Day 8 / Saturday August 27th / Ephesus, Turkey
My mother and I were now in the ‘home stretch’ of our Greece-Turkey cruise. We were wholly finished with Greece. All three remaining stops were in Turkey.
As mentioned yesterday, my feelings about Turkey had become complicated. Turkey was actively threatening Greece and Ukraine. They were supporting Russia who at this moment was shelling a nuclear power plant, which was losing power. That nuclear power plant, if it failed, could easily kill and harm thousands upon thousands of innocent people all across the region. It was becoming harder for me to just focus on Turkey’s historic castles.
I’d changed my phone lock screen to display a pro-Ukraine message. I was wearing my Ukrainian hair band, earrings, and bracelet. I sent a message to my sis Jenn to make sure she knew we were getting off the ship in Ephesus. Mom and I had NO PASSPORTS because the ship had taken them. We did not have an excursion planned in Ephesus. We would just explore locally on foot.
I didn’t wear a Ukraine-flag-based tshirt :). I wore a tshirt promoting a book written by one of my teenage writers.
Ephesus was the third location which “used to have a really cool landmark but it was demolished 2,000 years ago” :). In this case it was the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders. Back in those ancient days it had been flooded, restored, burned, collapsed, and gone by 270AD.
Once again Mom brought me delicious fruit after she had a full breakfast for herself. We rested some more. We had a nice light lunch, then took some photos of Ephesus from the upper decks. Then we were ready to go. We were docked immediately by the city. I took photos of all the emergency contact information, and we got off the ship.
In the other city-based ports so far, getting off the ship was ‘calm’. You walked down the dock, there were streets in front of you, and you walked along until you got to a plaza area or some shops or so on. Here, this port was absolutely set up to grab a hold of tourists and never let them go.
You were funneled, right off the ship, into an industrial modern maze of tourist shops. Shop vendors were VERY aggressive about standing in your way as you walked, telling you you had to go into their shop. “I’ve been waiting for you.” “You need a leather jacket.”
My nephew and his fiance love tea, as do I, so I stopped into a tea shop to get some pomegranate tea for me and them.
The shop areas were grungy alleys with shops on either side, lined with men in their twenties or thirties sitting on chairs or standing. As you passed, the men would aggressively move in your path to try to get you into their shop. I did not enjoy the experience at all.
In one alley there was graffiti. My mom pointed at it and tried to get me to write my pro-Ukrainian phrase, in Turkish, on the wall. I kept walking :). Then she said I should write the phrase “Right under the president’s picture”. I think she and my sister were a bit TOO gleeful about the idea of me languishing in a Turkish prison …
We found a mosque but there was nobody outside to talk to, about going in. We peeked in a little bit to see what it was like. It had lovely designs on its inner dome. At another larger mosque there were several big signs warning women that they had their own smaller door in the back. We didn’t go into that one.
We finally decided it was time to get back on the ship. We had to navigate, again, the network of shopping stalls which was the only way onto the ship. Fortunately we didn’t need our passport during this day. We were happy to be back on board.
We wandered around the ship a bit, checking out the tea area to see if they had different teas there. Nope just the same chamomile and mint for herbal options. I’m pretty sure this period was where we went to the elevator and encountered a woman who had barely made it on board before the ship pulled up its gangplank. She said a rug salesman kept pressuring her to buy this and buy that and the other thing, and she pleaded with him that she had to go or she’d miss the boat.
I showered, we dressed, and we headed to the lounge for the guitarist. My mom had to convince me to stop clapping for him. It felt very unnatural to me. We just listened to him play, let him end in silence, and then he went on to another song. After his show, we talked with him a bit about ship members being in quarantine.
Time for dinner. We went to the Compass Rose. Mom was part of a dessert class and technically she should have been having dinner with them, but she said she’d rather eat with me and then just join them for making desserts together. Dinner was lovely. For dessert I had a volcano cake. I sent Jenn a picture, then a text: “My volcano cake. I complained there were no screaming people running away. Mom said they are represented by the crackers. I told Mom these are the kinds of conversations you and I have. See I miss you here.” 🙂
Mom went to her dessert class and I explored the ship a bit before going back to my room. I began working on my romantic suspense novella based on this cruise. I like to write books based on the cruises I take. Usually the cruise novels involve a heroine who is going on the cruise who encounters a man who is an undercover cop / CIA agent / etc. who is working on taking down a smuggling operation or so on.
Mom got back from her class and absolutely loved it. It was on making crepes, which she enjoys doing. The cooking stations were quite well set up.
Tomorrow, Sunday, is Dikili Turkey which is going to be a tender-port. We discussed just staying on the boat so I could write and she could rest. Our subsequent day at Istanbul is going to be VERY long and involve a lot of walking. That Sunday evening after the Istanbul tour is my teen writing class from midnight to 3am. Then we have to be off the ship at 4:30am Monday morning to head to the airport for a very long travel day. It seems wise to get as much rest as possible tomorrow to prepare for all of that.