Posts Tagged ‘Kusadasi’

Today we drove the 26km to Dilek National Park… apparently half the population of Kusadasi did as well. The drive went smoothly (thanks to our handy dandy iPhone navigation) – although there were a couple of interesting moments as the highway comes to a grinding halt at the roundabouts in the middle of a couple of small towns.

Once we got into the park (15 lira for a car) we drove the 11km to the last beach (you can’t drive any farther – apparently there’s a high-security military installation past the last beach) and then started the exasperating process of trying to find a place to park on a single lane road with cars parked on both sides of the road… It was a series of go forward, back up, go forward, try to turn around… With some clown inevitably honking or trying to squeeze past into a spot easily three sizes too small for his BMW… Eventually we just gave up, turned around and went back to the start and walked a little further (maybe 200 meters) to the beach. Once there we found they were out of loungers and umbrellas (not for Marie or Caitlin – they’re sun-worshiping freaks who want to get that cancerous brown glow) so we threw our towels and stuff on the ground in the first available space and jumped into the inviting crystal blue waters… The beach here is a little steeper so the water gets deeper (and colder) faster than at Ladies Beach but it’s crystal clear, warm and super-inviting. Which is why everyone who’s anyone in Kusadasi was also at the beach today (it was a beautiful summer Sunday so a trip to the beach seemed like a great idea for everyone).

We splashed around a bit and relaxed in the water and then piled out onto the warm (actually smoking hot) smooth pebble beach… Marie and Caitlin added to their cancerous bronze glow while I pulled a shirt on and tried to keep the sun from turning me into a smoking husk. We stayed long enough to dry out swimsuits out pretty well then piled back into the car to make the drive back to Kusadasi.

Once we got back, we hung out at one of the restaurants on pub street that had wifi and updated the blog, checked in for our next flights and just hung out for a bit… Marie and Caitlin got bored while I was catching up on the blog posts and left to do some shopping while I stayed behind (it was a chore to sit in the cool shade and drink cold fruit juice while they braved the sun and tacky tourist shops).

The rest of the evening was spent doing a bit of souvenir shopping and then walking the promenade and finally topped off with dinner – at one of the waffle shops where Marie and Caitlin had banana-chocolate and strawberry-chocolate waffles as their last meal in Turkey.

When we got back to the hotel it was time to pack for tomorrow’s flights to Lisbon and turn in… Until the moment Caitlin emerged from the bathroom in her pyjamas and flopped on the bed… A few seconds after sitting on the bed she started to squirm a little and exclaim there was something on her bed that was prickly… That lasted about 3 seconds when she jumped off the bed screaming something had lit her butt on fire and started dancing around on the floor asking Marie to see if something had bit her and made her bleed… At that time a large ant scurried out from the blankets where Caitlin had been sitting…

The next few minutes were a comedy of errors as Caitlin’s dancing around in obvious pain complaining about being stung on her butt, I’m telling Marie to put some Sting Stop on it as soon as she can and Marie is basically taking her time doing her own thing, finishing her packing and generally ignoring Caitlin’s obvious (and growing) distress. Eventually, Marie decided that the half-naked teenager yelling “my butt’s on fire… is it bleeding… oh god I think it’s bleeding” was worthy of pulling her attention away from her pack and she took a look… So now you have to imagine a half-naked teenager standing on a chair showing her butt to her mother while wondering if something stabbed her with a spike coated in battery acid… It was all I could do to keep from laughing myself to death… Eventually Marie dug out the sting stop and slathered some on the quite visible welt left by whatever had bitten or stung her… Around this time, the ant (or so we thought it was) dropped out of some clothes Marie had picked up and she deftly stomped it with her sandaled foot and continued attending to Caitlin – who was still muttering something about her “butt feeling like someone had lit a match under it” and generally continuing to put her years of drama classes and acting experiences to work…

