31 May 2008

Now We're in Pergamum

...but the pictures are from last week.





The "Maiden's Castle" in Merced.





Coolest rest stop ever. Reclining couches, amazing mountain view. This is Hannah overlooking the picturesque valley...


Kathryn found a piano in the Whirling Dervish city and happily filled the hotel lobby with music.

This is in Pisidian Antioch, if I recall rightly. Poppy fields! My favorites!


I'm short. (This is in the martyrion of St. Philip in Antioch. I was enjoying the beautiful architecture when Jody kindly decided to remind me of my small stature. Thanks a LOT...)


Funny guitar-playing man and his parrot.



Wow. Lovely. Temple of Artemis at Aphrodisias.



The two above are from lunch in Bodrum on Wednesday. Tasty pita! Crunchy salad! Me and Catherine! (Yes, I'm in a swimsuit. We just came from the beach.)

Also in Bodrum, we went down to the waterfront to find a bar showing the England v. USA soccer match on Thursday night. Of course, it was rather a job to find a place 1) without freaky music 2) serving drinks we could actually afford 3) not stuffed with rabid British fans. We finally did, and even though the US lost big time, that was no surprise...and the drink was good. Mmm Kahlua.

Goodnight! I'm going to read "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" out loud and then play Settlers of Cataan. My, what crazy nights I have.

28 May 2008

Relaxin'

So! We're in Bodrum, on the Aegean Sea, having a much needed break from sightseeing. We have seen one too many amphitheatres, and we were all delighted to hit the beach. Sorry I have no pictures since Merced (on the Mediterranean); Chris is the only one with an external memory card reader, and I can't find him right now. Words will have to do.

Since last time I posted, I think we've mostly been doing ruins. We went to Colossae, Ephesus, Laodicea, Hireopolis, Priene, Aphrodisias...all these amazing sites rich in historical and religious significance. I have lots of pictures, suntan lines, and scars to show for it (scrambling up castles and over fallen colonnades takes its toll on your shins!). It was all super interesting, but after a while, we couldn't absorb any more history. And if we had to enter one more museum, somebody would have screamed. Probably me.

Anyway, Bodrum is awfully nice after all that. It's kind of a party town, good for young tourists. Ephesus also had other Americans our age, and after being in places where the only other tourists were older people from Germany or France or Japan, we loved talking to college students who actually understood us! The Bodrum beach is stone and pebble rather than sand (Merced had sand). Lots of sailboats. Lots of beach chairs. Lots of suntan lotion. Lots of inquisitive Turkish men telling me how fascinating I am. *giggle* Hannah, Angy, and I decided to even out our dreadful farmer's tans by roasting ourselves for three hours this morning. We felt like rotisserie chickens by lunch time, but it worked! Then we found a restaurant selling cheap, good pitas with different fillings: cheese, roasted vegetables, sausage, etc. The waiters spoke English and German, and since Angy speaks German, they were all happy to practice their language skills on us. They also insisted on taking our pictures and giving us free apple tea (elma cay).

We came back and jumped in the pool for a while, and now we're lounging about checking e-mail on various computers. I think Betsy and I are going to walk by the marina before dinner. And tonight, I don't know...

Our hotel doesn't let us bring water in with us, because they want us to buy it here. Pooh. We are blatant rule-breakers, pleading our college-induced poverty as our excuse; hotel water costs 2 lira for 1.5 liters, which is about three times as much as we pay outside. Walter can fit two five-liter bottles into his bag, so we meandered on down to the grocery store last night and smuggled in some contraband H2O. So there, money-grabbing hoteliers!

Let me see. I don't have much else to say without the help of pictures, I guess. Oh yeah! Our "adopted family" walked down to the local cinema to see "Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull " yesterday afternoon. It was so silly and really fun. In English, with Turkish subtitles. Perfect summer movie. :o) Joy and I screamed a lot; Jody was amused by this, but I think Chris was sort of annoyed. Oops. That's just what little sisters do...

Hopefully I can post pictures later. Love you all!

23 May 2008

The Internet Is Back :)

PICTURES!!!


One of those wonderful poppies.


