Saturday, 13 August 2011

The grandeur of an ancient city - Ephesus

Saturday 13 th August: Selcuk and Ephesus ( or Efes as the Turks call it, which is also the name of their favourite beer)
Let me give you a word of advice about visiting well-known ruins on a Saturday in summer: try to re-schedule!
I've decided that tourists are a dangerous species. They cluster together trying to hear every word  their guide utters to extol the virtues of the ruins, and are oblivious to anyone else. The Japanese tend to carry umbrellas to block out the sun, but in doing so nearly decapitate or poke out the eyes of other tourists.  The babble of  languages almost drowned out the sound on our audio guides as the tour guides talk very loudly and confidently. They rely on their 'group' keeping close to them. You can see the anxiety in the eyes of tourists when they lose sight of their group: the scanning of masses of fellow tourists faces and the look of relief when they spot a familiar face at last. Usually it's because they stop to take a photo or their footwear is inappropriate (what would posess a person to wear high heels to tramp around ruins!) so they can't keep up, The coast is not far from Ephesus so busloads of beachgoers arrive for a few hours dressed in their beachgear and then retreat to the beach. Those of us dressed in sensible clothes seem rather out of place! The winner of 'The Sight of the Day' competition went to an American family consisting of Dad, Asian wife, frail Asian grandfather and some kids, one of whom was in a pusher. The Dad gave the pusher to the Grandfather to hold on to, then held on to the back of the old man's trousers and then they set off down the hill along a marble street. When the Dad caught my eye, I must have looked a bit astonished as he grinned and said "We're all good!" I wasn't so sure - I wonder if they made it to the bottom of the hill intact!
The library for which Ephesus is famous
1800 year old water pipes that still work
Ephesus is certainly worth seeing and even with lots of visitors is still a remarkable city. It's a great example of how people lived in earlly AD as it consists of townhouses, marble streets, ancient latrines, wells and fountains, drainage channels, gymnasiums/schools, an ampitheatre that seats 24,000 people, an agora or parliament and a reconstructed two-storey library. In lots of these ancient ruins the town planning is very impressive. The residents have sewerage and waste systems, easy access to clean water as well as heating, and hot and cold water for some who could afford it. There was still a clear delineation between the wealthy and the poor, who were often slaves, but life could be fairly comfortable. Sections of this city, which housed 2-300,00 people, are gone but there are a couple of marble boulevardes with the remains of buildings either side which gives you a real sense of city life.
We spent a few hours wandering around and then caught a dolmus or local minibus back to town, where the weekly market was in progress. Ewan found just the piece of hose he needed to repair the vacuum cleaner at home, but decided he couldn't fit it into his bag! We bought, figs, peaches and honey bread for a picnic in the park, before going to the Museum. As usual some of the statues etc from Ephesus were in the Museum so it's interesting to see them even though they aren't in their original location and are better-protected in museum conditions.
Finally we staggered back to the room for a snooze and a rest. The drums and calls to prayer had been very close the night before ( and Lauren rang at 4am for some reason!!) so we needed a nap before heading out for Kebap for dinner. We found more of the old aqueduct and discovered the cafe end of town and the railway station. We set off for Istanbul tomorrow - our last move before home- so we might try to catch the train to the Izmir Airport where we have a flight booked. Could be interesting!

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