Mercabar! (Hello) Today we are in Kusadasi, Turkey (Turkiye) and we're excited -- we haven't seen it since 1998.
Ephesus is here, where St. Paul wrote his letters to the Ephesians. It is also supposed to be the last place the Virgin Mary lived. The last time we were here, we saw her house, which has gorgeous mosaics, and is in very good repair. Ephesus has been greatly restored, also, so it gives you a much better idea of how the Greek Ephesians lived than the ruins elsewhere. But, we decide not to go -- it's a pretty strenuous walk, and tomorrow we have Istanbul, where we have not been before.
As we walk off the ship, the dock looks the same -- a long, concrete expanse. But at the end of the dock is a whole new port center -- official offices and a pretty good sized shopping mall. First thing, we are drawn in by the Turkish sales pitch. "Hello! Where are you from?? I have a cousin in __________ (fill in the blank)" They are a warm, pleasant people, for the most part. We make the mistake of admiring some gold and opal jewelry in a store window, got greeted by the store salesman, and wound up sitting in the jewelry store, looking at gorgeous but likely fake opal and gold bracelets, at high prices. The opals were too perfect, and we didn't trust enough to buy any. Then, on through the shopping stalls, we encountered a youngish fortysomething? store keeper, who had very nice handcrafted purses, in beautiful Turkish woven fabrics, at reasonable prices. We bought quite a bit, including "evil eyes" which are actually the equivalent of the "ojos de dio" (eyes of God) in Latino countries, which keep watch over you and protect you from evil. They are pretty -- dark cerulean blue glass with a white "eye" in the center and a blue "pupil." All the taxi drivers here have them hanging from the rear view mirror, and believe me, they're needed. Traffic is crazy -- seeming to go everywhere with no rhyme or reason. When I said to Richard "Oh! Evil eye magnets -- we need one for the cabin" (ship's cabin walls are steel, so we always bring some magnets for hanging up schedules, notes etc. on the walls.) She closed my hand around the one I was holding, and said "just close your hand" which meant she was giving it as a gift. Very sweet. She also gave me a tiny evil eye on a safety pin, and whispered that Turkish women wear them on their underwear. So, I've been wearing it ever since. We walked beyond the new port bazaar, and there was the old bazaar we remembered from 1998.
We shopped til we dropped, buying wonderful "pashmina" scarves (not like Indian Pashmina at all) in intricate Turkish patterns and bright beautiful colors. At the last stall we visited, we met a lovely young man who gave us a business card with a small glossary of Turkish terms on it Tessakur ederim! (thank you, sounds a lot like tea, sugar and dream, which is how the Turks tell you to pronounce it, but the real pronounciation, which I practiced all day in Istanbul, has an sh sound on the "sugar" and the emphasis is different.)
It's a short port day, so we're back on the ship in the early afternoon, where I swim, and then we go to a private cocktail party hosted by Marion and Winton Heard, a couple we met yesterday on board, in their suite up on Caribe deck. There we meet several other nice couples, from all across the U.S. Then, dancing, dinner with our delightful table mates, and a few minutes at the penny slot machines before bed.