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Friday, July 22, 2011

June 21st: Our first adventures into Bursa

Now, a month and a day from when we first arrived here in Bursa, we are getting ready to leave the Turkish life we have now come to love. For me this trip has been such a fantastic insight into a culture I clearly had no idea about before.
My heart does feel a bit heavy for having to leave this country in a few short days and I feel as though the U.S. will give me quite a culture shock when I return.

Our days at Uludag University, Gorukle and Bursa started as a haze of bus, ferry and minibus rides, that now all seem like a blurr (mostly because I fell asleep on just about every moving vehicle we were in). I remember our final bus ride into Bursa ended in us being dropped off on the side of the highway.
As I was torn from my millionth nap on a bus, I found myself stressfully gathering my huge backpack and running off the bus to gather my luggage and quickly herded into a minibus that just so happened to be parked on the side of the highway waiting for us. It took me several minutes to even figure out what was happening but, when I did I found out that the minibus contained our new Turkish family.

We were taken to the dorms which we quickly found out had no air conditioning and no working elevator, which meant that we had to lug our belongings up 4 flights of slippery marble stairs ( and if you saw my bag, you would know how hard that was!). We got settled into our dorm which was fully equipped with a kitchen and bathroom. After a couple hours of furniture moving and unpacking, we were picked up for dinner with our new friends.
The first dinner with Sami and Semih consisted of trying to figure out what everyone was saying (on both sides), I learned some new turkish words and got some clarification on other words I had learned but not really understood. The students were very hospitable right off the bat and made dinner super comfortable. There was a lot of nervous laughter due to communication difficulties but, the excitement everyone felt was raw and real and I will never forget it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

June 20th: The Acropolis, Red Basillica and the Aclepieion.

The ancient city ruins of the Roman Acropolis climb up the mountain side until finally reaching the Temple of Trojan, The temple of Athena,The sanctuary of Heroon and the famous library which had 200,000 books that were given by Antonius to Cleopatra as a wedding gift. The theater, constructed in the 3rd century BC, is one of the steepest in the world and can seat 10,000 people! As you sit in the theater you have an amazing aerial view of the mountainside and the entire city of Bergama it is quite a sight to take in.
We walked the city starting with the peak and walked down the mountain all the way through the lower acropolis which had the sanctuary of Demeter, the gymnasium, and the lower market all the while passing ancient aqueducts until we were lead out through the Gates of Eumenes out of the ancient city.

There I was walking through this ancient city and I couldn't help but think about how insane it was for me to be walking though the same corridors as they did so long ago. The city is now a ruin, but the grandeur of it had to exist in ancient times too. I cant believe people made such a huge and beautiful city with their hands. Now a days we use machines and tools and still complain. Even though the Acropolis is crumbling there is still wonder there, even in the tiniest most broken piece of chiseled marble.

Yummy breakfast at the Gobi Pension, my most favorite meal time since I've been here, because its always vegetarian!
 The lovely view atop the mountain summit right next to the Asclepieion.

 Citadel walls

 haha our group being goofy and spelling out UCO REU.

 The Theater

 Josh sitting on the theater steps with Bergama in the background. Beautiful!
 Creepy walkway that smelled like sweat leading to the theater.

A part of a palace in the high acropolis

The Gymnasium
Almost at the Gates of Eumenes

Leaving the Acropolis to the Red Basillica

The Red Basillica or the Kizil Avlu was built in the 2nd century AD for the Egyptian gods Serapis,Isis and Harpocrates, when the Egyptian religion was reaching the Roman Empire. A stream ran beneath it in stone channels and was used for ritual bathing. The Byzantines later built the Church of St. John the Apostle within the ancient walls and it is still used today as the Kurtulus Camii mosque.

On our way to the Asklepieion! (I described it in my last post)

 Turks and Americans
 No fences, no problem
 Entrance into the Askepieion

 Where the famous medical serpent symbol came from

  Health springs bathing center