Ahh, the Greek Islands…
How I have wanted my whole life to come and see them…to hop from rock to rock…feel the history…breathe the air…gaze at the mountains that seem to grow right out of the sea…set sail on the many ferry boats that take you from Island to Island. Well, here I am.
I arrived this morning on the Greek Island of Samos, which is only about a 2-hour boat ride from Turkey. You can still see the Turkish coast in the distance, so it’s not really that far of a trip, but it’s definitely a different country! I could sense that immediately, as our tiny boat sailed into the port of Samos Town, Samos. The town sits on the slope of a hill that leads down to a U-shaped bay that serves as the island’s main harbor. What an amazing site it was to stand on the bow of the boat, with the wind blowing in my face and see the quaint, white houses with red roofs….it’s a very Greek feeling…if you can understand that….and hey, what a coincidence…it’s Greece!
I ran into a guy on the dock that I have been running into all over Turkey…and now here. His name is Jonathan, and he’s from San Francisco. So we ended up hangin out around town for a few hours and treated ourselves to a Gyro (I am sure you know of this Greek standard), and a stroll through the back streets of this small town. The weather is great and I feel very alive and excited to be in Greece! This afternoon, in about an hour, I will be boarding another ferry that will take me to Mykonos, an island that many have suggested I visit, so I will; thus, begins my voyage across the Aegean Sea.
So what have I been doing for the last few days? I have been in Selcuk, Turkey…as I stated in my last email. This is a town on the Aegean coast and a good base from which to see the ruins of ancient Ephesus, a very significant Greek city of biblical times, where many events of Christian importance took place. Paul the Apostle spent much time preaching there, as well as St. John, who lived out his life and was buried there, as well as Mary, mother of Jesus, whose house you can actually visit – well, uh, so they say.
I arrived in Selcuk and checked into the best hostel I have ever stayed in – The Artemis Guest House. I have never met more friendly hosts who went out of their way to make me feel welcome and included. Plus, I had my own room and my own bathroom, with hot water! What a blessing! I also ran into Jonathan there, mentioned above. We first met in Istanbul, and then again in Pamukale…so I wasn’t surprised to see him in Selcuk, or Samos for that matter. The next day I was supposed to go on a tour of Ephesus, but my travel agent called and told me it was canceled, because I was the only one who signed up! That’s the low season for ya. But lucky for me there was another tour the next day, so I signed up for that instead. That meant I had a day to kill in Selcuk.
The next day I decided I had to have a souvenir of Turkey and since I have been getting into playing chess. I decided to get a nice chess board with wooden pieces….and since my friend Henry wanted one too, I got him one as well and shipped them both to New Jersey (uhh…Henry…you owe me, son). The whole procedure of shipping something was a huge hassle, and it will take about 3 months for it to arrive, because it’s going by boat. The shipping cost more than the chessboard!
The first night in Selcuk, I met two Canadians and an Australian fellow, and we all hung out till the wee hours of the morning indulging in Turkish beer and getting silly. When I revealed that I had a guitar, it was the start of a big ruckus. The Australian guy knew every song ever written, so we sat around for hours singing Counting Crows songs…his favorite band, and a favorite of mine as well. We developed quite an audience of the entire hostel and their neighbors and I became famous in the small town….so much so that the next day I went out into the main square and did a little concert for the locals….picture lots of old Turkish men sitting around drinking tea and playing backgammon, thinking to themselves “who the hell is this?” It ended when someone offered to sell me drugs, and I thought to myself, “Hmmm, Turkish prison? Uhh, no thanks.” End O’ Concert.
Next day I toured the ruins of Ephesus, which are quite well preserved and astounding. You can walk down the ancient streets paved with marble, go into what’s left standing of the ancient library, which once housed many ancient documents, subsequently destroyed by religious zealots. Shame. Roman columns line the streets and you can see where the houses and baths once stood. There is a giant amphitheatre dating back 2000 years, which is still in use today…recently played by Tina Turner. In the afternoon, the tour brought us to the house of the Virgin Mary where she supposedly lived out her life. It’s at the top of a mountain, reachable only by a very windy road, but Mary had a hell of a view in her old age. You can see all the way to the coast, as well as the entire valley and region around Selcuk for miles…or should I say kilometers….
After Mary’s shack, we went to the tomb of St. John, which is nothing more than a pile of rubble.
After the tour was over, I bought a Turkish carpet. Well, my friend Mohammed was begging me to get one for him, so I obliged. As I am sure I have stated in previous emails, the Turkish Carpet industry is crazy here. There are soooo many shops and soooo many guys trying to sell carpets that it’s hard to know who is for real and who is just trying to rip you off. I ended up getting it through the hostel which has a store……after about four hours of viewing rug after rug and finally haggling frustratingly….Mohammed is the proud owner of a very nice rug.
Well, my thumb is tired from the space bar on this Greek monstrosity of a keyboard….and I have to catch my ferry to Mykonos…so I will sign off. Some of you people have not written to me in a while. No excuses!!