We couldn’t miss exploring Ephesus in Turkey. Where breezes carry the imagined laughter and chatter of Romans bartering with shopkeepers among centuries-old marble stalls. Where the façade of the famous Celsus Library – which once housed up to 15,000 scrolls – is more magnificent and grander in scale than surmised from pictures. Where blood-red poppies bloom among the ancient ruins.
Exploring Ephesus on a daytrip from Bodrum
And so we make a daytrip from Bodrum to tour the ancient Greek/Roman city of Ephesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Why, you might ask, do we drive from Bodrum to visit Ephesus? Convenience.
On our Turkey trip, we want to limit our bases to three – Istanbul (and its mosques and palaces) , Cappadocia (and its underground cave cities and rock-cut churches) and the seaside resort of Bodrum. But Ephesus is a must-see as well. And it turns out that it’s quite easy to visit on a daytrip from Bodrum.
It helps that we’re on a private tour booked with Vanguard Travel Services, one of Turkey’s top travel agencies. Throughout our trip, they seamlessly arrange our airport/hotel transfers and tours.
The two-hour scenic drive to Ephesus winds past mountains and rolling hills, blanketed with forests of pine and wild olive trees.
Upon arriving, we meander down the all-marble Curetes Street.
We detour off at the terrace houses, where wealthy Roman families once lived.
And they lived well! The two-storey houses had interior courtyards, mosaic tile floors and beautifully painted wall frescoes; clay pipes beneath the floors carried hot air for heating.
We pause to watch archaeologists piece together the largest jigsaw puzzle in the world – recreating the rooms from marble pieces of floors and walls.
Moving on, our guide Suzanne points out the prostitute’s footprint embedded in a street slab, which pointed the way to her house, and public marble toilets.
But the most striking structure in Ephesus is the ornate Celsus Library façade.
The library itself was built between 110 and 135 AD in memory of a book-loving Roman senator. Today, tourists clamber up the steps to have their photos taken beneath copies of the original four statues representing wisdom, knowledge, intelligence and virtue.
Can we eat now?
Hot and hungry after exploring Ephesus, Suzanne suggests we eat lunch at Bizim Ev Hanimeli. From its humble start in 1992 as a simple tea garden, this wonderful restaurant has grown in scale as “Mama’s” reputation in the kitchen has spread. Hatice Catan’s daughter has now created a cookbook for guests to recreate Turkish dishes back home.
We help ourselves to a buffet spread of some 30 different dishes – from yogurt-and-cucumber spreads, to stuffed zucchini blossoms, dolmades and meatballs, to Mama’s famous creamy grated carrot dish – made fresh earlier in the day under Mama’s supervision.
Seated outside in the tree-shaded garden by a tinkling fountain, we eat in companionable silence – and reflect on the marvel that is Ephesus.
We toured Ephesus as guests of Vanguard Travel Services – but all views in this article are our own.