Good Friday - Not that you would know it was Easter - no sign of here in Turkey, for some reason? ;-)
We leave at 8.30 this morning, heading to Kusadasi, back to down to the mountains again to the beach. We don’t have far to travel again today, it will be good not to have to spend a lot of time on the bus.
At Ephesus we stop at a leather garment factory where we see some wonderful coats and jackets. Wonderful prices to match, but reasonable when compared to the stores, still out of our price range though. A couple of people are picked from our group to participate in the fashion show. A few people go on a buying spree, but we are there too long, and those not shopping get a bit antsy (there are ruins to see, and beaches to get to!). We have lunch and head to the Ephesus site.
Tony is thinking “Here we go, another roman ruin…”, a few of us are feeling a bit like that and we are so over the museums, etc that are now all starting to look the same. Only the history and stories are changing, not that we are remembering a lot of those now either.
The site is impressive! Really impressive! There has been a lot of restoration work done, and archaeologists are still working the site. An ancient capital, Ephesus was prosperous because it was a harbour and visited by many pilgrims to the Temple of Artemis (one of the seven ancient wonders). Unfortunately over the years the harbour silted up despite the efforts of engineers, cutting the city off from the sea (now 7km away), the town quickly lost its’ wealth and was all but abandoned by 6AD.
The site is impressive! Really impressive! There has been a lot of restoration work done, and archaeologists are still working the site. An ancient capital, founded on this site around 300BC, Ephesus was prosperous because it was a harbour and visited by many pilgrims to the Temple of Artemis (one of the seven ancient wonders). Unfortunately over the years the harbour silted up despite the efforts of engineers, cutting the city off from the sea (now 7km away), the town quickly lost its’ wealth and was all but abandoned by 6AD.
The photos we took won’t do the site justice. We see top sites such as the Temple of Serapis, the Temple of Hadrian and the very impressive Library of Celsus. We are shown where the brothel was, and there is a rumour that there was a secret entrance from the library so that locals could visit more discreetly. At the ancient public toilets Tony drops his pants and tries out the facilities, Marty and Andrew follow suit. Holes are cut in the long marble bench seat, there are no walls between, no privacy at all! Must be damn cold on the bum in winter too.
As we leave the last visit is to the 25,000 seat great theatre. Fantastic acoustics, and we are treated to a beautiful song from one of the visitors. Some of the Aussies murder Waltzing Matilda ;-) and Burhan tells Tony it is his turn to sing. Silly bugger obviously hasn’t heard Tony “sing” before, and Tony refuses to inflict pain on the group. He says if you want to hear something decent, talk to the lady that just walked out, and Beng goes up to her and almost drags her back in for our own private concert. It was really beautiful to hear, despite a group of five young far quits that wouldn’t shut up and be quiet. Lyndell and Tony told them to shut up, and that only made it worse, so we bit our tongues and tried to listen to the voice despite the ignorant pricks.
Leaving the theatre they were still being stupid about it as they had been joined by more of their mates. Tony, Beng and Lyndell just ignored them, but Mark decided to have a go at them. It was a bit frightening as any one of them could have had a knife, and we tried to get Mark to walk away. As we left they threw a full bottle of water at Mark, not a very good shot, they missed by miles. We spent the rest of the walk back to the bus watching our backs.
On the way back to the hotel we have a short stop to stock up on beers for tonight, then a quick visit to the site of the Temple of Artemis, where just two columns remain of the structure.
The hotel where are staying is impressive as we approach. Five stars, we are told and it certainly looks it, with sauna, spa, steam room, and fitness centre, all extras, and charged mega euros for it! Yes another outfit charging in Euros instead of Lira. There are five outdoor pools, and an indoor pool with a spa. However looks are deceiving, and we soon realise we are at Fawlty Towers, not the Surmeli. You have to laugh, it is either that or go mad!
Check in was a bloody shambles. The list of passport details that has worked well at every other hotel is not good enough for this outfit, and we are asked to hand over passports. We don’t get our room key until the passports for everyone in the room have been handed over. As we haven’t needed them many are packed in luggage, so it takes a while. We finally get our key, and our passports can be collected after tea. We then have to take our key to the porters and id our luggage because they wouldn’t use the numbered bag system we set up early in the tour. FFS!
The next hurdle is the lifts, there just are not enough to cope with such a huge number of people. Fifty people must be lining up for the three lifts, and if we weren’t on the 8th floor and carrying some of our bags Tony would have taken the stairs. More people are checking in, so we hope we can get away quickly. We are really impressed with the idiots that get into a lift before people can get out, NOT.
