Hotel Review: Hilton Rome
Taking the long way to the port
Review: Jade Penthouse Suite 10166
Day in Olympia, Greece
Day in Piraeus Athens, Greece
Day in Kusadasi, Turkey
Day in Istanbul, Turkey
Hotel Review: Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahmet
Day in Naples/Pompeii, Italy
Hotel Review: Hotel Holiday
There was a slight delay when the ship was docking at Kusadasi port. Nothing in particular that we were informed about, it just took a few minutes longer than they had expected. Nonetheless we were guided off when our concierge had gotten “the call” that the ship had been cleared and was ready for passengers to debark.
Once we walked down the gangway a few staff members were waiting to catch us, hoping for a photo.
Continuing on to the pickup point, we were overjoyed to find a Starbucks but it wasn’t open. What kind of Starbucks opens at 9am?? Isn’t the whole point of a coffee shop to be open early and provide a wake-up drink? We passed alleyways that would soon be busy with shopkeepers plying their wares. Stopping for a moment along the waterfront, I breathed in the slightly chilly morning air and looked across to the buildings on the far side.
This port had more hawkers than the previous ones, and just outside of the shopping center gate there were already people waiting to ask us if we needed a tour guide, wanted a tour, etc etc. They were a little pushy and I just kept walking, to the information center that was across the street. It was closed on that day much to the chagrin of other cruisers who were hoping to get some assistance. We had arranged a rental car with Budget, and since the shop was a little far away to walk they had agreed to pick us up right there at no extra cost. While we waited, we helpfully pointed people in the right direction for different tours since it became quickly apparent which group was which but people just coming off the boat were confused perhaps because there were so many different tours and people all in the same area.
A family of four that was on the cruise as religious singers waited with us, and it didn’t take long before a Budget car pulled up. Since it wasn’t a large van and not everyone could fit, my husband graciously told them they should go first and we’d take the next vehicle. They were very appreciative since they were due back on the ship earlier than everyone else.
Another budget car came along, and we hopped in it. At the rental car facility things went smoothly, and we were out the door for $39 for the day’s rental. Contrary to popular belief, no international driver’s license is needed to rent a car anymore, and just a regular state provided one will do.
The morning in our packed day’s itinerary was what is known as the House of the Virgin Mary (or Meryemana to locals), situated on the top of Mt. Koressos. The scenic drive didn’t take long (around 25 minutes), and a cool fog still hung in the valleys. There was hardly anyone else on the road other than a few huge tour buses and taxis.
On the way, we passed the ancient city of Ephesus where the buses were all stopping. A trade center of the ancient world, it is a very important tourist stop today and we planned on going there after our first stop at the Virgin Mary’s house.
In the early 19th century, a bedridden Catholic nun in Germany by the name of Anne Catherine Emmerich began having visions of the life of Jesus and his mother Mary. Her visions were so vivid and detailed that news spread, and an author visited her often to take notes. After her death, a book was published with the details which included details about the location of the house in which Mary was brought to by Saint John and lived there in her last days until her Assumption/Dormition. The nun’s visions were so clear that she described the way the house itself looked including and the stones it was built with, the hill it sat on and how far it was to the town of Ephesus, the shape of the chimney, and the paths that led up to it, among other things. Fascinating.
In the late 1800’s, a French Priest by the name of Abbe Julien Gouyet came upon a small building that bore an uncanny resemblance to the house mentioned in the nun’s visions. Most people didn’t believe him initially, but then it was discovered that the small home had been revered for years by those in the nearby mountainous village. Putting both things together, pilgrims now make a pilgrimage to the Catholic and Muslim shrine. It has been visited by several Catholic popes, and although the Church has not formally pronounced the house’s authenticity due to lack of scientific evidence, there are plenty of believers. Because there are whispers of even atheists and agnostics feeling moved, people from all over and of all beliefs are attracted to the site.
We knew we were on the right road when we passed a statue of the Virgin Mary.
When arriving at the site, parking was easy perhaps because it was early in the day. There was a row of taxis, and only a few personal vehicles.
The spot was heavily wooded with many trees, and they rustled quietly in the gentle breeze. The mist that hung in the air gave the surrounding hills an ethereal beauty. Before coming to the house we passed three fountains which are said to bring you good health, wealth and love. There’s also a natural spring that you can drink from, and some say it is healing water that is holy.
Rounding a corner towards the house, a ton of people were already in line. They weren’t from the cruise ship, just people that had come to see the house. I felt lucky that the weather was cool, because it might have been an uncomfortable wait if the temperature had been scorching hot. I took my place in line, and even surrounded by people the area had a very tranquil, serene feel.
The lane snaked forward, and I paid 20 Turkish Lira per person (I think) entrance fee. No photos were allowed inside the small stone cottage, but since someone was there guiding the line there was no pushing and shoving. People filed through the house in a civilized manner and once exited there was an option to light a candle.
People used to tie fabric strips to the trees with wishes, but the trees suffered so instead one of the nearby stone walls is used and now people write down their wishes and put them on the wall.
If you plan on going, I definitely recommend going early to avoid a long line. When we pulled out of the parking lot, three huge tour buses had just arrived so I’m sure the line was even longer after that. This was a very interesting place to stop. Hoax or real? I’m not sure, but the whole place sure felt peaceful and I hadn’t known anything about it before visiting.
Next stop: The ancient city of Ephesus