We departed Rochester at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 6. We arrived in Istanbul on Wednesday morning and visited The Blue Mosque, the Hippodrome, Hagia Sophia and the ancient Roman cisterns.
On Thursday we took a cruise on the Bosporus and visited the Istanbul Spice Market before flying to Smryna (modern day Izmir). We had dinner in Smyrna and took a long walk at the Kordon along the Aegean Sea.
On Friday we visited the ancient sites of Sardis, Philadelphia, Thyratira, and Laodicea. Laodicea is by far the most well-preserved site, situated beautifully atop a hill with Colosse and Hierapolis in the distance.
Saturday’s journey began at the hot springs or Hierapolis where ancient people gathered for the medicinal benefit of the water. By the time the water runs down to Laodicea it is lukewarm and has lost its medicinal power. We saw an excellent presentation on the ancient art of carpet weaving and finished the day at Ephesus, by far the most intact city of our journey.
On Sunday we visited Pergamum, situated beautifully atop a very high hill. Pergamum was once the chief city of the region, as indicated by its 20,000 seat outdoor amphitheatre. We worshiped together amid the ruins of St. John’s Basilica and then visited the ancient medical college called the Asklepieion.
Monday included a very cold, windy visit to the ancient city of Troy and a long drive back toward Istanbul, including a ferry crossing of the Dardanelles. The drive gave us lots of time to discuss the essential elements of successful ministry back home. We spent several hours at the Istanbul Grand Bazaar, purchasing gifts for all our colleagues back home and then enjoyed a wonderful farewell dinner with our tour hosts. ~Bill Price