Electronically Serving Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, & Rosemead


This is the sixth in a series of articles about a trip to the interesting country of Turkey


By Charles N. Stevens

Past the theater at Ephesus, we move down a marble street lined with columns that once led

to the harbor. Ephesus was also a harbor city but silting of the river estuary left it far away from the sea. On our way out now, we exit along a path lined with pine trees. “Temple” dogs, thin and subdued and hoping for a handout, meet us along the way. Two dogs with puppies somewhere trot along with us, their swollen teats swinging from side to side.

Because of the numbing cold, we had zipped through the ruins faster than usual. As a result, our bus is not there to meet us. Chilled to the very cores of our beings, we stand in the wind, waiting. Our guide, realizing that the bus will be late, herds us into a small tea house. The relative warmth of the tea house sooths us and gives us refuge from the wind. Most of us order apple tea, a hot citric-apple brew that is delicious, refreshing and above all, warming. The proprietor, seeing that he has us “captured” offers us gold jewelry for sale, but none of us are interested. He unhappily gives up.

The bus finally arrives and takes us to a roadside restaurant just outside of Selcuk. Winter-bare trees guard the stone restaurant, and large windows allow us views of the orchards and hills. A single wood stove burns furiously inside, but it is largely ineffective in heating the room. Some people hover around it for warmth. Another round of apple tea does more to warm us up. Waiters serve us a salad of cooked but cold Italian beans then follow it up with a kind of meat pie, ground meat and peas within a flaky crust. Our main dish is shish kabob and rice. Each person is given an apple and an orange at the end of the meal. Outside, snow showers hide the higher hills, and just outside our windows snowflakes fall wildly and haphazardly among the leafless branches of the fruit trees.

Not much remains either of St. John’s Basilica, the burial place of St. John. Despite the cold, we prowl around among the ruins and finally see the large sarcophagus that supposedly holds the remains of St. John.

A short bus ride into town takes us to the Ephesus Museum. The people we see on the streets on the way in are all draped in overcoats, heavy jackets knit caps and scarves wrapped many times around their necks and faces. Unfortunately, the museum is not heated, so we must wear our gloves, jackets and our knit caps over our ears to view the exhibits. Although some of the displays are dimly lit, the collection is both vast and valuable and well worth our time even under these trying conditions. Many of the best statues and sculptures from the rubble of Ephesus are one display. The most interesting statue is that of Artemis who is hung with egg-like structures all over her body. Some people think they represent breasts while others believe they are testicles. One group believes they are eggs. All of them represent fertility in some form, so the symbols may represent all of these. We also view items used every day by the Romans— oil lamps, jewelry, glassware, pottery, and cooking utensils. Outside, snow begins to drift down in the patio.

From the museum we travel east out of Selcuk as the highway rises higher into the hills. The higher we climb, the harder it snows. Snow sticks to the ground now, and all the fields and hills around us are dusted with white. Near the crest of the hills, the bus turns in to the parking lot of a leather “factory”. We enter the large showroom with its racks of jackets and its smell of leather expecting a little warmth, but the heating is entirely inadequate, and the place is as cold as a barn. We sit down in large, cold chairs as a young man wearing glasses tells us all about the different types of leather jackets they have on sale. While we listen, another young man carrying a large tray serves us drinks. Most people choose tea, but Dolores and I ask for the Turkish wine. We sip the red wine out of little rough ceramic cups. Dolores, making a strange face at the taste, leaves most of hers after only a few sips.

Not being in the market for the expensive leather jackets, Dolores and I decide to go outside then walk across the highway to an outdoor railway museum. We had seen the old locomotives standing in the snow on our way in. As we wait for the highway to clear on one side, a man with a loaded donkey tries to cross from the other side. The donkey does not want to cross the highway, so the man has to pull it with a rope. The donkey’s hoofs slide and slip on the pavement as he resists being pulled.

