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We were determined to make an early start to see the ruins at Ephesus today. Having looked up arrivals at Kuşadası, the cruise port nearest to Ephesus, the other day I'd realised that there were two ships due to be in port today: one carrying 4,200 passengers and one another 2,000. That was a lot of people to be descending on one set of ruins at the same time! I set my alarm for 7am and we're staying nearby enough that we'd made it to Ephesus and parked by around 07.50. There are two separate entrances to the Ephesus site; a north and south gate. We'd chosen to enter via the north gate, as it was closer to two of the main sites I wanted to see, and also I'd read that most coach tours were dropped off at the south gate. It was definitely quiet at the north gate before 8am, with only a couple of other cars in the car park. We queued up and bought our tickets, becoming (we think!) the 6th and 7th people to get into Ephesus this morning. Wow! One of the key sights I really wanted to see was the Great Theatre. I'd read that this was near the north entrance and sure enough, we caught sight of it almost straight away. The theatre has an estimated seating capacity of 25,000, making it one of the largest theatres in the ancient world. It certainly looked huge! We almost had it to ourselves, although not quite. In addition to a couple of other tourists, there was a pack of stray dogs living in Ephesus who decided to follow us in. They weren't aggressive though and kept their distance (well, I kept my distance from them; Tim made friends with them!) After the theatre we made our way down one of the long streets of Ephesus. This led us to a viewpoint looking out over the agora, almost devoid of people at this time of the morning. In the distance, we also got our first view of the other main sight I was excited to see at Ephesus. This is the Library of Celsus. It was commissioned by a Roman consul in memory of his father and became the third most important library in the Roman world, second only to the libraries in Alexandria and Pergamum. The library is estimated to have held 12,000 different scrolls. Unfortunately, the contents of the library were completely destroyed by a fire following an invasion of Goths in 262 AD. The marble facade survived the fire, but was then toppled by an earthquake in the 10th or 11th century. Austrian archaeologists reconstructed the facade between 1970 and 1978, resulting in what we can see today. It's a really beautiful building and it was so great to see it with hardly any other people around Once we'd finished admiring the library, we walked down through the agora. It was really quiet and peaceful here still. In the distance on the hill we could see an area covered by a protected roof. These are the so-called terraced houses, the remains of a collection of homes inhabited by wealthy Romans. There are still archaeologists at work here, piecing together bits of marble and stone. As we followed a path around the different rooms we could see the remains of all sorts of decorations and paintings. Some walls were really colourful... ...while others looked like they had had more tasteful decorations. As we climbed a series of metal staircases and ladders, more and more floors opened up beneath us. And then once we got to the top, we were able to see the mosaics. Again, there was hardly anyone else in here at this time of the morning. That was good because I think it would have been quite claustrophobic trying to climb the various staircases and being blocked by large tour parties. As it was we were able to stop and enjoy things as much as we wanted. And when we finally emerged into daylight at the top of the houses, we had a great view down across Ephesus from on high. By the time we'd climbed back down to ground level, the first of the the tour groups were starting to make their way towards us from the south gate. Tim managed to expertly negotiate a group of Chinese tourists to take a photo of the Temple of Hadrian. From this point our route led uphill, while almost everyone else was walking downhill from the south gate. At first we met fairly small groups of people... ...but it soon became bigger and bigger crowds. We still found some impressive sights on this side of Ephesus, though. The theatre-shaped building in the background of this picture was the town's odeon and seated around 1,500 people. Eventually we'd made our way more or less to the top of the site, so we turned around and began retracing our steps to the north gate where we'd started. By the time we made it back to the Library of Celsus, it was a bit busier than it had been first thing. The car park was also a lot busier! It had been almost empty when we'd arrived and now we estimated that there were at least 40 coaches. Breakfast at our hotel didn't start until 8am, so we had been exploring Ephesus on empty stomachs. We headed back to the hotel, where we got to try a more authentic Turkish breakfast than we've had for the past few days. We were slightly concerned when the above spread was placed on our table, unclear what many of the ingredients actually were! The little pots turned out to be a mixture of honey and various fruit jams. We also had feta cheese and a huge amount of tomato and cucumber which we didn't eat! Finally, we received a huge basket of bread, a pan containing two fried eggs and four little cheese pastries. It was definitely very different to a chip and bacon butty! After breakfast we sat outside on some of the hotel sun-loungers and admired the mountain views and the infinity pool. Despite the fact that it was a warm day, the water felt freezing so the closest I got to swimming was a paddle in the small pool When lunchtime came around, we drove into the town of Selçuk in search of a restaurant. We found one where I was able to try lahmacun, a Turkish pizza. When it came it was like a flatbread covered in minced meat. It was very tasty! We didn't know what any of the items on the dessert menu were, so chose two at random. The first was cold when it came, similar to a creme caramel. The second was called baked halva and it was the opposite: extremely warm! They were both very sweet and delicious After lunch we had a walk around Selçuk because there were a handful more sights which I wanted to see. The first of these was the final remaining pillar of the Temple of Artemis. It may not look too impressive now, but this column in the foreground is all that remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Today the column is also notable for having an enormous nest on top of it. We didn't see any birds today, but apparently this is a stork's nest. While not much remains of the temple, it was a really interesting viewpoint because from here we could also see the Isa Bey mosque, constructed in the 14th century, and Selçuk's Byzantine fortress. We walked a little closer to the mosque but it was undergoing reconstruction work so we couldn't get a great view. Our route took us past some of the old town walls. Finally, we ended up at the Basilica of St John, a 6th century church which is believed to stand over the burial site of St John the Apostle. This was a real tourist hotspot, with enormous coaches reversing up a small street. We didn't linger long but it was nice to get a glimpse. Overall it's been a really exciting day and I'm so pleased we managed to beat the majority of the crowds at Ephesus