Sunday, March 23, 2014

When in Rome... Kindof

Here we go again I'm going to try and wrap up the Turkey Trip in one post... wish me luck!

So Day 3 of the trip started with a solid road trip up the coast of Turkey to Gallipoli/Dardenell Straight and the Aegean Straight. I don't know what I was expecting of a WWI site exactly but it wasn't what we saw. When we drove up it was a beautiful beach with set against scenic mountains, not exactly what you would  picture for a WWI massacre scene. Our professors spoke to us for a bit and Yasmin the tour guide gave us a synopsis of the history of the site. Then we were turned loose to walk down the beach to the cemetery. As I walked, I thought of the only connection I had to WWI. When I was in High School, the Senior Committee went through all the yearbooks and I was assigned the years 1914-1924...I spent an afternoon pouring over them, especially the war years. It broke my heart as I saw young boys my own age a hundred years before leave, some of them never to come back. Instead of a graduating class the books had an army. And as I walked along that beach I thought about those boys who left the football team and chemistry class to visit places like the one I was walking on with a gun in their hand and fear in their hearts. It was a tender and spiritual experience. 
After Galipolli, we headed to yet another ferry ride!!! I don't think I could ever get tired of ferry rides! This one was so frigid I went looking for shelter almost immediately... and found a wonderful surprise.  A man showed us how to feed seagulls from the boat. If we tossed it, well lobbed it into the pack of waiting birds, they would all dive for it and one lucky bird would come up victorious. I shouldn't have been as entertained as I was by this simple game, but Tanner, Ramsey and I spent the entire ride mastering this. Sometimes, it's the really simple things that are the most memorable to me! 

Finally the moment we had all been waiting for... Troy! We went to the dig of that infamous wooden horse. It was so cold I couldn't enjoy it a ton, while walking around it, it honestly felt like just another tel. But it was fun to think of the epic battles that had happened there. 

That night we stayed at quaint little resort right on the Aegean Sea, once we checked in I went straight to the dock. Even though it was fridged cold... I couldn't resist sitting out there watching the sun set. Just before it went down over the mountains, two dolphins started jumping right in front of us. It was honestly magical!

Day 4
This day was jam packed of ancient Roman cities. First stop was Assos, and my first major exposure to Roman civilization. Fun fact, from this site I could actually see Greece! It was sort of frustrating to be so close and yet so unbelievably far away from another place that I want to go... but it just makes it even more of a priority for my life! Assos was beautiful and something I didn't realize that would be happening on this trip: an actual site where Paul visited!  And of course, sorry to be so redundant, but I couldn't get enough of these:
Who would have ever thought I'd get to causally sit on an ancient column top?

While sitting there, the New Testament started to come together for me. What an experience to sit there where Paul contemplated his work and his testimony. Of course the Temple of Athena was intense, the walls were impressive, but the testimony was amazing!

After Assos we had a very long bus ride down to Pergamom. When we finally made it to this site, it was a short tram ride to the top of a mountain that sported my favorite Roman city of the trip. I don't know what it was exactly about Pergamom, but it caught my imagination from the very beginning and didn't let me go! There was a breathtaking temple to Athena overlooking the valley, I couldn't get over the massive size of everything! You know you read about how impressive these structures were but nothing can compare with seeing them! 

After spending some quality time at the Temple we headed to a lovely grove of trees that no one seemed to really care about and quite honestly I couldn't understand why we had stopped until Yasmin told us this was the site of the magnificent Alter to Zeus that I had learned about in Mr. Orem's class! That's when I got excited. My imagination started working double time as I rebuilt the Alter on the site in front of me! What I imagined was fantastic, I can only imagine what it would have been like sitting there overlooking the valley... spectacular! One day I'm going to Berlin to see the actual alter and picture it on the site where it came from!

Finally, we ended at the most spectacular theater I've seen yet! The view was so amazing... I don't know how to even describe it!
This kinda starts to describe what I was looking at sitting on those ancient seats. The mountains reached as far as I could see, the sun was shining and you could just picture the city meeting there for a play or performance. I sat there lost in imagination for a long time...finally it was time to leave...but not before we had some fun taking pictures on the columns. Right before we headed down the mountain, I decided that I needed a memento of Pergamom. I found the perfect ring and now carry a bit of Pergamom with me!

Day 5
And que another day of intense Roman ruins. We started at the church of John the Beloved...well the ruins of the church of John the Beloved. I was honestly not feeling it at this site. I didn't really know what I was looking at and once I figured it out, well... I honestly didn't know that much about John the Beloved so I just enjoyed the view.... and of course the columns!
This about sums up my mood that morning... but hey look at those column tops (and I'm sitting on one too!)
Ok, after that we went to the church we drove around the mountain to Ephesus. Ephesus... wow!!! That was one beautiful city! It was the most complete Roman city I'd seen. I did this site a little bit differently this time though... I unplugged my head set and followed Dr. Belnap around. He pointed out little details that were fascinating: donor tributes, hidden mosaics, and little tricks to recognizing reconstruction. It was fascinating! Finally we made it to the most imposing theater I'd seen yet and there I began to fall in love with the New Testament. Dr. Belnap painted the picture of Paul rushing to the exact theater where I was sitting to save his companions that had started a riot. It was so real to me! I'll let the pictures do the talking of what I saw, but at Ephesus, the scriptures really came to life for me! 
View from the top of the theater. Can't you just picture a mob rushing in here and deliberating on the lives of the Christians?

The library at Ephesus. I was imitating the statue behind me here, but let's be honest, you can't really tell. The architecture was so amazing, I stood there speechless just admiring the craftsmenship

Gorgeous mosaic floors that were everywhere h

This street was lined with statues of important members of the community... so we decided to try it

Recognize this? It's the picture in the back of the Bible... the theater is in the background. It was so gorgeous!
Last stop of the day was Priene. I didn't learn a whole lot at Priene, by this point I was kind of burned out from the day. But it was still incredible! It was almost like a column graveyard. This site wasn't like the others, it was peaceful and small. At this site we talked about Paul and what he must have felt through out his mission. I felt such an incredible outpouring of love there. It was a wonderful experience for me!

We finally loaded the bus... well all but 2 of us. 39 of us sat on the bus for 45 minutes while we looked for the 2. Turns out they had found 2 baby goats up on the site and decided to bring them back to the bus. The bus erupted when they came back... mostly because they made us late to getting back to the hotel, the one hotel with a swimming pool. A few calls were made and we were allowed to go swimming that night! Thank goodness... and the new joke was on the bus was team goat or not!

Day 6

Ok I'll make today real quick. We started at Sardis. First at the temple which was another one of the 7 churches from Revelations. Then we went to the synagogue and gymnasium. It was fascinating, these old ruins sitting just by the side of the road. We went into the gymnasium and the boys immediately started organizing a football game... with the receivers. Quite honestly, the rest of the day was spent on the bus. So. Much. Bus. Time. It got to the point that the back of the bus developed a "tribe". I honestly felt like we were in 3rd grade again as we split into boys and girls making up rules and dumb signs.... but it made the ride go a lot faster! We finally made it to Bursa just before the market closed. It was long enough for us to look around make a game plan for the next day. 

Alrighty... this is absurdly long, I'll finish the rest of Turkey tomorrow!  

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