Friday, June 21, 2013

Turkey - who knew it was in the bible!?!

Usually I plan my own travel, do research, set the itinerary and make the bookings. For Turkey, I did not have the time to do that so instead I found a US lady who's been living in Istanbul and has her own travel agency. Through email and some wire transfers she got me a plan and arrangements made. However since I didn't do the work, I didn't have an appreciation for what was on the schedule. It was not a bus tour, but a collection of different standard day tours with some free time in Istanbul at the end. Other than my lack of knowledge on the historical significance, it worked really great! If you're headed to Turkey, feel free to reach out to Rina ( 

My first trip out from Istanbul was to Selcuk (pronounced sell-chuck) and a couple American girls from my flight bummed a ride with me and my pre-booked driver. It worked out well because one talked to the driver the whole time (I generally don't like small talk with drivers) and it was a huge mini bus that would have been rather empty without their company. 

From Selcuk, I did a day tour to Ephesus the next day. It was only once I was on the bus with the tour guide and he mentioned something about the book of Ephesians that I realized we were going to the city of the Ephesians, Ephesus. Duh me!?!

It was a city of ruins. It was on the water and a harbor city. But now due to different plans by Mother Nature, the water is a long way off (3 miles or kilometers). The most amazing sight was the facade of the library. It is something like 75-80% original pieces rather than being restored. Pretty amazing. 

We also visited Mary's House which is where it is believed she lived after Jesus's death and was brought here by John I think. As I entered, a group of tourists from somewhere (not sure where) were singing a hymn of some sort. It was very moving. 

I met an American who has been transplanted to Australia for the last five years and her Australian friend on the tour. We did dinner that night and were also signed up for the tour to Pamukale the next day. Pamukale was a historic site of city ruins as well, but they have some mineral springs there which makes it more of an attraction. There is calcium in the water that turns the rocks it flows down into these white snow covered looking hills. The hills have also formed into different levels of pools. It was really fun although it was a quick visit. I didn't get much more of the history that sunk in :). 

Pics from the tours:

Statue of Mary 

Mary's small home 

Wall of prayers (although I heard someone call the wishes, but I left a prayer)

In high tourist season, this road down to the library is packed with people. Good timing for me. Ruins are often hard to appreciate in pictures. This is the walk through town. 

Our guide explaining how a wheel symbol that we saw in lots of the marble was a way Christians could subtly add their mark but not get into trouble. The Greek letters representing different things are all captured in the wheel. 

Can't remember now what this was, but was one of the ones more in tact. 

View from atop the theatre. The road you see in the distance was the harbor road that ended at the water, which now ends at land. 

Closer pic of the library


They didn't use marble here, so the ruins were more sparse. 

Water starts here

Great views of he country side. I was told Turkey is pretty self sufficient when it comes to agriculture. We saw orchards next to corn fields next to cotton fields :). 

The pools were pretty cool looking and the water temp quite refreshing without being freezing. 

There is one spot where tourists can walk down through the pools. I had to exit the gate at the end of this to go catch the bus, so I had to take all my belongings on the way. 

What the town looked like way back when. 

Moosejaw is where I got my big green backpack (70L) for this month long trip. 

The walk down. Wish I would have stayed a night here and been able to spend more time. It was a 3 hour drive from Selcuk. 

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