July 09th, 2010

Day 15: Travel, travel travel, and Safe arrival home!

After an early morning wake up call, our trip came to a conclusion today with a full day of travel. We are happy to report that everyone arrived safely home, with all of their bags and belongings intact.  On the drive home from the airport, we were reflecting on some bests and worsts of the trip. Best buffet: the Dead Sea. Hardest day: Some said Petra, some said Masada. Hardest bed: Izmir for sure. Most comfortable bed: Istanbul.  Of course, it’s going to take some time to fully process...

July 08th, 2010

Day 14: Istanbul

Sadly, our trip is almost at an end. Today began our last day of touring, and come 3 AM tomorrow morning, we will be headed to the airport to fly back to Seattle. The day began at the Church of St Saviour in Chora, which was built in the 11th century AD, was at one point used as a mosque, and today is the Kariye Museum.  This church is home to some of the best Byzantine frescoes and mosaics, which date from 1321 AD and document topics such as the Genealogy of Christ, The Life of the Virgin...

July 07th, 2010

Day 13: Ephesus, Miletus, and safe arrival in Istanbul

Marble Streets of Ephesus
Barbara as a statue

I feel like I am repeating myself when I mention how long our days are, but I really can’t help it because we do cram so much into such a short time period. This morning, we packed up our stuff and hopped on the bus and headed to Ephesus. Ephesus is one of the most complete and impressive ruined cities in the western world. It’s location on the Aegean Sea was made it a convenient location throughout history, and the city we see there today was founded in the 4th century BC by Alexander the...

July 06th, 2010

Day 12: Thyatira (Akhisar), Pergamum (Bergama) & Smyrna (Izmir)

Today we visited 3 more of the 7 churches of Revelation, and saw lots of Roman ruins!

at the Basilica ruins, in Thyatira

This morning, we started out by heading to the ancient city of Thyatira. There is little to see of the ancient city as the current-day city of Akhisar rests on the exact site, and so little excavation can be done, but there is a square of land in the center of the city with some ruins on it we were able to see, and anytime something is found in the city, it is brought there to display. Thyatira was founded...

July 05th, 2010

Day 11: Safe arrival in Turkey, Sardis, and Izmir (Smyrta)

We left Jerusalem at 1 AM this morning to head to Tel Aviv to make our 5 AM flight to Istanbul and then on to Izmir. It was a long morning, with not much time for sleeping, but eventually, we all made it off the plane and collected our bags safely! We met up with our Turkish guide, Gigi, and immediately headed to visit Sardis, one of the seven churches of Revelation and a 90-minute drive from Izmir. Sardis was the capital of the Kingdom of Lydia, whose last king, Croesus, was so rich it gave...

July 04th, 2010

Day 10: Jerusalem

Western Wall Tunnel
Sadly, today was our last day in Jerusalem and in Israel as well. There were still a few important sites to see, though! Our wake up calls this morning came at 5 AM, so we could leave for the Western Wall Tunnel at 6:30 AM. Accessed through the Western Wall Plaza, archaeologists have excavated this tunnel along the outside of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount to explore it’s foundations. The tunnel runs beneath what is now the Muslim Quarter. In the tunnel, you can see the arches of the...

July 03rd, 2010

Day 9: Jerusalem & Herodion

St. Anne's Church

We began today a little later than normal today and ended a little earlier as well, but we still managed to fit a full day’s worth of sight-seeing as we spent most of the day walking around the city.  Our starting point was the top of the Mount of Olives, where we had a panoramic view of the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. This is the site of Jesus’ agony and betrayal, and also of his Ascension into Heaven. This hill has been used as a cemetery since 2400 BC and during Jesus’ time, was also...

July 03rd, 2010

Day 8: Jerusalem & Bethleham

We made it!

Today was our first full day in Jerusalem, and already we are overcome with the magnitude of actually walking where Jesus walked, climbing the steps where he climbed, and sitting where he sat. We started out at the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount at the Jerusalem Archaeological Park.  Excavations in this area, which have been ongoing since 1968, have uncovered remains dating back to the 1st and 2nd Temple periods.  You can see the original large stones of the Herodian wall, a shoping street...

July 03rd, 2010

Day 7: Masada, En Gedi & Jerusalem

at Masada

We said goodbye to Eilat and the Red Sea today, and headed back north to Jerusalem. On our way we made a few stops.  First up was Masada. Masada, a mountain-top fortress near the Dead Sea, was built originally around the 1st-2nd century BC, then expanded and strengthened by Herod. It’s not specifically mentioned in the Bible, though many believe when a “stronghold” to which David flees is mentioned, they are referring to Masada. Masada is most famous in history for being the site of the last...

June 30th, 2010

Day 6: Petra

Welcome to Jordan!

Today was the day for our side trip over into Jordan to visit the city of Petra, capital to the Nabataeans around the 3rd - 1st centuries BC, and one of the most impressive archeological sites. Petra is also well-known for it’s part in Indiana Jones, and of course, we couldn’t help singing the theme song while walking through the Siq. Lisa even bought an Indiana Jones-style hat to commemorate the occasion! We walked through the mile long Siq (cleft in the cliff wall), stopping to admire the...