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Europe Cruise Day 19
Friday, September 24th
Iskenderun, Turkey

Scheduled arrival time here is 8:00AM.

Day 19 Map

The time here is the same as the previous stop.

Today's shore excursion is called The Best of Antakya and is scheduled to leave at 8:30AM and last approximately 6 hours. Here it the description.

Travel to Antakya and the surrounding beautiful Mediterranean countryside. This region is a storehouse of extraordinary historic landmarks, including and the “cave church” in which St. Peter preached to the Christian population of Antioch. Persecution was rife at the time and is evidenced by the tunnel that once opened to the mountains--an escape route for those in jeopardy because of their faith. The Biblical book of Acts notes that Barnabas and Paul (himself once an avid persecutor of Christians) stayed in Antioch (Antayka) for a year, preaching to the people there and converting thousands. Around the same time as Paul, Barnabas and Peter were spreading the gospel of Christianity, the Romans were completing magnificent mosaics in the homes and public buildings of Antakya. These stunningly colorful pieces of exquisite art are on display at the Mosaic & Archaeological Museum, ranking among the best of its kind in the world. The state of preservation is quite incredible and makes this museum a must-see. Continuing on, you will travel to Harbiye, just six miles south of Antakya. The ancient and celebrated suburb of Daphne is a beautiful gorge, dotted with waterfalls and pools, to which revelers and vacationers flocked in Roman times, drawn by the shady cypress and laurel groves. It is said that Mark Anthony and Cleopatra married here in Harbiye. Here you will enjoy a traditional lunch of local dishes and specialties of this part of Turkey, whose cuisine is strongly influenced by its Arabian neighbours. Finally, you will drive back to the port of Iskenderun.

There is some additional advice offered.

Bring sunscreen and a hat as shade can be limited.

Ok, I will do that!

The ship is scheduled to leave here at 5:00PM heading for Haifa, Israel tomorrow.

How it actually happened!!!
(written November, 2011)

The ship arrived at 8:00AM with its usual precision. The blog picks up from here......

The weather here is back to the boring sunny with a few clouds and temperature in the high 80’s F. Yes, it is hot!!!!  There is no question about that. So far it has been a dry hot. I hope it stays that way. Bus air-conditioning here exists but it does not work as well it does on North American buses. I suspect that the average user of a bus here does not like it as cool as we do.

Antakya is the current name for the biblical town of Antioch. This city is believed to be where the word “Christian” was first used to refer to the followers of Christ.

The excursion departed and headed for Antakya. Here are several pictures taken along the way there.

To Antakya 1 To Antakya 2
I thought this was an interesting structure to temporarily hold up a concrete floor deck. There is a mountain range that the highway to Antakya passes through. Here is one view from the coach window.
More on the return.
To Antakya 3 To Antakya 4
More wind turbines here. Cotton, I believe.

The blog continues.......

There are two places of interest here. The most important one is called Senpiyer Killsesi or the Cave Church of St. Peter. This is where Saints Peter and Paul preached during their time here (apparently approximately 2 years). The biblical reference given in the information I have here is Acts of the Apostles 18 and 22.

The Cave Church is a cave in the side of a mountain, as its name would imply. The first picture below is a panoramic shot of the city taken from near the entrance to the Cave Church.

Antakya Panorama 1

The next group of pictures are of the church.

Cave Church 1 Cave Church 2
The sign about the church. The facade of the church.

The next picture is a sign that was hanging in the church that explains what is known (and thought to be known) about the church better than I can. Here is that.

Cave Church 13

The slight green tinge on the right is the result of some tinted light shining through a window that was to the right of the sign.

Here are pictures of the inside of the Cave Church.

Cave Church 3 Cave Church 4
The alter area. The alter with the chair mentioned above.
Cave Church 5 Cave Church 10
The alter, chair and stature mentioned above. A view as if you were looking in one of the windows.
Cave Church 6 Cave Church 7
The windows. A full height view of one of the windows.
Cave Church 9 Cave Church 14
Lots of people in a small space.
They are almost all from the ship.
A view showing the ceiling.
Cave Church 11 Cave Church 12
A view from a different angle.
This is from the side one enters from.
The escape tunnel or what is thought to be the remains of it anyway.
Cave Church 15 Cave Church 16
Some of the mosaics. One more view with a few less people.
Cave Church 18
The line waiting to enter.

Just to give you some idea of the access to this location showing where the coaches had to park. It was not easy and there was some walking involved.

Cave Church 20

The church is behind the grey masonry area directly above the parked coach.

The last picture from this area is another panoramic shot of the city of Antakya taken from a slightly different spot and somewhat later with slightly different lighting. Here that is.


