Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Above and below in the Bible Land

Fun and significant happenings for the past two days:
1. I had to get up at 4:30 in the morning to get on the hour-long balloon ride overlooking Cappadocia, where first century Christians settled for sometime.
2. Ducked underground to visit tunnels dating back to the hittites
3. Explored ruins of ephesus & hieropolis
4. Soaked in the waters of Pamukale's mineral waters

Tonight is my last night in Ephesus. Visiting the ruins of the Artemis temple and the theater where silversmiths revolted against Paul really made the Bible account just come alive!
it also made me realize how far true worship has spread. One wt article on Ephesus reminded readers to reflect on the endurance of the Christians in the hostile environment of Ephesus, and how just as false religion came to an end there, it will come to an end on a global scale.
Funny short story....
Since we can't communicate in turkish, we have been using the Temple of Artemis as our reference point to get back to our hotel, because it is a 5 -minute walk to the temple ruins. It dawned on me today that I probably won't ever have the opportunity again to use the Temple of Artemis as a reference point!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Icing on the Cake

This morning, we got up at 4:30am to take our flight to Cappadocia. After arriving, the hotel transfer shuttle drove for over an hour to reach our hotel. We are resting up from the long morning, in a room that has a 300-year old history!
In a glance, yesterday's events.

Day 6
We really learned to use the various modes of transportation to get around Istanbul, and found everything very accessible.

We took the tramway, funicular, and taxi to visit Chora Church, which was preserved from the 11th century. I just loved the mosaic art.

We also went to Dolmabahçe Palace, which was built with a definite European flair. Too gaudy for my taste. I definitely felt this museum was overrated. It was very hot in the palace, which made it difficult to concentrate on the obligatory tour. The tour guide's english, or "turkglish" was really hard to understand.
Towards the middle of the tour my mom and I quietly escaped. We were rewarded with this magnificent view of the Bosphorus Strait.
From here, we stumbled upon a ferry cruise that toured the Bosphorus Strait for around $7USD per person. Very good deal, and what a lovely view!! That cruise was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
On a side note,  I forgot to mention that we were able to see an original of the Ishtar Gate of Babylon in the Archaeological Museum the other day...
After our lovely cruise, we took the bus and got lost in some obscure area, but found our way to where we could take the tramway to our hotel. We made an unexpected discovery some beautiful ancient city walls.

The diet continues:
#10 Pita bread with doner kebab chicken meat
#11 Lovely custard dessert with Turkish tea at the palace
#12 I think this was a pork kebab sandwich we had after docking on the Kabatas port. It was wonderful!

#13  Bread pretzel. Not my personal favorite but if you are hungry, it's good to chew on.

We were rewarded with a lovely sunset at the end of our long day

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tiles, Lamb kebab, and a Turkish bath

Day 5, 12:19am

Wow, what a day....
We had a nice breakfast chat with some hotel mates from Norway. Two women who are journalists told us about their travels. One of them even went to China & North Korea in the 1980's!
I mentioned to one of them that the Jehovah's Witnesses yearbook featured Norway and its lovely fjords. Trying not to be preachy but don't want to be too cautious either.

It was raining and cold when we first left our hotel, but we were indoors while viewing the spectacular Topkapi Palace.
Best features of Topkapi palace? Tiles....rows and rows of lovely blue, white, coral red, green tiles....
all dating back to 15th c. and earlier.

and lovely ceilings....

Oh yes, continuing with the diet regimen....
#6 Lamb kebab at Konyali Restaurant very flavorful and tender meat.

 #7 Turkish coffee....scalding hot, has a subtle sweet touch
#8 Pistachio, heavenly. Perfectly delicate texture and not too sweet, with a touch of honey
#9 Most lovely dessert I've ever tasted...coconut cream and pistachio jello on top, sprinkled with sweet petals on top....

Okay,  I hate to criticize my lovely top 10 guide from DK Eyewitness publishers, but two things are just overrated...
1. Grand Bazaar....described as a traditional style market place and shopping heaven....I'm sorry, but to me it was just an overcrowded, stuffy, indoors Once (Once is the ghetto Buenos Aires neighborhood for wholesale good)

2. Cemberlitas Baths
Here's my guidebook's attractive intro: "No stay in Istanbul would be complete without a bout of scrubbing, soaping, and massaging in a Turkish bath..."
Yes it was lovely to have someone scrub me down, but because the bath was so crowded I got all self-conscious and couldn't really relax. Plus the jacuzzi water was not very hot.

Ins & Outs

Day 4

This morning, I took the tram & subway to the airport to pick up my mom. It was very easy; I got there from my hotel within 45 minutes!
actually, this wasn't the metro station, turned out to be a mall....the metro is behind this mall. 

Wish they had a metro service like this one in Buenos Aires...In the metro you can find several pretty tile designs

You don't even have to step out to get to the airport. There is an underground pathway that leads you in.

