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Jul 30, 2013

Ancient Ephesus & The House of the Virgin Mary

Truth be told, I had barley heard of Ephesus before booking our cruise. I had no idea this ancient Greek city (and later a Roman city) was home to one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. I was clueless as to the fact that Ephesus was one of the seven churches of Asia cited in the book of Revelations by the Apostle John. Or that the Gospel of John might have been written here. This city and its ruins sit upon hallowed ground. Ground to which thousands of years of history occurred and subsequently left Turkey with one of the most spectacular outdoor museums in the Northern hemisphere.

As I mentioned before, we ported into Kusadasi with some unseasonable weather. Fog, torrential downpours, and chilly winds greeted us as we made our way off the ship to find our tour guide for the day. Per the suggestion of my good friend, Jessica, D and I booked a tour with Ephesus Deluxe, and they did not disappoint. Granted, the weather made our day in Ephesus a little more complicated (and a lot more muddy), but our tour guide knew exactly where to go and what to see to maximize our short time there. Our first stop was the House of the Virgin Mary just 20 miles northeast of the port in Kusadasi. This house is said to be the home where Jesus' mother, Mary, spent the last days of her life. Although this has never been authenticated as fact, the Roman Catholic Church has recognized it as a shrine to the Virgin Mother. In present day, the house (although not the original structure) is now a sacred site for both Christian an Muslim believers. Inside the small, stone structure are 2 rooms...a kitchen and a bedroom. The interior is kept quiet and simple, fitted only with an altar, candles, and images of Mary. There is also a spring that runs underneath the house that is said to have healing properties. Many believers make pilgrimages to the house and spring each year hoping to be blessed with a healing miracle. After you exit the house, down the stairs to the left are fountains where the spring water can be touched. You can also leave a prayer to the Virgin Mary on the wall beside the spring. Had it not been pouring down rain, we probably would have left one. 

After our quick stop at the House of the Virgin Mary, we hopped back in the van and made our way down to the ruins of ancient Ephesus. Ephesus was once one of the biggest cities of the Roman Empire in the times of Christ. Previously a thriving seaport and trade center for the ancient world, Ephesus now lies about 5 miles inland from the Aegean coastline. The city was famed for the Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), a temple dedicated to the goddess of the hunt, but now only one single column and its foundation remain. The extensive ruins of Ephesus include a gymnasium, large theatre (Odeum Theatre), the Terrace Houses (which I will show you later), and one of my favorite sites, the Library of Celsius (pictured in the next to last photo). As of today, only about 15% of the metropolis has been excavated. As we walked the stone streets, taking in the words of our tour guide, we imagined what life was like back in the 1st century BC. It was fascinating to see remnants of old bathing quarters, Greek messages written in marble, and pieces of ionic columns laying in puddles, seemingly forgotten with the passing of time. At the end of our visit to ancient Ephesus, our tour guide gave us a list of bible verses that mentioned various temples and places we'd just visited. In case any of you are interested in reading more about Ephesus from the words of Paul (such as his first letter to the Corinthians) or Apostle John, the book of Acts (and 1 Corinthians) heavily mentions it. Even though I didn't know much before visiting Ephesus and its ruins, I left with a wealth of knowledge and newfound love of this ancient city. Even the crowds and the rain couldn't damper that.

More from ancient Ephesus coming soon!
[Linking up with Bonnie & Belinda for Travel Tuesday]

Jul 29, 2013

Mushiness For Your Monday

Guys, my heart is bursting at the seams with all the love floating around me this weekend! D and I had an AMAZING time celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary in France...we can't believe it flew by so fast! We both have been to France before, but had never experienced the French countryside and little villages along the Route des Vins d'Alsace (Alsace wine road). After being in Alsace for all of 5 minutes, I think I might have found a new favorite village. Riquewihr gave my beloved Rothenburg ob der Tauber a good run for its money. Cuteness overload! Not to worry, friends, I have quite a few photos and some Alsace recaps to share with you (eventually), but for now, in case you had a brain fart and aren't following me on Instagram (ahem)...below are a few photos from our enchanting weekend touring French wine country. It was unbearably hot (I'm talking 104ºF on Saturday), but somehow this cute boy got me through it. Well, him and the wine. Wine always helps. ;) I also wanted to thank each and every one of you who sent us "Happy Anniversary!" messages, tweets, and congratulations yesterday and throughout the weekend. You added so much more happiness to our special weekend! Yet another reason why the blogging community is so amazing to me. You celebrate when we celebrate. I big puffy heart love you all!

