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    Seoul Lantern Festival

    There are special events ALL the time in Seoul. We’ve had a couple busy weeks and the weather has been rainy off and on, but there was a clear night last night so we went to check out the Seoul Lantern Festival!

    The festival started November 5 and is on display until November 22 this year. The lanterns begin at Cheonggyecheon Plaza (청계광장) and go a little over a kilometer down to Supyogyo Bridge. You can see them illuminated from 5 to 11 pm. This is the seventh year Seoul has hosted the lantern festival and the theme is “Illuminated Seoul Tour.”

    These are so much more than paper lanterns! (They’re not paper… or there’s some sort of coating, anyways.) See for yourself:

     

    Rainbow Bridge

     

    Building lanterns

     

    Seoul lantern palace

     

    Child looking at lantern

     

    Can you believe the detail and dimensions of this one?

     

    Lantern detail

     

    Bukchon Hanok Village Sign

     

    Lanterns of Korean children

     

    Fish lanterns

     

    Some people paid to customize floating lanterns. I guess you make a wish and send it down the stream:

     

    Floating lanterns

     

    Floating lanterns pink and orange

     

    David at Seoul Lantern Festival

     

    Hanging lanterns under bridge

     

    Bridge, lanterns, and reflections

     

    Cheonggyecheon stream and lanterns

     

    There were several exit points along the way. We indulged in some street food:

     

    Street food vendor

     

    One of the treats we got was a pancake folded in this paper cup. I got a kick out of the writing on it. “Espresso of Street. When I walk on the street with my coffee, I feel so good and happy. Magical thing! It’s a cup of coffee.” Ha!

     

    Food vendor cup funny saying

     

    Leah under bridge

     

    Lantern man

     

    Animal lanterns

     

    And what lantern festival would be complete without… Mount Rushmore?

     

    Mount Rushmore lantern

     

    These photos weren’t even half of the displays! There were several Korean cartoon characters, a giant make-up display, illuminated bridges, and more. It’s definitely worth checking out! (Plus, it’s free!)

    For more information, check out these websites:
    visitkorea.or.kr
    visitseoul.net

    Which one was your favorite?

     

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    Benedicts in Turkey: Istanbul

    We’ve made it to the final installment of our two-week Turkey tour with David’s family! We had two and a half days in Istanbul and I think we were all happy to be in one spot for more than a couple of hours. We arrived Tuesday afternoon and David and Sam returned the rental car. (I was glad to have it off of our hands. Driving in Istanbul is nuts!)

    We stayed at Antique Hostel in the Sultanahmet area and recommend it. It was in a perfect location and had a yummy breakfast and a great price!

    Istanbul is one of my favorite cities. David and I visited many times while we lived in Turkey. (Check out our previous posts with more travel details here, herehere, here, and here.) It was always a great getaway and change of pace from Ankara. And with $30 flights from Ankara to Istanbul, what could be better? It was a place where we could explore and relax at the same time. We were glad to share our favorite spots with the family and explore a few new places, too.

    Blue Mosque:

     

    Blue mosque

     

    Blue mosque ceiling

     

    Hagia Sofia:

     

    Hagia Sofia ceiling

     

    Hagia Sofia from second floor

     

    View of Blue mosque from Hagia Sofia

     

    There was an awesome open-air bazaar while we were there with a long stretch of vendors from all over Turkey selling handmade goods and food:

     

    Art bazaar in Istanbul

     

    Art Bazaar locksmith

     

    Mom posing with Gaziantep tie sellers

     

    Basilica Cistern and the Medusa head:

     

    Istanbul cisterns

     

    Medusa head

     

    Medusa head and tourists

     

    Grand Bazaar and lunch at the Fes Cafe:

     

    Grand Bazaar Fez Cafe

     

    We were there during Ramazan. After the sun set, all of the Turks came out to the square with their picnics:

     

    Blue mosque during Ramazan

     

    Sultanahmet during Ramazan

     

    Whirling dervish performance

     

    Corn vendor in Istanbul

     

    Stack of Turkish Bakalava

     

    David holding Turkish Coffee Cup

     

    Taksim:

     

    taksimsunset

     

    Taksim Tunel

     

    Fish sandwiches on Galata Bridge:

     

    Galata bridge fish sandwich boat

     

    Galata Tower:

     

    Galata tower

     

    We celebrated our fourth anniversary along with the family’s final send off meal. It was a huge spread of döner, kebap, hummus, prizola, meze, and more. We left stuffed and happy.

     

    Anniversary dinner in Istanbul

     

    After a few fun and shopping filled days, the family’s time in Turkey came to an end. They took the Friday 6:00 am flight. We sent them off on their shuttle bus, went back to bed for a few hours, then left for the airport ourselves to head back to Ankara to pack up our lives and close our time in Turkey.

