Saturday, November 26, 2011

Turkey, Croatia and back again!

We also did our homework on Turkey and decided that if we were going to have time to see anything worth seeing, specifically Ephesus, we needed to go with a tour group.  Let me state for the record, that Nate and I are not “tour group” kind of people and had relished the fact that we were not one of the hundreds in Greece following a feathered stick or umbrella (group leaders) like sheep.  Nevertheless we hopped on our designated tour bus bright and early the next morning and followed the giant silver “magic umbrella”.  While it was similar to being herded like sheep, I must say, I’m glad we did the tour.  We may have found our way to Ephesus (about an hour drive from our port in Izmir), but I don’t know that we would have made it back in time to board the ship.
Hmmm... I don't know about this...
gettin the headset ready for the tour

Our tour guide and the "magic umbrella"

         We didn’t know a lot about Ephesus prior to learning we’d be traveling there, but it turned out to be a highlight of the trip.  We walked among the remains of one of the great cities of the Greeks in Asia Minor that once laid right on the Aegean Ocean.  The ocean is now 8 km away!  As we walked along the mosaic streets, we viewed the Great Theatre where St. Paul was dragged to face the crowed because of his famous letter to the Ephesians, the Temple of Hadrian, the impressive Ephesus Library, the Gate of Heracles (Hercules), and the Odeion (small theatre) built as a council chamber in 150 AD, among many other ancient structures.  

Athena Nike

Ephesus Library

We were quite amused to learn about the Latriana, or public toilets of the time.  Apparently these stone seats were kept warm by servants whose only job it was to sit until their higher up came to relieve himself.  Now there’s a fun fact!
Public toilets.... not much privacy

         After walking the length of the streets of Ephesus we were treated to a battle reenactment with Cleopatra present and all!  We then headed back to the bus and were on our way.  Next stop was a Turkish carpet school where we were shown how the silks are harvested, dyed and used to make the elaborate and famous Turkish carpets.  We watched as several young girls worked on their carpets and learned that some carpets take several years to complete even with 5-10 women working on them.  We were then “treated” to a huge sale pitch by the schools owner (at least they served us Turkish beer and wine), and then encouraged to buy, which we thought about, until we saw the price.  Maybe 10 years from now J
The ocean used to meet this street.... now it's 8km away!

Christian symbol... the Holy Trinity

Silks drying in the sun

         Back on the ship we set sail for our final port… Split, Croatia!  After the full, hot days in Greece and Turkey, we decided to make Split a beach day. We set out with some friends from Vicenza, who were also on the cruise and found a nice spot right on the water.  By nice I don’t mean soft sandy beaches… I mean a rock ledge with hundreds of people.  However, the water was gorgeous and refreshing!  After witnessing jet skiers in Dubrovnik we made it our mission to find the same in Split and were successful!  We had a great time flying around the Adriatic and seeing more of the coastline.  Nate may have even been thrown off a few timesJ  It was a wonderful relaxing day and the perfect end to a great vacation before Nate headed off for 2 months of training in Germany. 

Jet skiing!!!

Goodbye Split!