Trip: Israel & Turkey

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The Trip of a Lifetime: Krigline Visit to Turkey & Israel 

by Michael Krigline, January 2002

(Note: you can see photos from this Dec 2001/Jan 2002 trip via our Photo Album)


            Turkey is a long way from China! Our flight first stopped in Beijing, where we (with all our hand luggage) had to go through Passport Control. It was around midnight, so a very tired Andrew had difficulty staying vertical in the long line! We had a long layover in Istanbul and finally arrived in Antalya, Turkey, some 23 hours after we left our apartment in Shanghai.

            Antalya is beautifully situated on the Mediterranean coast and surrounded on three sides by snow-capped mountains. On our first day (we arrived at 9 a.m. local time) we enjoyed the quaint harbor mentioned in Acts 14:25 (Antalya=Attalia).

            The next day we started on a four-day adventure across some of Turkey’s many mountains to see more of it’s many historic sites. The weather reporters predicted clear roads, but they were wrong! After getting out to push our rental van off a patch of ice, we eventually found a snowplow to follow up the snow-covered road. In the middle of nowhere we bought snow chains and watched workmen weld on extra links to make them fit. But even this inconvenience turned out “for the good” as Michael’s sister got the chance to provide these mountain folks with a Jesus-video and a New Testament - which they gladly received from their new foreign customers.

            After an overnight rest in Denizli we visited the ruins of Hieropolis, the hot springs of Parmukele, and the ruins of Laodicea. Standing on the desolate hilltop that had once been Laodicea, off in the distance you could see the “hot” springs in one direction and the “cold” snows in the other that had once supplied water through pipes to the city. Unfortunately, the distances to both were great, and thus the water arrived “lukewarm” - which gave us new insight into our Lord’s condemnation of Laodicea’s tepid spirituality (Rev. 3:14).

            In the morning we pushed on to Ephesus - surely one of Turkey’s most prized and praised historical places. As I recall, the harbor silted up in the 4th Century (the Mediterranean is now some 14 kilometers from the site), then an earthquake and malaria epidemic led residents to abandon the city in the 5th Century. The early Christians who first got to read Paul’s letter to the Ephesians must have lived in a magnificent city! Standing in the massive coliseum, you could imagine Paul on center-stage, preaching Christ-crucified: foolishness to the Greeks and a stumbling block to Jews (and Muslims who now rule Turkey), but “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” to those being saved (1 Cor 1:23ff).

            Closer to Antalya we also enjoyed visiting the ruins of Perga (Acts 14:25) and Aspendos. A special treat was to visit the Christmas service in Antalya’s “cultural center.” What a joy to see New Believers worshiping and reaching out in a land that has SO few Christians.

            Of course, we were also blessed to have the company of Michael’s parents, sister & brother-in-law, and Andrew’s two cousins in all of our adventures. The senior Kriglines had already been in Turkey many times, but it was our first trip. Andrew had a blast playing with his cousins, and the adults had several opportunities to talk about our similar work in VERY different parts of the world.

            Like in Israel, there were almost no tourists so there were plenty of bargains to be had, no lines to wait in, and many genuine expressions of thanks from those who make their living from tourism. In spite of the snowstorms, hail, gale-force winds and drenching rain we endured in our 9-day visit, we had a great time and will long cherish the holiday memories.



            Our trip to Israel got off to a bad start. A small Coke at the Burger King in the Antalya airport cost us 3 million Lira ($2). Again we were the only “International” passengers leaving from Antalya, and they almost forgot about us. Waiting in the line for passport control in Tel Aviv (VERY late at night), the lady in front of me was not paying attention when her turn came. When I tapped her backpack to get her attention, she turned around and snapped: “Did you PUSH me? DON’T PUSH ME!” Next, I went to change money and the cashier would not accept the first $100 I gave her (my second one was OK). Then there was no meter in the Taxi so we didn’t know if he was ripping us off or not. I paid 100 shekels ($25) and the hotel clerk later said that 80 would have been about right. We needed water, and the hotel clerk directed me to a plaza outside and about 100 meters away - it was strange walking that far after midnight in a place with a reputation like Israel.

