Ephesus is a familiar name to anyone who has indulged in studies of classical civilisation, for this city was a major player in both Greek and Roman history. Now it's an active archaeological site, and a family day out providing the opportunity to stroll along colonnaded walkways and admire the remains of ancient temples.
We visited on a day trip from Samos, and were pleasantly surprised to learn that we could waive the Turkish visa charges by leaving our passports at the port. From the port of Kuşadası, it's a short drive over the mountains to Ephesus itself, a route with some amazing views. It was the off-season when we were there, and considering how busy the site felt with just one cruise ship in port alongside our little boat, I'd hate to imagine how crowded it could be in the summer.
Perhaps the most impressive building was the Roman library, which our guide told us was once the third largest of the ancient world, after Alexandria and Pergamum. Perhaps more intriguing, we were told that the size of the facade was everything: the actual building went back only a few feet beyond its impressive front.
One of the most interesting things about Ephesus today was the feeling of experiencing a work-in-progress, of walking through a jigsaw puzzle half completed. The city is gradually being dug out of the hillside and reconstructed, piece by piece. There are fields lined with serried ranks of artefacts, waiting to be placed into the larger picture. The crane looming over the amphitheatre hints at the amount of work that has already gone into making the site as imposing as it is today - and highlights just how much harder it would have been for the original, ancient builders, without any such technology.
Returning to Kuşadası, we enjoyed a late lunch of pide (Turkish pizza) washed down with ayran (a yoghurt drink), before sailing back to Samos to continue our conference the next day. It's a hard life, this academia... but I think I'm getting used to it!