Recapping Our Journey Through History aboard EUROPA 2

Our journey through history aboard Hapag-Lloyd Cruises EUROPA 2 has come to a close this morning in Kusadasi, Turkey. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Our journey through history aboard Hapag-Lloyd Cruises EUROPA 2 has come to a close this morning in Kusadasi, Turkey. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Today, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ EUROPA 2 arrived at dawn in the Turkish port of Kusadasi. It’s the midway point in Voyage 1428 for most guests but for the small press group I am part of, the time has come to say goodbye.

Sunrise over Kusadasi, Turkey this morning. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Sunrise over Kusadasi, Turkey this morning. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

EUROPA 2, seen stern-first at her berth in Kusadasi. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

EUROPA 2, seen stern-first at her berth in Kusadasi. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Before our journey came to a close, we set out on an excursion that many other guests aboard EUROPA 2 were no doubt taking part in: a tour of the ruinous ancient city of Ephesus.

In the same league as Petra in Jordan or the Pyramids of Egypt, Ephesus was once a great hub of civilisation, founded around 10 BC. At one time, nearly 56,000 people resided here, and the city was a major business and trading center, not to mention important port city.

This morning, we explored the ancient city of Ephesus. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

This morning, we explored the ancient city of Ephesus. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Ephesus is nothing short of stunning. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Ephesus is nothing short of stunning. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

If you’ve been to Ephesus before, you may be wondering about that last sentence. Ephesus today is a good 40-minute drive from the nearest ocean, and the port city of Kusadasi. Things started going wrong for Ephesus around the mid-600’s, when the sea began to retreat from its former harbour. Dredging couldn’t keep up with the sea’s recoil, and Ephesus gradually lost its status as a port city. With the ocean gone, numerous merchants left.

Ephesus struggled on until the 1300’s, when the city was largely abandoned. It wasn’t until 1869 that traces of the city were found, buried over time by sand and dirt. Since then, Ephesus has gradually and painstakingly been excavated and restored, but it is estimated that only between 10 and 15 percent of the city has been uncovered. The remainder still lies hidden in the hills.

Evidence of ancient ingenuity is present throughout Ephesus, from modern-style drainage pipes to irrigation systems used to transport fresh water. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Evidence of ancient ingenuity is present throughout Ephesus, from modern-style drainage pipes to irrigation systems used to transport fresh water. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

I had last been to Ephesus on a trip in High School, some 14 years ago. I was amazed at how much more of the city has been excavated in that time, but I was once again moved by how spectacular this site is, arguably anchored by the breathtaking Library of Celsus and the massive Roman amphitheatre that could have seated 25,000 spectators. A girl in my class 14 years ago was studying opera; she stood at the bottom of the stage and sang for us, while we sat on the highest reaches of the theatre. Her voice echoed and cascaded perfectly over the centuries-old stone with acoustics that rival modern-day theatres.

A cat takes shelter beneath the ruins...Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

A cat takes shelter beneath the ruins…Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

...near the imposing Library of Celsus. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

…near the imposing Library of Celsus. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Library detail. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Library detail. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Only roughly 10 percent of Ephesus has been uncovered from the hillside. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Only roughly 10 percent of Ephesus has been uncovered from the hillside. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The World's Oldest Road: this, at one time, led to Ephesus Harbour. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The World’s Oldest Road: this, at one time, led to Ephesus Harbour. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The Roman Ampitheatre, capable of seating up to 25,000 spectators. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

The Roman Ampitheatre, capable of seating up to 25,000 spectators. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Everything in Ephesus seems so much more impressive than what we have today. Thousands of years from now, will future generations unearth remnants of our “ancient” civilisation – a Starbucks location? A Burger King? A Wal-Mart?

The drive from Ephesus to Izmir’s Adnan Menderes Airport gave me time to reflect on my brief time aboard EUROPA 2. Our full Live Voyage Report:

Click here to continue reading!

Our Live Voyage Report onboard Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ EUROPA 2 has sadly come to a close, but our next journey begins in just a few days! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

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