Saturday morning we flew from Istanbul to Izmir, for our big weekend getaway. And what a getaway that was!
On day 1, we were taken to Sirince, a village created when nearby Ephesus was abandoned in the 15th Century and people made a settlement in that area. However, a lot of what was visible was from the 18th century, with the settlement of freed Greek slaves. With the beautiful landscape and mountains in the area, we could see why the Greeks decided to settle there! Besides the walk, the street vendors were an interesting bunch and ensured we did not leave empty handed.
After the tour, we were taken to the sealight hotel in Kusadasi, a resort with its own private beach where most of the team had a great time cooling off in the cool blue water.
On day 2, we were first taken to the house of Virgin Mary, the house that archeologists and many historians say that Virgin Mary moved to, with the help of St. John after the claimed crucification of Jesus. We had the opportunity to see the inside of the house, and many believing Christians were able to pray and light candles at the site. However, the more adventurous part of the day was the trip to Ephesus, an ancient Greek city built in the 10th Century. It was interesting to see how archeologists were able to excavate and reconfigure many of the broken pieces of pillars and walls back to its original form. The remnants of the library and the large amphitheater were particularly impressive and told us a lot of the Greek lifestyle back in the day.
Besides the excursions, I was presented with a personal surprise when the tour guide, Mr. Attila and the rest of the team brought out a surprise birthday cake for me while we stopped at a restaurant for lunch! While the gesture was very touching by itself, the coolest bit was the knife I got to cut my cake with. A simple knife wouldn’t do justice to a birthday in this wonderful place, so I got to cut my cake In true Turkish style with an Ottoman Saber! Coolest birthday ‘knife’ ever!