    We were thrilled to share Turkey with David’s family. These two weeks were also a farewell tour for David and me. I never could have imagined how deeply I would fall in love with this country… how quickly the people and culture would work their way into my heart. Turkey challenged and grew and changed me for the better, and I count my time there as one of God’s greatest gifts in my life. I pray we’ll be able to go back again one day! Until then, I’ll look forward to that next glass of çay.

    Teşekkür ederim, Türkiye. Türkiyem çok seviyorum.

     

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    Sixth Grade Retreat in Daecheon

    Every year the school has a Week Without Walls where middle school students spend time learning outside the classroom. A friend asked if I’d be willing to help during the sixth grade trip.

    We traveled three hours south to a small retreat center on Daecheon Beach (대천) in the coast city of Boryeong. It was a short trip; we were gone three days and two nights. The place where we stayed was beautiful with fall colors and a porch that overlooked the Yellow Sea.

    My friend Ji and I were the cooks. The menu was simple, but I had never put together quantities like that before! We served around 80 people. I have a whole new appreciation for cooks and caterers. We made around 180 sandwiches, 300+ pancakes, and hard boiled 180 eggs in two batches.

    We spent most of our time in the kitchen, but were able to slip away twice to explore the beach. One afternoon we finished the sandwiches early and spent a couple of hours in a coffee shop a short walk away. We had the place to ourselves for a while!

    It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed myself. I always love time near the water.

     

    Fall trees

     

    Cabin room

     

    Room door view

     

    Retreat porch

     

    Beach view from porch

     

    Hard boiling 90 eggs

     

    Sandwiches

     

    Daecheon beach

     

    Daecheon coast

     

    Mussels on rocks

     

    Blue and orange starfish

     

    Rocks on the beach

     

    Rocks

     

    Wavy rocks

     

    Ji on the rocks

     

    People feeding seagulls

     

    Empty coffee shop

     

    Week without walls session

     

    We laughed at this sign on the trip back to Seoul… merge right, I guess?

     

    Merge right sign?

     

    I can’t find website information on the retreat center itself. We stayed in the group area that had the kitchen, 14 bunk rooms, and an auditorium. They also have small cabins available for rent. Our time there was the latest in the season they had ever stayed open and they had to do special work on the heaters before we arrived. If I find out the name, I’ll update the post.

     

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    Benedicts in Turkey: Troy and Çanakkale

    After spending the night in Bergama, we drove 3.5 hours north to Troia and the ruins of Troy. (Did you know Troy is in Turkey? I thought it was in Greece!) For a time it was believed the city mentioned in Homer’s Iliad was fictional, but a British man discovered the ruins in 1863.

    It was raining that morning, so it was rather miserable to be outside. We sat inside of the “replica” Trojan horse for a while to avoid the rain. Had we had a tour guide and if the weather had been clear, I might have enjoyed this stop more. We hurried through the site and I didn’t read many signs.

     

    Troy fake horse

     

    Theater:

     

    Ruins of Troy theater

     

    Ruins of Troy

     

    This area was significant because it showed four layers of civilization:

     

    Ruins of Troy layers

     

    The view from Hisarlık across the plain of Ilium to the Aegean Sea:

     

    Ruins of Troy

     

    After Troy, we took a ferry boat across the straights to the European side of Turkey. The car ferry cost only 30TL! I was impressed by that. We saved a significant amount of travel time by taking the ferry. (We were on our way to Istanbul.)

     

    Map of Troy to Çanakkale to Gallipoli

     

    It was nearing dark and the weather was still rainy. David really wanted to see the site of the Battle of Gallipoli (aka the Battle of Çanakkale). We drove along the water in Gallipoli Peninsula Historical National Park to the Çanakkale Martyrs’ Memorial.

    The battle took place April 1915 – January 2016. The Ottoman victory was a defining moment for the country. Eight years later, the Republic of Turkey was established.

    The Water Diviner movie starring Russell Crowe came out last year and gives an interesting perspective of and shortly after the war. I recently finished reading Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernières. The novel is another great period piece.

     

    Çanakkale Martyrs' Memorial

     

    Çanakkale Martyrs' Memorial

     

    Çanakkale Martyrs' Memorial

     

    Çanakkale Martyrs' Memorial statue

     

    Çanakkale Martyrs' Memorial freize

     

    Çanakkale Martyrs' Memorial freize

     

    The memorial structure stands 41.7 meters tall. Here’s Ben standing at the base of it for scale:

     

    Çanakkale Martyrs' Memorial scale

     

    Çanakkale Martyrs' Memorial ceiling view

     

    Çanakkale Martyrs' Memorial sculpture

     

    It was sobering to see the graves and names of fallen soldiers. It is estimated over 100,000 men died during the Gallipoli Campaign including Turkish, British, French, New Zealander, and Australian soldiers.

