February 26, 2015

Getting a Beach Fix At Çeşme and Alaçati

 Our weekend in the Izmir area continued and we were able to see some amazing parts of Turkey. We drove to Çeşme which is only about an hour drive along the coast away from Izmir. Çeşme is a seaside town with all the charm of seaside towns around the world. The pristine blue water was so inviting. Even Lucky Dragon wanted to shed his coat and go swimming. He is our little boy for sure.

We walked around and met the warm, friendly people that lived there. As we were leaving we decided that we should use the bathroom one more time and found a pay-as-you-go bathroom that are common in Europe. The man that was there was eating a new bag of cookies and literally gave Tau’aho half of the stack. I know better, from past experience, than to refuse when people try to give him something. They view it as offensive. So we said ‘thank you’ and Lucky boy was SO happy with his new treasures. I had to laugh that we paid 1 lira (.50 cents USD) for the bathroom and he probably gave us 3 lira worth of cookies! Not many places you have that strength of kindness.
Daddy won't let me go swimming...

This couple holds hands for eternity looking at the sea

Cookies from the bathroom attendant

We also made it to Alaçati. Alaçati is a quaint beach side town that has preserved the old stone Turkish style of homes and even the new homes are designed to match. It was Saturday so we found the Saturday market and wandered the streets enjoying the chaos of the people. We stopped to eat at a cute little restaurant and it was amazingly designed and offered amazing food. We made friends with the family that owned it and as we left, they too gave us gifts. There are always reminders that good, loving people exist in the world.

We enjoyed the sunshine, we enjoyed the people, we enjoyed seeing the beach. It was worth the trip. It is just too bad it was not a bit warmer so we could go swim.
Back in Izmir after a trip from the beautiful coast

Our happy little traveler

February 23, 2015

Continuing the Tour of Paul: Ephesus, Turkey

Celsus Library, Ephesus Turkey

Once a month there is a group of LDS members that meet together in Izmir, Turkey for church services. This past weekend we were asked if we could come down and given the sermons in the service. We decided that if we were going to be in the area we might as well go early and see Ephesus too. Ephesus is the ancient home to the Ephesians (See Acts and Ephesians in the New Testament).

It is crazy to go there today and see ruins of the ancient Greek community of over 300,000 that once lived there and then areas from Byzantium and the Ottoman Empires. It was also amazing to see Ephesus a few days after we were in Athens. Both places have history from around the same time period, The difference being that in Turkey you can literally walk among the ruins to touch and experience it.

They have excavated several areas of the ruins and then rebuilt some of the structures. It was truly fascinating to see the way these structures were and how even after thousands of years of being destroyed and buried in the earth there are so many details.

Pieces of ruins that have been excavated

We sat in the  stone Amphitheater where thousands of spectators watched their plays and politics, we then visited the Celsus Library that has a façade they rebuilt. It is now an iconic tourism site for Turkey. I am glad that they did rebuild it as best as they could so we could visualize what the whole area must have looked like when it was in the glory days.  We could feel as if we truly were walking where Paul walked when he taught the Ephesians the Gospel.

Massive Amphitheater

There were so many details cut into the stones and marble was everywhere—the roads, the seats, the doors, the library…it was all preserved.

Celsus Library, Ephesus Turkey

He wanted to be in the photo with this woman

We then went to eat in the nearby modern village of Selcuk. Just as always, our little Lucky Dragon made friends along the street as he pet all the stray cats and dogs and gave “çak” (high five) to everyone we passed. Lady Hiva and I talk about the way we like the love and hospitality of the Turks. Simple things like a free salad with our meal, or cookies from strangers…they are so giving.

We made our way back to Izmir to explore more of the area for the next few days.  

There is a bird in that box!

Another friend that was explaining how Turkish Tea works

Just in case anyone needed a new time piece