While Ethan, Anthony, and Padraic are cycling from Anamur to Alanya, Corinne and andrEa are traveling along Turkey's Aegean coast:
Rider Notes: February 17, 1998
topics: Ephesus, the Temple of Artemis, Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, bad coffee, HISTORY, Izmir, Gülden Güllü (Person of the Day); jump to dispatch
Tuz is "salt" and seker is "sugar." We strongly advise you know the difference when preparing coffee.
Corinne sure wishes that andrEa had uncovered the salt versus sugar language mystery BEFORE making Turkish coffee on our first sleepy morning in Gülden's mom's kitchen. As usual, andrEa expertly scooped a few spoonfuls of finely ground coffee into a pot, as well as some of the white grains of what she thought was sugar, and then boiled the whole thing. The label on the jar did NOT say "sugar" in English, but then why would it, if we're in Turkey?
Having made and poured herself a cup (the secret is to boil it three times), she was then offered a different kind of coffee made by Gülden's mom.
Feeling obliged, she took the cup from her second mother, and offered the original cup to Corinne. Half asleep herself, Corinne gratefully took the cup, and then began to eat breakfast. When it looked like the coffee had cooled down enough to drink, Corinne tested it with a sip.
As the hot, sour, boiled salt in the tainted coffee coursed over Corinne's lips, she knew she was headed for trouble. Her cup hit the saucer with a small spill, and with as much tact as she could manage, she quickly and wordlessly excused herself from the table. Tears in her eyes, she spit what little liquid she had in her mouth directly into the kitchen sink, and rinsed her mouth out with the tap water, which is not always recommended when in Turkey. Returning to the table, she began a discussion about the Turkish words for kitchen spices, and, a little too late, andrEa realized her mistake. Sweet Turkish coffee has become a favorite of Corinne's, and, while the lesson was a difficult one, we did learn that the salty version sure wakes you up quickly!
Word of the Day: Tuz — "salt" and seker — "sugar"
Tech Fact of the Day: German is useful in Turkey.
So far in our journey through Turkey, we've found that it's extremely useful to have a person around who speaks German. After five months of having basically abandoned her mother tongue, andrEa has been using the German language more during the last two weeks than she has since BikeAbout began!
Person of the Day: GÜLDEN GÜLLÜ!! The goddess in Izmir who met and arranged our stay is Gülden Güllü, who has worked as an English teacher, and is now a professional tour guide in Turkey. Gülden helped us enormously with a fast and deep crash course in Turkish history and culture, and offered to serve as a translator and coordinator during our stay in her city. She did such a great job, we wish we could hire her fulltime as BikeAbout's public relations manager!
andrEa and Corinne were happy finally to have a face-to-face meeting with Gülden, an old Internet friend from a different biking and cross-cultural exchange Internet network. All three had once volunteered with a group organizing a bike ride around the world, called the Peace Ride. The reunion was a beautiful one since we had lost touch with one another over the last year. We will never forget the hospitality and support of her family, who hosted us.
Place of the Day: Ephesus
As we approached the ruins of the main Roman road, or Arcadian Way, that leads to Ephesus from the port that once kept it buzzing, we were first greeted first by the Great Theatre and some fallen decorations from it, like this screaming mask. This theater, with a capacity of 25,000 people, was rebuilt by the Romans in the 1st century over the ruins of the earlier theater. Climbing around the theatre itself, we were greeted by a special performing friend. Corinne got in the theatrical spirit then, too, and a few more pieces of buildings toppled but we don't think anyone noticed. In fact, they sort of expect these things to happen.
Then it was down the marble-paved Sacred Way and on to the famous Celsus Library for a little video shoot. This part of Ephesus, as with most of the site, was completely rebuilt by archeologists who, after painstaking labor, were able to reconstruct the entire façade using the rubble they uncovered. From our perspective , this couldn't have been easy. But it was definitely worth it. The 2nd century building designed to hold 12,000 scrolls in little niches shows just how magnificent the architecture of the time was.
Many of the more elaborate and decorative items here are replicas, especially the statues, like this one on the library's promenade representing Ennoia, the Virtue of Thought. All of the originals are in museums for safekeeping. However, most of the column pieces are authentic, whether from this century or earlier ones.
The rest of the extensive site, including a long street, Curetes Way , which pushes east up the hillside, is flanked by temples and gates and baths and private buildings and countless other structures almost too much for the eye to take in and the brain to get around. Especially considering that this was a living and busy place almost 2,000 years ago!
