Feb 25, 2015

Lazy Days

Monday I was up early, and made it to church before the monks. Everything was in Greek, so although I knew where I was ‎in the services, I missed out on the specific texts for the day. My prayer rope got a lot of use.  About an hour after the beginning of Orthros, the first bus load of tourists arrived. Many of them were Orthodox, but this was the first stop of many for the day so they didn't stay long. After ten or fifteen minutes of a subdued hubbub, stillness returned to the sanctuary.

Once the prayers were completed, I headed back to the hostel, pausing along the way to purchase and devour several bagel-ish items. The forecast called for a lot of rain all day.  The streets were wet when I headed out to church, and the rain began anew shortly after I returned to my room. I slept off and on, uploaded some photos, and started investigating the next stage of my journey online. I didn't make it back to church in the afternoon, which is a shame, since they probably did the Great Canon. On the other hand, this service is all about the text (and, depending on local practice, prostrations), and staring at my smartphone for an hour and a half to follow along just ain't all that appealing.

I simply took too many days as a tourist while I was in Italy and the Balkans -- never mind the three weeks I was laid up because of the infected blister! While it might be possible to walk from İstanbul to Antalya to Taşucu in six weeks‎, that would feel very much like a forced march and would leave no time for the walk across Cyprus and then south to Jerusalem from Haifa if I want to arrive in time for Holy Week.

I still need to find a bus schedule, but I know it's at least a 12 hour bus ride to Antalya. I should be able to cover the 390 kms to Taşucu in two weeks, and it looks like ferries to Tripoli run twice a week on Monday and Wednesday. I'll need to confirm that as well, although being stuck waiting on the Mediterranean coast is not the worst thing I can imagine. Once I arrive in Lebanon, I'll spend a day or two at the Balamand before heading south to Naccache to spend a few days with my old friend Abouna Semaan and his family. Then I'll catch a flight from Beirut to Larnaca (Cyprus) and another from there to Haifa. The walk from Haifa to Jerusalem along the Israeli National Trail should take about eight days. I don't know how quickly the Easter crowds will disperse, and with Pascha just a week later, I should probably try booking accommodations online now. (It's probably already too late.)

Tuesday morning was a repeat of Monday, although they celebrated Pre-Sanctified Liturgy after Orthros. (I think that's the earliest I've ever heard Phos Hilaron.‎ {And for my non-Orthodox readers, I swear the above makes sense, but don't worry about it.}) 

It was fairly cool when I left the hostel at 7:30, but by the time I left church at 11:00, it had warmed up considerably. Since I was in the neighbourhood, I decided to do a bit of walking and visit two of the places I'd seen in 2006: the Pammakaristos church (now known as the Fethiya Museum) and the Chora church (now known as the Kariye Museum). They were both converted to mosques in the years following the Ottoman conquest in 1453, but the incredible 14th century mosaics and frescoes are very well preserved. Following that, I made my way to the Church of Panagia Blachernae. ‎ The current building dates to 1867, fires having destroyed the previous ones. I was the only person there apart from the staff, and it was an oasis of peace.  I'm sure that outside of the winter months, the gardens are quite beautiful.

I then proceeded to meet my friend Ribon, and we spent several hours together, talking and drinking tea and watching tourists. Eventually it started to get dark, so I took my leave and went to do some grocery shopping. Then I headed back to my hostel, where I ate dinner and chatted a bit with my Korean dorm-mate. İstanbul has a population of over 13 million, 18 with the suburbs, so I know there must be a vibrant nightlife. I spent the evening in my room, editing photos and writing this update. (Sorry to be so boring, Oğuz!)

At the Kariye Museum, I shelled out 85 lira for a three day museum pass, so Wednesday and Thursday I'll forego morning prayers with the monks and instead make the most of the pass.

When I visited the city in 2006, there was a massive scaffold set up inside Agia Sophia for restoration work. I'm hoping that's been completed, but I'll find out soon enough. (And this is one of the times I am sure I'll regret mailing my camera home!) Restoration work was underway at the Chora Church, so the nave was closed to visitors, but the gorgeous 14th century mosaics and frescos in the narthex and parecclesion were still visible. Additional lighting has been installed since my last visit, which was nice to see.

The weather forecast for the next two days looks pretty good, so I'll be covering a lot of ground and taking lots of photos. Not so lazy after all, I suppose!

1 comment:

  1. hey Peter, enjoy the weather, coz Jerusalem has a surprise for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLyjyh45m8Y