Overnight buses just aren’t the best. Not my favorite experiences but, it made it possible to see and enjoy 3 cities in the week we were here. Last night was spent on a bus again. Heidi and I were going slightly insane and got pretty delusional around 3 in the morning and just couldn’t stop laughing. Pretty sure everyone was annoyed by the American girls. We had the joy of paying a lira every time we stopped to use the bathroom and once when Turkish pop music was playing, Heidi thought it was a jazzed up version of the Islamic prayers. What a night.
Regardless, we made it safely to the region of Izmir and the village of Selçuk. We met the tour company at the bus station and headed straight out on the tour. We didn’t have the chance to change or brush our teeth or eat or anything. We most definitely smelled like a Turkish bus or something. Anyways…
Our first stop was the house of Virgin Mary. It was where she spent her last days before death alongside St. John. It is crazy to think that Mary and John were walking this same land so long ago.
Then, I think, my favorite part of the trip so far, Ephesus. Just complete insanity. I think I spent most of the time being in awe that I was actually walking in this ancient city. I could barely listen to the guides or focus on anything really. I just kept shaking my head in disbelief. I mean I was walking down the original marble main road of Ephesus trying to picture what it must have been like in the first and second century. It really is just a crazy feeling to know that this was a city that Paul spent time in. He wrote a very important letter to the church here, some of you may know it as Ephesians… No big deal. I learned so much but still feel like I should know so much more. (Or maybe just paid more attention to the guide…haha)
After lunch, we were lured into this leather manufacturer/store. So we had just seen these beautiful ancient ruins so full of history then we go to this place and are sat down in a fancy room with a raised platform in the middle and the lights go off. The American pop music starts (Beyonce’s hit single ‘Halo’ to be exact) and the spotlights turn on. We are in the middle of a leather jacket fashion show. Heidi and I LOSE IT! We could not stop laughing. It was just such a drastic culture change from Ephesus. Then they tried to sell us $1000 leather coats. That’s Turkey for you…
After that craziness, we went to the tomb and church of John. The church is in ruins, but we got to see the baptismal and kind of get the feel of what the cross shaped church once looked like. We had a great views from above the city as well. This part of the country is full of beautiful mountains, kind of similar to the Appalachians. I think that’s another reason I love this area so much.
Our last historical stop was the ruins of the Temple of the pagan god Artemis. It is one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world. There is only one pillar left, but it used to be the biggest temple in the world, hence being a wonder of the ancient world. From the place where we stood, you could see the places of worship from 3 different religions: Christian, Islam, and pagan. Turkey just can’t make up its mind over the centuries.
Then we were brought into one last haggling, another carpet place. We are over it! At one point, the guy there asked if he was boring me. No sir, we’ve just heard this same thing a million times and I’m sick of being guilted into buying super expensive things, which I never will because I can literally pay 2 months rent with that money. Haha what a country.
We returned back to our little hostel right near the center of town and FINALLY changed clothes and showered. I’m pretty sure we are the only ones staying in the whole place so that’s awesome. We had dinner at the restaurant that was part of the hostel, an outdoor garden type place. Just a cute little set up.
Then, we decided for a little evening walk around this precious city. We really like it. We met some other Americans (one girl from Nashville… What are the chances??) and talked with them and some turkish men who owned the shop we were outside of for a little while. Then, we wandered over to the sweetest man’s shop. He literally makes almost everything in his shop, lots of jewelery and leather stuff. We talked with him forever. He learned his trade from his grandfather and you could tell he took so much pride in his work. He says he loves his job because he gets to make friends with people from everywhere and learns their stories. He also called me a hippie and had a sign on the front of his shop that said ‘Do what makes you happy’. Just a really awesome Turkish fellow. He gave us apple tea (of course) and invited us to smoke the water pipe (hookah). What a classically Turkish evening. I can’t wait for a relaxing day tomorrow and all the adventures out last day in Turkey will hold!
Photos: Instagram and Twitter @jae_mae