Next destination: Selcuk, known by the Ottoman’s as
Ayasoluk, the location of the magnificent Temple of Artemis, one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World.
Close by are the remains of Ephesus, a city of amazing magnitude–the New York City of its time.
The 5th Avenue of Ephesus:
Nestled in the hills, this is purported to be the last home of Mary, mother of Jesus, brought here by Apostle John.
Christians and Muslims both revere her and pay homage.
The trip was a bit nerve wracking–since trains are the major transport for neighboring towns, the cars were full, the seats were taken and we ( I ) had over-packed. (Only now do I realize the association between the words, “lug” and “luggage”!)
Nearly taking the wrong train, a young university student who noticed our mistake and held us back. Speaking no English, how he knew our near-blunder remains a mystery–but thankfully we followed him as he helped us heave our baggage on the train and disappeared at one of the stops. ( I hope my blessings followed him home).
Fate seated me next to yet another young Turk who spoke good English and time flew along with the miles as we engaged in lively conversation. A musician, he plays Santour, a type of dulcimer, which he uses to practice “Turkish music therapy” (Turkish Music Therapy
) which dates back 6-8,000 years. His girlfriend is studying Sufi dancing and is a massage therapist! Synchronicity knows no boundaries, it seems.
Arriving at the Sulcek station, he actually gave up his seat in order to help us with our bags before the train lurched towards the next stop. And through Facebook, we can maintain this friendship, I feel sure.
Looking around, we found nothing to indicate where we were in relation to the directions to our hotel. Noting our confusion, people were quick to help. One man used his cell phone to call our hotel, arranging a pick-up and then he, too, disappeared as though a genie returning to his bottle.
Within 10 minutes we were picked up by the manager of the Ayasoluk Hotel who stopped to give a lift to a man on crutches.
It turned out that he is the owner and had Polio too when he was quite young. Living in a poor Eastern Turkey village, they were not equipped to deal with his condition until much later in his life. I couldn’t help but feel that synchronicity was at work (again)– no one relates to Polio, like someone else who has had it.
His hotel was not only beautiful but he had built it only 2 years ago with ramps along side the stairs for easier access. Not only that but it was located near the top of Ayasoluk Hill, very close to the famous Ottoman Castle. The view was as breath-taking as the hotel was tasteful –down to the smallest detail.
Our room had a view of the one remaining, lonely column from the Temple of Artemis, who was worshipped as the Goddess of Fertility, a huntress and Apollo’s first-born twin.
Strolling through the town, I was not prepared for how difficult it would be NOT TO BUY a rug that I have no desire to buy. These guys are intense. The amount of energy they spend must be why they are slight in build–or maybe they are really suffering economically. Once a confluence of carpet shops, Sulcek is reduced to a precious few. Many of their sad-stories seem to be all too real.
But these people are friendly, and appear happy, with a light that seems to shine through their wizened eyes. In youth, they are beautiful like dancers. In old age, they seem as weathered as the olives, dried in the timeless sun.