March 21, 2014

i like lamb, but i LOVE turkey.

So last week I was in TURKEY! Sorry this is going to be a huge post but I was in Turkey for a week so what do you expect? It was an amazing week but I am happy to be home in Jerusalem.
We left the center at 3 in the morning on Sunday. SO early! It was crazy. We rode Pegasus!
The first few days there were pretty cold. We landed in Istanbul and went straight to touring. It was raining a bit. Our tour guide was Yasmine and she was great. Istanbul is an amazing city, I loved it. The first thing I noticed in Turkey was how many mosques there was! It was amazing! There over 80,000 mosques. It was like driving through Utah and counting all the church steeples. It is two continents in one city, how cool is that? It was very European. It is on the water and it almost reminded me of Seattle with the waterfront, trees and rain. We first saw Hagia Sofia which is an amazing old Mosque. It was the largest church in the world for nearly a thousand years. It is huge! It was amazing seeing all the architecture and mosaics. Hagia Sofia has 40 domes!
We then went to the Archaeological Museum where we saw Ishtar gate!
We came back to the hotel and ate dinner. I felt like we pretty much had the same meal all of Turkey. Some was really good and others were okay. We had lentil soup and bread every meal but it was so good. We then did some exploring that night. We took the metro to the Bosphorus River. We walked around and saw the pretty lights on the bridge. It was pretty nice out, no rain!
Monday we went to the Hippodrome of Constantinople. There was only a few columns still standing. It was raining literally the whole day which kind of sucked. 
We then went inside the blue mosque which is just across from Hagia Sophia. We had to take off our shoes and the girls had to wear scarves. It is newer than Hagia Sophia. The mosque was beautiful. I loved all the tiles.
We then went to the Topkapi Palace. The Sultans lived there for 400 years. The palace was huge! I was amazed how big the rooms were. They were lots of exhibits and treasuries. We got to see huge diamonds, clothes, swords, and some hair off of Muhammad's beard! It was pretty cool!
We then took a private ferry ride on the Bosphorus River. It was so much fun. It was possible my favorite part of the trip. I love the water and ferry rides. It was still raining but that didn't bother me! I have been on ferry rides in Seattle in the rain before and I think they are so much fun. I loved taking pictures of the cost. There were the coolest houses, I love the different colors of them. There were mansions that costed so much money. 
Next we went to the Basilica cistern next. It is a huge underground cistern, built by Justinian in the 6th century. It was pretty cool. There were two columns that had huge Medusa heads on them. In greek mythology, Medusa was on of the Gorgons. She had snakes for her hair, and whoever looked at her turned to stone.
We then went to the Grand Bazaar which is a huge market! It was super sweet. I wish we got more time there. There was a lot of touristy stuff. I got some of these bowls, earrings, a coin purse, and a turkey shirt. It was lots of fun. I love talking to the vendors.
After dinner a bunch of us went to taxsim which is a place where people hang out, there is food and music. I got hot chocolate from mccdonalds and a scarf. It was fun being out. I love turkey so much.

Tuesday we had a long bus ride to Gallipoli. We saw snow on the way there, it was weird seeing snow. Gallipoli is one of the battlefields during WWI. It is a long the beach on the peninsula. We walked along Anzak and it was beautiful. It was really cool being there where such significant events were and where so many people died. It was really touching. Germany and Austria-Hungary fought against the U.S., Britain, France and Russia. About 250,000 soldiers died on both sides. Today, Australians and New Zealanders honor the sacrifice of their countrymen at Gallipoli on ANZAC Day. There is a cemetery there where we could remember those who lost in the great battle. 
We ate lunch on the water, it was gorgeous {but cold}.
so many long bus rides

We then took a ferry across Dardanelles. It was really fun. Ramsey crowd surfed as you can see. I met some cute turkish kids who loved us.
We then went to TROY! We walked around Troy and looked at all the ruins. The Trojan War was the subject of the movie Troy. We got to go up to the Trojan Horse and took some pics, this is where I lost my phone...
We stayed at a pretty cool hotel, The rooms were all in little houses and it was on the water with a pretty pool, it was more than a summer resort, so for the winter it wasn't the best. I was pretty worried I lost my phone. Yasmine said she would called Troy in the morning but they didn't open until 8. My teachers were very nice and let us stop at Troy in the morning. We were the last ones there Tuesday and the first ones there on Wednesday. We get there and one of the workers is holding my phone in his hand! I was so relieved! He found it on top of the Trojan Horse! Prayers were answered!!
We then headed to Assos. We hiked up a little hill to look over the Aegean Sea. It was SO beautiful! We were so close to Greece it was killing me! I really want to go to Greece. We could see Lesbos Island, where the name Lesbian came from actually because a bunch of women lived there. There is a large temple to Athena with massive Doric columns on the hill on Assos. Paul probably taught the gospel to people living along the road from Troas to Assos. When Paul arrived to Assos, he probably walked through the massive columns at the city gates on the west side of the city. Brother Belnap talked about Paul, we talked a lot about Paul when we were in Turkey.