The blog continues.....

The second place of interest is the Mosaic Museum. If one is into those sorts of things I guess it is quite interesting. As you can probably tell it was not high on my interest list.

It was a short ride from the church to the museum. The traffic was a bit wild but we got there. Here are some pictures of the museum followed by some pictures of the immediate area around the museum.

Mosaic Museum 1 Mosaic Museum 2
The "Personification of Sotoria".
From Nartica Antakya 50th Century A.D.
(I think that is what the sign at the bottom says, anyway.)
I cannot tell you what this one is but it looks like something from a similar time period.
Mosaic Museum 3 Mosaic Museum 4
There is a large mosaic on the floor. You could go up the circular stair case you can see here to the walkway
above to look down at it.
I think this was a chair or seat of some type.
Those are rather nasty looking lions (or is it tigers) there though.
Mosaic Museum 5 Mosaic Museum 6
I think the sign tells the story. An outside view of the museum's court yard.
Mosaic Museum 7
Another section of the court yard.

The following two picture panorama is the area directly in front of the museum.

Antakya Downtown Panorama 1

The museum is the building that you can just see the corner of at the far left of the picture.

What follows are pictures of a small river that runs beside the museum and just to the right of the panorama above.

Downtown 1 Downtown 3
A bridge over the river. A longer view. Near the upper centre you can see a boat.
Downtown 2
This fellow was fishing. If you look closely you can see the fish in the boat to the right of him.
With the way the water looked in that river I am not sure I would want to eat anything caught in it.

After the museum there was a short drive to a local tourist oriented restaurant for lunch. The blog mentions lunch and here is that.......

The last thing that occurred on this excursion was lunch at a touristy sort of restaurant in a little suburb of Antakya called Delphi I think. The guides English was not the best and I did not completely understand what she said. It is all linked to the ancient Greek gods in some way.

Here are several pictures.

Restaurant 2 Restaurant 3
The entrance to the restaurant with several
of our busses parked in it.
The restaurant.
Restaurant 1
The dinning room where the groups of us that were here ate.
Other busses went to other restaurants as there were far too many people between all the busses for one restaurant.

Below is another two image panorama of what could be seen outside those windows on the far side of the dinning area.

Lunch Panorama 1

The blog continues.....

After the lunch, which was not too bad, the excursion headed back to the ship in Iskenderun or Alexandretta, the cities original name, as the guide liked to call its harbour.

Here are a group of pictures taken as the coached headed back to the ship.

Return 1 Return 2
Antakya, as the coach I was on started back.
I believe the Cave Church is near the centre of the picture.
A local apartment building in Antakya as we drove by.
Return 3 Return 4
The country as the coach headed back into the mountains that it had to cross to get to Antakya. Wind turbines on some of the lower hills to catch the almost constant breeze that blows down the mountains.
Return 5 Return 6
The valley where Antakya is situated. Another view of the valley.
You can see the haze in this picture.
It was hazy, and hot but did not seem to be too humid
as I remember.
Return 7 Return 8
You can see some of the lower wind turbines here as the coach climbed higher into the mountains. I think this was from just about the highest spot we got to that we could still see anything.
Return 9
Some recently built housing that was built near the top of the pass that the coach took through the mountains.

The blog concludes this day by saying (continued from above, talking about Iskenderun)......

There is an undocumented story that Alexander the Great, who founded the city, and Cleopatra were married either here or in Antakya.

It was about an hour and fifteen minute drive back to the ship arriving just after 3:00PM. I think it was 3:07 to be exact.

Before the ship sailed at 5:00, I took some photos of the area around the ship, which seems to be my custom on these trips, most of which have been combined in to the two panoramic images and one single photo that follow.

Iskenderun Panorama 1

The view of the port or left side of the ship as it was docked at Iskenderun.

Harbour 1

The view from the back of the ship looking forward and fills in the gap between the panorama above and the one below.

Iskenderun Panorama 2

This one is, rather obviously I would think, looking off the other side (the starboard or right side) of the ship from where it was docked.

With this stop the ship leaves Turkey for the next 5 days returning on Day 25 of the trip or September 30th for the cruises final stop in Kusadasi for Ephesus. Meanwhile, tomorrow the ship stops in Haifa, Israel where I go on my two day Israel shore excursion returning to the ship on Day 21 in Ashdod, Israel.

On to Day 20!

Page Created: August 3, 2010
After Trip Update Started: November 7, 2011
After Trip Update Completed: November 9, 2011
Last Updated: Sunday, November 13, 2011 6:33 PM

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