Upon arrival in Istanbul, you will be met by a local, Well Crafted Travel representative who will transfer you to the hotel.  This evening, we will all meet at 6pm for a casual, welcome cocktail party.  Because many will be quite tired after the long travels, we will call it an early night so we are ready to start fresh the next morning. 

Please note that hotel check-in is not guaranteed until approximately 3pm.  If you would like guaranteed, immediate check-in upon arrival, please request this at the time of booking (additional charge applies).

This morning, we will start our city tour with a visit to the Hippodrome, where chariot races and the Byzantine riots took place before we continue to the iconic symbol of Istanbul; The Blue Mosque.  Facing the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, built in the name of Sultan Ahmet, is famous for its blue Iznik tiles and is unique with 6 minarets. Near the Blue Mosque is the Hagia Sophia, The Church of Holy Wisdom, which we will also visit.  This is undoubtedly one of the greatest architectural creations in the world.  It was used as a mosque during the time of the Ottomans and serves as a museum today.  

We will have a relaxing lunch before we enjoy our first workshop of the trip;  the water marbling "Ebru" workshop.   Ebru is a traditional Turkish art.  Although the origins are unknown, it is likely that it came to Anatolia from Central Asia.   Natural dyes mixed with ox gall are sprinkled with brushes made of horse tails on the surface of water in a deep ebru tray.   The oily dyes will form organically shaped designs on the surface of water. After the design is ready, we will place tray-size papers on the tray to absorb all the dyes.  Ebru is an abstract art in which a considerable amount of randomness is involved. The artist's control is decidedly limited as s/he cannot determine the precise shape, size or position of each droplet of color. What s/he does is to try to apply colors according to the "mood" of the ebru tray as the artist perceives it. The colors then float and expand depending on the condition of the liquid and the tray, the temperature, the humidity and the amount of dust in the air. After we have learned this traditional technique, we will transfer back to the hotel for a relaxing evening.

DAY 3 - ISTANBUL (B - L - D)
We start this morning with a visit to the Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar), that will help us wake with mystical smells and different aromas of various spices. This is such a colorful experience; passing shops selling fruits, vegetables, flowers and fish, it can be sensory overload as you try to take it all in.  After our market visit, we will enjoy a Bosporus Cruise.  We will travel through the waterway separating the two continents, Europe and Asia, with a possibility to take photographs of marble palaces, ancient wooden Yalis of Ottoman architecture beside modern residential and luxurious apartments. After lunch we will visit Camlica Hill, the highest point in Istanbul. At the top of it you can rest and admire the magnificent panorama of Istanbul and the Bosporus from the beautiful gardens.  While we are on the Asian side, we will visit the Beylerbeyi Palace which was built by Sultan Abdul Aziz as a summer palace. This palace was also used as a place to receive diplomatic guests to Istanbul in the 19th century.  After our visit, we will transfer back to our hotel where we will have some time to rest and freshen up before we enjoy a dinner together this evening.

After breakfast we will enjoy visiting Topkapı Palace, the Imperial residence of Ottoman Sultans, exhibiting Chinese porcelain, weapons, calligraphy and more.  Visiting the Topkapi Palace can inspire fantastic ideas for designs, as the tile work is just breathtaking.   After this visit, we will continue to the Grand bazaar where we will have time to explore on our own.  This is the oldest and the largest covered marketplace in the world with nearly 4,000 shops full of rich collections and souvenirs. We will enjoy the rest of the day free to explore on our own; for those wanting to return to the hotel, we will transfer back and you may begin your explorations, or afternoon of relaxing from there.  Whether you choose to sit in a cafe and sketch, visit a local hammam, go shopping or just nap for inspiration, you will fall even more in love with this city that has so much to offer.  

After breakfast, we will transfer to the airport for our flight to Ankara. The arrival in Ankara will be followed by a visit to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and the Mausoleum of Atatürk. This spectacular museum is dedicated to the founder of Turkey. After lunch, we will depart (driving approximately 5 hours) to Cappadocia by bus. On the way to our hotel we will have the opportunity to visit one of the underground cities in the region and at the end of the day we will arrive at our hotel and overnight stay.

This morning, we will wake before the sun to experience a once-in-a-lifetime view of this magical countryside.  As we rub the sleep out of our eyes, we will make our way into the sky to watch the sunrise over Cappadocia in a hot-air balloon!

After returning to land, we will enjoy our breakfast back at the hotel.  We will then enjoy a guided tour of the region, starting with the Outdoor Museum of Göreme where you will see several chapels carved into the rocks and sense the mystery  of St. George of Cappadocia. We will continue this morning visiting scenic valleys with beautiful scenery and fairy chimneys. After lunch, we will visit Avanos, on the banks of the Kızılırmak River in Cappadocia, which is all about pottery-making.  Here we will enjoy a Pottery workshop.  The red clay from the riverbanks is excellent for traditional household pottery as well as industrial uses such as building blocks and roof tiles. We will watch the pottery being made, before we begin working with the famous clay ourselves.  With professional guidance, we will explore our own creativity in clay and stone in this workshop. 

