In the morning we were picked up by our guide "James" for a trip to ancient Ephesus. We were joined on this trip by another American tourist named Bruce, from Seattle. His daughter is studying at a school in Izmir and he used to live and work in the capitol city of Ankara some years ago.
Ephesus is perhaps the most popular tourist spot in all of Turkey, mainly because its ruins are so complete and because of its connection with the Bible, and not only the Bible but also with the Koran. The house of the Virgin Mary is located here, where she, under the care of the Apostle John, spent her last days (so the tradition goes). Mary is a very revered woman in the Koran, so anything having to do with her attracts a great crowd of Muslims. That was the first thing we visited upon our arrival. The small house in which she supposedly spent her last days is in a beautiful wooded area surrounded by statues and Catholic relics. Three popes visited here and set aside this place as a sacred relic of the Catholic church. This has very little interest to me because, even if the tradition is true, Mary was just another woman in need of divine forgiveness, and besides, I don't believe the truth of so many of the traditions in the Holy Land.. So many of them are dependent upon dreams and visions that some people say happened to them. I am not gullible enough to accept these stories passed down from generation to generation and expanded upon by people's imagination. If that sounds a little negative so be it. But I come here to visit places connected with the Bible that have to do with the truth of geography, history and archeology--not tradition.
I am sorry, but I will have to cut this short today because my internet connection here in Cusadasi is so slow it is taking more than 45 minutes to upload one photo for you (and it still has not appeared). I will make up for it later when I have a decent internet speed. We will board our ship for a three day cruise to the islands of Patmos, Rhodes, Crete, and Santorini. That should be fun and we'll try to bring you some pictures of those places as well. Just pray that they have a good internet service on the ship.
Bud & Kathy
Bud and Kathy Downs are making another trip to the Lands of the Bible-- first Turkey and Greece (from May 11 to 22) and then to Israel (from May 22 to June 8). We invite you to join us through our travel blog. We intend to post regular updates and pictures of Bible sites.