Me overlooking one of the most beautiful valleys in Turkey, according to Arzu.


Jody falling into said valley. Ok, not really...


Our hotel terrace in Cappadocia. The ground floor rooms opened out onto the garden/pool area, which made it very easy to slip out the back door and hop into someone else's room, giving them a nice surprise. We did this several times, and it never got old. As long as you made sure you weren't jumping into the room of one of the random Japanese tourists. ;o)


Yes, these pictures are royally out of order. That's all right. Hope you don't mind. Anyway, this is at the mosaic museum in Antioch (ANTIOCH!) and one of the only exciting things that happened that day, which was Sunday, largely comprised of a fourteen hour bus ride. Ugh. Between the frequent sitting and the less than stellar mattresses, my muscles are all kinked up. Lucky for me that I have friends who give really good back massages...


Musicians at Turkey night.

Um, back at the mosaic museum. This is Hannah and the crossword mosaic. We decided that this was definitely an ancient crossword puzzle (hey, we were museumed out and we had to find SOME way to keep ourselves amused!).


The Euphrates at sunset.


My fantastic roommate atop the citadel of Urfa. According to the Koran, this is the city of Abraham's birth, and a tyrant king threw him from atop this mountain. Don't worry, he lived, because...


God created a pool of fish. And Abraham fell in. Hurray! Here we have purple-scarved women feeding the sacred carp in Urfa.


Craig with kids at Haran. Wherever we go, the little boys seem to gravitate toward the tall guys in our group: Craig, Jeremy, and David. They are softies and let the kids climb all over them. It's very cute.

More of the same: Jeremy and some small friends.


OK, Haran itself. These are the remains of the first university in the world. I loved going to Haran, because of my namesake connection to the place. I just stood by the well for a while, wondering if I'd have that same astounding faith that Rebekah had...to pick up and go at the drop of a hat, simply because God had called her. No matter how uncomfortable or frightening the task.


Our view out of the hotel at Urfa.


I forget what mountain this is...I know, I'm such a bad student...but Cameron sure is pretty. :o) I do know that a king related to the Seleucids, perhaps Mithridates, buried his beloved sister and mother up here. Quite an impressive burial mound.


Kirsty Westblade, Professor Westblade's daughter. This is on Mount Nemrut. Kirsty has been quite a trooper, marching along with us through every museum and up every cliff. She even swam out to the castle yesterday!


Backing up slightly, this is a chasm river fjord dealie we stopped at on the way to Nemrut. It had a sweet Roman bridge and cold water for wading. Also mulberry trees, which made for a good dessert. If you look really hard, you can see Jody waaaay down at the bottom of the valley...when I took this picture, I was very high up on the crags above the river. I do like climbing.


Betsy at our hotel on Mount Nemrut. Some view, huh? The hotel had cold showers, but other than that, nice accommodations.


We climbed windy Mount Nemrut to watch the sunset and take lots of pictures. Here we have our "adopted family" foursome, standing from left to right: me, Jody, Joy, and Chris. Yes, Jody decided to wear his ridiculous sheik headdress. And yes, I am the shortest one.

We do a lot of window gazing on the bus. Here, Kathryn looks beautiful and meditative...


The nicest rest stop we've seen so far. Flowers!!! Also plenty of room for Frisbee.

22 May 2008

Rocks, Rugs, and Other Happy Things in Cappadocia


Some good food. Cappadocia's hotel was the best...until we got to the one on Mt. Nemrut...until...well yeah. They're all great.

Ferdinand the cow, whom we saw on our hike up to the hotel Saturday afternoon. It's a lovely vista off the back terrace, and we got to see it up close and personal.

Walter and his shadow running down a sandstone cliff. Yay for cliffs!

Cool rock houses. Don't you wish you lived in one? They even have satellite TV!

OK, the computer's being irritating and refuses to post any more pictures. But let me tell you about my adventure with the carpet salesman. I made him really mad, and here's why: I bought a rug. (My goodness gracious, it is sooo beautiful. Flowers and paisely with pink and green and yellow and basically every one of my favorite colors. Jody has a picture of it, but I think it's still on his camera. Oh well). Anyway, the reason the salesman hated my guts by the end of our transaction: I bought it for almost half the price he wanted. I talked him down from 750 to 430. (Worth every dollar, believe me. I am really so excited about it.) AND I made him ship it home for free. Booyah, Turkish man! I win!

