Trip to Ephesus

Ephesus was founded in ancient times. One of the ancient seven wonders of the world, a temple devoted to the goddess Artemis (also called Cybele) was built here around 330 BC. By 600 BC, Ephesus had become an important port town. After Jesus’ death, the apostle St. John settled in Ephesus with the Virgin Mary prior to his exile to the nearby Dodacanese Island of Patmos towards the end of his life. It is believed that John wrote his gospel (his account of Jesus’ life which is now part of the bible) while in Ephesus. Ephesus was included as one of the seven churches that the book of Revelation was directed to (Revelation was written from Patmos). St. John and Mary are both buried in Ephesus. St. Paul spent three years in Ephesus, and while there wrote a letter to Christians in Corinth that was canonized in the bible as 1 Corinthians. During his later imprisonment in Rome, Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in Ephesus, which became canonized in the bible as the book of Ephesians.

In the early Christian days, the city was home to 250,000 people and the Romans had put a lot of energy into making it aesthetically beautiful. The problem with Ephesus’s location was Continue reading Trip to Ephesus

Welcome to Izmir, Turkey

Izmir, formerly called Smyrna, was occupied by humans between 6500BC and 4000 BC. It was settled by Greeks around the 10th century BC. It is believed that the famous author Homer was born in Smyrna. In 95 AD, the apostle St. John wrote a letter addressed to seven fledgling churches located in what is now western Turkey, Smyrna being one of them. The letter was canonized as part of the bible and is called The Book of Revelation. Under the Ottomans, Smyrna emerged as an important port city and became multi-national and contemporary. They also exported many popular products to Europe, such as raisins, figs, and carpets, and were known for their unique musical style. Smyrna was the center of the war between the Turks and Greeks post WWI, which left the city completely destroyed. Today it is the third largest city and second largest port in Turkey.

We were still on the main highway, and we drove about half way around the bay before we realized we were lost. We pulled over at a gas station and asked for a map. No maps. Eric remembered that he could pull up a map on his cell phone. He expertly navigated his way into downtown using the cell phone. From what we could see, there were sections of town from the turn of the century that were neglected and dilapidated, and sections of town that are brand new and gorgeous, and everything in between. The buildings here are colorful, which is a stark contrast to Bodrum where they are all white. The bay has a large commercial container port area that dominates a big section of the bay. There is a fleet of military ships in the bay near the container port area. The roads are really great — wide and well maintained, with excellent signage. All the streets are two ways, many with nicely landscaped medians. The drivers are just as bad, though, and driving is still pretty scary. And, despite the fact that this is a huge, contemporary city, we saw goats running in the road at one point. Here is a typical street in downtown.

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We had skipped lunch and were starved, so we made a stop for food at a little hole in the wall along one of the main roads. The boy behind the counter spoke no English at all. He pointed to Continue reading Welcome to Izmir, Turkey