“Travels to a Different Time” : 31July2000: Samos Greece, Ephesus, Turkey: Off to the Ancient Greek Ruins: Turkish Merchant Harassment  

Out the door at 06:15 to the port to catch the boat to Ephesus or rather to Kusadesi in Turkey then a bus to Ephesus a la tour! Breezed through passport control and aboard a small excursion ship at 08:45 to Kusadesi. An hour into the journey on calm waters and one could see the Turkish coast which like Samos is mountainous and enveloped in a haze of heat. Kusadesi was set amongst lush vegetation and after 30 years I am back in Turkey. Through Turkish customs and they are happy to relieve you of an entry tax and most disgustingly of all our passports! Why on earth. Massive anxiety with a passport out of my hands. I have guarded it steadfastly on all my travels including sleeping with it and showering with it. Off on an air-conditioned bus hugging the coast up in the hills. There are several tourist resorts on the coast and the beaches looked very enticing but not as stunning as Greek beaches. After 30 minutes we reached the destination and had a Turkish female tour guide. There were many buildings so I will not describe them all. The lavratorium was the communal WC for the upper classes. A long stone bench with holes cut in it. No privacy but it did the” job”. In the colder months slaves used to warm the stone so their master’s butts would not be chilled. The library of Celsius and the theatre were impressive. Ephesus was Greek, then Roman then Ottoman. It was a two-hour tour and we headed out on the bus for our Turkish buffet lunch. Cafeteria style packed with tourist buses. The food was quite good and very similar in many ways to Greek food. And those fabulous Turkish peaches I have not had in 30 years. Worth the wait! Herded back on the bus to an “artisanal Turkish handicraft” site. Yes a bloody Turkish carpet factory. All had Turkish apple tea and a talk on carpet weaving. Interesting but then a swarm of salesman descended on the unsuspecting gringos. Turkish bazaar style pressure to buy buy buy! We had a couple of hours on our own in Kusadesi after that fiasco. Hit the bazaar where the carpet salesman were replaced by a horde of merchants coaxing, wheedling and lying to get you into their shop. Ah you are Canadian I have a brother in Vancouver! Best deals ever! Memories of hawkers on the beaches of the Dominican Republic. Any interest in their goods and they’ll pounce on you like a vampire. If you walk away they pretend to be insulted. This is not charming. It is a Turkish con and annoying and crude. The bazaar was narrow and winding and counterfeit goods abounded. Lacoste rip-offs were abundant. A pleasure to escape Turkish harassment and board the boat for the return trip to Samos. A rough trip back with large swells causing vomit outbreaks. Man there were people puking in shopping bags. I have been on the water since before I could walk so no problem for me. Managed to have a great fish dinner in Samos and as the heat cooked me to a frazzle out like a light at 10! A few dreams of pleading Turkish merchants grabbing my arm saying how much they loved Canadians. After all there must be hundreds if not thousands of their brothers in Canada!

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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