TURKEY: Textiles & Tulips

Night-time view of Istanbul's Blue Mosque.

The exquisite Blue Mosque in the evening; Istanbul.

TOUR DATES:  April 15 – 30, 2022.
Fly home May 1, 2022.
Scroll down for price; space limited.

 

This shows the hundreds of tulips that bloom all over Istanbul every year.

It’s said that city gardeners plant one million tulip bulbs in Istanbul every year!

Highlights of Tulip Season Tour

  • 16-night textile and cuisine tour, begins and ends in Istanbul.
  • Visit UNESCO site of Ephesus
  • See the breathtaking Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
  • Watch artisans knot carpets, make needlework flowers, and print cloth.
  • Shop in bazaars and markets for handmade rugs and textiles.
  • Stamp your traditional block-printed scarf in our workshop.
  • Meet a Turkish family for a cooking class of typical dishes.
  • Sample all the amazing Turkish foods in each region we visit.
  • Learn about the complex and fascinating history of Turkey.
  • Visit famous museums and archeological sites such as Ephesus and Topkapi Palace.
  • Explore the traveler-friendly town of Bursa and the Koza Han Bazaar.

Cynthia block-printing her scarf.Trip Details

We’ll fly from home to Istanbul, one of my favorite cities in the world! Hopefully our visit will coincide with tulip blooming season so we can revel in the million blooms planted around the city, one bulb for each Istanbul inhabitant. Our pretty hotel is located in the heart of historical Istanbul, two blocks from world-famous architectural and cultural treasures. We’ll have a local Turkish guide to tell us about treasures such as the exquisite Blue Mosque, the Basilica Cistern, and Topkapi Palace of the Sultans. We’ll also visit the nearby Hagia Sophia, and learn its complex story as the superb building was changed from church, to mosque to museum and most recently, back to a mosque. The Grand Bazaar is within easy walking distance to the hotel so we’ll familiarize ourselves with the easy route to that shopping mecca of art, rugs, textiles and jewelry. Vendors are no longer pushy like in the past; bazaar edicts encouraged a more laid-back attitude and vendors are now very pleasant.

Tokat, Block-Printing Center

Next we’ll fly northeast to Samsun, meet our van and driver and take off into the Turkish countryside. First stop is the traditional riverside town of Amasya. Next we’ll drive to Tokat, known for amazing food and woodblock-printing. There we’ll have a private printing workshop. The master printer will show us how to stamp cotton scarves (left), called yazma–using your choice of the hand-carved wood-blocks traditional to the area. Later we’ll go through the new Tokat Archaeology and Ethnology Museum, in a wonderful old brick bazaar-workshop building. We’ll savor the local foods, including a famous and delicious regional pasta dish called manti.

Istanbul cafe with chicken doner, or vertical grill–yum!

Cappadoccia

Continuing south, we head to the Cappadoccia area with its dramatic eroded landscape. There we’ll sleep peacefully near Urgup village, in cozy rooms at our unique and delightful cave hotel. In our cooking class in a village home, we will learn to make delicious traditional dishes, perhaps bouerek or dolma, with fresh local, organic ingredients.

Another wonderful experience in Cappadoccia is the optional hot air balloon ride* over sensational, eroded tufa stone landscapes. The balloons float safely and silently over the area, offering the passengers unparalleled views of the “fairy chimney” volcanic formations. Contrary to expectations, the early morning ride is not freezing cold; passengers are kept toasty warm by the balloon heaters. (Anyone not ballooning may sleep in, as the balloon crew leaves at 6am and returns for breakfast around 9am.)

From Cappadoccia, we’ll drive west and visit remains of the fascinating ancient city of Çatalhuyuk, believed to be the oldest city in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage site:  “The taller eastern mound contains eighteen levels of Neolithic occupation between 7400 BC and 6200 BC, including wall paintings, reliefs, sculptures and other symbolic and artistic features. Together they testify to the evolution of social organization and cultural practices as humans adapted to a sedentary life. Çatalhöyük provides important evidence of the transition from settled villages to urban agglomeration, which was maintained in the same location for over 2,000 years. It features a unique street-less settlement of houses clustered back to back with roof access into the buildings.”

Landscape in Cappadocia is even more exciting from the air; Goreme, Turkey.

