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Turkey is a sprawling and diverse country, and Kuşadası exemplifies this diversity. While some parts of the city have been built up to resemble a beach resort, you can still get an authentic taste in other parts. Many of the beaches are quite unpopulated, and when you travel into the heart of the town, you don't get a bustling touristy feeling at all. Instead, you are likely to marvel at the glorious historical and architectural sights, enjoy one of the great dining facilities, or lounge around a cozy bar and have a drink with one of the locals.
Today, Kusadasi is a city famous for its spectacular sunsets and interesting bazaars — and as the jumping-off point for tours of ancient Ephesus. If you're not into ancient ruins, the best way to enjoy Kusadasi (if you pronounce it Koosh-ah-DAH-suh you'll be OK) is by spending the majority of your time at the beach or by one of the fabulous swimming pools. If you are one to trust the masses, then visit Kusadasi in the summertime when the normal winter population of 40,000 balloons to an overwhelming 400,000. But even in the summer, you will still be able to find beautiful and secluded beach areas and enjoy a peaceful dinner by the sea.
Exploring the ruins of Ephesus (pronounced EFF-uh-sus) is probably the most fascinating thing to do after arriving in Kusadasi. Here, you are given the chance to travel around a cultural site full of incredible historic architecture. (If you're Christian, you'll likely recall the Book of the Ephesians in the Bible.)
The ancient towns of Priene, Didyma and Miletus can also be observed in their original state. You should be able to see all three of these sites if you plan accordingly, and if you do, you will be in for a real treat. The best location within the three cities is the Temple of Apollo at Didyma. This is virtually the last standing relic of this great city, but it more than makes up for what is lacking. This impressive edifice was erected around 6th century BC and, when it was built, it was the tallest building in the world. The columns stand more than 60 feet into the air, and the huge stone discs supporting the building are worth a look.
The Dilek National Park (0256/614-1009) separates the Turkish mainland and Samos Island. Located within the park is an exquisite nature preserve, comprised of a mountainous region and a great beach area. A military base still stands on the premises as well, but you are permitted to travel around the area freely. An abundance of wildlife exists in the park, but be warned: It truly is wildlife, so exercise caution in your interaction with the animals.
Kusadasi is basically a beach resort, and there are a couple of beaches that are notable. More special than the beaches are the great water sports that have been made available by the existence of a couple of new companies. Ladies Beach is the most famous and entertaining beach in Kusadasi. Depending on your stance on public nudity, however, you may want to leave the kids home. The Grand Blue Sky Beach is more modern and well kept. The water sports outlets and eateries here are great. Contact Blue Sky Water Sports (0256/612-7750) for jet ski, water ski and sea kayak rentals. Guvercin Ada is a more secluded and tranquil beach, with nothing but sand and a calm, blue sea. It is a perfect beach for swimming, sun bathing or just relaxing. Kustur Beach is a popular and sometimes crowded spot, but it offers the most things to do. The Water Sports Center rents all kinds of equipment, including parasails, water skis, windsails and surfboards.
The Marina Restaurant is located inside the Kismet Hotel and features an outstanding mix of European and Turkish cuisine. The outdoor terrace overlooking the harbor is magnificent, and the outstanding food complements the extraordinary atmosphere. The steaks, pastas and salads are all delicious, and there is a dinner buffet for all you big eaters. Ali Baba can be found at Belediye Turistik Çarsisi 5 (0256/614-1551) and is the premiere establishment for fresh seafood. The fish is prepared marvelously, and if you reserve your table ahead of time, you will be treated to a view of the sunset while you enjoy your fresh catch of the day.
Heaven is a hot nightclub that is fun as long as you are in an adventurous mood, as it can get quite loud and boisterous. Titanium is located on Ataturk Bulvari and is a great disco full of music and light shows.
Cruise ships dock at the Port of Kusadasi. You can take a taxi from the port to any destination in the city.
While in Kusadasi, the best way to travel is via the dolmus, public minibuses that travel to all the tourist sites and surrounding regions of Kusadasi. Each minibus holds 15 passengers, and prices vary by municipality, although all are affordable. Another option is to take one of the local Taksis. The drivers also function as knowledgeable guides to their homeland, and you can arrange for a personalized driving tour of the region.
If you're making the 45-minute bus ride to Ephesus, chances are that your cruise line or tour company has already made arrangements in advance.
Document: U.S. and Canadian citizens will need a passport.
Language: Turkish, although guides speak English
Currency: Turkish Lira
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