Thursday January 10, 2008
After 28 grueling hours of travel, four flights, and a long bus ride, we arrived like zombies at the Grand Antakya Hotel. Welcome were a hot dinner of kofte, the showers, and the beds with huge and heavy comforters. Resurrected after a wonderful sleep and a large Turkish breakfast, we set out to conquer Turkey!
Today was our second day in Turkey, first day touring. This morning we visited the Hatay Archeological Museum to view the world famous artifacts from Daphne and surrounding areas. Here we saw one of the largest collections of ancient mosaics in the world. There was also a sarcophagus, and ancient coins,jewelry, and pottery. Next we visited the cave Church of Saint Peter. This is where the early Christians established their first major Gentile community outside of Palestine. We got to see the escape tunnels located behind the altar where Christians could escape if needed. Just outside the church we were pleasantly surprised to see a herd of sheep. We met a young boy who picked flowers for us and allowed us to pet the baby sheep. We then hiked to an unfinished carving of a woman's face. During the time of the plague the statue was carved to protect the city. Then we went to lunch at a lovely restaurant called Yeni Bahar. We ate like kings!! We were served appetizersof hummus, pepper, yogurt, salad, and cheese. Some of us were lucky enough to indulge in pickle juice. For the main course we chose from chicken and beef kebabs, and for desert we had, Jan's favorite, Turkish cheesecake—kunefe. After lunch we drove for about an hour towards the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. We visited the enormous man-made Titus tunnel that was used to redirect the water from the town on orders of Roman Emperors Vespasian (69-79 CE) and Titus (79-81 CE.) We had to climb through a treacherous path but at the end it was worth it. Just past the tunnel we saw a magnificent rock tomb that was originally made for royal families. Eventually we stumbled upon a grassy knoll where we were astounded by the beauty of the Mediterranean. We were able to see for hundreds of miles and watched the sunset from here. Then we got back on the bus and headed back to the hotel. What an adventure we had, and to think today was only the beginning!