The ruins we see today are of the Roman city of Ephesus first established by Lysimachus, yet another of Alexander the Great's generals (see also Ptolemy and Seleucus). Lysimachus had the city moved to its present site from further inland for reasons of protection and to stay by the water's edge, which, due to silting from the nearby river, was moving further and further west.
Roman Ephesus was declared by some to be the "first and greatest metropolis of Asia [Minor]," of which it was already the Roman capital. As a commercial port and religious center of some 250,000 people, this may not be as much of a boast as it sounds. People from all around Asia Minor and the Mediterranean flocked to the city, including St. John, the Virgin Mary, and St. Paul. However, despite great efforts on the part of many emperors (including Attalus II of Pergamon, Nero, and Hadrian), the silting from the river continued and eventually cut off Ephesus from the coast. With the construction of St. John Basilica near Selçuk, the city center moved there and Ephesus slowly fell into ruin.
Group Dispatch, February 17
The wake-up call at the pension never came this morning, but regardless andrEa was up and at it, rousing Corinne by 9 a.m. We were in for a long day of visiting ruins, biking, and arriving in Izmir, Turkey's third largest city, so we needed to start early. After a quick stop at the market , we were driven to the Ephesus ruins by the pension proprietor's son. A free lift to Ephesus is offered by just about any hotel in Selçuk, and ours even gave us a guidebook to use.
Following the path to the ancient city under the yellow morning rays and big shady trees, we found ourselves alone and on the road to wonder. The fresh air of the mountains which surround the Ephesus site and the absence of any other tourists was a delight - this was our kind of an excavation site. We felt as if we had stumbled across the space ourselves in the middle of a quiet and serene hike. Since this is known as one of the largest and best-preserved classical cities in the eastern Mediterranean, we were happy to have the place to ourselves.
Ephesus was a port town very early on, back around 800 BC when the sea reached this far inland. After that it suffered a number of attacks and rulerships, flourishing and being destroyed time and again, continuing to grow until some time after the Crusades. Even Alexander the Great spent both time and money here, financing the Temple of Artemis, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. St. Paul made a three-year visit himself, and writes to his followers here in the Christian Bible. The Romans, who dubbed this their capital city of Asia Minor, built most of what remains today.
The one thing we can say about Ephesus is that it's enormous, beautiful, and quite tastefully reconstructed. The streets and neighborhood areas, markets, baths, different temples of worship, gymnasiums, and two theatres gave an authentic flavor for city life in Roman times. Noticing the similarities and differences among the artwork, and trying to understand where, when, and how the hand-overs took place from one era to the next, we also tried to make sense out of which other ruins we'd seen in Turkey. Some were Roman and some were Greek, but it's hard to keep track after a while. As one young man put it, we were getting "ruined out" by all the sites we were taking in along the Aegean Coast. But they're all certainly impressive! See Place of the Day for more of our photos from Ephesus and a little bit more of its history.
We were back at the pension well before noon, after narrowly avoiding being "rugged" (a term we have adopted to describe efforts by rug merchants to make us purchase their wares). We were invited for tea into a carpet store, where we waxed nostalgic about our Moroccan horror stories of rug shops trying to force us to buy things. This adequately discouraged and embarrassed the otherwise kind, friendly, and high-spirited salesman, and we were soon on our way.
During lunch and as we packed our bikes, a debate raged about whether to take the highway or the main road to Izmir, taking into account hilliness and distance. One person insisted that the distance was less than 7 km (5 mi), while another estimated at least 70 km (43 mi). We thanked the locals for their input and hit the road to find out the truth for ourselves.
On the way out of town, we said goodbye one more time to some of the sites we had not been able to visit. Ayasoluk Hill sat squat near town with the St. John Basilica and a 6th century first rebuilt then restored Byzantine citadel on top. St. John supposedly came to Ephesus and wrote his Gospel here. It was also believed by some that he died and was buried at Ephesus, so Byzantine Emperor Justinian had a church built over the tomb that some said was John's. The restored ruins are spread out along the hilltop.