Once on the other side of the road, we walk a short distance along a gravel road to the museum. The delicate white snowflakes sifting down contrast with the black hugeness of the old steam locomotives. Their driving wheels are still proudly trimmed in white while other parts are trimmed in Turkish red. Each of the dozen or so behemoths carries the star and crescent symbol on its side, the symbol of Turkey. Their fires out long ago, they stand in the cold with no place to go. Their uselessness saddens me. We walk on to the modern railroad line, but no trains come by. The melting snowflakes wet the quiet rails.

Along a sidetrack trudges a man leading a donkey loaded down with firewood. Beneath the cloth wrapped around his head for warmth, the man’s face looks cold, dirty, and unhappy. The look of hopelessness in his eyes is as empty and cold as the old locomotives. Slightly behind him follows his wife whose tattered clothing swaddles her body and loops around her head and mouth. She wears the same cold, tortured look on her face. Her fingers and arms grasp wet pieces of firewood, scraps she has picked up along the way. Snowflakes settle around them as they plod along the railroad track. I think about our tour group across the street deciding which leather jacket to buy.

On the way back to Kusadasi, the bus driver chooses a narrow road through the hills. We pass lonely olive groves with black olives peeking out through the gray-green foliage and fluffy layers of fresh snow caught in the larger branches. Snow also lodges like cotton balls in the twigs and leaves of the chaparral shrubs which cover most of the hills. We briefly glide by stands of pine and isolated farmhouses made from field stones where hardy people eke out a living.

Once on the other side of the hills, the snow ceases, and we have a clear view of the harbor and the city of Kusadasi. Just offshore from the city on a small island stands the remains of a medieval fortress erected by the Crusaders on their way to the Holy Land.

We walk down the stairs for dinner, our group all sitting together in the otherwise empty dining room. Winter is not the hotel’s high season. We start with a nice cream of chicken soup then an appetizer, noodles and cheese blended and baked into flat, crispy cakes. Our main course is chunks of veal mixed with vegetables, a scoop of rice at the side. Dolores has dessert, small chocolate-covered cream puffs. We sit across the table from a very nice couple from San Jose, California. We like them immediately—there is an instant blending of frequencies, our waves mingling in perfect synchronization, travelling at the same speed. It is better than the static or bad reception we have had in our interactions with the others.

In our room once more, I pull the curtain away from the window. The snow has ceased. We are concerned about our trip to Pergamum tomorrow which will require hours outdoors. I step out on our tiny balcony, big enough for only two chairs, and I am met with an icy wind that nearly takes my breath away. I look down below at the olive grove. It is white except under the trees where the branches blocking the snow have made a circular pattern of black. Snow rests delicately on the leaves and limbs. Out in the frigid blackness, the waves slosh gently against the shore.

MONTEREY PARK AUTHOR PUBLISHES 4th BOOK – Seeking More of the Sky: Growing Up in the 1930’s:

Charles “Norm” Stevens, a 49 year resident of Monterey Park has recently published his 4th book: Seeking More of the Sky: Growing Up in the 1930’s. This is the story of a young boy growing up in Inglewood, California in the l930’s. This was a time during the depression when unemployment was affecting many and the banks were closed, while the clouds of war were gathering in Europe. But he was lucky enough to be raised in a loving family, the power of that love reflected throughout his stories.

Stevens is the author of three previous books about his experiences during WWII:

An Innocent at Polebrook: A Memoir of an 8th Air Force Bombardier (Story of his 34 bombing missions from his base at Polebrook, England over Germany and France)

The Innocent Cadet: Becoming A World War II Bombardier (A prequel to the first, telling of his training in the U.S. before going overseas into combat.)

Back from Combat: A WWII Bombardier Faces His Military Future from Combat: (This book details the time from when he returned from combat in England until the end of the war.)

He is known to the readers of The Citizen’s Voice as the author of Travel Log Articles including “Cruising the Rhine and Mosel”,” Best of the West”, “In Search of Snow” ,  “From Paris to Normandy on the Seine”, and “Exploring New York”.  He is retired, having taught for 32 years, primarily in the Montebello Unified School District.

Those interested in purchasing an autographed copy of any of his books, may contact the author at 323-721-8230 or  Normstevens24@gmail.com.

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