Turkey was much more than we bargained for, in the best way. We anchored in Kusadasi and traveled inland to Ephesus on a privately arranged tour.* It was a most eventful day. My mind is jumbled with impressions…
Hills and mountains, mountains and sea. Olive trees, olive trees, more olive trees. Meander River; relocating the shoreline over time. Amazonian warrior women. Women, esteemed. Stable government and growing economy. Oil. Leather. Textiles. Tent making. Nomads. Gypsies. Syrian refugees. Angel’s eyes to ward off evil. The muezzin’s call to prayer.
Ancient history. Emperor Hadrian. Ancient mythology. Nike. Eros. Artemis. Seven wonders. 8000-year-old Ephesus. Celsius library. Terrace house excavations. Indoor amenities. Mosaics. Frescoes. Medicinal practices. Ionian, Corinthian, Doric, and Ephesian styles.
First century Christianity. The known God. House of Mary. Holy water: health, wealth, and happiness. Wishing wall. John the Evangelist, caring for Mary. Ancient basilica; exquisite baptismal. Water, oil and wine. Paul of Tarsus, exiled, imprisoned.
Lunch in ancient Şirince village: shy grandma, hospitable mama, beautiful girls. Shepherd’s salad. Marinated grape leaves rolled with rice. Delicately flavored bulgar. Delicious, fresh olive oil on tender green beans. Pan fried potatoes with crispy meatballs. Peaches, heavy and soft, and apricots, warm from the sun. Smooth local wine. Strong, dark, Turkish coffee. Cup, overturned. Fortune teller and secrets, revealed.
Markets and more markets. Tractors on every corner. Olives and olive oils. Peaches. Pomegranates. Hazelnuts. Pistachios. Grapes. Melons. Figs. Dates. Pine nuts. Peanuts rolled in honey and toasted sesame seed. Pistachio cookies. Fresh Turkish Delight. Sampling, tasting, buying. Yum. Yum. Yum.
Rug-making school. Mulberry leaves, silkworms and cocoons. Hand looms and intricately patterned weaving. Government subsidized traditions. Apple tea. Turkish beer. Irresistible. Double-hand-knotted exquisiteness. Hereke carpet: floor art.
Fruitful. Friendly. Warm. Welcoming. Beautiful. Gracious. Turkey!
When can we come back?
*Our brief visit to Turkey was infinitely more interesting in the company of a private guide, Bulent, through Sea Song Tours. An archaeologist who worked in his early career at Ephesus, his insider’s perspective and expertise, along with deep pride in his beautiful country, made a world of difference in our experience.