Friday, November 30, 2007

Bruce and I arrived home yesterday from six weeks of traveling. Home never looked so good. We have 8 inches of snow and are scheduled for more on Saturday and Sunday. The temperature was negative 4 this morning and is supposed to be 20 below tonight. Grandson Grant doubled in size while we were gone.

You might enjoy a little information about our travels so I will give you three quick blogs about the countries we visited: Turkey, Egypt, and England. I’ll print the blogs today and the next two days. Then we can get back to what is really interesting – life at Gunflint.

This was our second trip to Turkey. We had 13 traveling companions who joined us with our favorite guide, Mehmet Ozbalci. After a quick day in Istanbul (much too short), we flew to Trabson on the Black Sea in Eastern Turkey. From here we made our way by bus for 5,500 km east, south and then west back to Istanbul.

At the Armenian border near Kars we visited the ruins of the old city of Ani. Although the border crossing between Turkey and Armenia is closed, we looked right over the river into Armenia. A single German girl tried to attached herself to our group. She claimed to be hitchhiking from Germany to Cape Town, South Africa. It didn’t seem like a good plan to us.

During an overnight stop at Dogubeyazit, we viewed the traditional location of Mount Ararat. That afternoon we visited the 2nd largest meteor hole in the world. It was just a hole but it was also within a hundred yards of the Iranian border.

Van and the lake of the same name were next on the route. It was particularly interesting to me because my paternal grandfather was born in this area. We took a boat to Akdamar Island and visited a 10th century Armenian Church that was noted for its outside reliefs telling biblical stories. We also visited several Urartian settlements from the 8th century BC. One of the people we met was a retired guard at a settlement. By being observant, he had taught himself to read the cuneiform writings of the Urartian people.

In all these towns we spent time walking through the local markets. Sometimes it was to buy souvenirs. Other times we enjoyed all the local food stands. This picture shows a typical market. The variety and quality of the produce was wonderful. The large dark pile on the right was fresh eggplant arranged in a circle.

Mardin and Sunliurfa kept us busy the next couple of days. We crossed the Tigris River, we visited a 4th century AD Syrian Orthodox Christian Monastery that is still in use today. We also visited a cave that is the traditional birthplace of Abraham.

On the way to Adiyaman, we stopped at another cave where Job is said to have lived when he had leprosy. The Euphrates River was also on our list that day. At 2:30 a.m. on our first night in Adiyaman we left to drive to Mt. Nemrut. Once there we hiked to the top to see the sun rise over some 1st century BC statutes. That afternoon we took a nap.

Cappadocia was home for two nights. Before the Roman Empire converted to Christianity, this area had many Christian communities because it was so remote. We stayed in a hotel with caves from rooms. This picture shows our cave dining room for dinner that night.

A highlight of the stay in this area was visiting the underground cities which went down eight stories. Cappadocia is also known for its Turkish rugs. Bruce and I had bought one on our first trip but this picture shows a buying stop for several in our group.

Another long day of driving brought us to Pamukkate. This town is the location of calcium deposit pools that have been used for thousands of years. It is claimed that bathing in them will cure almost any ailment you have.

Our last two stops are along the Aegean Sea – Ephesus and Troy. Both are sights we visited before but still enjoyed a second time. Then it was back to Istanbul and the end of a very busy visit to Turkey


Patty Feeney said...

We are glad you made it home. As I write this at 3:30 p.m. we realize you are almost ready for bed.
Patty & Mike

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