Feb 28, 2015

Museums and Churches and Transit and Plans

Since my last update, I've spent hours upon hours in a very select few museums in the old part of the city. I've attended Lenten services at several churches. I've walked around some touristy bits of İstanbul, as well as a few neighbourhoods where I was the only person in sight wearing "Western" garb. I've experienced some of the stellar transit system on my way to church in the morning when it's deserted and have been packed in too tightly to move during the afternoon rush (and any time after about 10:00 in the morning on the weekend). I've sat on park benches watching seagulls spiralling above the Golden Horn and leaned against the rail on the Galata Bridge hoping to see one of the many anglers land a fish. (Judging ‎by the lack of success I observed, I assume this is not their sole source of food.) I've had several long and lazy conversations with a man I met when we were both students at St John of Damascus Institute of Theology in Lebanon.

All of this was accomplished during the daylight hours. Evenings I've spent in my hostel, reading and catching up on the news. I know that in a city this size, there is a lot happening at night, but even if we weren't in Great Lent, that's really not my thing.

Tomorrow morning I intend to leave the hostel bright and early. (I've already confirmed that I can leave my backpack there and pick it up in the afternoon just before walking to the main bus station.)‎ Apparently the Sunday of Orthodoxy (the first Sunday in Great Lent) is the second most important feast at the Patriarchate. All the members of the Holy Synod are expected to be in attendance, including Metropolitan John of Pergamum. (Reading his book "Being As Communion" was an important step on my journey into Orthodoxy.) If I arrive by 7:30, I hope to claim a seat for the duration of the services which begin at 8:00 and will wind down sometime past 1:00 in the afternoon. Following that, I'll be going for "breakfast" with an American fellow convert and then it'll be time to pick up my pack and start walking again.

Tomorrow I'll only be walking as far as the bus terminal, which is an easy ten kilometres from my hostel. There are multiple bus companies offering overnight service to Antalya, and if I manage to sleep well during the twelve hour trip, I intend to start walking again Monday morning. (Perhaps I'll walk even if I'm not well-rested, just not as far.)  It's 390 kms to the port of Taşucu and the ferry to Lebanon only runs once a week, on Monday. Two weeks should be plenty of time to walk along the Mediterranean coast, and the forecast for the next couple of days looks fantastic.‎ I looked into booking a ticket in advance, but I've decided to just show up. If I miss the boat to Tripoli by a day or two, I'll go to Cyprus instead, walk a few days to the airport, and buy a round trip ticket to Beirut. And at some point before trying to enter Israel, I'll need to book my flight home so I can show the border officials that I'm planning to leave. It seems like I've only just begun...

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