Turkey & Greece

Apr 26 - May 7, 2019

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Our Last Day

When you wake up in Athens, and end your day in Istanbul, you feel like an accomplished world traveler!

After a full day, and an evening of music and dancing the night before. . .we began our day with breakfast overlooking the Athens Acropolis (again) and set out for the airport. We said goodbye to our trip directors Kelly and Tassos and boarded our morning flight to Istanbul.

Waiting for us at the airport was Ozan, our Turkish guide, who now feels like an old friend. As we drive into the city of Istanbul we gradually notice the increased bustle of the fourth largest city in the world. We got off the bus and rode the light-rail system into the downtown square, rubbing shoulders with the people of the city.

Our first stop was the Hagia Sophia: originally an eastern church . . . turned into a mosque during Ottoman reign . . . and now a monument. There are no longer any religious services of any kind in that building. The weight of the years of the rise and fall of the influence of Christianity in Turkey is felt there. After Ozan gave the overall history, we paused for a brief “history of Christianity in five minutes” from Craig. We noted the tensions between the Western Church (Roman Catholicism) and the Eastern Church (Eastern Orthodox), as well as protestant denominations.

From there we rode the light-rail back to the Istanbul Grand Bazaar. This was a good chance to see the acres of shopping (one day is not enough). For many of us, this was a chance to try something we had not yet been able to try: pomegranate juice, Turkish ice cream, or some Turkish delight. This was also the place to find one of the friendly merchants eager to have a conversation and show their wares. Many of us used the time to buy something for our family who love us back home, and snap our last pictures to post on social media.

Our last evening was spent eating and laughing together as we watched the sun set over the waters of the Bosporus straight and the bridge that connects Europe to Asia. There is nowhere else in the world where we can see the meeting place of these two worlds quite so well.

Tomorrow we fly home, with email addresses, and phone numbers of the new friends we have made. Though we know that keeping up with one another may be difficult, one of our group members summed up well these new relationships we have forged in such a short window of time: in her words, “we have loved each other while we were together.”

We fly in the morning with full hearts after ten days in two beautiful countries with so many wonderful people.

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