     

    Çanakkale Martyrs' Memorial graves

     

    Çanakkale Martyrs' Memorial graves

     

    Turkish flag sunset

     

    After the sun set, we made our way to Gallipoli Konukevi. We were very impressed by this guesthouse! The small apartments were modern and spacious. Their breakfast was wonderful as well.

     

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    Benedicts in Turkey: Pergamum

    After Ephesus, we drove to ancient ruins of Pergamum (aka Pergamon) set in modern day Bergama. We considered taking the cable car up to the acropolis, but instead drove up the hill. Pergamum is one of the Seven Churches of Revelation and is mentioned in Revelation 2:12–17. Today, the location is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    It was David’s and my first time visiting the hilltop fortress. The extent of the ruins are not nearly as impressive as Ephesus or Laodicea, but I’m glad we got to see the theater. The theater of Pergamum was built in the 3rd century BC directly into the side of a hill. It could seat 10,000 people and was the steepest theater in the ancient world.

     

    Pergamum entrance

     

    Pergamum was a prosperous city. It was a political center and had the second largest library in the ancient world. It also had the Asklepion hospital and health spa. The city was especially known for its pagan worship with temples dedicated to the Roman Emperor Trajan, Athena, Dionysus, Demeter, and Zeus. Christians here faced a lot of persecution. Antipas was martyred for his faithfulness to Christ.

     

    Pergamum map

     

    Dad overlooking Pergamum

     

    The foundation of a temple:

     

    Pergamum temple foundation

     

    Ruins arch

     

    Pergamum steps

     

    Pergamum theater steps

     

    Ben in Pergamum

     

    I didn’t walk down to the bottom of the theater, but the boys and Mom did:

     

    Pergamum steps

     

    Pergamum theater

     

    Pergamum theater

     

    Pergamum from below

     

    Turkish poppy

     

    Ruins in Pergamum

     

    Man overlooking Bergama

     

    Pergamum ruins

     

    After we finished exploring the site, we headed to Efsane Hotel for the night. Bergama was a smaller city and it felt more conservative than others we’ve visited. Dad was still on the mend from his stomach bug and turned in early, but the rest of us had dinner at a Domino’s Pizza.

     

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    Benedicts in Turkey: Ephesus

    I’m nearing the end of recapping our two week tour of Turkey! Looking through all of these photos is making me homesick. I want to drop everything and head to the Turkish coast.

    After Pamukkale and Hierapolis, we drove to Kuşadası and spent the night at Sergent Hotel. It was a great hotel with a fantastic view of the beach. They were so helpful and accommodating.

    Unfortunately, Dad had been battling a stomach bug for a few days, and ended up going to the hospital the next morning for antibiotics and fluids. David and Mom took him while the boys and I walked the boardwalk, peeked into the shops, and stuck our feet in the Aegean. The Turkish coast is paradise. I mean, look at all these blues:

     

    Kuşadası beach

     

    After a few hours, they came back from the hospital. Dad was feeling a little better and we drove 18km north to Ephesus.

    Ephesus was a major port of commerce in the ancient Roman world. Over the years, the waters receded so it no longer sits directly on the coast. The city was famed for its Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders. The apostle Paul spent time in Ephesus and had a heart for the believers there (Acts 18, 19, 20). It is also one of the seven churches of Revelation (Revelation 2).

    Ephesus was one the first places David and I visited when we first moved to Turkey. We enjoyed showing the family the ruins, library, terrace houses (completely worth the extra entrance fee!), and theater. I can’t believe how blue the skies were this day!

     

    Exploring Ephesus

     

    Ephesus ruins

     

    Dad with Caduceus

     

    Ephesus main road

     

    Ephesus kitty with Nike Athena:

     

    Nike Athena and Ephesus kitty

     

    Hercules Gate:

     

    Ephesus Hercules Gate

     

    ephesusruins

     

    Family photo inside the Theater of Ephesus. It can hold 25,000 people and has perfect acoustics.

     

    Theater of Ephesus - family photo

     

    David and Leah with Ephesus Library

     

    Library of Ephesus

     

    Mom and Dad on steps of Library of Ephesus

     

    Pomegranate plant

     

    Ephesus Mosaic tiles

     

    Terrace houses at Ephesus

     

    Sam headstand in Ephesus

     

    Ephesus mountains

     

    After a few more Magnum bars, we drove three hours north to see our third of the Seven Churches of Revelation.

     

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