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Our time in Greece was over, but that didn’t mean our cruise was. We had one more stop before disembarking in Istanbul, at the port town of Kusadasi.

cruise ship dockingOur ship docking next to a behemoth one

Kusadasi itself didn’t receive rave reviews- and by that I mean people refer to it as a total dump. The real reason for visiting is easy access to nearby ancient city and archeological site, Ephesus. During the Roman period Ephesus was the second largest city in the world (after Rome) and swelled to 250,000 people during the 1st century BC. Like we did in Mykonos, in order to use our onboard credit, we booked a ship based tour of Ephesus and the nearby .

Virgin Mary House

The house was found in the 19th century after following the dreams of a visionary nun all the way over in Germany. Good thing people listened to this chick, because these days when someone calls in to claiming to know the location of a dead person, they go to commercial break.

Virgin Mary House

Other than reading the signs of the “many evidences” proving that the Virgin Mother did once dwell here, its a pretty quick visit. We balked when our guide told us to meet back at the bus in twenty minutes, but it actually kind of was enough time. The house is made of stone and looks and feels more like a church than a house. It’s also incredible small and without signage so walking through takes about 30 seconds, another 30 seconds of trying to feel virtuous but actually wondering how two people could live in a room so small (oh yeah, Saint John was there too. What wild parties those two must have had!)

Virgin Mary House

Two fun points of interest on the way out are the “Water of Mary” fountains where a salty water with supposed curative properties can be tasted. Then you will pass a wishing wall, where people’s prayers are scribbled on napkins, boarding passes, the backs of school photos… The artist inside of me loved this part as a pious version

Ephesus

Our next stop was Ephesus, where we quickly realized we loved the commentary we were getting but didn’t love being rushed  from place to place with barely enough time to squeeze a photo.

Ephesus

Ephesus is a major tourist attraction, and we were visiting during peak season. So luckily we hadn’t been expecting to have the place to ourselves.

Ephesus

Despite the crowds, I managed to get a few photos I was quite fond of, such as the two below.

Ephesus

The benefit of going with a guide is hearing the stories you would never find out about otherwise (unless you, you know, read a guidebook). One such story was of the public toilets, pictured below. There was an admission fee, which in part went to subsidize the live musicians in what was apparently an incredibly posh affair. Indoor plumbing? Check. The concept of privacy? Non existent.

Ephesus

The crowning jewel in the Ephesus crown is the Library of Celsus, pictured below. The literary treasures that once filled this library have been lost to history. Local legend states that when Mark Antony conquered the city he gave all the books as a gift to Cleopatra, who put them into the library at Meihoukaiandria where they were victims of fire. Shame he didn’t stick to jewelry.

Ephesus

On the way out of the ancient city, we were greeted by a super cheesy little “historical” performance which was mildly amusing but mostly just weirdly out of place. Ephesus is an impressive, beautiful site. It’s one of the But that popularity comes at a price, including huge crowds and big tour groups. It would be nice to go with a guide to get the history but then be allowed the time to explore the grounds at our leisure. As my Mom said and I named this post after in homage, “I felt like we were sprinting through Ephesus!”

Ephesus

But of course, we had to make time to be brought on a forced and unplanned visit to a rug shop! Can you sense my sarcasm? I was pissed when we pulled up here, knowing that it’s a common scam and that we were rushed through the part of the tour that we paid for. But in the end I grudgingly admit that if you could take away the sales pressure, it was  a pretty cool experience. I guess its a right of passage for tourists to Turkey.

Rug Shop Kusadasi

After the tour was over, we spent about 5 minutes trying to walk through Kusadasi town before we ran screaming back to the boat to escape the over aggressive salespeople trying to lure us into their rug and gem shops. But our time in Ephesus wasn’t over. Silversea, in one of the touches that nudged us over to the small cruise line, arranges for one complimentary “experience” on each of it’s cruises. For us, it was a private classical concert at the ruins.

Silversea Concert at Ephesus

The ruins were at this point closed to the public, so we experienced it in a totally different way than we did that morning, battling the crowds. Unfortunately the actual theater is under renovation so we were seated at the base instead. In the past, bands like u2 have played sold out shows here, and hopefully will continue to in the future. I can’t imagine a better venue.

Silversea Concert at Ephesus

It was impossible to capture the evening, but that didn’t stop me from trying. I completely failed at my goal of taking loads of video on this trip (my mom did, but I forgot to get her footage before we parted ways!) But at least I got this.

Silversea Concert at Ephesus

When we returned to the ship, we couldn’t stop laughing at the cheesiness that was waiting to greet us. The entire butler staff, lined up with “Welcome Home!” signs. (Because we were gone for so long!) My mom and I assumed that the poor staff was probably hating their lives at this moment, but they did a great job of hiding it. It was a cute way to end our last port excursion. One day at sea, and we were back to dry land in Istanbul!

Silversea Concert at Ephesus

To see all of our Kusadasi photos, visit the Flickr set

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12 Comments...
  • What a fun day!!!
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..

  • Kris Koeller
    September 27 2011

    Awesome trip. Looks like you’re having a terrfic time.
    Kris Koeller recently posted..

  • Laughed out loud at the concept of entertainment in the toilets… 😀 Great post a new world heritage site! Hope you don’t mind that I linked to it in my newest post. 🙂
    Jenni / Globe Called Home recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      August 5 2015

      Of course not! Link away, always! Thanks for sharing.

  • John
    April 21 2016

    This looks like it could have been a more relaxed trip, but Kusadasi is filled with tourists during season. I liked the concert idea, it must have been a great experience
    John recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 27 2016

      It was one of our favorite memories of the cruise. Silversea really knocked it out of the park!

  • A Pin On the Map
    June 13 2016

    Thanks so much for this post on Ephesus! I am headed there this month (a day trip from Istanbul) and didn’t know a lot about it. Your post helped tremendously!
    A Pin On the Map recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      June 13 2016

      So thrilled to hear that! Ephesus was an amazing stop on our cruise.

  • Sandhya (Sandy)
    July 4 2016

    I think I was just too much in love with Turkey not to fall for all that I saw in the 2 days I spent at Kusadasi too. Besides Ephesus the high point for me was watching a performance by the whirling dervishes in a very small place with v few visitors. Got so much more to do In Turkey all scribbled in for my next visit 🙂
    Sandhya (Sandy) recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      July 7 2016

      I watched the whirling dervishes in Istanbul too, they were a highlight! How amazing!

  • ju
    July 15 2017

    Hi! I’m living not far away from Kusadasi ^^ My little paradise indeed.

    • Meihoukai
      July 17 2017

      What a great place to live! I’d love to return to Turkey someday.