The Spectacular Ephesus

Ephesus is a very famous historical site and I heard it was spectacular. That was why I put it in my itinerary. After a good rest in a new place (finally), I leisurely walked up to the dining room to have my big breakfast.

I checked the train schedule which would take me directly to Ephesus without any interchanges on the way. I thought I had plenty of time so I took my time.  Little did I know that the train left while I was approaching the train station and of course when I arrived, the lady at the ticket office politely told me to wait until the next one or take the slower subway to a place called Selçuk and from there to Ephesus.

Izmir Railway Network Map as of August 2018

As you can see, it’d take a long time to Selçuk. Also, if I took this subway, I need to buy a store valued card called Izmir card. I couldn’t buy any single journey tickets – they were simply not available. Can you believe it? I think that’s how they make money.  The Izmir card would only be used by me for this trip and I remember I couldn’t get it refunded.

Well, I couldn’t blame anyone and I wasn’t planning to.

I met two younger guys who were standing behind me in the queue. They could speak English so they helped me to explain my situation to the staff at the ticket office. It happened that they were going towards the same direction so I followed them to all the interchange stations. It was at one stage quite confusing because I needed to leave the subway and walked up to the ground floor, exit that station and then enter into another platform of the same station on the same floor through a turnstile. But I didn’t have any money left in the card so I had to add more money to my Izmir card at the interchange. I nearly lost them when I added value to my Izmir card. 

The station was on the ground level and it was getting very hot. I didn’t enjoy it at all. We had to wait for more than 10 minutes for the train to arrive.

Fortunately, inside the train compartments, there was air conditioning. Otherwise all the passengers would die from heatstroke.

When I arrived at Selçuk, it was nearly mid-day. That meant extremely hot!  This penguin was dying!  (Yeah, I am like a penguin. Can’t stand the heat.)  While I was waiting for another train to Ephesus, a young girl approached me asking me if I was going to Ephesus as well.  We then started talking. It turned out that she was Turkish and travelling with her mother and a friend from Austria. Her family emigrated to Austria long time ago. Hm… that sounded familiar. My friend’s husband’s family was like that too. So, they all spoke Deutsch. Yeah, I could understand them but I lost quite a number of vocabulary so… 😛 I couldn’t speak much but I understood their conversations, the basic ones. 😛  

We decided to travel together. When we arrived at our destination, most of the people took the public transport to the entrance of Ephesus but this family was approached by some taxi drivers. After their negotiation, we decided to share the taxi.

But the nightmare (for me) started. Once we were in the taxi, the driver said he could take us to all the places within Ephesus and even to the Greek village which was supposed to be quite far. But he charged us 8 times more than the public transport. Not only that, he also said, ‘there is no public transport to the Greek village. It is very far.’ I clearly remember the guide from the free walking tour said that there was public transport.

THE TAXI DRIVER WAS LYING!

It was a very common trick.

But the family trusted him.

It was true that there wasn’t any public transport but it was between House of Virgin Mary to other sites within Ephesus. The taxi driver obviously knew that. He said he could take us there first but if we wanted to go to other sites from there, we’d need to take another taxi if we didn’t hire him for the whole day.  It was all or nothing.

It was a bad idea to take a taxi in the first place. ☹

He told us all these only after we got into the taxi and after he started driving.

I wanted to swear!

The family was ok with everything especially the mother. She said the taxi driver told them a lot of things about the places and she was happy to know all that. They spoke in Turkish so I didn’t understand anything at all. I really doubted it though and I also doubted the accuracy of the information he provided. He’s not a tour guide (even the free walking tour guide said he didn’t have a licence to be a tour guide in Ephesus) and he didn’t speak that much, unless Turkish, the language, was so precise and concise that he could explain everything in a few sentences. He only showed us the site on a very torn map which he lent to us when we were left alone at the site.

It was a trap.

The only thing I could do was to pay that dishonest taxi driver, sit back and enjoy the trip. Then check out Lonely Planet or Wiki afterwards to find out all the missing information.

The Austrian friend who was travelling with the family didn’t understand Turkish either so she was a little bit disappointed too.  Oh well, like me, she just enjoyed.

Statue of Virgin Mary. It was believed that the disciple John took Virgin Mary to this location where she lived until she ascended to Heaven.

After we visited the House of Virgin Mary, we were taken to the main entrance of Ephesus. The Turkish family was Muslim so they didn’t know much about her. The Austrian friend explained to her friend the background in Deustch. I said, ‘ja.’ They were a bit surprised. The two girls asked, ‘do you understand?’ Yes, I did. I knew the story. It was just that she said it in Deutsch. Knowing the background helped. 😊

Some ruins we saw on our way to the ruins of Library of Celsus.
Some other ruins. Many buildings were destroyed during the earthquake that happened years ago.
As we continued to walk, we started to see the spectacular façade of Library of Celsus.
How magnificent it was!

