Journal 7 -- May 20, 2006
Ephesus -- Mistaken for German tourist, encounter with a carpet salesman

By Bob Corbett

Saturday checking out of hotel in Kusadasi, Turkey. Please bear with me this keyboard has keys in places I can’t figure out. so I’ll do the best I can. [Later note: I’ve tried to correct all those keyboard errors in this version of the note.]

We left Mykonos on Wednesday night later after getting to see only the first half of the European Cup game Barcelona vs Arsenal, I was just dying to have to leave the game However, as soon as we got on the ship I left our small cabin and went out to see the ending in which Barcelona came from behind to win it. Great game

We paid only 3 Euro more to get a second class cabin than the ticket itself, quite a bargain, then got a phenomenal break. They were very disorganized on this ferry so they ended up giving us a first class cabin with full shower and bathroom something you don’t get in second class and up higher with a port hole and all to look out, while the second class cabins are way down below the water near the engines. Each cabin has a set of bunk beds and I’ve taken the top bunk in both cases so far, but we may switch next time, my knees don’t do well getting from the ladder to the bed.

We arrived in beautiful Samos at 4;45 AM. They had told us there was only one ferry a day at 5 PM in the evening However as we came off our ferry we saw a place open (only two in town -- other was a restaurant) selling tickets for a jet boat ferry at 8 AM. We had planned to stay in Samos a day or two or three, but we were both dying to get to Turkey, so in half an hour we had tickets for the hour and half ride to Kusadasi, a lovely small port near Ephesus. Directly across the street from the harbor we got a magnificent fourth story hotel room with a balcony overlooking the entire harbor. And, best of all it was all of $28. The currency, Turkish Lira have now dropped all the zeros. So in lira the room was 45 lira but last year it would have been 45,000,000 lira!!!! Big drop in price. :)

Since we’d been traveling since 11 PM Wednesday, we took Thursday just to explore a bit of the old city in which we are in the center, then yesterday took the whole day to go to Ephesus, the phenomenal ruins of the city settled in 1300 BC. Folks, I can’t do it justice. Just get on line and bring it up on Google to have a look. It is simply awesome, with two of my favorite sites being the library and the second of the outdoor theaters which had seating for 24,000. It was a school holiday and several Turkish high schools were touring it as well. Two girls from one of them went out to the stage of the theatre and sang -- in lovely harmony a school song. The students cheered them enthusiastically. But in the middle where we were just sitting and resting, some girls from a rival school started up their school song, and lots and lots of fun was had in the small battle.

The 24,000-seat theater of Ephesus
and view of the surrounding bowl of countryside.
I was very impressed with the setting of this huge theater.

You may see many other photos from Ephesus at:

I’ve traveled a good deal, seen some of the world’s most impressive sights, and now I would DEFINITELY rank Ephesus in the top ten. I was just overwhelmed.

Along the way I had a great experience. It was hot and we rested in the shade several times, taking the whole day to explore. Near that theatre, just before we went in we were sitting on a large rock in the shade watching the hoards of people go by. Out of that large mob, this middle aged Turkish woman came over and asked me “Herr, Sprechen Sie Deutsch?” I allowed I did speak German and she launched into this long story. She’s been back in Istanbul for several years, but lived in Germany for 25 years with her father and brother. Just recently her father died -- photo came out -- and she told us the story (I was doing a running translation into English for Sally) and she missed him so and cried so much, and tears where in her eyes then, so she just wanted to tell someone from Germany since he died there and she was in Istanbul. That was it. She just needed the sympathy and all. I had to tell her I wasn’t German but American, but she didn’t care. She just needed to tell the story to someone in German who spoke it.

It was just a deeply touching and lovely moment, but secondly I was delighted beyond belief for a DIFFERENT reason. I really do not like to be known as an American when I travel abroad. First of all, especially now, we are roundly hated nearly everywhere. Secondly, I am so vehemently opposed to U.S. foreign policy and have been all of my adult life, that I am just terribly embarrassed to be an American, I had decided that one of the things which identifies Americans from so many other tourists are TENNIS SHOES. So with my son’s help in choosing I got some awesome dressy walking shoes. The fringe benefit is that they are also the most marvelous walking shoes I’ve ever owned, Ecco shoes. And I didn’t have on jeans, and even had a tan Australian sun hat. So, my ‘disguise’ worked and I was taken for a German. I wasn’t aiming at being a German or any other nationality, just wanted to not be recognized as an American. I use this all over the place here where we are utterly badgered by the salesmen -- they call -- hey you speak English? (Clearly and usefully the world’s language now, anywhere there are tourists) and we get fairly free passage if I just answer “Ich spreche Deutsch.” Perhaps it doesn’t dawn on them for a few steps that I somehow understood the question they asked me in English, but it gives us the few steps we need to get away. And it isn’t even a lie. They ask: Do you speak English? I answer a different question. I don’t say no, I just say: I speak German, which is true. Ah, yeah, I know, a technicality. But fun and useful.

