The next day we rose early, ate, dealt with the water in the hotel running out while Julianne and others were fully soaped up or shampooed up and couldn’t rinse (a little bottle of water helped a bit, and I was smart/lucky enough to shower early, so I was okay) and out we went, walking up to the Grand Mosque. This is not a mosque for tourists, it is just a big, beautiful mosque. I loved it, it was beautiful.
The Grand Mosque of Bursa
Students learning outside the Grand Mosque
Chadwicks outside the Grand Mosque
Wanya preparing to enter the Mosque
Inside the Grand Mosque
More from inside the mosque
We were trying to make our schedule work out just right, and made several adjustments along the way. With all that, we found that information we had was not right, and we had to make some decisions as we drove. At the last minute we decided to go to Iznik, which is the site of ancient Nicaea, the place of the promulgation of the Nicene Creed. It took us out along a beautiful drive along a gorgeous lake. Then we got to the site that commemorates the council, and Jeff Chadwick did a great presentation on the Creed.
Me in front of the church commemorating the Council of Nicea
Inside the church
Jeff Chadwick teaching about the Council of Nicea inside the church that commemorates it
Then off we went on our drive again. As we did the beautiful drive back towards the Marmara, Jeff and I ran a radio station, KTRK. We would DJ, tell about the songs, make some good jokes, and play some good music. Some of them they danced to. I think we all had a great time.
Dancin' in the aisles
It made the last of the long drives just plain fun. I love doing stuff with Jeff, we have too much fun together. We had commentary, such as the weather and traffic together: “the lanes on this long highway are clear, but the shoulders are clogged with three tractors stuck behind a slow scooter that is being outpaced by a donkey on a cart” (that was all true) “and the weather is about like this.” Or, when we saw a guy shampooing his hair in a waterfall on the side of the road “tourist report: man seen rinsing shampoo out of his hair in a waterfall along the road. He must have stayed in the same hotel we did last night.” I referred to Jeff as the “Gladiator of the Airwaves, Chaddicus.” I had a great time, and I’m pretty sure the students did since I found this on one of their blogs: “Our professors, Muhlestein and Chadwick, kept us endlessly entertained by pretending to be DJs on the bus radio station, KTRK. They would play oldies and make hilarious commentary on the traffic and the weather. SO much fun =] We all enjoyed singing along. I think our tour guide was highly amused....”
Chaddicus, the gladiator of the Airwaves
We had a lot of long bus rides, but we came to love each other on these trips
We had a quick, good lunch (which included me realizing I had left my water on the bus, so I hurdled two different hedges, a guard rail, and chased down the moving bus, knocking on the door just as it was getting too fast for me and then getting on and getting my water, feeling like I had been in a movie). Then we drove to a ferry and had a very nice sail over to Istanbul. On the ferry I found a bus driver for Trojan Tours who had a Trojan Horse tie. I asked him if I could buy it. He said he needed it for his work, but he had a friend who had an extra. They tried to give it to me for free (very kind), but I paid him $5 for it. I am very excited to have a Trojan Horse tie bought from a Turkish tour guide on a ferry that was taking me from Asia minor across the Marmara towards Europe. That is a good purchase.
Sportin' my tie I just bought from a bus driver on the ferry
The view of Istanbul from the ferry
So, riding boats gives me a bit of a natural high. I had Chadwick convinced to climb on the row boat with me for a good photo pose. On the way down he pointed out that if we did it, so would every student who saw us (and there were a bunch right there), So we didn't do it. I was forced to look for another great pose.
So instead I found this lookout tower with a bell and a flag, and no students around. Perfect! Except for the worker cleaning up broken glass over there. So I told Julianne to be ready to get the shot. I went over, waited for the right moment, climbed up, and while he kept telling me to get down, did a fine pose for a moment or two while I talked to him, and then jumped down. But Julianne wasn't really ready (she failed me), and only got a photo in as I jumped down, after about five seconds of the perfect pose. Oh well, I love her anyway (but next time I will find a better photograper).
This is basically the trip we took, except for at the end we did not go around the Marmara, we took a ferry over just above Lake Nicea, just north and west of it. But pretty much this is the path we traveled.
We finally got to Istanbul (Constantinople, and yes we played the song a few times), and then drove to the Hagia Sophia. This is a huge church, long the largest one in the world. Constantine started it, but it was the emperor Justinian who made it huge. It was later made into a mosque, and now it is a museum with both Christian and Muslim elements left within. As cool as I have always heard it is, and as high as my hopes were, it was better. It is a huge, magnificent building. Outside doesn’t look like all that much anymore, though it still looks pretty good (a few earthquakes and a some tough structural adjustments made by changing occupants have hurt the outside a bit), but inside is breathtaking. It is magnificent. I really like that building, it is a great work.
Hagia Sophia from up close
Roof of the Hagia Sophia looking over towards the Blue Mosque
Inside the church
BJ and I inside the Hagia Sophia
Jul and I inside the church
More of the inside of the Hagia Sophia
Mosaic of Constantine giving the city, and Justinian giving the church, to Jesus Christ
Cool looking guy near the church and the bazaar
We went from there to a bazaar, and then from there to a wonderful dinner, and then to the airport, which was not too bad, though it had a hiccup or two.
Julianne and our tour agent, the amazingly wonderful Willeke, at dinner
BJ, Jul, Me, and Fatih, our tour guide who took such good care of us
The group waiting for the airline ticket counter to open
We had an 11:30 pm flight, took two hours to get into Ben Gurion airport, cleared customs, got luggage, got on the bus, and we were home by 3:30 am. I was pretty tired, but it was one whale of a good trip. I wish we could have taken these students to Egypt. It fits better with the curriculum, it is even better than this trip, and I love hearing them gasp when they first see the pyramids. But if we aren’t going to Egypt, this is an awfully good substitute, this is good stuff. And I am personally grateful to have done both. The Lord treats me better than I deserve.