We stayed at Pine Bay, an all inclusive resort on the West coast of Turkey, about an hour's drive South of Izmir. Some very good friend's of ours highly recommended the resort after their stay with their two sons last April.
A few days before our trip, Rowan started a stomach bug accompanied with a high fever. Murphy's Law states when Daniel and Megan plan a vacation someone will inevitably end up sick. But we were determined to push through! After a full 48 hours of keeping absolutely nothing in her stomach (to include water) and the day before our departure I took Rowan to the ER where she was given IV fluids and pills to stop the vomiting. Thankfully the next day she was back to her old self. However, Patrick spiked the same fever. Thankfully he never threw up and seemed to recover much more quickly than Rowan.
We have visited countless European cities. Our goal on this trip was to enjoy the outdoors, the beach, and sheer relaxation. Our mission was accomplished.
We spent the majority of our vacation on the sandy beach at our hotel. We were traveling during the low season for the hotel so we virtually had the entire beach to ourselves. The kids had a blast making sand castles, body surfing, jumping off the docks into the blue water, and having relay races on the beach. They even met several children from Iran and Germany. Ironically, we never ran into any other Americans the entire trip.
The hotel staff seemed to think we were German. As terrible as this may sound, we decided to let everyone believe we were Germans! We spoke to the staff in German the entire time. Americans are not very well liked right now in the world so we thought if we were able to pull it off, why not!
One day on our vacation we made an excursion into Kusadasi Turkey. The kids have never seen a poor country like this, and were taken back. Teddy was brought to tears by the number of stray cats and dogs in the streets. The kids wanted to rescue just about every dog we came across. I had a difficult time getting Liam to NOT pet the cats. That boy is the animal whisperer!
It has been quite some time since Daniel and I were in countries where we could exercise our haggling skills. The kids even learned how to haggle.
Every market stand we walked by the merchants were asking us where we were from. Typically we did not answer. One merchant came up to me and said, "You must be from Ireland." The funny thing about this is this is the second time in my life I have had someone ask me if I am from Ireland!
We ate in a small restaurant recommended by a local man. Their specialty meal is cooked inside a clay pot, in a brick oven. They bring the pot out and tap all the sides of it, breaking the pot open. Inside is a steamy mix of lamb, vegetables, and rice.
After lunch, we visited a mosque. We watched a man remove his shoes in the outside courtyard, and wash his face, hands and feet before going in for prayer.
We walked out to Pigeon Island, which is named for its shape. We saw crabs, fish and sea urchins on the rocks in the water.
Another day of our vacation, we visited The House of Mary, Ephesus, a Turkish carpet factory, Isa Bey Mosque, The Temple of Artemision, and Saint John's Basilica and resting place.
During the persecution of Christians, Jesus asked Saint John to take care of his mother Mary after his passing. After Jesus' death, John brought Mary to his house in the mountains of Turkey. Today, this is both a Christian and Muslim shrine. On top of the original foundation sits a tiny chapel with only two rooms. The tiny room is believed to be where Mary slept.
Ephesus is a Greek ruin dating back to the 10th Century BC. During Roman times the city was believed to have 56,000 inhabitants. Ephesus is mentioned in the bible.
Saint John's Basilica sits high on a hill, and is believed to be where John wrote his gospel. This is also where his resting place is. A basilica was built over his grave.
Isa Bey mosque is the oldest mosque in the area dating back to 1375. We were able to go inside the mosque which was quite interesting for all of us as we were able to see men inside in prayer.
The Temple of Artemision is quite honestly not much to see now. It is one single pillar standing in the middle of a swampy area. However this is supposedly one of the wonders of the ancient world. It was originally a temple constructed during the time of Ephesus.
We did not intend on visiting a carpet factory, however we are certain our cab driver was getting a cut for dropping tourists off here and getting them to buy carpets. Outside the factory women could be found looming. I could not believe the intricacy of this work. We were given a tour on how these women loom the carpets. They showed us the silk worms and showed of the process of making and dying the silk. I am pretty sure these women are not paid very much at all for this tedious work of making the silk, dying it, and investing years of their lives into making one single carpet. After the tour they pushed pretty hard to get us to buy a carpet, however we just did not have the extra $2500 they wanted to charge us for a carpet! Ha!
All in all, it was a fantastic trip. We truly enjoyed never having to worry about meals or drinks. The all inclusive was the best possible choice for us, and the kids were in hog heaven with countless sodas and hot chocolates. They kept telling Daniel and I they need to take advantage of the trip! And of course Daniel was quite pleased with the open bar as well. We all came back with some sun, which is most certainly what we all needed after a long, cold, wet winter.
House of Mary
Colusseum in Ephesus
Busy road in Ephesus
Ephesus. They used these stone pads to display
laws and even announcements for those condemned
to death for breaking the laws.
The library in Ephesus
Library in Ephesus
Saint John's Basilica. The hill where John wrote the gospel,
and where his grave lies.
Saint John's grave
Isa Bey Mosque
Isa Bey Mosque.
Isa Bey Mosque. A man praying
Patrick was sick of touring. I told him no matter what
I wanted a photo of him in the mosque. He made that face.
Silk caccoons with worms inside soaking to be spun into silk for rugs
Wonder of the ancient world
Teddy jumping into that COLD water
Liam on the beach
Rowan jumping and swimming to shore
Patrick jumped, but would not jump again for a photo saying
the water was too cold. So he decided to get a photo at the very
spot where he once jumped. Ha!