A “visit to the library” & a night to remember – Ephesus

5th July 2006

The next day we didn’t get up really early, which was a nice change and a relief after staying up that late with Levant. I was glad we were spending two nights here; it was so nice not to have to pack everything into a suitcase and move out again.

We had breakfast in the hotel and then we drove to Ephesus, the largest Greek city in Ancient Anatolia. Ephesus in a funny way kind of reminded me of Huntingdon High Street. All the buildings ran off a single main road. We went through some very well-preserved baths, including some ancient toilets which many people had their pictures taken sitting on, Stupid tourists I thought. The road continued to slope down, another cobble stone road and again I praised my boots, saving my feet. We passed some houses and a pretty ancient fountain, at that point I noticed a young boy about the same age as me had been following Kylee and I around with a camera, Kylee noticed as well and accused me of posing. “So?” I said, “When we leave, he’ll probably try and sell us the pictures, you don’t want to look like shit, do you?” She said, “You don’t know that.” I really didn’t care. We kept going down and I caught a glimpse of the famous restored Celsius Library, which looked beautiful. Chona our tour guide said that there was actually a tunnel leading from the library to the brothel next door. Sneaky Greeks I thought, imaging the Greek husband telling his wife, “I’m just going to the library to get some books” and then sneaking into the brothel via the tunnel.

The Celcius Library at Ephesus

The young man followed up into the library and I got Kylee to pose with me inside. It was truly a magnificent site. It was the largest building in Ephesus and in its time had rivalled the library at Alexandria in Egypt commissioned by Alexander the Great. On the way out there was a large bazaar, selling everything from tacky souvenirs to “Genuine Fake Watches” as the sign said, we all found that most amusing. We walked past the ancient theatre and then went through the ancient Agora to get back on the bus and then sure enough in the bus bay was the young man selling the photos he had been taking. I bought the one of myself and Kylee in the Library.

Before lunch we went to a Turkish leather shop, where they make the jackets for Ives Saint Laurent, Chanel and Gucci and were treated to a fashion show. At the end they actually picked two people to model the jackets, Kylee was picked as a guinea pig. We watched the models go down the catwalk dressed in the finest leather and at the end Kylee came down in a beautiful black jacket and one of the guys on the tour paraded around in a full length multi-coloured jacket and an afro wig, we were all hysterical with laughter.

After the demonstration we were all herded into the large shop and then set upon by salesmen trying to sell us the jackets. As they were leather and made for big brands they had big prices. Kylee actually bought a red jacked with a price tag of €525, she managed to get it down to €250. I was a little more difficult, I didn’t really want to buy a jacket and I had not appreciated the way they had herded the tour group into the shop, which was in a kind of warehouse and given us the hard sell and even shut the doors. I did like one of the jackets which was supposedly made of Turkish Silk leather and exported to Chanel. The owner of the shop worked on me showing me many tricks with the jacket, including crushing it into a tiny square and showing me that it had no creases, holding water in it and even burning it, to show me that not even fire could destroy it. It had a beautiful silver paisley pattern on the inside and I had a fake leather jacket almost exactly like it at home.

The price tag was €425, which was far too much for me and they persisted even though I said I couldn’t afford it and they asked me what I could afford, when I told then $100 Australian they walked off in disgust, but later came back saying I had twisted their arm and they said they would sell me the jacket for 285 Turkish Lira, I said if you charge me in Australian Dollars it’s a deal. They said it was ok and I purchased the jacket with my credit card and was the last one out of the shop. Kylee asked me how much I had paid, and I told her, and she said she wished she had held out longer. The owner Tolga had not actually agreed to the price, it was one of his salesman that had agreed to it and this amused me no end.

We then went for lunch at a kind of buffet style restaurant, and I hate to say it, but I wouldn’t have even given the food to a stray dog, let alone humans. I knew by now that Turkish food had the potential to be really wonderful, this restaurant was just poor quality. Cam, Emily and I actually waked out and went up the road and bought Pepsi’s and Steak Sandwiches from a guy in a booth up the road, they were much nicer. We sat outside and watched a road that seemed to have sprinklers over it, we all pondered why and they a car drove through them, a Turkish car wash, it was quite funny to watch.

Basilica of St John at Ephesus
Kylee and Aunty outside the Basilica of St John

We got back on the bus and made a short stop at the Basilica of St John which had the first baptismal font in it and St. John the Baptist was supposed to have been buried here. From the Basilica we could see a view of Ephesus and the ancient Artemesium with its lone standing column, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. We proceeded on to a traditional Turkish sweet shop and ate real Turkish delight, which was wonderful.

We then drove a little way up the road and visited a traditional Turkish Ceramics shop and got a demonstration of pot making by a lovely looking young potter. They asked if someone would like to try out making a pot and I decided to be the guinea pig this time. I had no idea, I was a disaster. The nice looking young man tried to help me and put his hands around mine to guide them and then some cheeky person started singing the theme song from the movie “Ghost” and the whole group just cracked up laughing. I was a mess after that, I spend quite a while trying to get the clay off myself and Kylee had gotten the whole thing on camera.

