The day before yesterday, Milena and I joined a day tour to see Mary’s House, Ephesus, and the Selcuk/Ephesus museum.
Mary’s House supposedly belonged to the Virgin Mary. The guide said no one knew the location until a German nun received visions and had stigmata on her deathbed. Years later, after the foundations of that house were found, someone compared notes and realized this was it. Several popes have visited this place. I’m not religious so I wasn’t into it, but I respected that other people were.
Next stop was Ephesus. It used to be a HUGE city, and even what remains now is spectacular. On top of that, it’s not even halfway excavated! There’s one main walkway shaped like an L. At the corner stands the Library, the image that’s become so representative of Ephesus (pictured below). In a way, it reminds me of Petra, including the loads of people. The museum has some interesting artifacts, easily done in an hour.
After we got back to town, Milena and I decided to go to another bar. The bartender hung out and took a bunch of pictures with us; these Turks, I’m telling ya, they’re charmers! He also introduced us to a chain-smoking English professor emeritus of classical antiquity that comes by that bar everyday for his 7 o’clock Efes beer. It was interesting hearing his perspective on Ephesus and what he thought some of the excavated buildings were (turns out our guides may have been totally wrong).
The backgammon guy had invited us over for some homecooked Kurdish food the night before, so we brought over some beer and raki. Dinner was good, the company better. One of the guys from next door came over and we made him down a glass of raki in one go– then Enis’ brother got him a glass of water. Turns out it was vodka instead, so he ran to the bathroom puking! Milena thought that was mean but I thought it was hilarious. Spent the next couple of hours playing backgammon– there just is no way to beat Enis!! Hmph! Plus, I had a cold (or allergies? Or both? It was pretty bad).. umm, yes that’s my excuse! Said goodnight to everyone, and goodbye to Milena.
Yesterday was Pamukalle, three hours’ drive away. It’s known for its travertines (pamukalle means cotton castle), which, from my understanding, are created by volcanic water full of calcium carbonate coming to the surface and gradually leaving deposits. The pool overflows eventually and starts a new one, forming terraces over thousands of years. There are also ruins right next to them, including a pool built for Cleopatra. You can still swim in it (for an additional price).
I walked down to the ruins first. The theatre and necropolis are the most visible, but not really spectacular (or maybe I AM getting ruined out?). You have to walk barefoot in the travertines– they are so painful!! You could probably imagine all the ridges and bumps that calcium carbonate enriched water would leave. In fact, after walking in the travertines for 45 minutes (and bumping into Milena!), my lower legs were covered in a fine powder after they dried. The travertines are so white that it’s ridiculously bright– without sunglasses, my eyes were starting to water. There are tadpoles in some of the pools but they know how to get out of your way.
I’m writing this on my way to Bergama, where there are some more ancient sites.. although by the time I get to wifi to publish this I’ll already be back!
. . .
Just got back. It was ok. On my way to dinner with a South African now! Maybe I’ll play some more backgammon afterwards. I’m determined to beat Enis!