So, we have a back log of posts. Apologies!
On Friday 15 November 2013, Kev and I went on our first cruise tour group.
While on the Constellation, I’ve been thinking about how most of our sightseeing has been organised by ourselves and the idea came up that the cruise is in fact, a holiday from our holiday (if that makes any sense).
For one thing, all our meals are planned. Glorious food! It’s amazing how much variety and great food there is on this ship. Secondly, everything is done for us. From our rooms being made up, to activities being planned for us, to finally, every night having our beds ‘turned down’ (as in they open the blankets for us, leaving us with after dinner mints and a print out of our program for the next day).
So, after accepting this mindset (that we are on a holiday from our holiday) going on the organised day tours became an ‘experience’. I was interested in experiencing how it is to be a ‘tourist’ and see things from the customer side of a resort as opposed to our mini ‘behind the scenes’ experience in the Maldives with MWSRP and the Conrad Rangali. So far, it has been nice not having to worry about the little things like where to find towels for the day etc. However, I think I do miss the interaction that you get to have with the staff members. I still talk and have gotten to know a few crew members who I get the chance to hear about where they are from and they give me great smiles during the day, but it’s not the same.
Anyways, our first port of call was Kusadasai.
Ephesus is a beautiful place to see! The ancient city of Ephesus was abandoned due to Aegean Sea receding and leaving swamps around the city. The people then started getting sick believing it was due to the ‘bad air’ which they said was ‘Malaria’. However, they didn’t realise that it was due to the mosquitos and the swamps. This was just one of the cool stories told by our awesome tour guide Volkan.
So Ephesus was abandoned and was left for the elements to hide it.
It is currently an active excavation site and on our tour of the city, we were able to see archaeologists working on restoring it!
For me, the highlight was walking through the ancient city (through the Arcadian Way) and imagining myself as one of the citizens of the day. Things like experiencing the communal bathrooms, walking to the library (Library of Celsius) and going to the arena were the highlights of my time there.
Our second stop was another ancient city of Miletus which also had arena/theatre. Volkan told us how to tell the difference between a Greek theatre and a Roman theatre. In Ephesus, the theatre was Greek as they have a open style theatre where the audience can experience the view of the landscape as well as the show and the theatre is in the shape of a horse shoe. In Miletus, the theatre was a Roman, as it was built with high walls so that the audience would be totally immersed in the performance and the shape was one of 180 degree.
We were unable to further explore the rest of this city, which I was slightly disappointed about. But I appreciated that we were on a tight schedule.
Temple of Apollo
This was very beautiful and I just loved the stories that came from Volkan. He told us that the people back in those days would be drawn to the Temple of Apollo to seek insight into their future as Apollo was the god of the Sun and foresight. People would go to the temple, and write their question on papyrus and give it to an interpreter who would take the question to the oracle. The oracle and the interpreter would communicate in a special language that only they knew. The oracle would then burn certain leaves (opium) to see what the future had in store and then tell the interpreter who would in turn tell the answer to the eagerly waiting believer.
Due to bad luck, the temple was never completed (an earthquake and a war). However, it was used by those who worshipped the old gods and Christians. Volkan showed us some interesting graffiti on the marble floors which the Christians used to communicate to each other.
Another story that Volkan told us, was the story of where the Aegean Sea got its name. This I vaguely remembered from my primary school days and my heart lit up when he told it to us. There was a King named Aegea. His people were terrorised by the Minotaur (the half bull half man dude) and so, they would send the Minotaur a human sacrifice on a yearly basis. They would send the sacrifice by a ship with black sails as they were very sad about this. King Aegea had one heir to the throne, and he was determined to kill this beast to rid the people of this threat forever. After some convincing, the King agreed to allowing his son go, and told him that if he defeated the Minotaur, to change the sails to white. However, if he was unsuccessful and had died, then to keep the sails back. The son was able to defeat the Minotaur and buzzing from the victory he forgot to change the sails. As such, the King who was eagerly watching the horizon, saw the black sails and was so distraught that he jumped into the sea, the Aegean Sea.
I loved this. My imagination had a ball on this day!