A few minutes later the “insect from hell” as Caitlin had taken to calling it, started moving again on the floor (and yes, Marie had actually stepped on it pretty good and it had promptly stopped moving). We managed to trap it under a glass and started looking on the internet for ants that bite or sting… Imagine our surprise to find out that Caitlin wasn’t bitten or stung by some kind of vicious Turkish ant but had, in fact, been stung by a wingless wasp – variously known as a “cow killer” or “velvet ant” – an insect noted for the potency of its sting (one site described it as having one of the most painful stings in the insect kingdom)… Marie was starting to feel a little bad at this point (now that it was evident that Caitlin had been stung on the butt by a wasp instead of just bitten by an ant) so she walked to the local market to get us all some drinks (especially a cold one in a glass bottle so Caitlin could put it on the quite obvious welt on her butt – a treatment used to good effect by Marie after she had bruised her butt quite spectacularly while horseback riding). Marie returned with a couple of cold drinks (no beer, though, because we discovered the market could not sell beer after 10pm) and eventually all the hullabaloo died down (although Caitlin continued to note that her butt – and her dignity – were sorely wounded)…

It’s really hard to put into words the humour of this particular incident… Caitlin is dancing around the room literally half-naked (having shucked her bottom clothes in fear of there being more than one hell insect) cracking jokes and trying hard not to completely “lose her crap” as she would say and I’m spending most of my time looking the other way trying to preserve her dignity (and trying to figure out whether we’re going to need to call an ambulance for her if it turns out whatever bit her is toxic or requires medical attention) and Marie is just kind of continuing to pack while occasionally checking the welt on her daughter’s butt and making appropriately motherly comments like “wow, I’m really impressed you didn’t cry – wasp stings really hurt…” – all the while Caitlin is continuing to come up with a series of ever more creative rants against the indignity of it all… It was definitely one of the funniest moments of the trip – except for Caitlin of course – apparently these things have a really painful sting and getting stung on the butt is definitely one of the more sensitive body parts I can imagine getting a wasp sting on…

Oh yeah… After identifying the culprit it was dispatched humanely… Turns out those suckers are really quite hard to kill… I have to admit I had never heard of a wingless wasp – apparently there are quite a few different varieties of them… I think this is just more evidence that someone up there either hates people or has a really twisted sense of humour…

Eventually (after thoroughly checking every square millimetre of her bed and clothes) Caitlin crawled into bed and we all called it a night – tomorrow we’re up bright and early to make the drive to Izmir Airport to catch our flights Lisbon! We’ve all really enjoyed Turkey but are looking forward to a change of scenery, a change of food and a change of culture… And Caitlin’s been waiting to go to Lisbon and Madrid since the trip started so is so excited that even a painful wasp sting can’t dampen her excitement for seeing Lisbon tomorrow!

We did take a picture of the offending insect but we didn’t take any other pictures today (left the camera back at the hotel rather than take a chance leaving it in the parked car or on the beach while we were swimming) – you’ll have to imagine the crystal blue waters and the teeming hordes of people…

IMG_7183

Today we got up pretty early for us these days (8am) and after a quick breakfast of yogurt and cereal were on our way to Ephesus by about 9am. We’ve decided to bite the bullet and pay the $9.99 for data each day while we’re driving the car to be able to use the turn-by-turn navigation features of the iPhone’s map app… This decision was made to ensure marital harmony and familial peace as Marie doesn’t do navigation particularly well, and I don’t do “we could go left or we could go right” when we’re in the middle of a 6 lane (meant for 3) roundabout with buses and scooters and farm tractors coming from all directions… Although Apple’s map app had a lot of issues when it first rolled out, it navigated us through the maze of little streets around our guesthouse with no trouble at all… Best $9.99 I’ve ever spent!