The room is nice enough, MORE SINGLE BEDS! And another toilet phone. No tea and coffee making facilities, and only one spare power point, so again Tony is pleased he packed a power board. We can plug in the computer and charge phones and camera batteries. We want to swim, but our bags aren’t here yet, so Cynthea rests in the room while Tony walks to the beach with some of the others.
On the way back to the room Tony asks for a spare room key, but they don’t do that. So there is a bit of a debate over how the hell you can work that if someone is away from the room and not left the key at reception (which is always busy because there doesn’t seem to be enough staff to cope with the crowds). He is told that staff will let you in (if you can find them), but that is a fat lot of use without a key to power to the room. They say they can give us a power key then, so Tony asks for one now and they say they need his room key before they will give him a power key. Not impressed, and Tony has great difficulty remaining polite to the poor bastard that had the misfortune to be on the other side of the counter. He politely and firmly asks for a power key NOW, but they want id, and ask for a passport. “Hello? you have them”. The poor guy caves in and Tony gets the power key, but by now there are two more tour groups waiting for the lifts, so it is quicker to use the stairs.
Cynthea is still in the room, we grab our togs and head to the pool. You are not allowed to take towels from the room to the pool or beach, but there are blue ones you can use if you can work out the system and find everything. First you go to reception and get a card (one for each towel you want), and your room is charged EUR10 ($20) per towel card. You then have to go to the beach bar to get your towel, (it is more like a rag, they have no worries that these will be nicked!). At the bar they take your card, you will get it back when the towels are returned.
We head back to the pool, but the entrance is hidden, and there are no signs showing the way. We ask directions and are told we have to go through the health spa to get to the pool We are warned to be careful not to go for a skate on the highly polished marble floor. The pool and spa are warm, but by now it is near tea time, so we don’t stay long.
We head back to the rooms and Tony takes the stairs as the lifts are busy. Cynthea takes the lift and arrives at the room as Tony finishes his shower. Tony goes to take the beach towels back to the beach bar, but they have packed up for the night, so he cannot get the cards to take back to reception (proof that you gave the towels back). Without that you are charged EUR10 each, so you really want to return them. Don’t know why anyone would want to nick those anyway, they are pretty rough and worn, and the ones in the room aren’t much better.
Tony takes the wet towels to reception and strikes the same poor bugger again. He explains that the towels cannot be returned to the beach bar, and that he is returning them to reception now for his EUR20 refund. They don’t want to take them, but Tony insists they take them, and gets a tad stroppy about it. Have pity on the poor guy at reception who insists the towels have to be taken to the beach bar, which will not be open until 10am and we will be long gone. Reception staff are trying to get rid of Tony as there is a queue building, but Tony stands firm, there is forty bucks at risk here! Tony finally convinces the poor bugger of the error of his way, and makes sure that the room charges are reversed.
Dinner is a shambles as they will not reserve tables for anyone. We want to be close as a group, but it is pretty much a free-for-all, and there is no hope. You just have to find a seat and try and stick with it. There is no logic to the set out of the food, cutlery is nowhere to be seen and we are eating with spoons and desert forks. Five star? Yeah, right. We try to get places at tables next to others in the group, because if you get up you lose your seat, so you need a guard. We are well fed, but the place is getting on everyone’s nerves. On the way back to the room we call at reception, and the poor guys’ face falls as he realises Tony is there again, but it is only to get the passports.
No one has been able to connect to the internet yet either, we are supposed to use our passport number and room number as the user name and password. We give up and head to Phil and Cameron's room for a party as the bar and minibar prices are too bloody expensive. EUR7.50 ($15) for a 300ml beer (Tony got 500ml cans at the market for TYL3 ($2.50) each). Tony tells the others not to leave cans and bottles in their room rubbish bins as the small print on the minibar price list tells us that any food and drink bought into the room incurs a surcharge of 50%, based on their prices. Bastards! We plan to dump the empties in supermarket bags at the lifts near housekeeping.
The disco opens at 11, but Tony needs an early night and leaves the others to it. Another call to reception about the internet, and we are told to just use the user name and password we were given. Tony asks which passport number to use, as there are two registered to the room, and they ask what that has to do with it. Tony tries to be polite as he explains that we were told to use our passport number as login on three different occasions. He finally gets the right login and goes on line for a few minutes. We have another early start, but there is trouble sleeping as the aircon wont work (again), so we opt to leave the window open and put up with the noise from outside.