When Jenn and I first started looking at Mediterranean cruises, one of the stops we really didn’t pay any attention to was stops in Turkey. We were more focused on making as many stops in Greece, and then what sold us on this particular cruise was the stop in Egypt. Now after going to Kusadasi, Turkey I think it would have been a shame to miss it. The worst part of the day was at the very start, we woke up far to early but we had to make our 7+ hour tour. We woke up hoping our breakfast would have came early as requested so we could eat it and hit the road. Well our food came five minutes before we had to leave and we ate whatever we could and went to the designated meeting point.
We got our number, sat down in the designated area, and made our way to the bus. Things have changed since I took a full blown excursion, you now have these wireless headsets where you listen to the tour guide as you go, and allows you not to sit right next to the guide. Our guide was a lot faster paced then many others on the same tour which was a very nice touch, since it was close to 90 degrees and we had to wear conservative clothing. I learned a lot about Turkey, it is a country that you very often forget about, and when you hear that one of the closest countries is Iran, it starts to put the geography into perspective.
So we made our first stop at the Ephesus Open Air Museum, and sometimes you wish they would have saved the best for last, but we really started off with the best stop on the tour. In many ways this was more like a Rome visit, then a Turkish stop, because all of the artifacts at this stop were from the Roman period, and were better preserved then much of what we saw in Rome. They had this beautiful auditorium that both Sting and Elton John played at during the 1990’s and was originally built during the Gladiators. What was so great about this though was that you could walk through the auditorium, and you got a better idea of what it was like back then, more so then the colosseum.
Our second stop on the tour was to the very small archeological museum, which after being out in the heat in the Open Air Museum, I really had no interest in it. As Jenn has told me so many times, after a few museums everything starts looking the same, and this small museum was more of a bullet point on the tour rather then a worthwhile stop. The next stop after the museum was a close second for how much I enjoyed it, it was a quick stop to the Basilica of St. John. Much of the area was gone, but from what was still preserved it was a great viewing point to see a good portion of the port, and a lot of great sights of Turkey.
The final stop before grabbing lunch and heading for the cruise was the House of the Virgin Mary, now this is what I like to call a tourist trap. Now this is coming from someone who is not Catholic, and I would imagine if I was catholic I might think otherwise, but they have no idea if she actually lived there, they know she was in Ephesus but they only speculate that she lived there. The house was up on the top of a large hill that overlooked the town, and you wait in line for 10 minutes to get in this room that fits two people at a time see a small shrine and move on. The only other thing to do at this stop was to drink of the water, there were supposedly three streams one for wealth, one for love, and one for health.
After the stop to the House of the Virgin Mary it was back down the hill to a buffet lunch, which to be honest I would have done better not eating it, because it really didn’t seem to enjoy me at all, nor Jenn. Following this “turkish” lunch we were back on the ship and off to take a nap. We had a great dinner this evening, I had a Shrimp Cocktail, followed by an Asian Duck, and Chocolate Ice Cream, while Jenn had an Indian Soup, Top Sirloin, and Vanilla Ice Cream.
After dinner, we sat on our balcony, really the first time this cruise we had really sat there for more then a few minutes. As we were sitting there both Jenn and I saw dolphins swimming near the ship. I always love sitting on the balcony, and seeing dolphins is always a treat to. I am not really sure why we get so excited about that kind of stuff, but after we saw them it was a hunt to see if we could spot them again or other sea life.
The day ended off with a musical by the Royal Caribbean Singing and Dancing Team called Absolutely Fad and I ended up calling it an absolute flop. I know by now (this being my fourth cruise) that you can easily skip these shows, but Jenn wanted to go so we went. They played music from some of my favorite artists like Elton John and Phil Collins which just made matters worse. The singing was downright bad, I told Jenn afterwards that there is no way they could make it through the first round of American Idol. I honestly felt for the team, to be on a cruise and to be getting scattered golf claps throughout the performance has to hurt.
All in all it was a really good day, Turkey really surprised me, it was a really beautiful place to visit, everyone was very nice, the towns seemed really safe, and everything was really interesting. There was a lot about Turkey I never knew, and being able to say I have been to Turkey is actually a really neat thing to do. I would say if you ever go on a cruise that stops in Turkey take advantage, its a good stop. Next on the agenda is Rhodes, Greece. If it is anything like Mykonos it should be a great stop, we are planning to do more R&R tomorrow, taking a taxi to the beach, and soaking up some rays. Until then hope you enjoyed, and I will talk to you again in Greece!