Port of Kusadasi Turkey
A lot of cruise ships call in at this popular port on the Mediterranean and we were excited to visit as neither of us had been to Turkey before. As with most ports, we decided to do our own shore excursion. We didn’t need a visa and didn’t need to pay anyone – it was quite honestly one of the fastest and easiest ports to get through. We just need our ship’s card and a photo ID – not even our passports which were with the ship. With two people it is often cheaper to hire your own taxi and travel where you want to – and stop where you want to. So for under USD100 (I don’t recall exactly how much it was – I recall 80 but then we decided to add on a trip to the Virgin Mary’s House).
We found our cab driver right outside the gates of the port. These guys can sometimes be so annoying with offering their services that it almost makes public transport look attractive. Nonetheless we found a guy and settled on our price and hopped into a nice taxi on our way to the Virgin Mary’s House. We were probably the first visitors to arrive as there was no one there and it was so peaceful.
It is away up in a mountain and all you could think was how did she end up here. The cab driver wasn’t sure he believed it was really her house by the way. So off we trotted on foot to see the house from the entrance (fee is TL 15 – roughly USD 7.75) It was a based on a house that stood there and apparently the original foundation was still there. The small house you can walk through but photographs are not allowed.
The grounds are pleasant to walk around and it was strangely very peaceful with only the sound of bees of all things. The trees had loads of them there and for some reason I wasn’t concerned at all.
There is a fountain you can drink from and there is a place were people leave items. It is nice when it is quiet and you don’t hear a loud tour guide talking to people. Overall it is well worth a drive up the mountain to see and experience.
The time we spent there wasn’t much more than an hour and was well worth it. The surrounding area is stunning and there are services where you can grab a drink or magnet or any other souvenirs. Our driver met us and we went back down the mountain to Ephesus or Efes in Turkish. This famous site was something we were looking forward to seeing.
We arrived a little after opening and there were already groups forming for tours. We opted to do it ourselves after paying the TL 25 (USD 13) entry fee. Being from Florida, we can tolerate heat but I would strongly suggest not visiting Ephesus in the afternoon heat. We started at the top – there were plenty of merchants selling wares – souvenir books, jewelery, magnets, drinks, the usual stuff.
I won’t go into detail as to what we saw but suffice to say it was well worth a visit and I’m happy we managed to see it. There is a lot of great opportunities for photography and the textures of the stones were incredible. The highlights of course include the famous library and the theatre. But along the way there are streets and views that are really quite spectacular.
There is an option to add the terrace houses to your tour which we did not do so we have no idea whether to suggest that. It was only an additional TL15 to do it. The theatre was quite remarkable and the facade of the library was probably a highlight view though there were amazing views of everyday life from that time period that we spent time exploring and walking into ruins of buildings.
After nearly two hours of walking downhill to the end and through loads of ancient ruins we grabbed an Efes beer at the end and sat down in some shade. The merchants are, as usual, quite aggressive but a simple and polite firm no thank you will work in most languages.
We did stop at a church and we didn’t want to go in but two men insisted on polishing our shoes (tennis shoes) and one ruined my partners shoes and they insisted on being paid – despite saying no quite a few times. In hindsight I can’t say what I should have done. But a pair of shoes were ruined and it cost us 3 Euros to get rid of them. Extortion even on a small scale is still extortion.
Our trip back to the town of Kusadasi was pretty quick and we asked to go through the town of Selcuk on the way but we didn’t stop. It was pretty small though there was a railway station. You could spend a little time there walking around and grabbing something to eat if you want. On the way back our driver took us to a carpet making demonstration where you could get carpets cheap.
We figured what the hell and said we’d stop and it was every bit as stereotypical as you can imagine. We managed to escape without buying anything and I must admit I found the process of making the carpets interesting having never actually seen a demonstration before. The driver dropped us off in the town and we walked around Kusadasi for quite a bit. We grabbed lunch at an Irish pub of all places – and it was excellent. There are great pedestrian precincts in the town that make walking and shopping quite pleasant.
Loads of shoe shops and we do love to buy shoes so we spent some time looking at those. It was worth getting off the main pedestrian bits to see a bit of real Turkish life though so I would encourage you to wander further than most visitors to see some real sights and not just shops selling Turkish Delight, tea, magnets and caps – all of which we did actually buy this trip!
All in we spent a good six hours exploring and that was enough even with plenty of rests for drink and ice cream and food along the way. We managed to see an awful lot in that time period and managed to buy a few things along the way too. Pretty easy port to have fun in and do on your own. English isn’t a problem at all and there is an ATM as you exit through the port building.
Where is your next adventure?