Cappadocia landscape is fabulous from the ground and amazing from the air. Optional balloon ride is possible for the adventurous!

Textiles of Turkey

Turkey is famous for exquisite carpets and kilims, historical regional dress of infinite variety, and remarkable little flowers that edge the hand block-printed scarves. Everywhere we go, we’ll explore museums, studios and workshops to see examples of the brilliant creations. In the north, we will print scarves, then we’ll see rugs being made in Cappadocia. Another place we’ll visit is Konya, famous for beautiful flat-weave (discontinuous weft, kilim, or tapestry technique) rugs, and as being the home of famous Sufi poet Rumi. From Konya, we will head for Selcuk to see the famous archaeological site of Ephesus. This UNESCO site was an ancient Greek city, built in the 10th century BC. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC. Ephesus was famed for the nearby Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Among many other monumental buildings are the Library of Celsus, and a theatre capable of holding 25,000 spectators.

Later, we’ll drive north to Bursa, where we stay in a cozy hotel in the old town. We’ll visit the country’s best textile museum with its many fully-accessorized mannequins in traditional dress from all over Turkey. We’ll also visit the old silk market called Koza Han. There you’ll meet some antique textile dealers who will show us the incredible embroidery and needle lace in their collections. Prices here range from moderate to expensive, but there are textiles not found elsewhere.

Amazingly tiny and detailed needle-worked flowers trim the scarves.

Tiny and colorful needle-worked flowers called oya, ready to buy and stitch onto scarves.

Back to Istanbul

Then we’ll take a modern ferry back to Istanbul to see more of that exciting city. Lunch on the ferry is on your own. Next day, we’ll see the excellent Archeology Museum (near our hotel) and a friend’s upscale textile gallery, with the afternoon free. Then our final day in Istanbul is yours to see something new in the city, or return to a favorite place. Perhaps try a hamam for a sudsy scrubdown, or visit the exquisite Chora Church with its stunning frescoes – called the Byzantine marvel of Istanbul. Or you might return to admire the Blue Mosque or see other stunning architectural wonders of the city – your choice. I’m always happy to return to the Grand Bazaar with whoever wants to shop for final souvenirs and also stop by the place that sells needle-worked flowery scarf trims, above. Lunch on your own this day; there is a fabulous restaurant in the bazaar owned by some dear friends! Farewell Dinner with group at our Sultanahmet hotel. Pack up and organize for flights home. (Last included night of hotel is April 30.)

Fly HOME: MAY 1.    Be sure you check out the Photo Gallery of TURKEY here.

Tour Price:  $ 5320    8 people minimum; 12 people maximum.
(8 travelers are already signed up!)

Single Supplement: $850

Includes the following:

  • Artfully arranged salad in Tokat.16 nights accommodations, (double occupancy, in charming boutique hotels, or good modern ones when necessary)
  • English-speaking, licensed, professional Turkish native guide
  • All meals –except 2 lunches and 2 dinners.
  • Unless a meal is family-style, you may order your choice of dishes in restaurants.*
  • Non-alcoholic beverages with meals (tea, coffee, ayran yoghurt drink, water, cherry juice, etc.)
  • Interior flight to Samsun
  • All ground transportation by private, high-top Sprinter van with excellent, professional driver
  • Bottled water always available in the van for road trips
  • Transportation to/from airport on set arrival and departure dates
  • Museum visits to see the textiles of Turkey
  • Cooking class and lunch in a private home
  • Entrance to all historical sights on the itinerary
  • Private Tokat scarf printing workshop with your creations to take home.
  • SPECIAL! Photo book of your adventure once you return.

Not included: Turkish visa fee [$20 for U.S.]; free-day optional activities, airport transportation for early arrivals or late departures; hot-air balloon ride, between-meal snacks and bottled water when not in the van.

*NOTE: Occasionally the guide will order a generous selection of different dishes so you can taste everything, to familiarize yourself with delicious homestyle Turkish cuisine. And sometimes in a family-style home-based restaurant, everyone will be served a delicious set meal. At these events, vegetarians who can be a bit flexible will find enough vegetable dishes, fresh breads and pasta to survive quite comfortably! But many typical Turkish dishes do have a small amount of meat, such as stuffed eggplant or stuffed peppers and zucchini. More on food later.

For more information, E-mail Cynthia: [email protected]
or call 707-939-8874.