We had only booked two official shore excursions and today was the second one – to Ephesus in Turkey (yes I know that this is supposed to be a cruise around the Greek isles but this one slipped in).
Unlike the clear blue skies of the last few days today was overcast and threatening but warm. We assembled dockside to await our coach. Unfortunately three other cruise ships had also docked overnight and the place was heaving with tourists and coaches.
Today’s tour was to Ephesus and the House of Mary. Out of choice I wouldn’t have chosen to go to the latter but as we have already seen you have to take the rough with the smooth with the organised tours. Now I am not religious in any way and that certainly could be colouring my judgement regarding the House of Mary but what a load of tosh. This was supposed to be the last resting place of the Virgin Mary but that seems to be based upon the death bed ramblings of some German nun. It was, apparently, just a ruin originally which has been built on to create a small house, so not what the Virgin Mary lived in at all. This all seems pretty exploitative to me but then organised religion usually does.
Next stop was Ephesus which was similarly jam packed with people brought over from the cruise ships. We were taken in at one end and my initial impression was not that great – it looked like piles of rubble, but the tour had been cleverly organised such that the impressive buildings were left to the end and the tour built up as you progressed.
And the buildings were very impressive and you really got a sense of what being there might have been like, including the people packed into every corner. Now this presented a problem as I really don’t like having people I don’t know in my photographs. I really don’t. I work hard to try and find angles, framings and times to ensure that people just don’t appear making it seem that everywhere I go I have managed to do so on my own or only with my very close family and friends. No here’s the thing when people are herded in packs, as you tend to be on these tours, gaps appear given me the tiniest window of opportunity to get that coveted shot.
As the day wore on the skies had got progressively darker with a few drops of rain while we were walking round Ephesus but it wasn’t (fortunately) until we were back on the coach that the heavens really opened. It rained so heavily that there were rivers of water crossing the road. If the driver hadn’t done much to earn his tip up to that point he certainly did in negotiating us back safely to Kusadasi round the twisty roads.
Helen had been feeling under the weather for the last 24 hours and now needed to retire to the room leaving me with an afternoon to fill. I went back into Kusadasi itself with the view to doing some shopping but I quickly discovered a pattern to the shops: genuine fake watches, cafe, fake handbags, local gifts and fake clothing. Outside each “fake” shop was an individual inviting you in to take a look at the same stock you saw just a few yards down the road. It got a bit waring so I went off to visit Pigeon Island instead – sorry boys no fake Super Dry tee shirts for you!