Wonderful Turkish people welcomed our group this past spring, and eagerly showed us the best textile collections, the best Turkish baths and the best bazaar stalls, then proceeded to offer us delicious and exotic dishes at every meal. We will stay in the same beautiful hotel in Istanbul that charms us on every trip; it was once a private home, decorated with beautiful antiques. The hotel is in the heart of Sultanahmet, the old historical part of Istanbul, and only two blocks from the exquisite Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace of the Sultans, and Santa Sophia.
And those bountiful buffet breakfasts - with big platters of fresh-baked breads, olives and cheeses, cucumbers and tomatoes, yogurt, nuts and dried apricots, to be polished off with juice and delicious coffee! We will help ourselves to breakfast in the cozy dining room where hundreds of colored glass lamps give off a soft, glowing light. Next we fly east to the town of Tokat where we will have a private woodblock printing workshop to pattern our own beautiful cotton scarves, called yazma - using your choice of the hand-carved wood-blocks traditional to the area. In Tokat, we also visit the Gok Madrasa (1271 AD) now an ethnological museum, and eat a delicious pasta dish called manti.
Continuing south, we will visit carpet makers and bazaars, then head east to the least-visited part of the country, visiting exciting sites like the gigantic heads of Nemrut, remote Lake Van, and the famous white cats of Van, who have one blue eye and one gold eye. Coming back west, we stop several days in the stunning and fascinating Cappadocia area. During the course of the trip, we will visit many textile artists--carpet weavers and rug knotters - as well as caravanseries, Byzantine-era churches decorated with ancient frescoes, and a fabulous underground town hollowed out of eroded volcanic cones and hills.
In Cappadocia, we'll sleep peacefully in our cozy rooms at our unique and delightful cave hotel. There in our cooking classes, we will learn to make delicious traditional dishes, perhaps manti and bouerek or baklava, with organic foods - thanks to the innovative chef at the hotel. A wonderful experience in Cappadocia 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.
We continue in our comfortable private van to Selcuk and nearby ancient Roman city of Ephesus. We also visit markets, sock knitters, and kilim rug (slit tapestry) weavers to see the fine, colorful textiles produced in the area. Then we visit the pretty town of Selcuk- and have a guided tour of Ephesus, the largest and best-preserved classical city on the eastern Aegean. Later, we stop in Bursa and see the market and a fabulous private textile and costume collection. Farewell dinner back in Istanbul the last night.
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