When we arrived at the site just before 10am, the parking lot was already full of tour buses and there were people leaving… We queued up to buy our tickets but for some reason it was taking the girl behind the plexiglas forever to sell tickets to the 10 people in front of us so we took our chances with the electronic ticket kiosk across the way… worked like a charm after paying our 90 lira we made our way through the turnstiles (every museum and archaeological site we’ve visited in Turkey has used the same ticket and entry control system… someone made a killing off that contract) and into the site.

Caitlin and Marie made a quick stop at the facilities (there are none in the site proper) and we spent some time playing with the many cats that hung out at the entrance to the site…

We hung a quick right after the entrance and made our way to the Church of Mary (dedicated to the Virgin Mary who supposedly lived out the last years of her life in a house near Ephesus). There’s not much left – just a few foundation walls and bits and pieces of interior walls and the baptism pool (they practiced full immersion adult baptisms back in the day so the baptismal pool is a pretty deep hole in the ground) but it’s enough to get a sense of the size of the place and even in its ruined state it’s quite spectacular. There’s a bunch of other ruins around it and it’s clear there’s a lot of other ruins/buildings/history hidden under the underbrush around the church.

From there we made our way back to the main site and checked out the theatre (one of the most impressive we have seen – I think it’s a little bit smaller than the one at Epidavros in Greece but this one is more integrated into a complex of buildings so it seems more impressive in some way). From there we made our way past the agora and to the Library of Celsus – actually monumental funerary building constructed over a tomb… It’s the most photographed structure in Ephesus and a very visually striking building…

After the Library, we paid an additional 45 lira to enter the “terrace houses” – best $22.50 we’ve spent on an archaeological site since Pompeii… The terrace houses are 6 “townhouse” style dwellings that belonged to some of the rich and famous of Ephesus at various times – although there’s evidence of much older, more basic housing underneath the newer (if by newer you mean only 1800 years old instead of 2500 years old) construction. There’s remnants of wall paintings, furniture, mosaic floors, plumbing, the whole nine yards… And it’s all housed under a weatherproof structure so you’re out of the beating hot sun too… And as an added bonus there’s a nice terrace at the top that offers a unique panoramic view of part of the site… As a history teacher, I found the terrace houses fascinating and Marie and Caitlin really enjoyed them as well – definitely worth paying the extra money to see (an added bonus is that most of the people visiting Ephesus don’t pay to see the terrace houses so we had them almost to our self).

After the Terrace Houses we wandered around the site making our way to the upper gate (one way to the do the site is to take a shuttle to the upper gate and then walk the 2km downhill to the main entrance – in our case we walked 2km up to the gate and then walked 2km back to our entrance – but it worked out because we were able to spend more time exploring one side site each time). The site is massive and there’s a lot of monumental marble columns and other structures (not always put back together all that accurately it appears) – most of it’s pretty much just foundation walls but some of the remaining structures have enough parts remaining that you can get a pretty good idea of what it all looked like…

At the upper gate we grabbed a few cold drinks (at exorbitant inside the site prices but they were really, really cold so it was worth it) and then headed back down to the main entrance making our way past the baths, the house of pleasure (otherwise known as a brothel), the public latrine, and the lower agora. When we returned to the main entrance we took a few minutes to say hi to the many cats and Marie and Caitlin spent a few minutes in near hysterics at the arrival of two (admittedly very cute) puppies who showed up to share the love…

It normally takes about 1.5 to 2 hours to see the site (according to the guide books)… we took just over 4 and aside from it being excruciatingly hot (and pretty crowded at times with the usual tour group hordes), it was one of the best historical sites we’ve visited.

