Dan’s driving is terrifying our guides, I think. While that seems funny enough on its own, in reality it’s even funnier than it sounds, because he’s generally a really good driver. He is somebody who has raced cars as a hobby, and therefore has a good sense of the road and drives cars to their abilities. Still, I can see where these latter habits can be disconcerting for those who are averse to sudden bouts of acceleration and deceleration.
But I think there’s even more to it, because not only does he drive aggressively, but he is not yet attuned to local driving customs. He doesn’t yet know when to make illegal u-turns, when to ignore red lights and stop signs, and when it’s wrong to stop for pedestrians. He is trying to channel his instincts from driving in Italy, but they’re wrong here, and it was clear that our guide today, Adem, did not like him passing on blind corners in standard Italian fashion.
Both of our guides have taken the bold step of offering at times to take over driving. I suspect his habits behind the wheel have truly frightened them both.
As I mentioned already, our guide today is Adem. Yavuz wasn’t able to join us, so instead arranged for his friend to guide us. Adem was also a fantastic guide.
The first destination for the day is the ruins of the ancient Greek and Roman city Ephesus. These are the most spectacular of the ruins here, and although I have seen them before I am thrilled to return.
The first stop is at the foot of a massive golden statue of Mary. We aren’t here for the statue, however. Instead we are here, in sight of the odeon theater, to learn the story of the city of Ephesus, which has migrated across the region over millennia. We are about to visit the third manifestation of the city. It has moved twice since, we are told, and people debate whether the “fifth Ephesus” is the nearby city of Selcuk, or the slightly further away port city of Kusadasi.
The odeon theater and Temple of Hestia get only brief stops, as clouds are threatening, and we all want to make it through the site before the rain hits, if possible. The forecast calls for 1/4 inch, but we prefer to stay dry if possible.
As we step onto curates way, a few cold drops of rain are already falling, and umbrellas spring up around us. It is more crowded today than it was three years ago, but still
We make fast progress, paying little attention to many of the otherwise remarkable sites around us.
Normally I would spend a great deal of time looking at Trajan’s fountain, but not today.
To the left, underneath a massive shelter, are the terrace houses. This is a large excavation that has been placed under a shelter for protection, and while Austrian caretakers work on it.
Inside are magnificent houses with beautiful works of marble and frescoes.
And of course there are mosaic tile floors. Dan and I are both gushing over them. They are classical and contemporary all at once, and we are both enthralled.
The sound of rain on the roof of the structure grows ever louder, in waxing and waning waves of roaring noise. We walk slowly through the display, feeling that our Lira were well spent.
When we return back outside the rain is mostly gone, and the crowds have also fled. The highlight of Ephesus, the glorious library of Ephesus remains, unflappable through the torrent.
By entering the enclosure, we have missed some things such as the brothel and the bathroom, but don’t care. Instead, we continue on and eventually exit at the bottom of the site. Adem points out that our car is at the top parking area, and Dan finally cedes him the key to bring it down to us.
We focused on indoor activities, then, including the spectacular Ephesus Museum, with its two statues of Artemis, followed by lunch.
The rain was unrelenting, and our visit to the site of the Temple of Artemis involved us sitting in the car looking at the lone remaining column and the big hole in the ground where it once stood. It was the largest marble temple in the world, and this was what it looked like at the time. The remains now lie in the British Museum of Plunder in London.
Adem then guided us to the small village of Şirince, where we took shelter around a bowl of sand and over cups of Turkish coffee.
The ritual of preparing the coffee was fascinating and immersive, with the pot dipped rhythmically into superheated sand, and Dan was enthralled, although he didn’t take any for himself.
After drinking our coffee, we overturned our cups into the saucers and let them cool. When ready, we turned them back over to read our futures inscribed in the grounds that remained clinging to the interiors of those cups.
I gazed into my cup, squinting my eyes and trying to read my future. I finally decided I saw, scrawled there, a stylized image of a lobster. Adem laughed at me. I still don’t know what a lobster could could conceivably mean. Perhaps it just means that it’s raining today, but I like to imagine that it might have to do with butter. We do, after all, eat lobster with butter, and I, of course, am Butterblogger.
Our day concluded with Adem guiding us to the airport, for Dan and I are headed off to Istanbul. We bid our farewells and turned our faces to the check-in desk. The great city awaits and we are ready!