We aren’t history buffs, but our marathon long exploration of the ruins of Ephesus would make us believable posers. Most visitors spend an hour, maybe two moseying around the ruins while it took us nearly five hours. Unlike previous lengthy walking days, we were well prepared with some simit, cheese and bread leftover from our brunch. We’re getting the hang of this.
What many would consider to be just a bunch of rocks was an entire ancient city that we could touch, walk on, and really experience for ourselves. We may have crossed a ruin-respecting line by posing as statues in the Library of Celsus and thus prompting other tourists to do the same. We also might have mocked the ancient gymnasium by doing a plank or two. Oops.
The audio guide here was a total winner, pointing out sites that really did look just like a pile of rocks (hello, Hydrekdocheion)! The map that accompanied the guide also ensured that we didn’t miss the huge amphitheater where we were treated to an impromptu operatic performance by a fellow tourist.
We took a short tea break at the hotel and then got a ride to the last known residence of the Virgin Mary before the Ascension. (Full disclosure: We didn’t realize this site was in Ephesus until we arrived). It was a short and solemn visit. The actual house has been reconstructed from the original, but it stands on the exact site. We said a simple prayer of thanks for the chance to visit such a sacred place and asked for a special blessing for all our loved ones back home.
On our way to the car we passed by a holy water fountain and a wall where visitors could tie ribbons or scraps of paper holding their prayers. We fashioned a makeshift ribbon from a napkin we had, but were soon befriended by Meryem (coincidentally enough the Turkish translation of “Mary”), a Turkish toddler visiting with her family, who gave us a piece of hers. Such a genuine and sweet gesture that made the experience even more special for us.