Trip Start Oct 01, 2008
Trip End Sep 02, 2009

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

March 15, Sunday

A thunderstorm rolled through last night about 4 a.m. It is raining all this morning. We have breakfast at the hotel, they have bread, real bread, not pitas!

When it clears up we go to the Tourist Information office and get a map and brochures on St. Peter's Church and the Museum. We decide to walk to the church since it is only a couple of kms away.

It is getting warm and we are enjoying all the busses out with the election campaigns going down the street, lots of flag waiving too.

When we cross the river we see a big rally and decide to just quietly go by them, as tempting it would be to go over and laugh and have fun. One man going by has a bunch of flags, so I ask for one of their national flags. He unfurls it and gives it to me.

We shortly come to the church. It is the first church every built in the world and was built by St. Peter. It is actually a cave. After the death of Jesus, St Peter the Apostle came to Antakya (ancient city of Antioch) and preached in the cave which is now known as St. Peter's Church. This was between the years 29 and 40.

In 1098 the crusaders who conquered Antakya extended the church with two arches on the front. The floor still has some traces of mosaic tiles and there was a fresco on the walls, only some red smears are left. There is a water container on the right side of the alter that has water in it and a cup. It is said many pilgrims come here to drink the water and be cured of their sicknesses. We opted to just touch the water with our fingers.

We then went out to find the path up the hill out back. There is a head carved in the mountain stone.

Not knowing the way we followed people walking up the hill to the left, which took us through muck and sheep droppings (smelly, yuck!). Half way up the hill we find out we are going the wrong way and now have to find our way down to the muck again. It was quite slippery going and smelly with all the rain on the muck. We eventually made it down and headed back to the dirt road. A man cleaning his car pointed us in the right direction and there it was. It would have been quite an easy journey if we had found the right road in the first place.

The carving is called Haron-Cehennem Kayikicisi, (the boatman of hell in mythology) dating back to 175-164 BC. There was a plague in the city and the people started to carve the relief as an offering to the Gods to stop the plague. But the epidemic ended and the relief was never completed. What's left is quite impressive.

We then made our way back down and to the hotel. Just before our hotel we looked at what people were selling on the street. I was waiting for Len and talked with a man selling what I thought was a coffee filter, the man left to get tea and I stood there selling the filters. Len came along and looked at the packages and then said it is a cleaner for silver. Len then started yelling get your silver cleaner here, he did get a little crowd gathered around us, but no sale before the man came back with tea for all of us. We drank the tea and then said our good-byes and back to the hotel.

We did have hamburgers for lunch, the meat was so filled with red peppers I took the meat out and had a mayonnaise sandwich for lunch. For dinner we found a falafel café and had a naked chicken one. No spices! It was pretty good.
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