We then went to Pergamon. Pergamon is the ancient site at the modern city of Bergama. It was an amazing ancient city. We took a cable car up to the top of the mountain. There were lots of shops. It was finally getting sunny so it was way nice. Pergamon has the second largest library in world. The theater was so large! Many of the huge columns from the Temple of Trajan remain. Although there is no account of it in the Book of Acts, some for the residents of Pergamon accepted the gospel during the 1st century. Pergamon was one of the seven church of Asia Minor to which John addressed the Book of Revelation. We then drove to Ephesus to our hotel. Holy cow it was amazing. Probably the nicest hotel I have stayed in. It was on the beach. I wish it was summer though so we could swim. It was still fun going on the beach at night. 
Pic with Bro Belnap
Thursday we started at Church of St. John. Some believe that john was buried here, but we believe he was translated. There was a baptismal font which was pretty cool. From there you could see the Temple of Artemis, but the only thing that remains is a tall column. It is believed to be the temple talked in Acts 19. 
Next was Ephesus! I was amazed how huge it was! We saw carving of Nike, the goddess, this is where the swoosh came from. The Great Roman Theater was amazing!! It was unbelievably huge. It can seat 25,000 people. This is the theater in Acts 19 where there is a huge riot. Paul was teaching there was hurting the people. People of Ephesus took some of Paul's companions by force into the theater, where they cried out for two hours "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians". Paul was so strong, he was an amazing missionary!
We then stopped to Priene. I liked Priene because I felt like I was in Oregon with all the trees around me, I felt like I was in a forest. It was gorgeous with a pretty view. The Ionic temple of Athena is one of the most beautiful examples of Greek architecture in the world. The theater is small but well preserved. We were on the buses ready to go but we were missing Laura and Chase. They finally show up while holding baby goats. hahaha we were all like what the heck? Dr. whitchurch and Yasmine had to go take them back up to find there mom. It was pretty funny. Everyone was mad cause they wanted to go back to the hotel to see the sunset on the beach and to go swimming.
We barely made the sunset and we still go to go swimming in the huge pool!
Friday was a long driving day. We went to Sardis which is one of the seven church of the Roman province Asia. The earliest biblical reference to Sardis may be Obadiah 1:20. Obadiah mentioned the gathering of scattered Judah, that "the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south." Sepharad may refer to Sardis. Most of the archaeological remains at Sardis date to the Roman and Byzantine periods.
We had a 4.5 hour bus ride and I think we all went crazy in the back because we made up a "southern tribe". We had a council which were the boys and they were just trying to control us. Hard to explain..but it was the funniest thing ever. We bonded to much this trip. Brother Belnap got to know us real well.
We got to stop by the Bursa bazaar and silk market, we were only there for a little because shops were closing but we went back in the morning. We tried some of the best honey!
Saturday morning we went to the Grand Mosque in Bursa. It had a fountain in the middle of it which I thought was interesting cause most mosques have it outside for where they wash themselves. I loved the calligraphy in this Mosque.
We then went back to the bazaar. This bazaar was less touristy and it was like there mall. I got a scarf for me and gifts for others. They are known for their silk. Their scarves were way nice. It was really fun shopping. All the guys came back with a new wardrobe it was way funny.
Ayasofya Camii (Church of Divine Wisdom | Mosque)
Washing themselves before going into the mosque.
We then went to Nicea (modern Iznik). It was beautiful weather out that day luckily. The town was really cute. It is the place where the tile was made for the Dome of the Rock. We sat on the lake and Brother Belnap gave a great lesson. 
We then to a Ferry to the Asian side of Istanbul so we could catch our flight. We ate dinner at burger king in the mall. It was chaos. Not even the teachers knew what they were doing. It was pretty funny. I love talking to turkish people. They are so nice. 
We spent so much time on that bus. Probably most time on the bus than the sites, well at least it felt like it. It was kind of fun though. I feel like we all act like we are in middle school here. It is pretty hilarious. We live in this bubble and I don't want to go back to real life. I miss Turkey already! It was loads of fun and I love everything about that country! It was also my first time in Europe! Also this is the evil eye, that keeps the devil away. It's a culture thing. I loved learning about the teachings of Paul and his great journey.

|| see you soon turkey ||

1 comment:

  1. WOW Natalie! I'm ALWAYS so impressed with your story and pictures! I've also noticed that there sure are lot of guys that like having their picture taken with YOU! What can I say - you are beautiful, fun, funny, sincere, motivated, spiritual and people LOVE being with you! Love the evil eyes, the DOOR, the cute kitten!