Saturday, October 3, 2015

Turkey Trip Part 1

Sabbath was a wonderful experience. Branch Council was great. Sabbath meetings were great. Afterwards we had a little get together where we had small snacks for everyone and a chance to just socialize with others. It was very nice to visit with people I don’t usually get the chance to visit with. There are some great people around here, and we really enjoy getting to know them all.

That afternoon I spent packing for Turkey. At dinner we started some conversations that I thought were really useful. We talked with the kids about the gospel, about responsible use of electronics and then had a conversation about pornography. It went well. We used an excellent video the church has created for teaching children about this horrible danger. We got the video from 

Very early the next morning it was time to leave for Turkey. Fortunately Tashara was delightful this morning, and on time, and we got on our way with no problems at all. It was a great morning and we got all the students up and on the bus and we were ready no problem. It was a good beginning to a good trip.

Tashara and I on the plane
We had no problems in the airport, and I slept from before takeoff until almost when we landed. It was the hardest landing I have ever experienced. We hit so hard I felt like my spine compacted, and I wondered if our tires could withstand that kind of landing. It was a crazy hard landing, but we ended up okay.

Getting through customs, etc., was no problem. The problems began at the baggage claim. Tashara and I checked in luggage together and they were on the same claim ticket. But hers came and mine didn’t. Two others did not get their luggage. Pegasus airline spent an hour trying to figure out what happened. They had never scanned the bar codes for any of the bags, so they had a hard time finding them. In the end they thought they were in Tel Aviv, but they weren’t sure. They had us fill out paperwork, and finally everyone could go, though we were sweating like crazy (the little office was very hot). 

We had lunch, and went to the Hagia Sophia. I love that building, it is a magnificent church (also mosque and museum). It was, for a very long time, the most important and magnificent church in all Christendom. Tashara and I had a great time there. 

Both classes in front of the Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia

Inside the Hagia Sophia

The famous mosaic at the exit of the Hagia Sophia. It depicts Constantine giving the city of Constantiople (Istanbul) and Justinian giving the church Hagia Sophia to Christ and Mary.

Tashara and I inside the Hagia Sophia

Then we went to the Basilica Cistern, which is really cool. 

A reused Medussa capital in the Basilica Cistern

Jeff Chadwick taking a picture of his wife, Kim, in the Basilica Cistern
Then we went to the archaeological museum. The first building we went to was pretty good, it had some great inscriptions I have always seen in pictures. For the last while I went to another building, and it was fantastic! Tons of real Hittite pieces, pieces from the gates of Babylon, great Egyptian stuff, part of the peace treaty between the Hittites and Egyptians, and tons more. What a great museum!

Tashara in front of the Hittite Peace Treaty made with Egypt
Part of a Babylonian gate as found in the Istanbul Archaeological Museum
Students in front of the Siloam Inscription (from Hezekiah's Tunnel) in the Archaeological Museum
A Hittite lion and a Muhlestein lioiness
We drove to our hotel, had dinner, and then Tashara and I went with a group to Takhsim Square. We had fun going up and down the streets and shops, especially the guys who do the weird ice cream that sticks to the paddle and they play games with the person who is trying to buy the ice cream. I think it is half taffy half ice cream. It is weird, but fun. We had a nice night. I am really enjoying my time with Tashara.

Tashara at a fish stand in the streets off of Takhsim Square
Tashara with the crazy ice cream after the vendors did their show that gets the ice cream to you.
The next morning we walked to the Hippodrome, where we saw the obelisk and other pieces. Then we spent time in the spectacular Blue Mosque, and then the overwhelming Topkapi Palace, the palace of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire. The things they owned are incredible. I had a ton of fun with Tashara there.

The Blue Mosque in Istanbul
Inside the Blue Mosque

Tashara inside the Blue Mosque
Our guide, Samih (I call him Sammy), is great. He is very knowledgeable, has an accent that is easy to understand, is friendly and easy-going, and is so very easy to work with. So many guides struggle with giving us time to teach and explain. They want to show that they know as much or more than the professors, so they just keep going and adding and make it hard for us to have time, etc., etc. But not Sammy. He is perfect to work with, and I have really enjoyed him. What a good guy!

After the palace we went on a boat ride up the Bosphorus, almost to the Black Sea (we were just ten miles away, why couldn’t we keep going?)! 

The Bosphorus Straight cuts Istanbul in two. It divides the European Continent side from the Asian Continent side
A bridge that spans continents across the Bosphorus

The Suleiman Mosque in Istanbul as seen from our boat on the Bosphorus

Both classes on the boat as we travel along the Bosphorus, between Asia and Europe
We kept working all yesterday and today with the airlines to see if they had found our bags. By now I was in clothes I had sweat in a lot for two days, and I was getting pretty tired of my socks. I had purchased a toothbrush, and borrowed Tashara’s toothpaste and deodorant and some shorts for pajamas. I had borrowed someone else’s razor and survived using a real razor to shave (no injuries at all). But I was very much hoping to get my bags soon. 

On the bus with Jeff Chadwick (who found a purple can)
Before we went shopping in the grand bazaar we called, and they didn’t have them yet. So I bought two shirts for myself and helped one of my students get pants and a shirt for herself. The other student is in the other class, but they helped him get some stuff too. When we were all done and got on the bus to go to the hotel, we got word that two of the three bags had arrived there. This is important because we are leaving Istanbul tomorrow, and the bags will likely never catch up with us if they don’t get to us before we leave. The whole ride to the hotel all three were wondering who was getting their bag and who wasn’t. You kind of hoped to get it, but also hoped not to so that the others could get theirs. My bag was one of those that arrived. It was nice for me, but I felt bad for the boy with no bags. I gave him a shirt to wear. But his bag got there late that night. Yea!!!

Tashara and I joined some students for a nice walk to the hippodrome area where you can see the Blue Mosque and Haggia Sophia at night all lit up. It was very peaceful and fun. I am really enjoying my time with Tashara, and I think she is enjoying it too.

The beautiful Blue Mosque at night
The Hagia Sophia at night
The next morning we left very early. We drove to Anzac Bay and talked about the struggles at Gallipoli during WWI. It is a nice moment, but I really can’t figure out why we make that part of a Biblical study tour. Strange. In any case, I did what I thought was an okay devotional there. 

Anzac Bay
Students at the Gallipoli Cemetery

a map showing the Dardenelles, which we ferried across as we went to Troy/Troas

Then we caught a ferry and went across the Dardanelle and drove to Troy. It was raining on a bit on the ferry and for part of the time at Troy. It has been a cool, drizzly day all day. It cleared up a bit as pulled into Troy and got steadily better.
It was great to tour Troy with Tashara. I was able to understand the stratigraphy and archaeology better this time than last. Jeff led us through some great stuff in regards to the history of Troy, and read to us from the Illiad, Oddesy, and Virgil’s Aeneid. It was momentous. We had a great time at Troy.

Tashara and my class outside the walls of Troy. These walls are from the time period that would correspond with the story the Illiad tells (or the kernel of truth behind the Illiad)

Tashara and I outside those same Trojan walls

Tashara and I in the Trojan Horse at Troy

Jeff Chadwick teaching my class about Troy
That night we stayed in nearby Cannakale, which is a little town I love. We enjoyed walking along the Boardwalk. It is wonderfully quaint.
Cannakale sunset
The prop of the Trojan horse from the movie "Troy". Brad Pitt donated it to the town of Cannakale.

Cannakale in the Evening

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