Izmir,Turkey– A Huge Surprise!

I know that I have said this in previous posts, but really today has been my favorite day of this trip. Our group had the most enjoyable private tour of Izmir and Ephesus. Having grown up in the church and read and heard from the letters written to the Ephesians, today felt like we actually stepped back in time to biblical days. What a treat to walk down a road that was actually walked on by people 2000 years ago who I have read about in the bible.

Having been built between mountains, damaged by earthquakes and subsequently buried many years ago, the ancient city of Ephesus was only fairly recently discovered. Excavation is on-going; much work has been done, but it is apparent that much more unearthing is needed. Our tour guide, Atta, is one of the people who is helping with the excavation efforts in Ephesus and has a particular passion for this endeavor. He explained so much about the way of life in Ephesus during biblical times, and led us through an area called the terrace houses where we could actually walk through the rooms of the homes and watch the excavation process taking place by skilled hands who seemed to be putting together the largest puzzle ever created, piece by piece, but without a box with a photo of the finished product to use as a guide. It was truly amazing. Atta was a wealth of information about the country ofTurkey, and his love of and loyalty to the country was made clear.

Our second stop was for a wonderful lunch of authentic Turkish food prepared at a local country home where we were the only guests. It was so relaxing, the food tasted very fresh and wonderful, and it was a real treat.

Next we stopped at a small house high in the hills not far from Ephesus where it has been determined that Mary, the mother of Jesus, spent her final days. The home has been preserved as a small church and monument to Mary, and it was humbling to visit such a historical place, despite the twenty other tour buses that each dropped off their load of tourists at the same time of our arrival.

Our final destination this day was at a Turkish hand-made carpet business. We were able to watch workers create their masterpieces while the business owner explained what they were doing. Inside the showroom we saw hundreds of beautiful creations, each more stunning than the others. We were allowed and encouraged to walk barefoot over any and as many that we liked. Three of the people in our group purchased Turkish carpets which will be delivered free to their homes in the United States.

Overall, it was a wonderful day for everyone in our group. Today is my birthday, which made it all the more special for me. I will be hard-pressed to have a more enjoyable birthday in the future. Tomorrow is a relaxing day at sea as we head to the next destination. First on the agenda: sleeping until I can no longer sleep.

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