Day 1 - Wednesday, August
6 , 2008 ISTANBUL
The tour starts with
a group meeting in Istanbul in the lobby of Hotel Ayasofya at 5:00 PM.
Dinner at a nearby Resturant
Overnight at Hotel Ayasofya
Day 2 - Thursday,August
7 2008 TRABZON
Early morning flight to
Drive to Sumela Monastary Sumela, also known as the Monastary of
the Virgin. It has been said that it is neither on earth nor in heaven. Carved
on the slope of a mountain, it looks like a nine story high building hanging
down from the clouds and sitting on the top of the forest. A short hike through
the rain forest will leave no question in your mind about where you are in
Turkey, The Black Sea Region.
Visit the city of Trabzon in the afternoon.
After the crusaders invaded Constantinople in 1204, Trabzon became the
capital of the Byzantine empire for a short time. Longing for the grandeur of
Constantinople, in Trabzon, they imitated the Churches of their beloved city in
a smaller scale. St. Sophia of Trabzon though much smaller will leave with you
the same sense of religious devotion as the original one in Istanbul.
Overnight at Horon Hotel Trabzon
Day 3 - Friday, August
8, 2008 AYDER
Once we leave Trabzon
and drive East, our bus will look like it is caught between the Black Sea and
the steep slopes of the mountains. The scattered houses in the villages on the
green slopes of these mountains look nothing like the architecture of the rest
of the country. We will make a few house visits to get a better understanding
of their lifestyles.
The village that we are heading to today is known for
an excellent spa. We will enjoy the natural hot waters with the locals.
Watching the locals dance and sing tonight will probably be one of the
highlights of the tour.
Overnight at Hotel Saray in Ayder
or a family run bed and breakfast
means Hotel Palace but please expect the minimal hotel up here. It is clean but
the bathroom and showers are down the hall, not in the rooms.
Day 4 - Saturday, August 09,
The people of the Black
Sea have villages on at least three levels of the mountains. During the winter
they live by the sea. During the early part of the summer they move up higher
where Ayder is. Later in the season they go literally over the clouds. Such
places are called "Yayla." Today we will drive up to the yayla of Ayder. If you
are a lover of nature you will say that this day alone gives you your money's
worth of this tour. Since our bus can not go beyond Ayder we will be driving
both ways in small mini-buses. Those who are interested in hiking can walk down
hill to enjoy the nature more. To avoid spending two nights at the very basic
hotel we will go all the way down to the shore and stay overnight in Rize.
Overnight at Rize at Asnur Hotel
Day 5 - Sunday, Aug
10, 2008 ARTVIN
Drive to the Georgian
For 75 years the communist regime of the Soviets banned people
from going outside the boundaries of the Iron Curtain. Since the fall of the
Communist Soviet Empire, this border has been very busy with people trying to
get into Turkey to sell everything they have. Along the way, we will see what
is called the Russian Markets and there, we will be able to see the falling
economy of the former Soviet people and how desperate they are.
mountains of the Black Sea we will leave the last sight of the sea behinds us
and drive south to the highest city in Turkey. Artvin looks like an eagle's
nest. If you do not feel too exhausted in the late afternoon we will drive to
another mountain top to see Georgian Churches from the 11th century.
Overnight at Hotel Karahan, Artvin
Day 6 -Monday, Aug
11, 2008 KARS
Once the Caravans of the
Silk Road used the road that we will take toward Kars via the Lonely Pine
Forest. This is the name of the forest and the name is very appropriate for the
location of this wonderful region at an altitude of 7,000 feet. By sunset, we
will be driving by a lake which will be catching the last rays of the sun as we
drive into Kars.
Overnight at Hotel Sim-Er.
Day 7 - Tueasday, Aug
Kars is farthest
eastern city of Turkey on the Armenian border. This city with its imposing
fortress cries out that she has been a frontier city for all ages. Visit the
bridge that was made to survive centuries with egg white in its mortar.
Drive 23 miles to the border town of Ani, the 10th century capital of Armenia.
The city walls of red stone will make you feel like you might be walking into a
movie set. But when you see the cathedrals, churches, temples dedicated in
Zoastrian deities, caravansarai and the Silk Road, you will realize that you
are actually walking in the time tunnel of hundreds of years.
village house closest to the border of Turkey. Find out how one can live by
Day 8 - Wednesday, Aug
13, 2008 ERZURUM
Leave Kars after Breakfast and drive southwest to Erzurum. Of
great interest will be the villages of stone houses and black sheep on green
meadows. Of even more interest will be the time we will spend with the
villagers visiting their homes to find out what it means to be living in those
Arrive in Erzurum in the late afternoon.
overnight at Oral Hotel
Day 9 - Thursday, Aug
14, 2008 ERZURUM
Visit a nearby village.
See a hay, duck and dung economy.
People in Erzurum are very loyal to
their cuisine. Lunch will give us an opportunity to taste what the people of
Erzurum have been eating for hundreds of years.
Visit the 12th century
Medrese (a Seljukian School). Talk with the imam at the 12th century Mosque and
enjoy the ethnographic museum.
Visit an old caravan stop where the local
black stone is mounted in silver and gold by the local artists in the most
aesthetic art form.
Dinner at the hotel.
Overnight in Oral Otel
Day 10 - Friday, Aug 15,
Free time in the morning.
leave the hotel at 10:00
Drive east from Erzurum to Igdir then south to Dogubayazit. Have a picnic
lunch at a spectacular site. Arrive by Mount Ararat to enjoy its grandeur
Dinner and overnight at Hotel Simer, Dogubeyazit
Day 11 - Saturday, Aug 16, 2008 VAN
As the sun rises over
the planes of Iran, Mount Ararat catches the light of the new day before you
can see the sun. The halo on the peak will be a spiritual experience as you sip
your coffee on the balcony of your hotel.
Visit Noah's ark. See a village
which for hundreds of years lived with Mount Ararat as a backdrop.
your post cards from the eastern most post office that you can find in Turkey
on the Iranian border. See the miles of petrol tanks coming from Iran to put
the economic reality of the region in a different perspective.
visit a palace which is like an experiment model for an architect trying to put
the architectural features of all those who had run caravans on the Silk Road.
Iranian gateways, Ottoman domes, Baroque harem rooms, Armenian stonework,
Georgian reliefs will be captured in your pictures as a proof of synthesis of
Drive south to Van.
At the 3,000 year old Van castle,
we will watch the sun set as we enjoy our wine sitting at the alter of the
Urartu Sun Goddess appreciating the good choice of the location for this deity.
Dinner and overnight at Hotel MERIT, Van
Day 12 - Sunday, Aug 17, 2008
Visit the Van
ethnographic museum in the morning.
Drive to a meadow to watch local folk
dancers. Have a picnic lunch with the dancers and talk to these Kurdish
In our private boat, sail to the island in the middle of Lake
Van and feel the excitement of the masons carving the scenes from the Old
Testament and the New Testament on the walls of this church 1,100 years ago.
With the snow in the mountains and blooming almond trees, try to understand how
the word white can have different meanings. Swim in the clear waters of the
Return to Van to see an amazing Kilim collection.
overnight at Hotel MERIT, Van
Day 13 - Monday, Aug 18, 2008
Fly from Van to
Free time in the afternoon.
at Hotel Ayasofya
Day 14 - Tuesday, Aug 19,
The tour will be over