Kusadasi & Ephesus were awesome! We had booked a private tour in advance with Celsus Travel, and through CruiseCritic, got 2 other couples onboard ship to join our tour. Cost for the full-day tour for 6 folks was $70 US/pp. We were ... Read More
Kusadasi & Ephesus were awesome! We had booked a private tour in advance with Celsus Travel, and through CruiseCritic, got 2 other couples onboard ship to join our tour. Cost for the full-day tour for 6 folks was $70 US/pp. We were met at the dock at 8:15am by Tan, our guide, holding up a sign for our group. Our shuttle bus was waiting for us. We spent about 3.5 hours at Ephesus and specifically asked for the Terrace Houses to be included in our itinerary. That was the highlight of our tour. Totally amazing! Do NOT miss the Terrace Houses. It is worth the separate admission charge. You walk through the excavations on top of glass walkways to view the mosaic floors and painted frescoes that are the hallmarks of the "rich people's houses". This whole area has only been excavated since the 70's, prior to that it was totally buried. There are lots of friendly feral cats wandering around Ephesus. If you are a cat lover, bring a few treats for them. One cat heard the crinkle of cellophane from our trail mix and ran right over, and ate a peanut and a raisin!
We visited a rug weaving school for girls. It was very interesting and the owner was very hospitable. We were offered apple tea, or Turkish coffee, and cheese sticks. They explained the different kinds of rugs and showed us how silk thread is spun from the silk cocoons. Although all 6 of us said we weren't in the market for getting a rug, 2 of the 3 couples ending up buying one (including us!). We bought a kilim rug (not a knotted rug), 4 x 6' for $300 which included shipping it home. It will be a nice reminder of our trip.
We next drove to the village of Sirince for lunch. It is up in the hills amidst the grape vines and orchards. We had lunch at a nice outdoor restaurant and had some traditional dishes, including something like a chicken stew. Sirince is more Greek than Turkish, and there were nice shops for souvenirs, with a lot less pressure to buy than in Kusadasi. The village is known for its fruit wines.
Our guide than made a special stop for some of our group who were shopping for gold jewelry, and dropped us off at the Turkish Delight factory. The prices for both items were cheaper in the Bazaar area of Kusadasi down near the dock. We thoroughly enjoyed our tour, which ended at about 3:30, so we had time for some shopping. I'd definitely recommend our tour guide, he was very accommodating and knowledgable, and the price was great.
There are LOTS of shops in Kusadasi. Good deals on leather and jewelry. The shop owners can be very aggressive, but just smile and say "no thanks". We bought a lot of different flavors of Turkish delight for gifts back home. It is very tasty!
The shops are easy walking distance from the cruise dock. We were back on board by 5:10 pm. Read Less