the interior of the palace was really hot and swarming with people, not at all worth the 6 Euros.
We had a little better luck with our shopping. My mom purchased 3 great paintings of Greek ocean scenes. Then we came across a man who makes his own earrings, he literally hammers out each design. It was so neat to see him doing it and we really liked the designs so my mom decided to get olive branch earrings, while I got a dangling fleur de lis design and another pair made from shells and sea coral. Feeling satisfied with our purchases, we decided to stop for lunch and wifi. The lunch was great – I got a gyro plate complete with tziki and pita bread – but the wifi was horrible. I was at least able to receive messages, but I couldn’t use Facetime. I have concluded that Greece has the worst wifi of any country I have visited so far. Overall, our day in Rhodes was relaxing and scenic.