21 Dec Kusadasi, Turkey
Day five of my cruise took me a little farther north up the Aegean Sea to the seaside town of Kusadasi (pronounced Ku-sha-da-see). The main attraction: Ephesus… the third biggest city of the ancient world (after Alexandria and Rome). The city is about a 25-minute drive from the port and along the way, I took in the view of the rich green, fertile land that was filled with olive, peach and mulberry trees, as well as tomato and grapevines.
Ephesus is a must-see. Our tour guide Guslm (aka “Rose”), was incredibly knowledgeable and was clearly proud of her culture and history… and there was no question she couldn’t answer. There are feral cats everywhere, sitting on ancient columns that date back thousands of years, and while I was concerned about their comfort and well being (of course), I’m happy to say they seemed well fed, unfazed by the tourists and even had water bowls nearby.
After spending a few hours at this ancient archaeological site, we went to a quaint town up a winding hill named Sirince. This historic Ottoman village is known for its wine, which we had at lunch (it was very easy on the palate) at a charming boutique hotel called Gullu Konaklari. I got a good taste of Turkish hospitality and ate a delicious lunch that began with traditional mezza (yogurt, green beans, zucchini, olives and stuffed grape leaves). My main meal of vegetable guvec came in a terracotta pot and bursted with flavor… just what I needed after walking around in the hot sun during our 3-hour tour of Ephesus. I learned from our guide that the hotel has been a destination for American celebrities who want to disappear from the paparazzi and unwind in a remote and private setting.
Back in town, we stopped by a shop called Harem Carpet which first opened in 1982. On the second floor of the shop, we watched a carpet weaving demonstration and learned about the traditional art from a nice employee name Tayfun who told us that the art of weaving is passed down from mother-to-daughter, and only women can weave carpets and rugs because fine fingers are necessary for the intricate detail. Tayfun also walked us through the process of making silk from a silk worm and I was shocked to learn that one cocoon makes one mile of raw silk thread. The carpets were unbelievably beautiful and after falling in love with a silk rug that had rich reds, blues and yellows, we ended up buying it (it will be on our doorstep in a few weeks).
As the sun went down over Kusadasi, we were treated to a private dinner back at Ephesus, in front of the Celsus Library with a string quartet and lots of free flowing wine.
One of the many sleeping cats at Ephesus
I love that there is water next to the columns for the cats!
First glimpse of Celsus Library, Ephesus
Well-preserved mosaic on floor of terrace houses
Current restoration project underway in terrace houses
More sleeping cats at Ephesus
Huge, sweet peaches for sale in Sirince (they were the size of grapefruits!)
Souvenir shop in Sirince
Sweet pup that got a little dirty in the mud, Sirince
Boutique Hotel: Gullu Konaklari, Sirince
Fountain with roses, Gullu Konaklari, Sirince
Rose Water, Sirince
My lunch: vegetable guvec
Carpet weaving demonstration
Rolling out the carpets
More beautiful carpets
String Quartet, Ephesus
Census Library at night for dinner, Ephesus