Thursday, October 13, 2011

Eurotrip 2011: Ephesus and rug sales

The views from the bus were great.

After regrouping with our tour guide, we got back on the bus and headed down to ancient Ephesus. More winding mountain roads and I took some pictures out of the window this time around. After about ten minutes of driving we found ourselfs in a valley with small shops on either side of the road. Merchants were out and hungry for business, looking to sell their faux-lex watches and other replica items. Little did we know the local people selling goods here, at the archeological site of Ephesus, were some of the less aggressive salesmen we'd meet before the day was done ha. After our group was collected and entrance tickets were handed out, we made our way inside the gate to the ruins of ancient Ephesus.

By this time in the morning it was about 10:30am or so. The sun was strong, but I was toughing it out in the sun and not taking refuge under trees when our guide found opportunities to get shade to tell us the history of what we were seeing all around us. I had a half empty one liter water bottle on my person, that Beth and I passed back and forth, and the two (now one) bottle of water supplied by the tour. Since large bags were discouraged, I just brought my camera (with a sock to act as my lens cap thanks to the mistep in the Vatican Museum a week before) and stuffed my cargo shorts with spare batteries, memory and what not.

What all the smart tour groups did.
Pre-plumbing. I'd bet it was a much smellier place in 100 AD.

We worked our way through the grounds and I slowly started to mentally check out. I shot my surroundings and signs explaining what was in front of us for later reference as I found myself getting a little bit sun drunk before the ruins cleared and a magificent structure appeared. This was the Library of Celcius (Celsus). It was ironically named as by the time we were inside of it I was holding on for dear life ha. The good thing about getting inside of the library was that it had plenty of shade. I took another swig off the big bottle we had which was down to about 8oz of liquid nurishment and recovered before our next stop.


And the next stop you ask? It was a demonstration by some local actors, giving us all a glimps of what life used to be like when our surroundings weren't ruins, but were in full use. What you see here is a royal procession for Cleopatra and Mark Anthony. I made sure to find a large tree shadow to hide my head behind and had a seat; this is the only reason my shots here weren't better and free of tourist interference.

Don't get caught looking.
Milli Vanilli-esque horn playing.
Gladiators fighting for the entertainment of royalty.

After the presentation, which was pretty good btw, we walked back to the entrance to the grounds. On either side there was merchandise for sale, but more importantly beverages for the weary. One of the good things about Turkey was that they would accept any currency, including the Euro or US Dollar, so the $40 bucks that I cursed having on me thus far came in handy. As usual the drinks were expensive ($5USD for 20oz), but I negotiated a couple bucks off three powerades and flavored slushy; haggling was the way of the world here. After we made our way to the bus we were given a local snack. I downed my powerades and recovered a good deal. The excursion was now coming to a close and they proceeded to return us to the port of Kusadasi to get a tour of one of the biggest carpet makers in the area.

On the way back to port.
Turkmen Carpets presentation.

While on the bus earlier that morning, our tour guide told us about one of Turkeys biggest exports, handmade carpets. She explained that the women of Turkey typically make the carpets, but due to times changing and most women not wanting to deal with the typical tradition of arranged marriages and the like, they are leaving the country in significant numbers. The solution? The Turkish government knows how important handmaking carpets is to the culture of Turkey, so they've invested in carpet making by subsidising carpet makers so that the tradition can stay alive. One of the demonstrations we'd receive in the carpeteer we visited on this afternoon was by a Turkish woman in her early 20's. The process is tedius and depending on materials used and how elaborate the design is, the price of these carpets fluctuate wildly to say the least. We were schmoozed by the prioprietor as his employees rolled out carpet after carpet, from simple to amazing. 5-digit prices were quoted (for amazing), eyebrows raised, ooo's and ahh's made up the background music and then we were led outside. One the way outside, conveniently enough, we walked through the attached jewelry store which drew most of the female excursioners in once more. The salesmen were friendly and outgoing, but we managed to escape out of the frying pan into the fire of the bazaar outside.

From the amazing side of the Turkmen Carpets collection, this one changed colors depending on the angle from which it was viewed.

Bazaar alley.

We emerged into an alley-way full of people immediately exclaiming to us that they could beat every price we heard just minutes before. I don't know what most people who don't know me think when they see me, but I never thought I had 'carpet sale' written on my forehead ha. I took pictures between telling aggressive salemen 'no thank you' to offers and random ice-breaking jokes that many of them obviously have used with some success prior my arrival (and presumably after my departure). Loosing track of how many people I turned away within 10 yards in this bazaar, we made our way out of the lions den and into the coastal area of Kusadasi. It was absolutely stunning.

There were multiple restaurants lining the street and by this time it was around 1pm. While we had intensions of eating some local cuisine, it never happened on this day. The week was moving along, we were spending money on a daily basis within the ship and on excursions, and my spidey senses were telling me the available credit left for this journey was shrinking. I double checked my spidey senses online later and decided we'd have to take it easy so we'd make it through the Germany leg of this two-person Amazing Race episode. We wandered for a few more minutes before heading back to the ship and then found ourselves in one more forced buying opportunity. Much like walking through IKEA or Toys "R" Us, there's no simple walking in and out; you have to walk past some quick buy items first and in this case it took the form of a Burger King (there were a suprisingly large amount of these overseas), Starbucks, duty-free shopping outlets with candy, watches (real ones) and clothing stores. After this final tourist gauntlet we had the great joy of going through security again.

The tourist maze.
Another vacation day gone.
Back in the room and air conditioning, my mind and body was rejuvenated. More fluids absorbed, we made our way upstairs for the buffet madhouse. There was only one more stop on this cruise before heading back to Civitaveccia, and that was Crete. We'd be going to the beach tomorrow. As the ship was leaving port I shot more wall decoration quality shots of the beautiful coastline. I grabbed my camera again for sunset. On our way home the heavenly bodies would be on the opposite side of the ship, so I made sure to take full advantage.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Capturing Life's Fabric with Technology.