After we say goodbye to our pottery teachers, we leave for the typical village of Uçhisar with lookouts that make for marvelous photos. As we slowly begin our way back to the hotel this afternoon, we will visit a few handicraft centers where we can explore, shop or just drink it all in, collecting ideas and inspirations for our own creations. At the end of the day we will return to the hotel and overnight stay.

For those who still want to enjoy the night, we have an optional Turkish Night Tour accompanied by live music and dance performances from a variety of regional Folk Dancers.

Today will be a long day of travel (overland approximately 10 hours).  We leave early towards Konya. On the way we will visit the Caravanserai of Sultanhani, an old building, much like a hotel, designed to accommodate merchants and their camels. This particular one, built during the 13th century, is in good condition and was part of an extensive network of caravanserais built throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. From there we will continue to Konya, biblically known as Iconia, the city of dervishes. Here we will visit the Mevlana museum to understand the daily life of dervishes. After lunch on the road we will continue to Pamukkale where we dine at the hotel and overnight stay.

Day 8 - PAMUKKALE (Hierapolis) - BODRUM (B - L)
Today will be the most relaxing of all, enjoying the hot springs of Pamukkale. In the morning we will visit Pamukkale, in ancient days called Hierapolis, with its famous white limestone terraces. We will have free time to swim in the "old pool" (entrance ticket for pool is included) which is located in the middle of the ruins of ancient Hierapolis, surrounded by hot springs. After our lunch break we will drive approximately 4 1/2 hours to Bodrum  where we will check into our hotel and enjoy the rest of the evening relaxing.

After breakfast we will go to the Calabash Tree Design Workshop.   At this workshop, we will make calabash lanterns that we will take home.  

The bottle gourd, called su kabağı in Turkish, is related to pumpkins.  When dried properly (which can take anywhere from 3 months to over a year, depending on the size of the gourd), the shell is hard, allowing artists to drill holes to create fantastic designs.  Many times, beads are put into the holes to embellish the lamp.  

After our workshop, we will return to hotel and have the rest of the day free to swim in the turquoise waters of Turkey.

We will leave the hotel early for an excursion to Ephesus. We will visit the Outdoor Museum of Ephesus, and the House of Virgin Mary (where she lived her last years).  Afterwards, we will enjoy lunch before continuing to a nearby leather factory store where we will attend a fashion show. We will transfer approximately 3 1/2 hours to Izmir where we will overnight.  

DAY 11 - IZMIR (B - L)
After breakfast, we will transfer to take part in a Glass-blowing workshop.  Glass blowing is a technique that involves inflating molten glass into a bubble with the aid of a blowpipe. This will be demonstrated and performed by Nasuf Comert, a gifted glass blowing artist.  Nasuf is an award-winning artisan of the ancient Turkish art of glass-blowing, with 43 years of experience.  He has a proud collection of more than 500 pieces of artifact replicas using the time-honored Cesm-i Bulbul (Eye of Nightingale in Turkish) technique, now displayed at the famous Bodrum Museum in Gumusluk.  

After the workshop, we will explore the city of Izmir, also known as "Pearl of the Aegean". We will spend part of the day visiting important places of Izmir and Kadife Kale, a fortress built by Alexander the Great and we will continue our visit by walking at  the shopping areas of the city. At the end of the day, we will transfer back to our hotel for a relaxing evening.

After breakfast we leave in the morning towards Bergama. Visit the ancient hospital city of Askleipion, the home of several famous physicians in history as Galenos. After lunch, we will join  to Pergamon Parchment workshop. Parchment is made from animal skin; often calfskin, sheepskin or goatskin.   Its most common use was as a writing material for documents, notes, or the pages of a book, codex or manuscript. We will learn to "lime" the parchment and dry it under tension. It is not tanned; therefore, it is very reactive to changes in relative humidity and will revert to rawhide if overly wet.  We will then have the opportunity to design our parchment and color it to reflect the colors of Turkey.

After our workshop, we will visit the historic Troy, after which we will have a tour of Çanakkale where we also will have our dinner and overnight stay.

Today we will have the morning free to relax and sleep in before we transfer to the airport for our flight to Istanbul. Upon arrival in Istanbul, airport reception and transfer to your hotel.  We will have the rest of the day free to relax and explore on our own.  This evening, we will enjoy a fabulous farewell dinner together.

Departure to the airport right after the breakfast and check-in for your flight. Airport procedures will be the end of our services. Have a safe flight home!


B:Breakfast   L:Lunch   D:Dinner