Sunday, 2 May 2010

A Turkey in Turkey (that's me)

Hello Folks! I’m guessing you all thought I died (in Greece) as I haven’t blogged about the remainder of my journey and its been several months. Well – I did not die in Greece. I am now presently rotting residing in my Australian home. I figured that blogging is an excellent procrastination technique from university work – plus it’s much more productive and interesting (for me at least – I don’t know about you) as opposed to playing pointless computer games (Mystery Case Files – pointless? NEVER) or watching re-runs of... well... anything.
So let me begin by taking you back in time... back to my life abroad... back to June 16th 2009...

Day 9

Mykonos - Kusadasi - Patmos

I don’t know if I mentioned it but the room Miranda and I had on the ship was at the very bottom – almost with the sea life – but not quite. Not only that but we had to windows and no way of knowing what time it was in our little room of solitude. Suddenly, an overly enthusiastic voice interrupted our silent abyss “Good Morning! Passengers travelling to Kusadasi it is 5am. Please make your way to the lounge.” 5am. Wow. Somehow Miranda and I scrambled out of bed and into clothes and made our way – bleary eyed – to the lounge. Eventually, we were shipped off our boat and ordered to go in a bus with our sticker number on it. Our number was 20. Turns out we were on bus 32. Brilliant. Excellent organisational skills all round.

But hey – we were in Turkey! Our tour guide was really lovely though he very much enjoyed making lame jokes comparing his land with America... Like... he would say “there is an event which happens here every year and everyone gets very excited about it... it’s like your Super Bowl” and so on. YOU WANT TO BE AMERICAN – WE GET IT. He was lovely though.
We drove around the countryside and finally landed in Ephesus (ancient Ephesus). In the time it takes to go from the bus to the gate of this place (about 20 steps) I was harassed by various market people. The lies they come up with are genius! “Buy this coin it belonged to my great, great grandmother who was queen of the ancient world and use to wrestle bears despite having no limbs...” and so on. This whole section of the trip is a bit of a blur given that I was so gosh darn tired after that wakeup call – and a restless night trying to sleep and not think about the fact that we were rolling about in the ocean.
Anyway – Ephesus! First, it is full of cats. You couldn’t turn around without seeing one.
The guide blamed Cleopatra. Seriously. You may scoff and say "Bah! Cleopatra? Ridiculous - she has no relevance to this blog at all! Good day Madam!" Well, as a matter of fact...this city was a hangout for Marc Antony and Cleopatra in the days of old. Here is a photo of them/us being them – you can decide who is who...
So this city is in ruins (obviously) and was part of the Roman Empire. It was the second largest city at that time (Rome was the first) which is rather impressive. The way this town was founded was because an oracle told a bunch of important characters (let’s call them Phil and Ted for now) that they would be told where to settle by a fish and a boar. One day Phil and Ted sit down and have some dinner. Ted says “Man, I could really go for some delicious fish right about now” to which Phil replied “I agree... though I did have all that fattening cottage cheese at lunch so maybe I’ll just have some dry crackers”
“Don’t have crackers – oh my gosh you’re waist is TINY!”
“Yours is!”
“Yours is!” Laughter. Yeah – that was the conversation – verbatim. Anyway they cook some fish but it flips out of the pan and scatters fire all over the surrounding bushes. Suddenly, a boar runs out and Phil and Ted realise that this is the place to settle their town (the place on fire, I might add) so their symbols became a fish, a flame and a boar – neat.
This place is HUGE and it’s really stunning. There are columns and walls and outlines of buildings everywhere and the guide was explaining to us how clever these people were. To keep the cold out of their houses they had a little gap between the tiled floor and the ground which they would keep hot coals in so the floor of the houses was warm – pretty tricky. All these stone things have this one pattern on them called the Meandros which mean meandering river. This is because the sea (or river) changes making the earth beneath it and around it constantly change. I bought a lovely ring with that pattern on it that I am wearing as I type.
Next stop was looking at the toilets. Not the public tourist toilets but the ancient ones. Apparently all the blokes of the city would poop together whilst talking about important politic issues like... that game last night and that new girl on the block. To disguise the noises of... well... poop they had musicians playing – what a crap job! Pun intended.
Next was the library which is a place of wisdom and knowledge. A place of learning. A place of bettering oneself and getting a greater understanding of our world, history and culture. It’s also a great subterfuge as there was a tunnel underneath it which led to a brothel. Charming.
The final stop was the theatre – this thing held 25 000 people! I wanted to test the acoustics but neither Miranda or I could be bothered walking all the way to the top of that thing and back down again. Instead we goofed off – as usual. Other noteworthy parts of Ephesus was that it used to have Amazon women. The reason they were called Amazon is because it Turkish ‘mazon’ (or something) means breast and the Amazon means ‘no breasts’. In order for a woman to master a bow and arrow they needed to remove their breasts so as to fire an arrow correctly. You can see the people at Marvel or DC or wherever had some artistic licensing calling Wonder Woman an Amazon given her... endowments.
We then left Ephesus and travelled into town. On the bus, though, there was this other tourist guy and he said this one phrase which left me in stitches for the rest of the day (much to Miranda’s surprise as it wasn’t that funny). The people here try to sell you things and give you “good price”. So this guy on the bus just mimics one of them and goes “You wanna buy bookmark? I give you good price – just 400 Euros.” Okay I’m chuckling away about even now and I know when Miranda reads this she’ll be like “Oh yeah that’s right – what the heck was with that?” Ha Ha... 400 Euros... HA!

