Days: 525 (2 December 2015)
Total distance travelled: 133,422.2 kilometres (82,870.94 miles)
A multitude of buses and mini-vans cruised on by, but it did little to change our minds.
We were set on walking the short distance from town to ruins, so walk it we did and in doing so, barely raised a sweat.
I’ve already discussed our diversions along the way, but after retracing our steps from the Grotto of the Seven Sleepers, we were soon back on course, and in a reasonable time (possibly with an extra couple of freshly picked mandarins for good measure), were presenting our Ionian Museum passes to gain our entrance into Ephesus.
Surprisingly, there weren’t all that many people about. In fact the stallholders out front seemed to far outnumber those entering through the ruins entrance.
We made our way along the cobbled path, the conifers lining our way would have offered us some shelter at least from the hot sun or light rain had their been any of either.
Instead, the skies were grey, but we didn’t mind.
After our walk from town, it was in truth something of a relief.
Our attention was soon captured, and the path soon abandoned, instead navigating our way between row of neatly arranged rubble, perhaps in the hope that it could one day be reassembled.
What rose before us needed little such work, for it was already a monster…
This massive theatre is regarded as one of the major sights of Ephesus, and even if you’d wanted to, it is unlikely you could miss it.
After all, apparently in its hey day it could comfortably seat twenty five thousand people.
That’s a bigger crowd than many football teams get back home!
A set of stairs led upwards into the theatre itself, so we promptly took them, and it was here that we began to finally see other visitors.
Thankfully the numbers were fairly small, just the odd small private group tour and so on, and none seemed interested enough to make the ascent as we did which offered us a stunning view.
When the next tour group took to the stage, we clambered down and took our leave.
Despite the age of this place, the road we walked was one of well polished stone, I can only assumed a reflection on both quality stonework as well as countless generations of bth residents and tourists walking this well trodden path.
The odd piece of quality carving still remained, whilst some ancient graffiti carved into the stone was as interesting as it was surprising, but we were soon upon the most famous location of all.
So iconic is the facade of the still grand Library of Celsus, it required quite a bit of luck and patience to get a shot without a person in it!
I pitied those to arrive later when the larger coach loads began to appear, as already, the smaller groups were beginning to feel a bit much for Sarah and I.
We sought respite in the scaffold and roof clad terrace houses, which was also fortunately included as part of our Ionian Museum pass, a remnant not from the ancient Greeks, but rather from the slightly later period of Roman influence.
That’s not to say it was in any way modern.
A little more graffiti was admired, but it was the incredible condition of the stucco, and the artwork which adorned it that was truly stunning.
These were obviously once the homes of either the wealthy or the elite (possibly one and the same), but it was the floors as well.
Not to be outdone by the incredible walls, the floors presented room after room of intricately designed and vividly coloured mosaics.
A series of staircases within took us ever upward, as we followed the natural slope of the hill (on which the terrace houses had been built), meaning when we finally emerged, we had a nice elevated view back over the ruins.
It also meant we could appreciate how quickly the crowds were swelling.
It didn’t bode well for the remainder of our visit, but we sucked it up and continued to explore as best we could.
Over the far side of the ruins, where we discovered a smaller amphitheatre, also stood another entrance, and it was here that now seemed to stream through an incessant supply of massive tour groups.
I mention again the graffiti, but it’s not as a result of being shocked, or disgusted by what we were seeing.
On the footsteps of the library one can spy a Menorah carved into the stone (that many headed candelabra made famous by the Jewish faith), but it was another closer to that much smaller amphitheatre and those hordes of tourists.
There on a slab of well worn marble (or maybe it was just a chunk of granite?) someone had at some time, carved themselves a backgammon board.
Suddenly I was visualising a pair of Greek or Roman soldiers, bored on guard duty and whiling away the hours with their home made board game.
It just made this slice of history feel a whole lot more real…
Even cooler, was the fact that most of the fellow tourists walked on by, none the wiser about this hidden gem.
I know we’re not the only people to have ever seen it, but on this day, it felt like our little secret.
Our departure wasn’t sudden, nor did it happen as quickly as it might sound in this post.
There were several sights we re-visited, and when it appeared that we’d found an option to get us away from the crowds, it turned out the old harbour street (that long white road we could see from the top of the grand amphitheatre), was in fact closed, whilst the harbour itself was long gone, erosion having silted it all up and the sea now sitting three or four kilometres distant!
Finally, we left the same way we’d entered, having a bit of a chuckle at either some refreshingly honest advertising, or something that got severely lost in translation.
Now for all my bitching and moaning about the people and large tour groups, Ephesus was still something amazing.
We each arrived with some level of expectation, and I think largely, those expectations were met…
* Entrance into the ruins of Ephesus were included as part of our Ionian Museum pass (separately, entrance cost 45.00 Lire).