En Route to Ephesus (Efes), Turkey

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Looking out the window of Bella Hotel in Selcuk (the dropped pin, with Istanbul in the upper right, and Athens in the lower left) at a 6th century wall.  It originally ringed a basilica built in honor of (and to house his tomb?) the apostle John. The incessant rain of yesterday has ended and a clear, fine day is in the works for seeing Ephesus. I’m jazzed to be here and will make the most of the opportunity. The hotel even gives a ride to the main gate.

Getting here took a confusing turn when I got on the wrong train from the airport. No one working at the station could speak English or give proper directions, so 3 hours were lost. In the process, I did meet a young Turkish man working for the Carl Zeiss company who spoke excellent English and had lived in Germany as well as visited Alabama and Florida. “I hate religion,” he said with a smile, “but I love studying history.” He made sure that myself and a young Chinese man who got separated from his wife were on the right train, the same one he was riding to repair a optical laser machine some 2 hours distant.  “I will soon move to Germany, and there with my wife and 2 year old, live a normal life without politics and religion interfering with democracy.”

Bella hotel’s co-owner, Ebril, and I got into a discussion of politics when I checked in and while having coffee sitting in the pleasant 4th floor restaurant (as rain lashed the windows and awnings). He says the current government has built 18,000 km. of roads, made tunnels for transportation, and improved infrastructure in ways no other party managed. The public area in front of the hotel was notorious for people hanging out, drinking, smoking and making noise. The govt. cut 50 trees to create a huge open area and thus end the loitering. Ebril says the same is true for Istanbul and could be true for the Gezi park area–known as a place for prostitution, drug use, and low-lifes.  We didn’t touch on the govt.’s use of religion to further its goals, and the many charges of corruption, abuse of power, non-accountability, etc. but I’m sure we will in the next couple days.

Here’s the 14th century fort built above the St. John’s basilica, taken from the other side of town.  The farm land in the background was once the Aegean Sea.

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