In to town! We were taken to this shop where they specialised in handmade silk rugs. Now I’ve never been particular interested in carpets but these were gorgeous. It was like a show! They showed us how they get the silk from the silk worms, weave it (by hand) and make these carpets. The guide explained that the prices of these carpets depends on how long they take to make. So a small carpet might cost much, much for than a bigger carpet because it has smaller intricate knots and took twice as long. One carpet can take up to four years! Imagine if you finished it and someone spilt red wine on it – you would want to strangle them A LOT. It is a tradition in Turkey that a woman weave five carpets before she gets married as a dowry and also to learn patience – which she will need as a wife. Patience with all the red wine spilling they’re going to do! Our tour group was led into this big open room with chairs all round the outside and then four big men promptly began rolling out huge carpets, one by one, for us to look at and stand on!
We were encouraged to take off our shoes and feel how lovely they were – whilst sipping delicious apple tea (this place is AWESOME). By the end of the show there so many carpets I couldn’t see the floor and it looked like Aladdin’s den. So we did the only mature thing... pretended to be Aladdin.
One other little tidbit that I learnt was how the Turkish were involved with the invention of the croissant. When the Europeans defeated the Turks they wanted to make a delicious snack which presented their victory. So they made a croissant which is shaped like the crescent moon on the Turkish flag! Learning is fun. We were then shown the city and got to shop around for a while. This market place was hilarious because we were inundated with people begging us to look at their shops. One guy just straight up said “My shop is better than his”. It was a lovely market but we were very pressed for time. Everyone was really lovely and I really want to go back and visit Turkey again to gain a larger experience.

Back on the boat for lunch and a well deserved nap. Our room was penetrated by that voice once more telling us to move our booties because we had arrived in Patmos. We got on a little boat and were jostled to the island. We shared a cab with these other girls (both called Kristy I think...) to the Sacred Grotto – the Church of Apocalypse/ St John’s. This cave was supposed to have a big crack in it from when God was speaking but Miranda and I were craning our necks all around town and we couldn’t see it. So we sneakily tried to watch what the other tour guides were pointing at (though they were speaking in another language – I think we found it eventually). Our taxi came back and we drove further up the hill to the Monastery. This monastery is hundreds of years old and it is the monk’s duty to preserve the frescos – the only problem is they are all black because of over extensive incense use.
For nine centuries these monks have been praying (not the same ones obviously) from 3am to 6am every day – that’s a whole lotta prayin’ goin’ on.
We then went and got ice-cream and walked back down the hill. This other tourist stopped us (she was quite large) and asked us how far the monastery was. “91 steps” we said. “91 steps? Is there a cafeteria?” No joke. Then she waddled off.

We shopped for a little while in Patmos and it was really lovely. The weather was perfect and the sunset set the mood. It wasn’t as pretty as some of the other towns but it was most pleasant. Hopped back on the boat, had a quick roast sunbake and scooted to dinner. There is nothing better than Greek salad, the boat crew singing, the dress code being blue and white and a whole lot of napkin twirling to the music!

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