After spending the night in the European-styled Hotel Romance, located on the corner of a busy business district of European Istanbul, we went to the dining room of the main lobby to another very beautiful breakfast buffet of plain and sweet breads, hard-boiled or scrambled eggs, orange or cherry juice, dry cereals of raw oats and/or cornflakes, a large bowl of yogurt, coffee, milk, and always present tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives. As we drove through the European side of the city we observed closely packed apartments, dark and narrow streets, and mosques with their minarets almost wherever we looked.
It was Nevrus Day, a day of celebration for the Kurds leaving Turkey. The Kurds have no country of their own and have been treated poorly and persecuted in Syria, Iraq, and Iran but live contentedly in Turkey , though there are always a few malcontents. Many peoples live in Turkey since it is a place of abundant water in contrast to Israel and Palestine, which have great scarcity of water, and is negotiating with Turkey to buy water. Turkey has a population of 65 million; 12 million live in Istanbul. Inflation is out of control (USD$1.00 equals 1 millian lira).
Our tour guide for Turkey was a slim, attractive young Turkish university student, Elif. She delighted us by not only informing us with important facts about her country as she explained the meaning and significance of ancient ruins, but she also gave us a peek into her own life and history. Her parents were Jews and atheists. Because of growing up in the Turkish culture, she was Muslim and read the Koran. However, she found it meaningless and therefore turned to the Bible. Just a year ago she came to a belief in Jesus. When asked if she went to a church she adamantly said, "No". Too much of her background was still with her, and she has much to sort out and work through to know what she really believes and how to apply this to her life.
One interesting bit of information Elif shared with us as we traveled south along the European coast of Turkey, next to the Marmara Sea, was the parents' responsibility to provide completely furnished homes for their children when they marry. This question came up as we saw so many new homes and condos along the Marmara Sea coast. The condos were handsome, many three stories, and brightly colored with the most popular color being dark salmon.
Lush green grain fields, orchards of peach trees with pink blossoms, and lots of olive orchards covered the gentle hilly terrain. We saw sheep and cattle grazing and often goats being herded down the road. We did stop at Tekirda to use the W.C., which cost about a quarter (US currency) and bought some glasses of Turkish tea (much like Liptons in taste), sweetened with sugar cubes.
We drove along the Marmara Sea and the Dardenelles Straits, a place which caught my attention, because that was where my father served in the Canadian Army Medical Corps aboard a hospital ship in World War I, tending wounded soldiers for several weeks, day and night.
At Kilitbahir, a small fishing village, we took the ferry across the Dardenelles to Canakkale, our first contact with the Asian side of Turkey. We drove to Troy where we saw the big tourist attraction of the mythical Greek wooden horse, a reproduction of the "real thing", used by Greeks to bring troops into Troy to conquer the enemy.
Nearby we found the ancient ruins, dating back to 2500 BC, of Troia, the first organized city of antiquity. It had been strategically located on the Aegean sea but was now some distance from the sea due to the passing of time and filling in of earth. We saw reconstructed remains of a theater, ancient ramparts and other interesting parts of the excavated city.
From Troy we went on to ancient Troas founded by Alexander the Great around 330 BC. Because of construction of an artificial harbor, it became an important commercial center. Little excavation has been done there; the remains of a gymnasium which included a boys school and bath can be seen.
It was noted that St. Paul visited Troas on two of his missionary journeys. It was while there that Paul had a vision of a man pleading with him to go to Macedonia to help them (Acts 16:9-12). During Paul's later farewell visit to Troas he spoke so long one night that young Eutichus, sitting in a window with the oil lamps burning, drifted off to sleep, fell to the ground, and was considered dead. Through Paul and the power of the Holy Spirit the young man's life was restored. (Acts 20:5-12).
As we traveled along, I thought back to the drawing we had seen at Troy, of how many civilizations conquered, destroyed, and rebuilt cities, each new conquest building on the ruins of the former one. This produces the tels, or mounds, throughout the ancient world, most of which are being or have been excavated by archeaologists.
After a very long day, then traveling in the dark over snake-like mountainous and narrow but paved roads, we finally arrived, weary, worn, and hungry, at our oasis-like, beautiful Eden Gardens hotel, high above the rocky Aegean coastline, ready for dinner and bed.
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