I must say it was pretty sad leaving the Kervansaray. The internet worked fabulously, the hotel was soothing, and the staff was friendly… who knew what the future would hold for me connecting with the world wide web? But, Istanbul, the city that greeted us with open arms lay ahead. 😀
Before leaving Bursa, we would make a stop at the Ipeker Textile Factory where we met with the President, Ihsan Ipeker. Ipeker is a privately owned family business that supplies fabric to designers and distributors for over 80 years. They’re also a green company and not just because Turkey signed the Kyoto protocol.
While there, we received a full tour of the factory and I was highly impressed with the production of fabric. I never really thought about how much work goes into preparing it. One of the designers and directors, Madeline explained that Ipeker doesn’t simply create fabric, they are creating the base for a garment. It’s important to remember that when creating it, it is a garment and not simply material. She of course quoted it much more poetically, but it gave me a new appreciation for my clothing.
Ihsan Ipeker was very helpful in answering our questions about business in Turkey. He even encouraged us to learn Turkish and apply for internships within our related fields. It was clear that he was a leader that cares about his workers and ethically sound within his industry. He pays his employees above the living wage, offers 3 meals per day, full family medical, tuition reimbursement, and even provides money towards weddings! That’s just a few of the perks. Can I switch majors? :-p
When we left, he gave us parting gifts of fabric and chocolates. Was he trying to make us permanent customers? It worked! And he didn’t resort to using his good looks. Bravo… So many men try to work their looks to gain business respect. :-p
We then stopped by the Iznik foundation. At the Iznik foundation, they create the Iznik tiles that we have seen in the mosques. We saw how the tile was prepared and where it is decorated. It was a short stop because we’d have to catch the ferry in order to make it to the other side of Turkey.
The past 8 towns/cities we visited were on the Asia side. Istanbul is on the Europe side. We had to cross the Bosphorus via ferry. It was a nice ride and when I saw our bus pull up to the ferry with at least 6 other buses on board I got nervous. Would we miss the ferry? If we make it, would we sink it?
We finally made it to Istanbul and after seeing a lot of what Turkey has to offer, I was still impressed and excited, but I will say that there are other places in Turkey that I now equally love. The really funny thing was all the traffic in Istanbul made me feel that I was at the 101/405 interchange at 5pm on a Monday. But the vendors walking in the back to traffic traffic selling flowers and gag gifts reminded me that I was in another country. Just when I thought I was at the Mexican border, a Turkish man crossed the freewayas if it were the street, reminding me that we were entering Istanbul.
We checked back into the Golden Horn and went to dinner at a local Chinese Restaurant. It was a nice time to sit and sum up the days that had passed and to officially start to dread leaving. But for now, we have 8 more days to go and I am crossing my fingers that the time moves slowly.