Jul 26, 2013

FRESH FACE FRIDAY [& BLOG HOP]: Meet Chelsea & Amanda

Umm...where did this Friday come from? I swear, it just snuck up on me this week. Not that I'm complaining or anything. D and I have BIG plans for the weekend. B-I-G. We're celebrating 6 wonderful years of wedded bliss on Sunday! I can hardly believe it myself. 6 AMAZING YEARS! I'm feeling rather blessed, my friends. That husband o' mine is the bee's knees, if you didn't already know. ;) While our anniversary isn't officially until Sunday, the celebration starts this afternoon as D whisks me away for a romantic trip to the Alsace wine region of FRANCE! We've tried German wines all over Germany, Italian wines in Tuscany, so we figured we needed to be well rounded and get some French wines under our belt. And about a thousand macarons. You KNOW that's happening. Only not-so-fun thing about this weekend? It's going to be in the 90's, temperature-wise. Our hotel has ZERO air conditioning, so we might melt. But at least we'll melt in France. Life could be worse! So, while I'm lovin' on the hubs and traipsing around Colmar, Riquewihr, and a few other French villages I can't pronounce, you should make your way over to meet my 2 STUNNING Fresh Face's this Friday! They're both blonde, they both live and teach English in South Korea, and they're both two of my favorite friends and expat bloggers (girls, please tell me you know each other...you'd be like two peas in a pod!). While you're here, don't forget to link up your blog to the Fresh Face Friday Blog Hop at the bottom of this post! And tell your friends, will ya? Au revoir, my dears!

Wanna follow along in our French adventures this weekend? Follow my Instagram stream! 
{username @CaseyCote}

OH! And the winner of last week's drawing for one free month of the Fresh Face Friday ad spot is: Kayli of Kayli Wanders! Congrats! Expect an email from me soon, Kayli! And thanks to all those who linked up last week!


Brains, beauty, and a heart for travel? What more could you want out of a blogger? Miss Chelsea, the writer behind the Lost in Travels blog, has got all that and more! After getting married to the love of her life, Chelsea (and her hubby) decided to make the move to a small South Korean island for a little adventure. Over on her blog, you'll find recaps of their amazing travels around Asia, stories about acclimating to South Korean culture (I especially love this one!), and lots of tips on travel (excellent reads if you're about to jet off on vacation this summer!). If Chelsea's fun-loving writing style and fascinating life abroad doesn't hook you, I'm not sure what will! Head on over and make friends with this lovely lady. She's as sweet as they come!

Chelsea's Favorite Posts:

My Favorite Posts:

Friends, meet Amanda--expat, travel junkie, and the gorgeous blogger behind Living In Another Language! Over on Amanda's little slice of the interwebs, she introduces us to her exciting life living and teaching English in South Korea, takes us along on her travels around Asia (love these recaps from her trip to Vietnam!), and shares funny interactions she's had with some of her students. I swear, she's got the cutest kids to teach! I'm also really digging her Friday Funnies link-up and posts! Everyone could use a little more laughing in their lives, am I right? Please take some time today and get to know my sweet friend, Amanda. And be sure to come back and link-up your Friday Funnies, too! 

Amanda's Favorite Posts:

My Favorite Posts:

Welcome to the
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Hosted by: Casey @ We Took the Road Less Traveled

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5| Want to be a co-host? Click here for more info! 
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Jul 23, 2013

Kusadasi, Turkey

On day 7 of our Mediterranean cruise, we pulled into a misty, foggy dock in Kusadasi, Turkey. After spending the previous 2 days exploring Istanbul in 80 degree, sunshiny weather, it was a bit of a disappointment to sail into Kusadasi with less than desirable weather conditions. In fact, it was a disappointment to have ANY rain on a glorious Mediterranean cruise in the first place, but that seemed to be a theme of our entire sailing (ironically enough). We had a full day before us...touring around the ancient city of Ephesus just a short drive from Kusadasi...and we weren't going to let the weather ruin our day! Truth is, if we waited around for a dry day in Europe, we might never see a thing. So, D and I slipped on our raincoats, grabbed our umbrellas, and made the best of our short time in Turkey, rain be darned! Today, I just thought I'd share the few photos I have of the port in Kusadasi. We really didn't get to wander around this bustling seaside town, but I imagine, had it been less rainy, we would have found a spot to lounge and enjoy the Turkish sunshine. Maybe next time?

Linking up with Bonnie & Belinda for Travel Tuesdays!
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