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Cruise Diva Goes Ashore in Europe:
The Mediterranean
Sights to see & things to do

Kusadasi, Turkey

Of all the ports on the Aegean, none have the spiritual significance found near Kusadasi in the ancient city of Ephesus. Noted for its Greek and Roman architecture, archaeologists have been hard at work for over a hundred years to uncover the hidden treasures of Ephesus, yet only a small percentage of the huge city is revealed. Painstaking excavation work has revealed buildings of breathtaking beauty and simpler structures that were strikingly advanced for their time.

Diversions

Ships dock literally downtown and taxis and minivans are available to take passengers to the glorious beaches and archaeological attractions. In the pier area vendors offer English version guidebooks to Ephesus for $3 to $5, the price being dependent on bartering skill. Take a look at them; some contain excellent photos and maps of the area. 

Private guides lead most visitors to Ephesus. However, if a ship's tour isn't your preference, you can hire a car and a personal guide at the entrance but you probably won't save much money by doing so. Passing through orchards of mulberries, peaches, and tangerines on the ride to Ephesus, be on the lookout for storks nesting atop power poles. In the villages, storks are treated like family pets. Once a seaport, Ephesus is now several kilometers inland. At one time Ephesus' population was 300,000 and the site is huge, yet only a small portion is uncovered. Walking the marble roads you pass temples, pillars, houses, and a public bath—a real must see—to reach the most extensively restored building, the Library of Celsus that once contained 12,000 papyrus scrolls. Niches where they were stored are visible in an inner room. Ephesians were well educated and some of the uncovered buildings are gymnasiums (schools). Another of the notable structures is the Great Theater with capacity for 24,000 spectators. The scene of gladiatorial contests, it was here that Anthony appeared with Cleopatra before the populace and where St. Paul addressed the Ephesians.

A short drive away, past the lone column remaining of the Temple of Artemis, once one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is the Basilica of St. John. One of the largest Byzantine churches in Turkey, the ruins reportedly contain the grave of St. John the Divine. Other noteworthy historical and religious sites are the House of the Virgin Mary and the ancient cities of Priene, know for the Athena Temple and Didyma, site of the Temple of Apollo.

Shopping

Optional carpet demonstrations (with an emphasis on purchasing them) are often a part of organized tours, but if you aren’t interested don’t be shy about ducking out. Head for a café for coffee. It is said a cup of local coffee lasts 40 years if shared with a friend so try this theory over strong Turkish brew. If you aren't an adventurous caffeine addict, try the "Nescafe," which is milder and with less grounds in the bottom of the cup.

The Bazaar is an integral part of a day in port in Kusadasi and walking from the pier you can’t miss it. Plunge into the fray where you’ll find merchants eager to display carpets, brass and leather goods, jewelry, meerschaum pipes, onyx, and just about everything imaginable. Shopkeepers will offer boiling hot apple tea while you browse. This is a ritual of Turkish hospitality and doesn’t obligate you to make a purchase. Unless you are seriously interested in buying, don’t begin the bartering process, though.

One of Kusadasi’s bargains is an Internet Café where you can send email home for a few dollars.

Beaches

Kusadasi has a number of golden beaches bordering five-star resort hotels. About five miles from port is one of the most popular beach areas—Kadiniar Denizi, also known as Ladies Beach.


Back to Mediterranean Ports of Call


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