            The next morning things got a little better (though I managed to burn toast at breakfast). Elevator inspectors come to this little hotel twice a year to change the cables on the tiny elevator, and they came while we were at breakfast. Fortunately, Vivian convinced them to wait until we got our heavy suitcases down from the fourth floor before they disconnected the cable! We checked out and assured the clerk that we had left the key in the room, but as we drove down the alley Vivian discovered the key in her purse! I ran and dropped it at the hotel desk. The clerk was not around, likely having prodded up four flights of steps to carefully search the room for this key!

            We made it to Nazareth in record time according to our friends - and this is amazing because the taxi’s speedometer never went above zero m.p.h.! The Marriott was waiting for us and thrilled to get some business. All but two floors in the hotel are locked and shut - there just aren’t any tourists. Ben & Donna had talked them into a free upgrade into a $250US per night, 2-room suite, but we only had to pay $110 per night. The view was great in two directions from high above the large, famous city.

            Ben then took off the next two days to show us around the Galilee. We saw most of the famous places: Capernaum, Sea of Galilee, Sermon on the Mount, place of Jesus’ speech from a small boat, and of course Nazareth. We enjoyed St Peter’s fish overlooking the sea for lunch, and got a special “last minute” tour of the restored Nazareth Village (like 1st Century) - and there Andrew even got to feed a baby lamb!

            We spent New Year’s Eve with Ben’s pastor - an Arab Christian from a Christian family. We had a delicious meal and a wonderful evening, capped off by a balcony view of many fireworks (with scattered machine gun fire), which was followed by the pastor playing Christian songs on a middle-eastern stringed musical instrument.

            On January First we headed south for three more wonderful days with another friend. On the first we saw the Second Temple model and visited the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Israel Museum. We walked around the Mount of Olives and the old City on the second day, ending up at the Garden Tomb. Our last full day was spent seeing Masada, En Gedi, Qumran, the Dead Sea and the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. Friday we headed back to Tel Aviv to catch the plane for Istanbul.

            We left Tel Aviv three hours late (and everything at the airport closed at sundown since it was the Sabbath), and landed in Istanbul in a blizzard. The passengers cheered for the pilot when the wheels all hit. The airport was closed shortly thereafter. It was a miracle that we got in!

            The next day (we had a 26-hour scheduled layover!) was freezing and many flights were canceled or delayed. Turkish Air put us (and dozens of others) up in a hotel near the city center, but communication was very lacking. Our plan was to go sightseeing, but it was too cold and snowy for that! We did, however, manage to get a tram to the river, take a ferry across the Bosphorous and back, and finally visit the Aya Sophia (which was the largest enclosed space on Earth from 500 to 1500 - quite amazing!). We finally decided to head to the airport about two hours before our scheduled departure - to the objections of the hotel staff who were waiting to hear from Turkish Air about our flight. We had managed to connect to the airline by phone (not easy!) and they thought we might leave on time - but no one told the hotel. We actually flew out about two hours late - making it somewhere around midnight. There was a lot of room on the plane, so we all managed to stretch out for a decent rest before arriving in Beijing (and eventually getting home to Shanghai).

            Altogether this odyssey took 18 days, and we have two photo albums to prove it! In many ways it was like a dream come true: we had been wanting to see what Michael’s sister had been up to, and had wanted to visit Israel for a long time. The blessing of a “family Christmas,” coupled with the chance to walk on “Biblical” ground will surely make this vacation difficult to “top” for years to come.


© 2002 Michael Krigline. As far as I am concerned, people are allowed to print or copy this article, or link to it, for personal or classroom use.

 (see Website Standards and Use Policy)

Scriptures quoted are primarily from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.


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