Ephesus theatre
Ephesus ancient theatre

While everyone else was looking in the shop, I spent some time talking to our guide Chona. She had noticed my backpack I had bought in Whitby and my spider web earrings and wanted to know what my fascination was with spiders, and they are a symbol of luck in Turkey. Apparently, in the Koran it is said that fourteen hundred years ago the prophet Mohammed was being chased by his enemies near Mecca when he hid in a cave. Miraculously, an acacia tree sprang up out of the ground in front of the cave. A woodpigeon nested in the tree and a spider made its web between the cave entrance and the tree. As a result, his enemies overlooked the cave and Mohammed escaped to become the Prophet of Islam. Mohammed owed his life to the spider and it is considered bad luck to kill a spider or throw one out of your home in Turkey. She said it was hard for her not to throw them out because she hates them, I told her she was lucky and when I said that some of the spiders in Australia are as big as your hand she nearly died and said “I will never go there!” and we both laughed.

From the ceramics shop we drove a little way on to the house of the Virgin Mary, where Mary had lived with St John after the crucifixion of Christ. The small house had of course been turned into a church and it was a lovely experience to visit. I lit candle for people at home I was worrying about and bought another Icon, one of the virgin with Christ. We then trekked back to the hotel and Cam, Emily, Kylee and I all went for a swim at the beautiful hotel pool and caught some rays. There was this little French girl who spoke not a word of English but who Kylee and I played with in the pool for a few hours, she even grabbed onto me while I was swimming and I pulled her around like I was a dolphin.

Dinner was great, it was a make your own Kabab night. They had a woman sitting on the ground baking bread in a traditional Turkish oven, which reminded me of the woman baking the Egyptian bread and the Movenpick pyramids hotel in Egypt. You could carve off your own meat, which Kylee and I gave much to the local stray cats, much to the annoyance of the hotel staff who continually reproached us and who we continually ignored.

Kylee and I had decided to go out for a night on the town and went upstairs to our rooms to get changed and dolled up after dinner. I had the shock of realising my makeup, which I hadn’t worn for about 3 weeks no longer suited my face as I had gotten quite a tan and was no longer quite pasty looking. I attempted to put on my gothic type make up only to end up resembling a drag queen and having to start again.

Small cat at Kusadasi
Small cat at the hotel

I met Kylee downstairs and we no sooner walked out of the hotel door than Tolga from the leather shop (who Kylee always called “leather man”) rolled up in his Mercedes and offered to take us both out. Kylee got straight in the car and I hesitated, my mother’s words again ringing through my head, “Don’t do anything stupid!” I thought, come on Kristina, when your old and looking back on your life, don’t you want to be able to say you got in the God damn car! Kylee had actually gone out with him the night before and she was ok so I got in the car and we sped off to fetch his cousin, of course. We picked up his cousin, Fharti and headed for the Havana club, which was huge and right on the coast. Glass panelling actually separated the club from the Aegean Sea. Tolga bought us all drinks and we sat around for ages. He seemed very impressed with the fact that I could actually drink and seemed to be trying to compete with me, which was very amusing.

We stayed for a few hours and then Tolga invited us all back to his house, we drove around looking for alcohol first, he bought Kylee a bottle of Absolute vodka and drove to several different shops trying to find Jack Daniels for me, in the end I had to settle for Chivas Regal, how I suffered. It amused me no end to think that the amount of alcohol and food that Tolga paid for that night had more than paid for our leather jackets we had bought. We then went back to his house which was very nice and out came the weed. I soon realised that Tolga liked Kylee and that Fharti had been brought along for my benefit. Kylee and Tolga disappear and left me with him. Well, I’lit’ll be the last thing I ever do making out with anyone called Fharti, I thought to myself. He couldn’t speak a word of English and I decided drinking him under the table was the way to go. I grabbed a joint and drew back a long swig and then so did he. I downed half the bottle of Chivas Regal before going upstairs and accidentally locking myself in the bathroom. Tolga rescued me and I went back to Fharti, who seemed to be insisting he could out smoke me, which I didn’t care about as weed doesn’t really do anything to me, so I said, “Off you go then!” I got tired of waiting for Kylee, she was in the lounge room so I went in to get her, Tolga had gone off somewhere.

When he returned Kylee asked if he could take us back to the hotel in Kusadasi, which we were now about 50kn away from. He said he would and then said “Where’s Fharti?”I pointed to the porch swing on which he was lying and saying over and over again “I’m a birdy!” whilst looking at the sky and flapping his arms. “What did you do to him?” Tolga said. I shrugged. Kylee asked the same thing later and I said, “He thought he could out drink me, he was mistaken.” We got back into Tolga’s Mercedes and were treated to the white knuckle ride of our lives (worse than the Athenian cab driver) and driven back to the hotel at 3am, on the winding, unlit roads at 180km per hour by a drunk Turk. What a ride! Again, as tipsy as I was my mother’s words rang through my head, I couldn’t help it, I had to get back to the hotel, we were leaving for Troy at 6:30am the next day, the place I had come to Turkey to visit.

We arrived back at the hotel at around 4am and I fell into bed still wearing my going out clothes.

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