However, the façade actually reminded me of something very similar… 😀 Macau! I smiled as I looked at it. The Turkish girl asked me if I could see this in Asia. I laughed. YES! 😀

But of course, this one was much more immense than the ruins of St. Paul in Macau.

I took a closer look at the façade.

The driver asked us to wait for him at the exit at a certain time. I didn’t really like it. I wanted to spend more time at the site. I did complain. But he said, ‘well, come back again.’ I wanted to swear again.

He drove us to the Greek Village which turned out to be not that far from the train station where we got off!

Sirince, the Greek Village
A church at the village
One of the images inside the church
At the Greek Village, where the Austrian girl and I tasted wine.
The family treated me late lunch or early dinner. I was told that this was traditional Turkish food. I chose the potatoes filling.

When we took the subway back, it was very late at night. I didn’t even remember what I ate for dinner before I hit the sack.  Despite the dishonest taxi driver, it was still a nice day. So nice that I had a terrible tan. Imagine walking in the heat in the exposed area in Ephesus for so many hours!  Even with my signature blue hat :D, I still got a bad tan.

Time to go back to Istanbul tomorrow.

20 August 2018

P.S. I bumped into the guide from the free walking tour in Greek Village. He was with the family whom I joined yesterday in the same walking tour. He asked me how I got around in Ephesus and I told him about the dishonest taxi driver. That’s how I re-confirmed the availability of public transport and how much that terrible taxi driver overcharged us. The bad thing was the free walking tour guide kept shaking his head and saying things like I shouldn’t have done this and that, etc.. It made me feel even worse.

I found something very strange about this free walking tour guide. I was with the Austrian Turkish girl when I bumped into him so I introduced her to him. It was the first time he met that girl but he was very mean and sarcastic to her. He even mistook that she was from Australia and he kept hassling her about what Australia did to other countries etc. It made her feel so uncomfortable that in the end she found an excuse to leave the spot. Then the guide whispered to me, ‘I don’t like these people’. By that he meant he didn’t like Turkish who emigrated to other countries. Well, the thing was, she didn’t do anything mean to him or to anyone at all.

That reminded me, yesterday, the tour guide called me stupid when I reconfirmed with him the location of the toilets in that ‘first escalator’ tower but in the end, I still tipped him generously for the work he did and the bike he lent me. I know some people may not agree with me and they may have chosen to leave the tour without paying right after the guide whispered ‘stupid’. For me, no next time anyway.

Despite the dishonest taxi driver and the free walking tour guide, as I said above, I had a fairly good time in Ephesus.

In 2020, the free walking tour guide sent me a message asking me to tip him again because he suffered badly financially from the poor economy caused by COVID-19. When I first got his message, I was shocked. After all, I had already tipped him for what he did on that day in 2018. I didn’t reply to him until he offered to do something like creating a video as a gift for my friends etc. It was before Christmas so I said ok, I’d pay him if he could create a video. He was very excited. He even threw out some funny ideas on how to make the video. Then I gave him some more ideas. But things got bad after he got my message with my ideas. Several hours later, he sent me an audio message cursing me, saying that I was trying to slave him away, that I must have worked like a slave and that I should go to church more often. He even said he didn’t have a good phone and he didn’t have the skill to make videos. (But he was the one who suggested it in the first place.) He then sent me a screen shot of a message from one of his previous clients. That previous client said in the message that he didn’t tip him enough back then so he had always felt a bit guilty about it and he hoped by wiring him that money, he’d be slightly better off. He also hoped that would be a one-off thing. The free walking tour guide then said to me ‘people helped me without asking me to do this and that.’ I was speechless when I got all these messages from him. Everybody needs help during this time including me too. He offered to do something in the first place so I agreed to pay. I didn’t force him to do anything. If he didn’t want to take this job or if he wanted to alter any of my ideas, just let me know. But instead, after he took the money from his previous client, he cursed me for not helping him. I did some reflection too after I got his messages to see if I had said anything that offended him and I replied to his messages after I calmed myself down saying that he could discuss with me regarding the video. I was flexible to change anything. He then reiterated, ‘bye forever.’ As I said, no next time.

We don’t always encounter good things. Life has its ups and downs. I am still learning how to deal with bad situations in life and I hope everyone is too. Forgetting bad experiences may help but learning from them and improving ourselves are even better.

Leave a Reply