After we got to the end of the Ephesus ruins we had 3 km to walk back to the bus stop (we had just come out on public transport, a dolmus bus – 15 passenger van) It was very hot and we were walking up a steep hill back toward the highway. A man came along in a car and asked us if we wanted a ride. I told him no, we just wanted to walk. He said he wasn’t a taxi, but a businessman in a nearby town, and just picked up strangers when he came this way. So we took the ride.

But he didn’t drop us at the road, but took us to his town, Sulcuk, very close and the bus went through there. But, his BUSINESS was a carpet store and he took us there!!! We were doing all we could to suppress a laugh at being so taken in and I had read of all the things the carpet people do to get you in their store. He insisted we must drink a tea with him and sent out for some really delicious hot apple tea. We talked for 1\2 hour about his nephew in Seattle and such. And he went on and on about his hatred of the Kurds, and I had to use all the discipline I could muster to not attack his positions – and then, much much to our shock, the word ‘carpet’ never even entered into the discussion and we said we’d best be going, he thanked us for the visit and pointed us to the bus depot just up the street. We were really amazed to get off without a sales pitch. But the guy was honest about it. He just wanted to give us a ride and chat.

We have just checked out of the hotel and are sitting in the lobby using their e-mail. We have tickets on a bus to Istanbul for tonight at 8 PM and will leave our bags here at the hotel the rest of the day. It’s almost 1 PM now, so we’ll just have a leisurely lunch somewhere -- our major meal of the day -- and walk around town. It is going to be very crowded today. I got out of bed this morning and opened the drapes to look out of the harbor and yelled for Sally to leap out of her bed and hurry to the window. During the night FOUR simply gigantic cruise ships, with 7 or more decks, all had docked about 50 yards from our balcony, they filled the whole dock. There were well over 100 tour buses jammed in the parking lot and people like ants were streaming off the ships to the boats, heading off to Ephesus. We were just stunned, neither of us ever having seen such a sight. And we were overjoyed that we had been to Ephesus yesterday with a few hundred others, perhaps, but not the thousands crawling off those giant ships.



We sat in the evening watching the sun set
into the sea from our balcony.
Just the port, not ships.


When I rose in the morning, opened the drapes
I yelled for Sally to jump out of her bed and hurry to the window

However, I plan to get directions in a few minutes for where to find the working class neighborhoods so we can eat in a simple tavern far away from the tourist area and not have to compete for higher priced food with those mobs from the ships. In any case our meals here have been 1\3 the price the same type meal was in Greece so we’re extremely happy with the costs.

Yesterday Sally had a lovely chicken dish with so much chicken and salad. I had a similar lamb dish with tomatoes and peppers. We had two large orders of rice, a huge country salad (couldn’t tell the difference from it and a Greek salad, except the olives weren’t as good} a platter of hot bread, three half liter bottles of beer and the whole thing with a generous tip was just about $18.00. We were really happy about that. We only had wine and a few cookies for our evening meal on our balcony watching the sun set into the sea.

By the way, gasoline here is 3.00 lira a LITRE. Three lira is just a 2 U.S. dollars, Four liters is just about one gallon of gas, thus gas in just about $8.00 a U.S. gallon, between $7.50 and $8.00!!!!!!!

Okay, if all goes well, the next note with be from Istanbul. We have an 11 hour bus ride and will get into Istanbul about 7 AM, and the management here is going to recommend a hotel in the same price range as this that they tell us is right in the neighborhood we have chosen, and is a very nice place. We will certainly check out that lead, we had no ideas yet, we don’t like to plan hotels, it’s just more fun to find them on our own as we go, listening for tips from people who seem to know.

Bob Corbett



Bob Corbett