Tuesday, May 24, 2011

this is the never-ending blog post. be aware before you begin reading.

it seems like it has only been a day or so since i last wrote... but i think that every day here is on fast forward! (which is a gift and a curse... i love the fact that we get so much done every day! but i look back and sometimes it is a little hard to remember everything that i've done. especially when i don't feel like i really got to sit down and relish the experience of just being there.)
so we began our experience last weekend, packing up and leaving our beloved home at 11:00 in the morning (i know... super early right???) to make our flight that left at 3:20. i admire israeli security. those guys really know what they are doing, and they have airport security down to a science. granted, i felt a little more like a fish in a bowl the whole time i was there, but whatevs. the funniest part was when they x-rayed our bags, and the bags would shoot out of the other side when they passed inspection. my bag was seriously airborne! i almost felt like i was expected to catch it as it came out... 
but we all made it to the plane on time and in one piece! huzzah for turkey!!!
gotta love turkish airlines... they always feed you. don't quite know if i am a fan of salmon... but i was hungry. it didn't stand a chance. 

ok. here's the deal.
i love you all, but this entry would get very long if i were to go over every detail of the last week. so this is going to be a summary. alrightee?
we got into istanbul (not constantinople) at about 5:30, and went straight to our hotel with our tour guide and new best friend, bulent. (oh the stories we have to tell!) this hotel was... interesting. they had this really cool idea of having a cartoon-themed hotel, but it didn't quite turn out. (imagine in your mind... statues of batman and winnie the pooh next to a greek bust. you get what i'm sayin?) but the dinner we had that night, on the top of the hotel was AMAZING!

so... the only picture i got... was dinner. i was too preoccupied with eating at that point to remember that the sun would soon be set, and that it would be too dark for a picture. oops. 

if i thought that having to wake up every morning for school was hard, i'll never complain again. we were trying to leave by 7:30 every morning, so we had to be eating breakfast by 6:30. i can't remember the last time (other than this program) where i actually ate that early in the morning! 
day 1: full day tour of istanbul
first place we stopped was the topkapi palace, where we saw muhammad's tooth, part of john's skull, and a diamond the size of a golf ball. the story goes that someone supposedly found the diamond in the trash and sold it to a street vendor for 3 spoons. i think he got kinda jipped. hopefully they were some pretty nice spoons. we then went and saw the blue mosque, which is the only mosque in the world to have 6 minarets. we then walked to the hippodrome square, which would have been a site for chariot races back during the roman occupation of the city. none of the original hippodrome is there anymore, but you can still see where the original lanes might have been. we then did the most dangerous thing of the whole day (according to our tour guide bulent)... we crossed the street. after a safe touchdown to the other side, we continued our walk to go and see the underground cistern. for those shopping-inclined, we then went to go see the grand bazaar, which actually reminded me a lot of the old city (minus the cats, and it was a bit more well-lit). from here, we hopped back on the bus (can i get a huge round of applause for our bus driver??? i swear he was magic.) and got on a ferry for our ride (they called it a cruise... but i don't think so...) on the bosphorus river. finally, we ended the day with a fish dinner!

day 2: canakkale
i am a history nerd. not in the sense that i want to major in history, and read books about george washington when i feel blue... but in the fact that i get giddy when i go places with literary and historical significance. can you guess where we got to go today? something that would literally make my life complete??? 
today we went to troy. yeah. you know, the giant wooden badger? (haha ok fine... monty python needs to work on their history) but i was pretty stoked. and we got to see the wooden horse that they used in the movie troy with brad pitt. bomb diggity. 

we look like we could take a whole city right?

day 3: pergamum (pergamon)/kusadasi
i decided that i love old things. especially things that might crumble and fall apart if i touch them. not that i tried it or anything. our very first stop of the day was in assos (paul stopped here on his way back on his 3rd mission) see acts 20. can i help it now if i read scriptures and grin to myself, thinking "i was there last week!" not many people can say that. 

me and my buddy ariel (not the mermaid) on top of assos!

we got to ride a tram up to the top of pergamum. 

this city used to be huge... but not much is left of it now... which boasts a HUGE theater set into a hillside. you'd be amazed at how well you could hear people talking from the bottom!

it used to be the original site of the "great altar of pergamon," a shrine dedicated to the greek god zeus. according to our tour guide, it was stolen, and it currently resides in the pergamon museum in berlin. can you guess who stole it? he wasn't too happy that it was sitting in "dark" and "dreary" berlin when it should have been in turkey with the "sunshine" and "fresh air." he sounds just a tad bit biased...

 this is what's left of zeus' temple.
archeologists/historians think this might have been "satan's throne" that paul was referring to...

 couldn't get him out of my picture...


 at the asclepion

we were told that we could not fly the turkish carpets.
do i look like aladdin or somethin?
but that is a very tempting idea...

day 4: ephesus
best. day. ever.
actually, this can be contested by pretty much every day here... but this one definitely ranks high!
our hotel???
yes please. i think i am coming back.

 i thought that this theater was pretty cool...
just wait til you see the other one!

 if you touch both of the pillars at the same time, your wish is supposed to be granted.
it seemed pretty easy to me.
i thought wishes were supposed to be tricky... maybe ancient people had really short arms?

 photo bomber.
the library at ephesus in the background.

 ancient communal bathroom.
i love our poses.

we finally ended our day by stopping at miletus. (for another awesome theater! it makes me wonder what structures we have now that people are going to be climbing all over in another couple thousand years...)

magnum bars.

day 5: pamukkale
pamukkale translates to mean "cotton castle". if you see pictures you will understand why. 
but my pictures aren't that good... people come to hieropolis (paul, in his letter to the colossians, talks about the hot water at hierapolis. been there. couldn't get in it thought... sadness...) 

 the theater at hierapolis

me and my sharla!
and another long day in the bus. 

day 6: bursa!
another sketchy hotel... not too many pictures... we went to see a beautiful mosque there before we hopped back on the bus to head back to istanbul where we would catch our flight back to tel aviv!
the tall girl's club.

inside of the great mosque in bursa.

the ferry ride back to istanbul! 

 waiting outside of the hagia sofia...
tour guide said to keep the tickets (and i quote!) "in our mouths" so we didn't lose them.
so we did.

this is what we did during dinner.
no i didn't start it.
but the competitive person in me wouldn't give up until i mastered the technique.

 but at least i wasn't the only one.

we got back to our beloved j.c. at about 4 in the morning, after going back through israeli security.
but we made it! (i think i might have broken down and cried if they would have given me too hard a time...) and i was awake long enough to brush my teeth (i think?) and then crawl into bed. 
the very wonderful and merciful teachers here gave us time to rest and recuperate (ha ha ha) leaving the day open and having "brunch" from 10 to 12. i didn't even budge until 10... then a group of us went and watched pirates of the caribbean in 3D... ooooooh! (i was impressed that it actually had a comprehensible story line!!!) and then back to the center for dinner and another fun night of resting before we headed out to the negev for a field trip! (i'll have to catch up on that one tomorrow... i don't have either the pictures uploaded or the patience to write any more tonight. if you are even still reading this at all!) 

i miss you.
and i'm going to come and see you again soon! 

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