Four years ago while in school, I met a dear friend from Turkey, Buket (Turkish for bouquet). We've kept in touch all these years and realized that this year she would be home for a visit while I was looking for something to do in between my brother leaving and my parents arriving. I flew from Stuttgart to Izmir and arrived around 10:30 at night only to find that my phone didn't work as I had hoped it would, and there were two terminals at the airport and I didn't know to which one she was coming to pick me up. After an hour of running around and arriving close to a breakdown I found her! Kuşadası is a coastal town so we headed straight for the waterfront to grab a late dinner. Hands-down, Turkey has the best food of any country I've been to. Every last thing I tasted was amazing. This night we had lamb kufta, with much more lamb to come on the trip...yum!
Buket and her friend had been at this resort on the Mediterranean for a few days and I showed up for one night. One huge perk in Turkey was that everything was really cheap, so this place was a deal and included free drinks and huge buffet meals.
I found it very interesting that the trees in the cemeteries in Turkey are painted white a high as you can reach and they are left to be grown over, not well kept like in America. Not a bad thing, just an intriguing cultural difference.
They had rented a car which was very handy as it allowed us to be on our own schedule. However, her friend who drove has lived in England the last seven years and we had to keep reminding her to get on the right side of the road. Made it out narrowly with my life. After a quick morning of sun tanning, we packed it up and drove about 45 minutes out to historical Ephesus. It's really hard to explain what it's like to walk around a place so ancient. Yes, it's in ruins, but from what's left you can tell it had to have been a spectacular city. The architecture and details were simply stunning. And the fact that it's up a long tree-lined road in the mountains with a view of the sea makes it all the more majestic. As it was June, I spent a lot of my time focusing on not passing out from the heat, but the rest was spent marveling at the ingenuity in building and planning, and trying to imagine the people who lived here 2,000 years ago.
This is the amphitheater where Paul gave a speech in Acts 19. I stood on the stage trying so hard to conjure the emotion of what it would have been like to see him speak. But alas, as in a lot of travel, sometimes that understanding and grasping can be a bit elusive.
Me, Sibel (Buket's childhood friend), and Buket. Why we're bending over like weirdos, I don't know. Sibel has lived in Englad for the last seven years and commented that I was the first person she had heard speaking English enthusiastically. I think it's an American thing-other people commented throughout the year that Katie and I were very expressive and enthusiastic and that they just weren't used to people showing so much emotion. Granted, Katie and I are pretty easily excited about things, but we concluded that it was even more over the top in Spain because we were afraid people wouldn't understand us/our excitement/our appreciation of something, so we over-expressed those emotions in hopes that they would get the point.
The famous library in Ephesus:
Just outside of Ephesus is the house where Mary came to live out the rest of her life after Jesus ascended. I'm not sure how they know this, but nevertheless, it was cool to see.