Note to Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, prime minister of Turkey: I realize it was my first time to visit your fine country but the official greeting committee, shown below, which you sent to welcome me when I stepped off the ship was so much more than I was expecting. Simply having President Abdullah Gül standing there offering me a cup of Turkish coffee and presenting me with my medal while the military band played the İstiklâl Marşı (Turkish National Anthem) was more than sufficient . . . and even slightly embarrassing for a man of my notable humility. (Note to reader: Unfortunately, the picture of that historic moment was snatched out of my hand while feeding an overly aggressive sea turtle from the aft deck.)
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. By now, you know the drill. First we look at one of my favorite aspects of the Navigator of the Seas and then I regale you with fascinating and occasionally true stories of my exploits at the latest port of call.
A FAVORITE FEATURE
“Those are my principles,” Groucho Marx once famously said, “and if you don’t like them–well, I have others.” One of my own principles is that I never over indulge. It may have happened once or twice that I was over-served but I think we can all agree, that is hardly the same thing. Nonetheless, I must admit, I do enjoy the fruit of the grape from time to time.
There are few better places to sip a mellow Malbec or sample a crisp Cabernet or imbibe a saucy Shiraz or . . . I think you get the idea . . . than Vintages on the promenade deck of the Navigator of the Seas. This cozy gathering place features more than 60 vintages in their 600 bottle cellar. Frommer’s has a very nice review of this venue midway down the page here under the heading Public Areas. Be honest, doesn’t just looking at this inviting image make you yearn to be sitting there right now?
A PORT TO PONDER
For those of you whose biblical knowledge is a trifle rusty, Ephesus was a city visited by the Apostle Paul in his evangelistic journeys and a place which bears the name of one of his epistles. Just so you don’t embarrass yourself at the next Sunday School pot luck dinner, okay, the Epistles were not the Apostles’ wives! The epistles were pastoral letters written to burgeoning congregations of Christians in places like Ephesus, Thessalonica, Corinth and Philippi.
Ephesus was built on a small hill with the entrance at the top and the exit at the bottom, a rather unusual design. That reality is clearly illustrated from this picture. It is not at all difficult to imagine this main thoroughfare crowded with people from all over the world 2000 years ago just like it was on the day I snapped this picture.
If you would like to view the many pictures I took during my stroll through Ephesus (too many to post here) just visit this site. (Tip: The pictures are in chronological order just as are these Golden Circle posts.) This is truly one of the most amazing excavations anywhere in the world. There is a large covered area where massive excavations are underway to unearth “Terrace Houses”, also called the “Houses of the Wealthy.” These impressive homes were built right into the side of Bulbul Mountain opposite the Hadrian Temple.
This is a picture of the Grand Theater where the Apostle Paul once preached. It is the largest extant theater from the ancient world with a seating capacity of 24,000. Just think of it as the “Cowboys Stadium” of antiquity. If you have never been to Ephesus, you owe it to yourself to make the effort. If you have even a remote interest in the ancient world, this is a must see.
For those who need an additional incentive to make the trek, like shopping for example, take note of this head scratching sign that I could not help but notice in the small shopping bazaar just as you exit the ruins to return to the motorcoach park.
I am thinking about adopting the slogan for this blog: “Genuine Fake Blog Posts!” What a great disclaimer against charges of false advertising.