We're near Tarsus tonight, right on the Mediterranean. Guess what I did today? First I woke up in the fantastic mountain hotel, up near the top of Mount Nemrut. We climbed it yesterday: it was soo blustery, but the most gorgeous view and good exercises. Anyway, this morning we drove all the way back down. Our driver Riphat has mad bus skills, I tell you. We drove for a really long time, though not as bad as Sunday, when we drove for 14 hours...ugh. And we stopped in Tarsus to see the house in which Paul reputedly lived.

Aaand finally, we arrived at our hotel and headed straight to the beach. Swam out to a castle in the ocean, that's right. It was a lot of fun, so refreshing, but I felt absolutely terrified for about fifteen seconds when I got two-thirds of the way out and I realized the the castle wasn't getting any closer. But Catherine, who is a swimmer extraordinaire, was very kind and stayed right beside me till we got there. Phew. Then we sat on the castle wall and sang songs from Little Mermaid and Titanic. It looked a lot like the Spanish fortress in Horatio Hornblower. :o)

Quirky mentionables:

Today, I saw a man driving a motorcycle with a woman behind him, riding sidesaddle, and holding a baby.

Turkey has Magnum ice cream bars. They are good. I am kind of in love with them. Think chocolate ice cream with dark chocolate shell and milk chocolate shell over that...um yes. Magnificent. They make a good lunch!

Goats live on Mount Nemrut. It's rather Heidi-esque. I thought of you, Mom!

Urfa, where we just stayed for several days, has good bazaars, good souvenirs (wait till I see what I got you, guys), good prices on water, good Biblical history, and a bad Muslim vibe. Definitely very awkward to walk around with anything but a long skirt and headscarf. But that's what male friends are for.

So far, Turkish men have told me that I am beautiful, an angel, a sweetheart, shiny like the sun, and a Broadway star. Sheesh.

I love the poppies here. Happily for Joy and I, our gallant "brothers" have taken to picking said flowers and bringing them to us. :o)

God is good, my roommate's amazing, the country is lovely, and the internet is temperamental. What more can I say?

19 May 2008

Now, Where Was I?

All right then. Let me tell you about Turkish Night in Cappadocia. I don't have many pictures because I was way too busy doing other things. :)

So we went to this underground cave place for a Turkish night dinner. They served us loads of food: bread with about nine spreads including hummus, cheese, lemon yogurt, and spinach. Then meatballs and sausage. Then phyllo layered with feta and egg. Then roast lamb and bulgur. Then baklava and kiwi. YEAH! Also, really good Cappadocian wine and the local licorice-flavored liquor called "raki" (the drinking age is only 18 here, so we're all legal). It was all delicious, and besides the meal, we got constant entertainment. See, the room was a very large circular room, rather like an amphitheater, going down to a wooden dance floor in the center. The seats were sectioned for each tour group, so that we could all sit together. Anyway, there were dancers an musicians all through dinner, going at it on the dance floor...and what's more, it was interactive. Que divertido! The dancers kept running up into the crowd and grabbing guests to join in.

Joy and I were snatched up immediately, and so we got to participate in a traditional wedding dance between the appetizers and the main meal, lol. Later, they pulled about half the crowd out onto the floor, and we did a circular sort of dance that spiraled around the whole room. I wish I had pictures; but, being in the middle of the action, I didn't have much of a chance. Jody was snapping photos and also videotaping Joy and I, though, so one of these days I'll get some documentation.

Arzu (our tour guide) got the Turkish Night people to play extra music for our group, since we're kind of dance-crazy. Everything from waltz to tango. We went to bed so very very late, but from the dancing (and probably the wine, haha) we were all super tired and slept very very well.

