My family and I are taking a cruise and one of the stops is Ephesus. We are hoping to get feedback from people who have been there on which of the following two tours we should do:
Best of Antiquity
Driving from the pier through the Turkish countryside, you will arrive to the entrance to Ancient City of Ephesus that was built on a small hill, with the entrance located at the top of the hill and the exit at the bottom. Once you enter the Open Air Archeological Museum of Ephesus and pass by the Magnesia gate, you will enter the administrative section of ancient Ephesus. The guided walking tour will take you through one of the most magnificent excavations in the world. See the Odeon, the Fountain of Trajan, the steam baths of Scholastika, temple of Hadrian and the impressive library of Celsius. The library is adorned with columns and statues. The Grand Theater, where St. Paul preached, is one of the largest theaters in antiquity with a capacity of 24,000 seats. You will return to the buses through the Arcadian way, where Mark Anthony and Cleopatra once rode in procession.
Your next stop on the tour will be the city of Magnesia an ancient Greek city in Anatolia. The ancient city was founded by colonists from Thessalia, Greece. This is the ancient city where the name "magnet" comes from. Magnesia was an important location commercially and strategically in the triangle of Priene, Ephesus and Tralles. As an interesting note, Magnesia was the source for the mysterious stones that could attract or repel each other, and thus its name came to be used for the phenomenon known as magnetism. Continuing on your tour you will reach the ancient site of Miletus, which was a great Ionian Port, with two lions guarding its entrance as important in antiquity as Ephesus and famous for being the native city of several philosophers and sages. The Theatre, reconstructed during the Roman period, is an impressive structure built against the slope of a hill. Together with the well-preserved Faustina Baths they make up the only monument left from the ancient Miletus. You will continue to Didyma, to admire the magnificent Temple of Apollo, a great monument of antiquity. Some of the 120 columns that remain standing allow one to visualize the full magnificence of the structure. A typical lunch will be served in the town of "Didim" at a local restaurant, overhanging the ruins of the Temple of Didyma where you can taste the delicious samples of Turkish cuisine. On completion of your visit, your bus will take you to Kusadasi. Join the group for a refreshment stop and a brief carpet presentation or return directly to the ship, which is within walking distance.
This tour is designed to introduce to you the "Biblical Ephesus". Driving from the pier through the Turkish countryside along a hilly drive, you arrive at the House of Virgin Mary where the Blessed Virgin is reputed to have spent the last years of her life. Outside is the Fountain of Our Lady, providing the faithful water from the holy foundation. From there, a short drive will take you to the entrance to Ancient City of Ephesus that was built on a small hill. Once you enter the Open Air Museum of Ephesus and pass by the Magnesia gate, you will enter the administrative section of ancient Ephesus. The guided walking tour will take you through one of the most magnificent excavations in the world. See the Odeon, the Fountain of Trajan, the steam baths of Scholastika, temple of Hadrian and the impressive library of Celsius. The Grand Theater, where St. Paul preached, is one of the largest theaters in antiquity with a capacity of 24,000 seats. The last major site you will visit in Ephesus is the "Church of Virgin Mary", also known as the Double Church as it is thought that one aisle was dedicated to the Virgin and the other to the Apostle John. This Church is believed to have been the meeting place of the historic Council of Ephesus. You will return to the buses through the Arcadian way, where Mark Anthony and Cleopatra once rode in procession. Overlooking Ephesus are the remains of St. John's Basilica, where, you will be given a short briefing on the excavations and their importance to the history of Christianity. Once great church built on a 2nd century tomb thought to hold the remains of St. John. While the church is now in ruins, there are many frescoes, mosaics and graceful columns that attest to the glory that marked the place where St. John, the Evangelist, lived and died. Your tour will follow with a "Biblical lunch", where you will be served food cited in the Bible and dishes made in accordance with Biblical ingredients. Following lunch, you will have chance to explore the effect of Christianity on the traditional local handicrafts with a short lecture by an expert. A carpet presentation will take place in a carpet weaving village also elaborating this influence. On completion of your visit, you will have time to explore, browse in Kusadasi.
Hi - welcome to VT! If I had to choose between the two, I'd choose Biblical Ephesus. The distances between the cities in the first tour would lead me to believe that you will be spending more time in the bus and less time at Ephesus.
That being said, I would not do either one. You will spend so much more time waiting around for people on a tour and seeing exactly what the guides show you. And you definitely want to avoid the carpet sales pitch!!
It is very easy to get around and do a tour of the area on your own. I would suggest this: beat the crowds off the ship and get a taxi* to take you directly to Ephesus. Have the driver drop you at the "top" and meet him at the bottom where you will end up. Get the audio guides at the entrance. This will allow you to go at your own pace and see what you want. (You can also get a licensed guide but those tours may also have many people since cruise ships will be in port.) While inside Ephesus, spend the extra and see the terrace houses. They are fascinating and I'm sure that either of the tours you mention do not include visiting the terrace houses.
After you visit Ephesus, go to the House of the Virgin Mary, then to the Ephesus Museum. You can stop for lunch in Selcuk which is only a few kilometers away. There are plenty of nice restaurants with outside seating and excellent food. After lunch head to Basilica of St. John, Isa Bey Mosque, and the Temple of Artemis. All are very close and you won't need more than a couple of hours to explore all 3. After that you can head back to the port for some shopping or depending on how much time are in port, do a little shopping in Selcuk. The area of restaurants and shops is a pedestrian zone. You can adjust this itinerary depending on how much time you have.
If you want to hire a taxi/driver before you cruise, check out www.cruisecritic.com. Go to the site, then boards, then ports of call, then Europe, then Other Mediterranean Ports. Read the reviews of drivers/guides in Kusadasi and contact the drivers directly. You can also post any questions there and see what others have done.
You will get so much more out of a tour on your own and it will be a fraction of the cost. Have a great cruise!
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I didn't take an organized tour at all. Most cruises can link you up with carriers that will take you to the site and return then once there you are free to wander at your own pace. There are (well, used to be anyway) audio headsets available to provide your own self guided tour.
Based on the amount of information you've presented you've already taken the tour from a tour guide perspective, now you just need to see it for yourself. It's quite impressive.
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Okay, I've cruised into Kusadasi several times and each time I've taken the straight Ephesus tour ---no other places! Other passengers have enjoyed the Biblical tour. So, if you want a longer tour then I would suggest your Biblical Tour...
...However, many Eastern Med. Sea cruises stop at Kusadasi ...so you'll probably see Ephesus again plus have the choices again if you cruise in the Mad again.
My advice: do Ephesus and do the Biblical tour on your second visit.
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