As I sit here in the Senior Resident Assistant office on a stormy Thursday night in July, I find myself mustering up the inspiration to continue this long-delayed post. I’ve no photos on my work laptop, so it’ll have to remain in draft form for a while, at least. But hey! Progress is progress, right?
In the morning, we woke up in Izmir and hit the road as early as we could. Joanne wanted to start off driving for the day, so she did! It wasn’t long before we encountered our first extra-Trojan MEGARON!
Our mission for the day was to drive down to Ephesus, visit it for a few hours, then begin the epic all-day drive home to Istanbul before heading in to town and finding ourselves a hostel for the night. We had no reservations and about 1000 km to drive. And that was just the return trip to Istanbul, not counting the excursion to Ephesus! It was going to be an exhausting day.
We passed some ruins and wind turbines along the highway to Selcuk. The town itself was pretty busy for such a small place. After fighting our way through several traffic circles we arrived at a parking area for the ancient Greek city of Ephesus. It was time for an epic roadside sandwich.
Pauli had come prepared with a penknife and cutting board, so we took full advantage of both and built ourselves a delicious lunch on the trunk of our car! We even had veggies in these sammiches!
When we paid our way in to Ephesus we were blown away by the initial sights around us: columns, an amphitheater, a paved road; it was nuts!
And that was just the entrance!
We rounded the corner to see the famous Library at Ephesus. I don’t know if it’s really famous, but I recognized it from some textbook, no doubt. Shortly thereafter we discovered the main amphitheater.
Having opened the window to listen to the patter of the rain and smell the storm, I feel like I can probably finish the body of this post tonight! And if the storm keeps up, who knows, maybe the kids will get stuck in study hall!
After traipsing through the main stadium, we realized that our time was up. In order to get back to Istanbul by 8 to return our car we would have to drive for the next 8 hours! We stopped to consider our options. It took us about a minute to realize, “Hey, why don’t we extend our reservation by a day? We’ll see more of the countryside AND we won’t have to skimp on Ephesus!!!!”
Even writing that, I get warm tingly feelings remembering how wonderful a realization it was that we were on our own time. We frolicked through Ephesus for another two hours, exuberant and carefree, soaking in the sun, wandering through a flowering field, visiting an ancient Cathedral, and having the time of our lives. Literally.
It all seems so unreal with the crackling of lightning over Baltimore drawing my attention to the window every minute or so. I do miss my adventures and my friends. Don’t get me wrong; I’m pretty content with my life this summer, but nothing could replace the phenomenal times I had this semester.
We finished our visit to Selcuk with a jaunt up the hill to St. John’s Cathedral. You’ve probably heard of John. He wrote the Gospel of John. He lived with Mary, mother of Christ, until the end of her life. You know, no biggie!
As if we couldn’t do any better, we stopped off at the Temple of Artemis, or what remains of it. Maybe you haven’t heard of this one, but you’ve heard of the group it belongs to; just a little thing known as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. You know, no biggie!
We hopped in the car and began driving north. The ladies fell asleep, leaving me and Pauli to our own devices for four hours, singing, chatting, and choosing a place to stay. We found a town called Sarimsalki next to Ayvalik. Ayvalik was an old Greek city that got evacuated/population swapped in the early 1920s and all the Greeks moved to the island of Lesbos.
Pauli and I ran out to a seaside hotel and haggled the man down from 180 lira for the night to 70 lira, total. It was awesome. Despite the girls’ insistence that it was a terrible town to stay in, I think we had a pretty good time! We had a balcony, a pair of beds, and we spent an excellent hour and a half sitting on the beach looking at the stars and talking about space, Pangaea, and dinosaurs. I love my life.
In the morning we began the drive back to Istanbul (For real this time!). First we wanted to check out Ayvalik. We followed the coast until the road turned in to a dirt path through a sheep herd. We found ourselves on a cliffy peninsula that jutted into the Aegean.
After our hasty field surgery, we made a beeline for Istanbul. Of course, the bee whose line we followed took a bit of a circuitous route up the coast then through some mountains and Bursa before rounding the curve of the Sea of Marmara and arriving in the Asian half of Istanbul. We got stopped by some cops for speeding and had a blast singing as loudly as we could to Pauli’s Greatest Ever Driving Music playlist. It does not lie. We loved every minute.
After dropping off our car at the airport (with much sadness in our hearts), we took a bus in to the city. My knee was starting to really hurt from all the efforts of the day. The two hours we spent walking around trying to find our hostel really didn’t help, either!
Finally a pair of Tourist Police picked us up and brought us to the front door! We checked in, cleaned and dressed my wound
, and went the bed, anticipating an exciting day of exploring the ancient Byzantine, Ottoman, and Turkish Capital. We certainly wouldn’t be disappointed!