We also took a peek at the Artemision or Temple of Artemis. Early in Selçuk's history, the city was already an important religious center. Artemis (known as Diana the Huntress to the Romans), the fertility mother-goddess of nature, wildlife, hunting, the moon, and childbirth (and often depicted as having many breasts ), had an enormous temple dedicated to her at the foot of Ayasoluk Hill and right by the water (which, again, used to reach this far inland). This temple, called the Artemision, was so huge and magnificent that, along with the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (Bodrum), the Egyptian Pyramids, the Colossus of Rhodes, the lighthouse (or Pharos) of Alexandria, the statue of Zeus at Olympia, and the hanging gardens of Babylon, it is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. All that remains today are the outlines of the foundation and a single column reconstructed of various pieces and perhaps not truly representative of the size and grandeur of the building. Incidentally, when Alexander the Great passed through at the time of the temple's reconstruction (it had been willfully destroyed by a fame-seeking emperor), he said he would finance everything if it would carry his name. The locals said no, preferring to stick with their immortal god.
Finally getting out of town, biking through the valley of cotton fields and under cool, hazy skies, we were greeted many times on the narrow road by cotton trucks packed with burlap sacks all stuffed with the same white fluffy stuff on the roadside.
Since we weren't clear on the distance to the town where we'd catch a bus into Izmir, we biked hard, arriving at the pick up point 2 hours earlier than we anticipated! Apparently the days of biking in the mountains with the trailers had paid off and improved our cycling speed. We made a series of phone calls to Gülden Güllü, our contact person in Izmir, and, as the center of attention outside the gas station, tried to make arrangements for our arrival.
Gülden is our Person of the Day today because she is a great friend and was tremendously helpful overall. With her assistance over the phone, we were able to get a minibus, cram all our stuff and the bikes into it, and enjoy the sunset on the sea once again in all its sparkling glory. This time the colors sprawled over and throughout the hills of Izmir which the minibus drove into and made a loop around, following the edge of the huge harbor.
Izmir has served as the main Aegean port of the country for ages, but not without significant struggles and losses that helped shape the city's future. People began living in this mountainous, seaside area around 3000 BC, but the first real settlement was established in the 10th century BCE. Called Smyrna (after the goddess Myrina), it was a cosmopolitan center of commerce and trade with the west. The author Homer, "founder" of Western literature and author of the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey" lived here, if that gives any indication of its significance. The Aeolians, Ionians and Lydians all fought over this lucrative spot, unwittingly starting a vicious cycle of wrecking the place! It took the efforts of Alexander the Great to resurrect the city, and the Romans enjoyed the fruits of his labor for hundreds of years. An earthquake destroyed Smyrna again in 178 AD, but the later Byzantines thought it valuable enough to rebuild.
Arabs, Turks, and Crusaders came and went in additional attempts to take over this valid investment. After one more wave of destruction in 1402, it was rebuilt and maintained by the Ottomans who kept it secure and stately, especially in the 16th century under Suleiman the Magnificant, when it was a booming multi-national domain. This only lasted as long as WWI when the Allies promised it to Greece, if the latter could win it in battle. They didn't and, in 1923, it was burned to the ground as part of that struggle. Atatürk and his army pushed the Greek forces completely out of all of Anatolia. The city we see today was rebuilt soon after.
We were very glad to have caught a ride into and through Izmir, as the insane traffic and general size of the city surprised us. Since we didn't have a city map, and Gülden and her family live on the far northwest side of Izmir, it would have been that much more impossible to navigate. Upon our excited arrival we were introduced to Gülden's family , and informed that we instantly had become their third and fourth daughters. Her mother was quite prepared to force amazing cuisine on us for the next two days, and her father arranged for the bikes to be looked at, while her sister offered to help us out any way she could. What hospitality!
Amidst the ringing of the phone during dinner, Gülden laid out our itinerary of school visits, presentations, media interviews, and events. andrEa and Corinne sat shell-shocked by the barrage of information and packed schedule of meetings that Gülden had set up, impressed out of their wits, and eve a little spooked. Despite an early start and exciting day, and a few more full days ahead, after dinner and all night long, Corinne downloaded e-mail while andrEa readied dispatch photos and tried to avoid catching a cold. It was a long night, because we hadn't been online for a while, and the lines in Turkey aren't all that fast. We turned in late, realizing that we had been in Turkey for nearly a week, and tried not to get overwhelmed by the whirlwind of information behind and before us.
Meanwhile, the guys have cycled from Anamur to Alanya. You can read about their journey in their February 16-18 dispatch.
Questions? Ask Corinne or andrEa !
Internet access while in Turkey was provided by Raksnet.
Copyright 1997-2004 BikeAbout. All rights reserved.