Nicholas's Blog

Turkey Flag Turkey

June 30, 2015

If I could sum up the trip in one word, it would be 'fellowship' - In everything that was done, the Turkish people heavily touted the importance of being with others. After every meal, there is the serving of the traditional Turkish tea, called 'çay' (pronounced just like 'chai'), which comes in little glass cups, called 'çay bardak' - the tea is always a delicious way to close out a meal, but also an opportunity to continue building relationships.

If I was walking alone in the city, I didn't worry, because despite lacking a command of Turkish, locals were more than happy to help and always asked where I was from. If you happen to know a few words in Turkish, like 'Merhaba', which means 'hello', or 'Nasilsiniz?', which means 'how are you?' the Turks will be very impressed! :)

Before leaving, a few of my new friends had already invited me to visit their home cities, one in Erzurum near Armenia, and another in Bodrum, which on the South-western side of the country!

In the last two days, I visited Istanbul, which is Turkey's most populous city - half of it is on the European continent, and the other half is on the Asian continent. Again, the food was excellent, and the baklava was 'to die for' - The traditional Turkish coffee was similar to a super strong espresso, and I brought a set back with some coffee to America, because it was so good! The nights in Istanbul were also very lively, since we were there during the season of Ramadan, which is a time where many Muslims fast during the day from food and drink until sunset, before celebrating with a large meal. When it evening would approach, thousands of Turks would gather in the gardens between Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque to set up picnics and BBQ's and as the sun would finish setting, a barrage of cannon-fire would announce the beginning of the feast, which would last for many hours, well past midnight. I also had the opportunity to see a traditional Dervish dance, where the dancer enter's a 'mystical state' and spins in circles for a long period of time without losing balance.

The Hagia Sophia, historically an important church and mosque, was also a pleasant opportunity to explore on my last day in Turkey, as the Byzantine mosaics and Islamic tiles told stories of the building's tumultuous religious heritage. Visiting the Hagia Sophia also made a profound effect on me when I saw graffiti where a Viking had scratched his name 'Halfdan' in the marble parapet of the second floor gallery - This vandalism took place in the 900's! Amazing! I felt at that moment that I had certainly stood in a place that was a great cross-road of humanity.

All-in-all, the trip was unforgettable, the food was amazing, the sights were incredible, but most of all, the friends I've made are sure to last long after these two weeks, and for many years, ahead.

June 18, 2015
Photo of Left: Nick on the beach buried up to his shoulder in sand. Photo on right: Group of people in the mountains

It's been four days in Turkey, and I've already made so many new friends since I've begun working in the Antiochia ad Cragum digsite. The area I've been involved in is near the top of the Roman colony, at a collapsed Roman Temple.

The work I've been doing involves photographing individual pieces of the Corinthian pro-style temple, which will later be converted from photos into 3D models for schematic and detailed assemblies with the use of AutoDesk 123D Catch and other software. The intent of my work is to better visualize the former appearance of the temple, as well as to assist in the restoration of the temple by developing 3D connection plans for the entablature and columns.

Photo of Left: Group of students getting off the plane at the airport in Turkey. Photo on right: Beautiful view of a lake and mountains in the background in Turkey Photo of Left: Airport sign in Turkey. Photo on right: View of a city set within the mountains of Turkey

The city I'm staying in, Gazipasa, is about 20 minutes by car from the site. My love for food has taken a new direction since coming here, as all of the restaurants serve excellent meals. My favorite, thus far, has been the Turkish Kebob with fries, and my favorite dessert has been the traditional and deliciously flaky Baclava - yum!

The friendships I've found with the Turkish colleagues at the digsite has been awesome. I've never imagined to have met such friendly people despite having a language barrier. So far, in fact, every native I've interacted with has been extremely courteous and kind. I know, already, that I will miss Turkey when I leave, but I also know that this will not be the last time I go, there! :)
Photo of Left: Airport sign in Turkey. Photo on right: View of a curve in road and mountains in background in Turkey

June 2, 2015

I’m Nicholas Garaycochea, an incoming fourth-year engineer in Architectural Engineering at the Durham School and I am off to Turkey on June 14th, which is my first time overseas! The purpose of my trip involves conducting field-related work at the site of a collapsed Roman temple, in an ancient city known as ‘Antiochia ad Cragum’, which means ‘Little Antioch.’ The location of the ancient city is in rural modern-day Turkey, near the town of Gazipasa, along the southern Mediterranean coastline.

The trip will be guided by my professor, Dr. Ece Erdogmus, along with a PhD candidate, Ariel Kousgaard. My research group’s focus is on material science, particularly in regards to masonry structures and the ultimate long-term goal of this project is to restore the collapsed temple to a condition close to its former glory, at the summit of a hill, overlooking the ancient city.

I’m excited to experience seeing the buzz of Istanbul, the crowded bazaars in age-old vaulted hallways, being woken up to the stirring daily call to prayer, sung from the minareted skyline and watching the sunset while on the Bosphorus Strait. I’m also excited to see the slower pace of the Turkish countryside, with its clear sunrises and its lazy afternoons. After my work, I plan to take hiking journeys out to ancient churches and sites, and also to meet the local farming community and to mingle with their way of life. I am fortunate to get the two-week opportunity to find an experience of Turkey which is both on and off the beaten path.

When I arrive, I will take as many photos as I can! Until then, I will be packing, but will try as much as I can to travel lightly, as the weight restriction for my flight from Istanbul to Gazipasa is 20kg (45lbs)!