I absolutely love this piece of artwork....actually the upstairs of where this photo was taken is a free art gallery....

We also gawked at the Hagia Sophia & Blue in mom's camera and coming soon...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

First Impressions

Day Two continued....


As part of my vacation, I am determined to go on a diet. A vacation diet. So, here is what I've had so far:
#1. Chocolate chunks from Bethel....I should have jotted down the brand, but they came in a blue and gold wrap and had a delightfully creamy, hazelnut taste. Devoured both pieces in succession.
#2. Salted caramel ice cream from Haagen-dazc. Christine, you will be so envious of me right now. It is just divine.

random observations:
1. If you ever want to know where go find to tall, good-looking and blonde brothers that dress nice, come here. After being only at eye level or below with my fellow brethren in Argentina, coming to the German Bethel was quite an eye-opener, to say the least.
2. There are many many Chinese people here...unbelievable, even just at the airport!

Day Three

wow, thank you Jehovah! I made it here to Istanbul!
I took my sweet time leaving the plane and taking pictures...hey I will be here for another 10 hours so there is nooooo hurry. I'm waiting for my luggage at the baggage claim.
#3 Baritos: chocolate covered Muesli bars. yum. devoured before I decided I should have taken a pic. again.

I am a bit make a long story short, after sleeping overnight at the airport, turns out my mom missed her second flight due to a delay in the first flight. Tomorrow I'll be picking her up .
By the way, there is a 5Euro shuttle bus that takes you from the Hagia Sophia to the airport!

I spent my evening here exploring....

First speak louder than words so here they are....
Blue Mosque

Hagia Sophia

Blue Mosque entrance & interior
Hagia Sophia

 adding to the "diet" list:
#4Flatbread with nutella, sweet potato, or cheese filling

#5Authentic Turkish delight!

Limburg & Bethel

Day Two

Wow, I have never been through such an easy exit process. I am sitting here at the bullet train, and I had arrived half an hour early! No line! All went very smoothly, except the immigration officer who was looking at my passport was very stern. He asked me when my transfer flight to Istanbul was, and when I didn't hear him, he barked sharply, "WHEN? I ask you because you want to leave now, correct?" When I apologized that 
I didn't hear him and cracked him a lame smile, just from his face I knew that he didn't find anything funny, which made me think he was even funnier. Good grief, I am on vacation! Break a leg!

I made the silly mistake of forgetting that my check-in baggage goes directly to Istanbul....I had assumed that I would get to see it again in Frankfurt...grrrr. Guess I won't be able to give the sister my gift!

I have just entered the bullet train and I am just amazed at how clean and lovely it is...across from me are some businessmen, and they look quite intense with their work....I am pretending to fit in right now by intensely typing my blog on my IPAD.

3pm German branch tour!
Yes, I was picked up at Limburg Station coincidentally by a brother who had worked with Tom in the Mexican branch. I met up with Hilde, a sister I met in 2000, who also was acquainted with my grandmother. She arranged everything very well...I was able to shower, take a tour, have dinner, and associate with a circuit overseer couple within the narrow 4-hour time frame before being dropped back to the airport at 6pm.
Nicknamed the "terminator" tool, this techie device gives specific packing instructions via wireless technology, saving conveyor belt space!

Assembly / family study hall. Has live orchestra every Monday night!

On the way back to the airport, I had a mini tour of Bad Canderg, a small lovely town...

Vacation Series- In Transit

Yes, my faithful handful of loyal blog followers who actually care to read about my life, I am going on vacation. I will try to share as much of the experience as I can....
Destination: Turkey  and Greece  with stopover at Frankfurt

Day 1
The way to the airport is an adventure in itself. My lovely roommate, Christine, accompanied me on a 3-hour public bus ride to the airport. Yes, it is the same route that Gaby and I had taken last time in my entry about Chile. total cost: 3.25 pesos. 
We were fortunate enough to get seats, and my seat even had a cute little space that was just enough to accommodate my carry-on. aww....

I think my Aryan flight companions are getting a bit restless. There are 10 persons in line for the lavatory. Boy...I guess there is an advantage to being seated right up against the lavatory wall....I was able to go right before the line came.
Just watched "Cider House Rules". Oh dear, this is only 4 hours into the and I still have 9 hours to go....I am getting very antsy.
Asian man is knocked out asleep....the only one I've spotted on this flight so far. 哥們, I got your back.
Hmm, a bunch of tall young German fellows speaking German just went down the isle with cans of beer. "Gutentack" fair brother! 

As you can see, a bit of deep personal study is needed at this point to keep me from going insane.

just had a great night's sleep, what a blessing. And I was able to start up an interesting conversation with the girl sitting next to me, and thanks to Jehovah, I was able to casually mention that Satan rules the