After Ephesus we headed back to the hotel and changed into our swimsuits and headed for Ladies Beach… It’s about a 2.5km walk to the beach from our hotel but it’s worth it. We’d heard that Ladies Beach is kind of a so-so beach but that must be according to the standards of people who are used to sandy beaches and warm water (instead of our beaches which are often sandy but the water is far too cold for swimming most of the year). It was super crowded but we found a spot to dump our towels and headed into the water (which was just right – warm enough you could spend hours in it without getting chilled but cool enough to still be refreshing) and spent about 45 minutes splashing around with half the population of Turkey… When we got out of the water we managed to find an open lounger and paid the 10 lira for it and a big sun umbrella and Marie headed to the promenade behind the beach to get us some drinks… Then it was time for Caitlin to painstakingly build her sand masterpiece – a sand mountain – which Marie callously destroyed – leading to a prolonged series of dunkings, sand throwing, and general water mayhem… When I went out to join them for a leisurely swim (thinking the shenanigans were over) Caitlin engaged in a series of sneak attacks which required her to be dunked repeatedly in the waves… She threw sand in response… Eventually we emerged from the water (after several dunkings and near drownings) and brushed the sand off and made the 1/2 hour walk back to the hotel…

I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post that Marie and Caitlin had navigated the 2+km each way to the beach with only a few barebones directions (turn right at the top of the hill then turn left style). The fact they made it back to the hotel was a minor miracle… although I think high-fiving each other and celebrating as if they’d scored a game winning touch down was a bit over the top but it was impressive nonetheless… Today they successfully navigated us to the beach and back without issue (even finding a cheap doner restaurant for us to stop at for a quick lunch on the way).

After the beach it was shower time (our apologies to the cleanup crew who will be shovelling sand out of the shower for days) and then off to find something to eat. We chose a different place for tonight (mainly because we’re starting to get a bit sick of Turkish food and wanted to try something more international – like spaghetti – although Marie did end up trying the Turkish ravioli – which she declared to be “okay” but not particularly noteworthy).

And that was the end of our second full day in Kusadasi… and it was good.

1KD_5296 1KD_5288 1KD_5278 1KD_5270 1KD_5263 1KD_5246 1KD_5216 1KD_5207 1KD_5181

Day 29: Kusadasi

Posted: August 17, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Ugh… I woke up feeling totally crappy (pun intended) again this morning. I tried getting some breakfast down (the guesthouse provides a basic Turkish breakfast of fresh veggies, olives, sausage, bread, cheese and egg) but couldn’t stray far that far from the room… This latest bout of illness (or more accurately a prolonged single bout with some relief along the way) prompted me to finally take the Zithromax (azithromycin) antibiotics we’ve packed on every trip but never had to use… Marie also trekked the 100 metres or so (up a slight hill for part of it) to the nearest market and was able to find a tub of plain yogurt and some plain cereal and some cold water to bring back for me… I scarfed down some of the yogurt with a bit of cereal and drank a bit of water and decided I wasn’t going anywhere for the time being…

So Marie and Caitlin trudged the 2.5km from our hotel to the nearest beach (Ladies Beach) and enjoyed a day of swimming and suntanning while I stayed behind and napped and read a book…

By late afternoon, Marie and Caitlin were back and I was feeling a bit better so we headed out to do a bit of light shopping (most of the stuff for sale here is poor quality tacky tourist stuff or knockoff clothing) and then grabbed a bite to eat at the restaurant we’d eaten at the night before. Then it was back to the hostel and off to bed in hopes of a more productive day tomorrow.

I’m not sure if the antibiotics helped or whether it was just good timing but I was definitely feeling better by the end of the day (not great but better). While it doesn’t seem that the Dukoral prevented us from getting sick this time, it seems to have prevented us from experiencing the worst of the possible symptoms (Marie and I experienced those on a trip to Mexico in the mid-90s) which has been a blessing… I’m not sure if it’s been the food in some of the places (we’re pretty careful for the most part but have eaten some salads in some places and Marie and Caitlin have had a few milkshakes, etc. that were made with ice and I’ve tried to eat some of the local foods at times) or whether it’s a combination of different foods and a lot of interaction with other travellers on trains and planes or whether it’s Turkish men’s predilection for shaking hands with everyone they meet… Whatever the cause, I’m hoping the antibiotics will put an end to the worst of it and I’ll be cutting out a few staples (like Turkish tea) and switching to more generic foods until this passes… mild symptoms or not, enough is enough… Although it is definitely a good way to lose weight…

