Saturday, May 26, 2012

Turkey: Kusadasi/Ephesus

We didn’t know what to expect when we saw that Kusadasi was on our itinerary. We were initially excited to visit Ephesus because of the biblical implications (ie: Paul’s letter to the Ephesians and the lore that Mary spent her later years in Ephesus), but we didn’t realize that the 11 kilometer excursion away from port would cost us a ton of Lira. So we opted for roving around Kusadasi and though our expectations were initially low, we were rewarded with a surprisingly amazing day.

Wandering the bazaars in Kusadasi is the stuff movies are made from. The whole day had an ethereal feel. it was awesome.  

It took about 30 seconds for us to fall in love with the place. We strolled through two different Turkish bazaars drinking in the atmosphere. Down the center of each walkway sat men and women merchants vying for every passerby to inspect their wares. They drank Turkish coffee from tiny ceramic coffee cups painted with brightly colored, intricate patterns or apple tea from equally tiny clear glasses. The peddlers in their stalls haggled and bargained with locals and tourists alike, each one promising to offer the very best deal in town. 

There was something different here than other places we’ve been where haggling is prevalent. The merchants seemed to have a good nature about them and never felt intrusive or pushy. Nobody was disgruntled when their offer was turned down. Everyone was polite and friendly. 

Eventually I broke down and bought a handmade lamp that I wished I could have bought six of. I can’t wait to hang it in our home… you know, whenever we get one of those. It looks like one of these: 

Spectacular right? I’m in love with it. I also wanted to buy an entire set of hand painted ceramic dishes but showed remarkable restraint due mostly to the fact that I don’t know how I’d get them home. I’ll probably wish I had them forever.

We stopped and had lunch at a restaurant right outside the bazaar. We ate Turkish pizza which does not resemble pizza in any way other than that it is flat and round. It’s a delicious flat bread, with some kind of red-ish sauce and a thin layer of ground lamb that has a smoky, charred flavor. You then sprinkle it with herbs and squeeze a lemon over it before rolling it up like a burrito and eating it with your hands. Incredible. I wish I had another one right now. We also sampled a spicy kebab that was not “hot-spicy” but rather infused with many different kinds of spices. It was also delicious but I think we both liked the pizza better.

We weren’t quite ready to go back through the bazaar so we ordered a baklava and Turkish coffee and Ron about lost his mind over both. The coffee is strong and a little sweet with notes of dark chocolate and so different than anything either of us has ever had before. The baklava was wonderfully flakey and drenched in an incredibly thin, light honey. It was perfect to say the least. I’m sure we’re going to be hunting down Turkish restaurants when we get back to California. Yum!

After lunch we walked around the streets a little more. We enjoyed ourselves so much. The noise and the scents and the business that is so different from everywhere else we’ve been captivated us. We headed back to the ship energized and excited over our day. 

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