We're in Urfa with a sporadic internet connection at the moment, so I may not be able to post for a while! I will probably have to skip several days, but don't worry, people: we'll have a grand old slide show viewing when I get home. I have SO many pictures, and so do my friends. And they have most of the cool ones of me (like Rebekah in the storage alcove, and Rebekah perched at the top of a towering cliff, and Rebekah doing other crazy and high-up things).

Much love,

R.W.

17 May 2008

Ancient Civilizations!!!!!

This is my roommate Betsy and my dear friend Kathryn (l to r).



And THIS is where I got into trouble. Not for the first or last time, but it was among the most memorable. :o) After our first night in Ankara, Arzu took us to the Museum of Anatolian Civilization. It was very interesting, and among its nifty objects were two rows of headless statues (poor things) flanking the courtyard. Well, some of us decided that it would be funny to pose behind the statues. And since I'm short, I put my hands on one statue's shoulders and hoisted myself up over it. Whoops. It probably weighed three times as much as I did, but yeah...the security guard wasn't very pleased with me. Joy, however, got a picture before he walked over to us. This earned me the Turkey Baster for that day, and also the adjectives which have become permanently attached to my name: Sassy and Saucy.


OK, safely inside the museum. Hot Hittite jewelry!


This was the best part of Ankara: the ancient Roman citadel. We hiked all over the mountain that afternoon (in the rain! it's so cool to see a thunderstorm rolling in from the top of a mountain!).



Another view of the citadel.


Kathryn and I perched atop the citadel wall. Good thing we aren't afraid of heights.


Me being cold, but loving every minute of it (not the coldness, the way-up-high-ness).


Craig fell in love with this little Turkish girl in the citadel and decided that he was going to buy something from her just because she was so cute. So Betsy, who knows some Turkish, translated for him. Then Craig carried around a bright blue purse all day. ;o) This picture is, l to r: Turkish girl, Craig, Betsy, Jeremy.

Good. Breakfast. Yogurt, cheese, ham, bread, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers. I love Middle Eastern food! This was a very hospitable hotel, though they had a very bad plan for electricity: solar power. Ergo, cloudy days result in No Hot Water. They tried to make up for it by lavishing us with apple tea, a roaring fireplace, and great food. But I still practically froze that night (would have, if not for kind male friends lending their fuzzy and wonderfully oversized sweatshirts), and Betsy and I decided that taking an ice shower was definitely not worth it. As Jody puts it, "Only Americans need showers every day."


OK, it's cold. But we can still wear yellow! Cameron and Hannah brave it out against the unseasonable chill. This is at one of our many many rest stops, I suppose.

Triumph! After the dreadfully cold night, this was amazing. We went to the ancient Hittite capital, Hattusha, and climbed our little hearts out. Oh, that's the Turkey Baster in my hand. We thought it was appropriately noble.

The Hittites spoke one of the first Indo-European languages and were an incredibly powerful nation. Their empire was forgotten for thousands of years, however, because it disentigrated from within (nasty civil war) and they just headed back where they came from, the Black Sea area. Archaeologists found Hattusha hidden away up in these Turkish mountains and were shocked to discover that a fourth great empire had existed along with Egypt, Babylon, and...oh wait, let me think...Assyria.

Chris and the Hittite woman-man. It's definitely a guy, but some of us were convinced that it was a woman...he does have awfully big hips...

Walter meditates atop the Sphinx Gate.


Joy and I hug Aslan. No, really! "Aslan" is the Turkish word for "lion." This is the Lion Gate in Hattusha.




On to another culture; that afternoon, we visited the caves in Cappadocia. The Christians built churches here in the 1st century, and later, the native inhabitants enlarged them to defend against Turkish invaders. Too cool for words, but I'll try. There are eighteen levels in this underground city, and that includes chapels, kitchens, bathrooms, wells, baptistries, schools, wineries, communication shafts, winding staircases, and everything to make a spelunker's heart happy. I got so dirty climbing around, but it was worth every clay stain. We (Joy, Walter, Chris, Jody, David, Betsy, and I) sang hymns in one of the domed chapels (great acoustics) using Walter's ever-ready Lutheran Hymnal. It's come in handy several times, in fact; seems every place we go has some vault perfect for singing.


I LOVE CARBS.