Marie and Caitlin didn’t want to risk taking their camera to the beach and I wasn’t taking any pictures today so no photos for this blog update… Hopefully we’ll have some amazing ones from tomorrow…

I’m not sure I’d rent a car in Turkey again – the highway driving is perfectly fine but the city/town driving is a nightmare… Despite  this, there’s no doubt that one of the pleasures of having your own transportation is being able to set your own schedule… Today we were able to take our time getting out of the room and didn’t hit the road until just after 11am (check-out time). Our first destination for today was Aphrodisias – an old Greek/Roman town. Google maps had showed a route from the first town along the route that we never did see but fortunately we’d seen signs on our way to Pamukkale a couple days earlier so we knew we’d find the place eventually… We found the turnoff we’d seen earlier without any trouble and after an “interesting” 30 km drive along a narrow two lane highway we pulled into the parking lot for the site.

They have an interesting system here – you can’t actually park at the site, so you have to hop aboard (for 7 lira for the three of us) a little shuttle tram that ferries you across the highway and the short distance to the site… You could probably walk it yourself but why would you want to in this kind of heat??

Once you hop off the shuttle, you walk a short distance to the site entrance, pay your money (15 lira each), pick up a map and audio guide (10 lira) and start exploring. This site is fantastic… easily one of the most interesting Greek/Roman cities we’ve ever visited… The stadium is amazingly intact and the rest of the site is only partially excavated (they were still digging out the main bath complex (it was cool to see their ancient bath house floor was tiled exactly the same as the bathroom in our house) and working on excavating a huge pool in the south Agora) and there’s lots of stuff still buried in the forest (you can see bits and pieces of it sticking up here and there). We also saw some buildings/structures we haven’t seen at other sites before – namely the Bouleuterion (council house) and Sebasteion (dedicated to the Roman emperors who were worshipped as gods in the Greek provinces of the Roman Empire). We wandered around for a couple of hours (one of the nice things about this site is that there are some mature trees that provide some shade to escape the blistering heat).

After wandering through the ruins we also popped into the little on-site museum (included with your entrance fee and air-conditioned) and checked out their collection of statues and other bits and pieces from around the site… Then it was time to pile back into the car and make the 2.5hr drive to Kusadasi…

Once again, the highway portion was fine. The Kusadasi portion was nightmarish. We started off just using a google map route that we’d pulled up on the iPad before left but after a bit it became clear that google maps had no idea where the hotel was so we switched to Apple’s “Maps” app and it quickly got us back on the right (albeit not much less hellacious) path. Even using the navigation feature on my iPhone it was a tortuous series of insanity-provoking roundabouts (whoever designed these clearly hated humanity) with multiple lanes of traffic entering and leaving and criss-crossing from one side to the other… Then it was into a maze of single lane streets and 90° corners and twisting allies… Eventually,  we found ourselves in front of the guest-house/hostel and even lucked out enough to get a parking spot right in front of the entrance to the hostel… It’s a good thing the mirrors on our rental car fold in because the street is so narrow the street side one definitely wouldn’t survive a night if it didn’t.

We dumped our stuff, cleaned up a bit and had showers then headed for a restaurant (Esenday) recommended by our host. Turned out to be a great recommendation – off the tourist path about a block (so mostly locals eating there and much, much lower prices) and fantastic service and good food. Our server even joined in a couple of times with our Rummy game and was very gracious… Definitely got a big tip from Marie… After dinner it was back to the room and to bed after a long day of exploring the ruins and driving…

1KD_5057 1KD_5060 1KD_5070 1KD_5079 1KD_5095 1KD_5103 1KD_5107 1KD_5111 1KD_5117 1KD_5121 1KD_5126 1KD_5128 1KD_5133 1KD_5135 1KD_5137 1KD_5144