"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

a day on the aegean - kusadasi

We took a day to recover from all of our bouncing around. No better place than a Turkish beach. We caught our second wind in Kusadasi.

I feel alive near an ocean and this just put the wind in my sails.

We explored the nearby towns just a bit.

Learned about the tradition of the "evil eye" which wards off evil in every corner.

Or street.

Filled up on more of that fresh Turkish Delight.

Soaked in the color of that amazing sea.

Took in some sunshine as well.

To the sound of the waves crashing against the sea wall.

We took a swim in the Aegean Sea so that we could say we had. The waters were rough but warm. Most of the Turks don't really swim so we were kind of a novelty out there paddling away.

One brave couple joined us in the water and the excitement on their face was unforgettable. I gathered they hadn't done much swimming in their lifetime.

We enjoyed a seaside dinner so fresh, we picked out our own fish.

And after a lazy day, we headed back to the road to see more of the beauty Turkey has to offer.

Car wash anyone?

This is how we spent much of our time transversing our way through the countryside.

I love how every residence has their tractor parked out front. It is seriously slow moving on public thoroughfares with tractors as the vehicle of choice.

And then we arrived in the country to explore beautiful Pamukkale. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

ephesus all to ourselves

On our way out of Istanbul, we attended the local LDS church before catching a quick commuter flight from the airport. That branch of the church lies behind a guarded gate in the back of an unmarked apartment building.

Incognito. Nothing to worry about ;)

There they are up behind us on the balcony.

We were invited to stay for a quick lunch meet and greet.

It's always fantastic to connect with church members of our faith in far away places ... my favorite thing about traveling, really.

But it's most exciting to run into a young man we know serving a mission in that area. He's such a great guy, we had to send a picture to his parents back home. What an amazing family that we adore!

We caught a flight and after a little rental car hoopla in Izmir, we pointed our nose toward the countryside and our hotel.

Our early morning plan was to tour the ruins of Ephesus.

We'd been reading with the kids in our early morning bible study about the apostle Paul and his journeying across all of this area. To actually be seeing the city of the people written to in the Book of Ephesians, we were pretty thrilled. 

We arrived bright and early to avoid the heat and the tourist rush.

While Newel was paying our entrance fee, I was saying hello to the residents.

My mistake, because the minute one of those cuties rubbed up against my leg and I put my hand down to even pretend to pet it, I was swarmed.

It was like some horror film I know I've seen somewhere.

We had read that the best way to go, was to enter at the lower gate which for most tour groups, is the exit.

This put us all alone in this gigantic city.

And we were pretty much in awe with the whole thing.

Most especially the fact that one is just free to wander the entire site.

And ... there wasn't another soul to be seen.

We climbed down into the underbelly of the arena.

Newel pretended to be my Gladiator and we were just immature enough to imitate the roar of the crowd going wild ;)

We made our way down the main thoroughfare toward the library.

I could imagine ancient philosophers. politicians, or maybe even the apostle Paul, himself, teaching from these steps.

The city ruin was huge. We kept thinking we'd run into some other tourists .... but ... that never really happened.

Good for us, but not so good for some really great people we met along our way whose livelihood relies on the influx and income of the tourism industry.


So, we just hung out and listened for the whispers of ghosts from times gone by.

Housed in an archaeological tent, this dig of the residences was underway.

Check out these mosaics.

Massive and impossible to capture even in a panoramic shot.

We wandered into the afternoon.

Wait?  I think I may see one other guy down there finally??

You could never get this close to such an archaeological find in America. No ropes, no glass, no guards.

I loved the way the poppies grew out of every abandoned wall.

They just make my heart sing.

The afternoon heated up and these royal felines knew the Turkish drill.

Newel and I followed an unmarked trail leading just a bit out of the city.

It took us to another area which we later learned was a Christian church thought to have been a refuge for Mary the mother of Jesus after his death.

True or not ... this sure looks like a baptismal font.

Such a dry and arid place sure produces some pretty greenery.

And though Newel laughed at me taking pictures of a weeds, I thought even their weeds looked exotic.

I mean, I've never seen such patterning on a common weed in my yard ... why not capture that beauty?

We wandered through Ephesus late into the afternoon. Exiting through the gate, we quickly learned the downside of being lone tourists. An onslaught of commercialism all vying for our undivided attention.

We hid behind these guys to beat the heat with those fresh squeezed juices the Turks are famous for before slipping through a dozen taxis all dying to take us anywhere as we made our way to our rental car.

Two thumbs up for  Ephesus, a bucket list favorite.