Day 25 – Istanbul

I woke up at 6AM.  I couldn’t believe today I had to be at the airport.  WHY!??!!  I need just one more day to say good-bye properly.  As I plotted ways to miss my plane, to figure out a way to wash dishes and afford an apartment, I said my goodbye’s to the lucky remaining students bound for Greece and Italy, and boarded the shuttle to the airport.

Luckily, I had company on the bus to talk to to keep my eyes from wandering off to look out the window at the Bosphorus, Mosques, Palaces, Businesses, and people.  I think now in hindsight, I would have teared and went into a mad frenzy in order to be deemed un fit to fly so that I could have another day or two there.  :-p

At the airport, I checked my bags.  It was official, I was leaving and had no other way out.  I hugged our tour guide Deniz, telling her not necessarily goodbye….

Somehow, I know I’ll be back…


Day 17 – Istanbul

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.

President of Ipeker Textiles educates Woodbury students on the coloring of fabrics

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.

Fabrics at Ipeker

Ashley, Woodbury Fashion Undergrad admires textiles at Ipeker

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.

Artist paints Iznik tile

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?

Bus at the Back of the Ferry

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.

Istanbul Traffic


Selling on the freeway in Istanbul, Turkey


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.

Day 16 Bursa

Our first stop was the Royal Ottoman Tombs in Muradiye.  Founder of the green in both ways city of Bursa, Orhan Gazi and his family are buried there.   There’s something very poetic about a life when seeing a tomb that is still cared for still after several  years where many Turkish men and women still come to pray.  Sad fact #22: I don’t even know where Amerigos Vaspucci or Christopher Columbus is buried…

Tomb of Orhan Gazi & Son in Bursa, Turkey

Then, we went to the (Bursa) City Museumwhere we saw a vast collection of the history of textile, art, fashion, and the city’s proud history.  Of course I’ve been a naive American simply learning a bit of Turkish as I go, but a visit to this museum will make you want to come again after learning to speak the language.

City Museum in Bursa, Turkey

We drove to the Cumalikizik Village where it was no longer like the suburbs but a step back 400 years in time.  The side by side mud houses lined cobblestoned hills and the friendly people welcomed us with open arms and houses.  We literally visited the inside of a woman’s home where she gave us pickled figs.  Unfortunately everyone wasn’t happy to see us.  There was one little boy who was quite cantankerous about having his photo taken.  So much so, he made it a point to come around to just shoo us away.  “Damien” was too cute!

We had lunch there, but I passed because the only thing I knew how to order was a pancake and we know what happened the last time I ordered a pancake!  Let’s just say, I could live my life in Turkey and say goodbye to pork forever, suffering with fresh cuisine and peda pizza over deep dish, but I would have to introduce Villagers to two of my close friends, Kraft and Tillamook.  I was lucky enough to find a corn cart on the way leaving and ate a cup full of fresh corn. 

After the village, we returned to the city and went to the Uluumay Museum.  The museum has a vast collection of authentic Turkish costumes, wardrobe, and jewelry collected from over the world.  We couldn’t take pictures, but that makes the memory engrained in my mind much heavier 🙂

The day ended with us back at the hotel where we took some R & R between researching potential markets in Turkey.  We (Kipenzi, Meredith, Yaneva, & I) took some time in the Sauna and went for a swim in the pool before dinner.  This would be our last night at the Kervansaray…  It was bitter sweet as we’d be leaving a fabulous hotel, but we’d be back in Istanbul!