European Tour Day 11 - Friday, May 23
The Tar Heels had the opportunity to visit the Basilica of St. John and the ruins of Ephesus on Friday before playing a match against Ece Taner's former club team, Issikent, at her high school in Izmir. UNC closed out its spring season and tour play with a 3-1 win.
CESME, Turkey - Last night upon arriving in Cesme and settling into our hotel, we were unable to see the ocean and all of the town's beauty. However, this morning we awoke to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, birds chirping, a fresh sea breeze, and a remarkable view. We started off our day by eating a traditional Turkish breakfast on the hotel's patio overlooking the waves. Just as every other day in our travels, we experienced new foods and encountered different methods of preparation. For example, this morning we ate something called a three minute egg. It looked like a hard boiled egg that you might find in America, however it was quite different than what we expected. While eating, we were greeted by a couple of cute stray kittens; some sweet, some not so sweet. They took a liking to the many cat lovers on the team.
After breakfast, we started our trip to Ephesus, the fourth biggest and oldest civilization in the world. The bus ride was much longer than expected; therefore, it was a constant struggle for each of us to keep our eyes open and give our undivided attention to our very outgoing Turkish tour guide. In order to not be disrespectful, the sleeping tactic of choice was to avoid direct eye contact with the use of sunglasses. During the battle with our eyelids, we were able to gather lots of good information about the long history of Turkey.
After our two hour bus trip, we arrived in Ephesus. We can speak for everyone when we say it was an incredible site to see. As we walked through, we saw the beautiful architecture and were able to appreciate the intricate details that it included. We snapped a few team pictures along the way which included one in front of the city's library. The library, amazingly, was still in fair condition as well as the coliseum, where gladiators and wild animals would fight and kill Christians. Some interesting things that we encountered were intelligence games, similar to chess, that were engraved into various marble passageways around the city. In addition, we saw symbols that were secretly engraved by Christians into marbles to let their presence in the city be known by other Christians. We were also able to see the traditional "wash room" used by citizens and were intrigued when we heard that many people had their slaves sit on the "toilets," otherwise known as holes, in the cold winters before they needed to use them so they would be warm. Lastly, we were able to see the Virgin Mary's house from a distance and the location of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Artemesium, a temple dedicated to Artemis.
After wandering through several shopping areas, we made our way to a beautiful restaurant tucked away in the hills. The meal was home cooked and buffet style. We were served traditional Turkish dishes and everyone seemed to really enjoy their meal. Although the meal was delicious, Ece's mother's meal on Thursday night takes the cake, literally.
After eating, we traveled to Ece's high school and were welcomed by her old teachers and classmates. We exchanged our jerseys for their t-shirts and enjoyed a wonderful dinner in the school's courtyard following the match. Most importantly, we won 3-1. Go Heels!
The trip is coming to a close and we are all so grateful that we have has this wonderful opportunity to see some amazing things. We concluded our last match of the spring season today, and we are all looking forward to our last day lounging on the beach and enjoying each other's company. The good times and laughs continue.