We had read that the town of Bodrum Turkey was a quaint seaside town. While the outskirts of Bodrum were quiet and nice, the central part of the city was bustling. After a bit of wondering around we managed to find a local bus going in the direction of our hotel. Our little hotel was quaint and the beach was just down the street. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and exploring the coast. This little kitten decided to join us for lunch. Our stay in Bodrum was short and sweet. We headed out the next day and caught a ferry to one of the most beautiful islands in Greece–Santorini!
After another delicious Turkish breakfast, we boarded the bus that took us to Selcuk, the town located nearest to the ancient Ephesus ruins. Three hours later we arrived in Selcuk. Our hotel was nice, and they had a great deal on an Ephesus tour. When we calculated the cost of seeing all the sites on our own, we found that the tour was actually going to save us a lot of money.
After a decent breakfast provided by our hotel, we headed out on our tour. Our first stop was at the House of Virgin Mary. It was a very busy site. We actually had to wait in line for about 30 minutes before we were briefly escorted through the small, two room home (no photos were allowed in the house). It was neat that we got to visit what is believed to be the last home of Jesus’ mother. After Mary’s house, we went to see the remains of Ephesus. Unfortunately, Ephesus happened to be extremely crowded as well. Below is a picture of an ancient public men’s restroom. Running water under the stone toilet bench would keep the room smelling good while musicians would play live music in the center of the room. Talk about royalty! On our way out of Ephesus, we stopped to see the remains of the Church of Virgin Mary. The last stop on our tour was the site of the temple of Artemis… one of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the Ancient World. This was especially significant to me because I have been fascinated with the wonders of the ancient world since I was a small girl. The only ancient wonder that remains standing to this day is the Great Pyramid of Giza. The rest of the ancient wonders are all but history.
Below is an illustration of what the temple looked like at it’s prime. For what used to be a magnificent structure, there really wasn’t much to see. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed walking over the grounds of this piece of history. On the way back to our hotel, we stopped by a local shop where the store keeper was trying to sell us some jewelry. He was particularly keen on selling us a silver ring with a precious color-changing stone set in the middle that he claimed came from a special mine in Turkey. The color of the stone changed beautifully depending on the light if reflected. Inside is was a mossy green, and outside is was an enchanting plum. I instantly fell in love with the ring, but wanting to find more options and do a bit of research, we said no and moved on.
After going back to our hotel room, I couldn’t get that beautiful jewel out of my head. I wanted one. We did some research and found that there is indeed a color-changing stone called Zultanite which is only found in one mine in the world–located in Turkey. Zultanite changes color from kiwi to champagne, as shown below.However, we found that there is another imitation gem that Turkish jewelers like to pawn off as the real thing (they look similar, but the imitation gem isn’t nearly as valuable). It is known as Zandrite, which after doing some research and color comparisons, we realized Zandrite was the jewel that was in the ring I fell in love with, as shown below.Knowing this information, we were able go back to the jeweler, tell him we knew it was an imitation gem, and walk away with a great deal (we researched the price of buying a silver ring with a Zandrite gem, and got it for a fraction of the price it’d cost back home). And to say the least, I couldn’t be more happy with my beautiful Turkish souvenir! A huge thanks to my amazing husband for all his research and landing me with a beautiful gift.
Wow, Istanbul is an incredible city! Neither of us had been to Turkey before, and we really didn’t know what to expect. I think what surprised us the most was how “western” it felt. We had been in Asia 1.5 years and it just felt amazing. Our flight arrived on time, and we easily made our way to a bus that would take us into the city. Unfortunately, we ended up getting ripped off by our taxi driver who claimed we had given him a “five” bill instead of a “fifty.” He did this by showing us the “five” bill we had paid him and insisted that we were wrong. We fought with him for awhile before giving up (it was in the middle of the night, and we were exhausted). Sadly, we were too tired to realize that we never had a “five” bill in the first place (we had withdrawn only 50’s from the ATM just minutes before) and by the time we realized we had been cheated, he was already zooming down the road. This was the first time we had been ripped off on our trip, and it made our blood boil. Especially since we had felt like we were back in a “trusting” western country. We learned the hard way to never put our guards down. After a good night’s rest we awoke refreshed and excited about exploring a new country. We immediately fell in love with Istanbul. Winding stone streets lined with cafes and boutique shops really set the mood for a relaxing honeymoon-like getaway. As we headed west in our travels (leaving Asia behind), prices of everything steadily climbed higher. Lodging in Istanbul was expensive, and we just weren’t ready to pay the price tag attached with private room lodging, so we opted for dorm lodging… 30 bunk dorm lodging. And to our surprise, it was very pleasant. We’ve had so many great experiences at hostels during our travels, and our stay at the Orient Hostel in Istanbul did not let us down.Breakfast was included and it was basic, but nice. The espresso machine was a great. It felt so nice to have hot coffee and french toast while gazing out over the city. We had met some people the night before while we were trying to find our hostel. They joined us for breakfast, and then we joined them for sightseeing later on that day. We went to see the Blue Mosque, which was just a few blocks down from our hostel. It was a sight to behold. I’ve seen the Blue Mosque is so many pictures, it was really neat to be there in person. After our trip to the mosque, we wandered around and did some more sight-seeing. D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S.!!!We eventually made our way to the Grand Bazaar… shopping galore! Over the next few days, Jared and I spent quite a bit of time at the Grand Bazaar. I was looking for the perfect Turkish coffee set to take home, and Jared was looking for an authentic Hookah. We came across a cute café and stopped for some coffee. Turkish coffee takes some getting used to, but it is definitely worth the experience. It’s very thick and the bottom half can be scooped with a spoon. We we came back through town, the sun was setting and the sky was beautiful. After a great stay in Istanbul, we were ready to see some more of Turkey. Our next stop was Pamukkale!