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Note: The photos in the posts below are mine. Every day when I get back from touring, I'm choosing the best ones to share. Having my laptop on this trip is a wonderful thing!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Another day in Turkey… this one, of Biblical proportions!

Today, the ship was docked in Kusasasi, Turkey. Kusadasi has become much the seaside resort town for foreign tourists (there are reportedly more than 10,000 English speaking foreigners who own vacation homes/property in Kusadasi). Think “Turkish Riviera,” with houses and apartments built into the mountainside overlooking the sea.

But the real highlight of visiting Kusadasi is walking in the footsteps of the apostles and of the Virgin Mary herself. Just 20-30 minutes outside of Kusadasi lies the ancient city of Ephesus. I’ll never forget when I first visited Ephesus – I didn’t realize what I was about to see, so I was literally blown away when I saw the Roman ruins there. You think the Roman forum is impressive? Pompeii? They have nothing on Ephesus.

This trip, in addition to visiting Ephesus, I ventured up into the Solmissos Mountains to visit a shrine recognized by the Vatican as being the final resting place of the Virgin Mary. When Jesus was crucified, he asked his apostle John to take care of Mary. After the crucifixion, John went to Ephesus. And so it goes that Mary was there with him. Of course nobody can know for sure. There isn’t much to see at the shrine but there was a very serene feeling about the place. I do have to say that while I was somewhat skeptical going in… as I shuffled my way through the shrine along with hundreds of others, I was unexpectedly overcome by a very powerful feeling that actually brought tears to my eyes. And the feeling passed once I stepped back outside. Just saying what happened….

The apostle Paul also spent a great deal of time in Ephesus (i.e. the Book of Ephesians in the Bible) and the theater where he spoke to the Ephesians is still there, very well preserved. Standing there in that place – knowing what occurred there so many centuries ago – is difficult to describe.

In addition to visiting the shrine of the Virgin Mary and the ruins at Ephesus, we also visited the 6th century Basilica build over the tomb of John the Baptist. See what I mean when is say it was a day of sightseeing of Biblical proportions?!

Back in port, of course I did a bit more souvenir shopping in Kusadasi before boarding ship. Kusadasi has the second most famous bazaar in Turkey (outside of Istanbul). Of course after two days of haggling in every store, for every purchase… I welcome actually walking into a store in Athens tomorrow and seeing actually price tags. Haggling – especially with the far better practiced Turks – is exhausting!

And so the Turkish leg of the trip is done. Sailing out of port at sunset was of course, quite beautiful. Now onward to Athens…


Brianna said...

Hey Gina. I love your blogs from the last two days. Awesome pictures!! I love the one with you in it!!


Chris said...

You truly are a history major! Interesting stuff, my friend ...