Delve with us into the vast culture of handcrafts of Turkey, ancient and modern. Along the way, we’ll visit a range of sites, from ornate palaces to timeless humble villages, alternating with hands-on opportunity to learn about a wealth of artisans’ fiber arts, worthy of empresses and everyday domestic goddesses.
We begin in the Roman, Greek, Byzantine, Ottoman and Republic cultural melange of Istanbul. We’ll then travel to the Southeast, land of the earth goddess half woman, half snake Shameran, a distinctly different side of Turkey, ancestral home to Kurds, Armenians and Suryanis. To finish our journey, we’ll visit the valley of Ephesus, home of Amazon legend Kybele and Greek goddess of the hunt Artemis.
About your hosts: Catherine and Abit Bayar
Tentative dates: May 15 – 22, 2015
NOTE: “Day Trip” denotes bus travel, extra walking and long days. Since we return to the same place we started, you’re welcome to sit these days out for activities of your own!
Day 1: Istanbul within Old City walls. We head to the Mosaic Museum in the Arasta Bazaar, then Sultanahmet’s most treasured sites, the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Evening welcome dinner at our Samatya workshop.
Day 2: Ancient empire meets ‘modern’ commerce within 15thC walls: We’ll span millennia, spending the morning in the Topkapi Palace Harem, the afternoon in the Grand Bazaar. We’ll navigate our way through the best shops to look at vintage textile and handcrafted finds – suzanis, oya, felt, rugs, yarns and the charming ways of Turkish knitting and crochet.
Day 3: An after-breakfast tram + bus ride up the Bosphorus to visit the Sadberk Hanim Museum in Sariyer. Then lunch and a stroll through the Sabanci Museum. We’ll end up in Galata and Karakoy, the newly art-filled neighborhood around the Istanbul Modern.
Day 4: Heading East! We fly to Urfa, ancient Edessa. Afternoon visit to the city centre and the legendary fishponds, and the nearby bazaar with its bright fabrics and tailors working in the open air.
Day 5: Day trip: An early start to Nemrut Dag, crossing the ancient Euphrates river by ferry. A vigorous but rewarding climb to the summit, then lunch at a local pension. We’ll also visit Arsameia, Cendere Bridge and Karakus Tumulus enroute, re-cross the Euphrates and return to Urfa overnight. This is a full day with uphill walking at an altitude of about 3000 meters!
Day 6: After a free morning, we’ll drive to Mardin. Optional sidetrips to Harran OR Gobekli Tepe on the way. Late afternoon stroll around the Bazaar and ancient center. We’ll stay at Mardin’s Ipek Yolu Guesthouse, run by the women of KEDV.
Day 8: Day trip: Morning visit to Deyrul Zafaran monastery, then to the ancient Suriani churches of Midyat. On to Hasankeyf after lunch, to hike and explore this fascinating old city about to be flooded.
Day 9: Day trip: Morning visit to Abit’s father’s village of Ambarli, lunch in the mountains of his mother’s small hometown of Derik, and an afternoon walk around this ‘ghost town’ waiting to be revitalized.
Day 10: We’ll leave Mardin in the morning for the city of Diyarbakir. We’ll visit the famed city walls, the Ulucami and wander the old city center. Overnight at Buyuk Kervansaray, where travelers have stayed for centuries.
Day 11: After a free morning, we’ll transfer to Diyarbakir airport for an early afternoon flight to Izmir Airport, with a jaunt just south to Selcuk, our other home base in the West. Late afternoon stroll around the hillside village of Sirince, former Greek ‘ghost town’, now a prospering community.
Day 12: A morning visit to Ayasuluk Hill to see St John’s Basilica, the remnants of the Temple of Artemis, and the Isa Bey Mosque. An afternoon visit to Ephesus, Eastern Roman capitol of Asia Minor. Sunset along the Aegean, then another evening in Sirince.
Day 13: Midday return to Istanbul via a flight from Izmir Airport. Free afternoon and evening.
Day 14: Our final day will be another full one – so much to experience in Turkey. Time to take our trip inspiration and finds and combine them in a hands-on workshop day of felting, knitting, embroidery and demo of natural dyeing. Dinner on our terrace in Samatya to celebrate the end of a wonderful trip.
Day 15: Travel day home…or onward, as you wish. Gule gule!
$3, 900 USD
Contact us here to secure your place with a 50% deposit. Group size will be limited to 10, not including hosts plus driver and facilitator in the East.
Already live in Istanbul, so only want to join us for the Southeast and Ephesus? We offer that too, here.
Included: All accommodation, internal airfare, transport to and from Ataturk Airport, private bus in the southeast, meals and entrance fees.
Not included: Transport to/from Istanbul, alcohol, personal items, any tips you care to give to hotel and home-stay staff plus our driver – always appreciated here, but not mandatory! (Not to worry – we’ll explain how it works)
Trip deposits are non-refundable if a guest cancels. If WE must cancel a trip, no bad karma wanted here, so our booked guests would be refunded in full. If something happens beyond our control (masallah) we’ll figure out something agreeable to both, such as credit toward a future trip.