Today was quite different than the rest of our trip so far. It was the first day that we really got to take some time to relax and enjoy the local culture of Turkey…and spend some souvenir money!
We started off the day going to the Church of Polycarp, which is a Catholic church in Izmir. It had beautiful paintings covering the walls and ceiling and had many statues and ornamental decorations. This is the oldest church in Izmir and is one of the seven churches of Revelation. Following this, we went to Smyrna, where one of the letters of Revelation pointed to. These ruins have been excavated and restored to what they would have looked like when it was built and they were incredible to walk through.
Then started the other part of the day. Our tour guide, Ozan, took us to three places in the afternoon. First, we went to a family owned Turkish rug factory. Here, they provided us an incredible lunch of many courses which I'm pretty sure we all agreed was the best meal we've had on this trip so far. Following lunch, we got to watch how rugs are handmade here. The pace at which these men and women create these rugs is unbelievable and they are all so unique and beautiful. The sellers of these rugs were very anxious to roll out all of their rugs for us (probably at least 50 rugs) in a big show room and we had fun walking around on all of the silk rugs wishing we had enough money to afford one of them!
Next, we went to a pottery market where we got to see some workers sculpting bowls on a pottery wheel and painting very intricate designs on them. It was fascinating to watch the work that went into each of the pieces of pottery in their store. I really enjoyed shopping around in their store because each of their pieces is so unique and they look like they took so much time and effort to create.
Finally, we went to a leather-making store. I'd definitely say this was the most interesting part of the day. We started off by watching an entire personal runway show of leather jackets, ending with a few people from our group getting up on the runway to model a few pieces of clothing. We had a fun time experiencing the life of a model for a few short minutes. This concluded our activities for the day.
We arrived at our resort that seemed too good to be true, but it was true! It's like a little town almost, it has a private beach, pools, and a huge lobby with stores and dining. A bunch of us went swimming in the Aegean Sea and enjoyed the biggest buffet dinner that I've ever seen. Today was a good day and I can't wait to see what else is to come in Turkey!