people who have left their homes in Eastern Turkey to find
better jobs in Istanbul return to their grandparent's villages
for the summer vacation and at least for couple of weeks they
live, dance, dress like their ancestors did. The villages in
the Black Sea part of Turkey are full of joy during the first
half of August. The sound of bagpipes echoes off the steep
cliffs of the green mountains. The clouds might allow you to
see the top of the mountains maybe for a couple of hours a day.
But the rain will not be a problem because there is always
enough sunshine above the clouds where most of the villages
move to above 5,000 feet. The silk road bridges do not only connect the two sides of the
rushing rivers but they also look like a connection from the past to our time. The Eastern Turkey tour has been on our agenda for a long time.
But some of you might have been worried about the unstable condition in the
East and have been postponing your visit to the Eastern part of Turkey. We have
done many tours year after year and have only wonderful memories of the time we
spent in the East. Now that, thank goodness, terrorism is finished, this is the
best time to explore this part of Turkey before it gets overrun by
As you will see from the itinerary, Eastern Turkey offers a great
variety of historic, ethnic, and geographic diversity to make this educational
tour not have a dull moment.
THE EASTERN AND NORTHERN TURKEY (THE BLACK
The tea bushes and the hazel nut orchards grow so fast that you
will feel that if we stay long enough we too will turn into a tea bush. The
clouds will always cast shadow over the damp soil. The rain tree forests will
be a great contrast to the bare mountains of the Eastern Turkey.
To punish Prometheus for stealing the fire, Zeus decided he should
be taken to the high, unreachable mountains where no one can rescue him. The
mountain where Prometheus was bound is now the border of North East Turkey. To
save the living from corruption, God ordered Noah to build an Ark. Noah's Ark
landed on Mount Ararat, which was above and beyond the flood. Mount Ararat is
now the eastern border of Turkey.
The mountains of the eastern part of Turkey cast their grand
shadows over the fertile valleys of the "Garden of Eden." The rivers Tigris and
Euphrates continue to nourish the "Tree of Life" in this land where the people
of all different ethnic identity: the Kurds, the Georgians, the Arabs, the
Turks, the Assyrians experience a new present and a hopeful future in the
The colors of nature and diverse cultures compose the most
wonderful symphony. Give 1,001 painters all the colors they want and ask them
to paint the colors of the Eastern part of Turkey during a day. By the sunset,
they will be out of breath but they would still not be able to get all the
colors that you will see and experience in one day.
28 July, 2008 ISTANBUL - Sunday 10 Aug, 2008
Cost of this tour is
US$2,800. See below
Single Room Supplement US$ 450.
Reserve seats on any tour without
PLEASE READ THE TOUR HAND BOOK FOR MORE DETAIL
Please read journal for
Black Sea and East Turkey tour
Day 1 - Monday, 28 July , 2008 ISTANBUL
The tour starts with a group meeting in
Istanbul in the lobby of Hotel Ayasofya at 5:00 PM.
Visit the Blue Mosque and have dinner at a nearby restaurant . Overnight at Hotel Ayasofya
Day 2 -
July 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 -
Wednesday 30 July 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 a family run bed and breakfast
place . The whole family will be trying their best to make your
stay a very memorable one.
Thursday 31 July 2008 RIZE
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.
Our lunch today will be very special. In the mountains a mother and
a daughter cook as they have learned from generations before. You
will love their KUYMAK- Corn flower based cheese dish.
Overnight at Rize at Asnur Hotel
01 Aug 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.
Americans can go to Georgia with out a visa. Those of you who might
want to put their feet in Georgia and spend an hour or so at a cafe
by the black sea .
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.
Overnight at Hotel Karahan, Artvin
Day 6 – Saturday 02 Aug 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 – Sunday 03 Aug 2008 KARS
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.
Visit the village house closest to the border of
Turkey. Find out how one can live by raising ducks.
Day 8 – Monday 04 Aug 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 mountains.
Erzurum in the late afternoon. overnight at Oral Hotel
Day 9 – Tuesday 05 Aug 2008 ERZURUM
Visit a nearby village. See a hay, duck and dung economy.
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
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
Dinner at the hotel.
Overnight in Oral Otel
Day 10 – Wednesday 06 Aug 2008 DOGUBEYAZIT
Free time in the morning. leave the hotel at 09:00
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 before sunset.
Dinner and overnight at Hotel Simer, Dogubeyazit
Day 11 – Thursday 07 Aug 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. ( Getting up at 04:30
is optional) Leave the hotel at 08:00 Visit Noah's ark. See a village
which for hundreds of years lived with Mount Ararat as a backdrop. Mail
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. After lunch
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
civilizations. Drive south to Van. Dinner and overnight at Hotel MERIT, Van
Day 12 - Friday 08 Aug 2008 VAN
Drive to a meadow to watch local folk
dancers. Have a picnic lunch with the dancers and talk to these Kurdish
students. 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 and Carpet
collection - the richest in Turkey.
overnight at Hotel MERIT, Van
Day 13 -
09 Aug 2008
Fly from Van to
Free time in the afternoon.
at Hotel Ayasofya
Day 14 -
Sunday 10 Aug, 2008
The tour will be over
AFTER THE TOUR OPTIONS:
- The next Melitour tour
is to Mongolia . The tour will start on the 14th of August. If
you have time you can fly from Istanbul to Mongolia with Meli.
- You can continue your
trip in the South East
- Or return to Istanbul
by land from Van via Cappadocia
The tour price of $2,800 includes the following:
- 13 nights hotel, double occupancy
- The flights from Istanbul to Trabzon and from Van to
- All meals
- All entrance fees
- Tips at the hotels and the restaurants
- All transportation
The single room supplement is $450.
US citizens need a visa to travel in Turkey. You may
obtain this visa upon your arrival at the Istanbul airport. The fee
is $ 20 in US currency for the USA citizens.
The visa is valid for three months.
When you come out of your plane please proceed to the Visa
Booth. They only accept cash.
POLICE CHECK AND LUGGAGE /
MEETING MELITOUR REPRESENTATIVE FOR TRANSFER
After paying for your visa
please proceed to police control. Baggage claim is immediately down
the ramp after the police check. If you need a cart, you will need
to pay one US dollar cash to a person who stands by the carts. It
will be nice if you have a change. The Melitour representative for
transfer to the hotel will meet you out side the custom area. Look
for a MELITOUR sign as soon as you leave the customs gate.
EMERGENCY INFO FOR TRANSFER
In case of unexpected delay or change of your flight, should there be a
problem in meeting the person who should be waiting for you at the airport
please call Hotel Ayasofya at 0212-51694-46 or take a taxi to Hotel Ayasofya.
Your taxi fare will be refunded.
Kucuk Ayasofya Mahallesi
Demirci Resit Sokak
Sultan Ahmet Meydani Alti
PRE TOUR ARRANGEMENTS
If you plan to arrive a few days before the tour to get over jet
lag we can reserve a room at Hotel Ayasofya (Single
US$60, Double US$85)
We can suggest itineraries for those who want to explore on their
own or with a guide before or after the tour. Simply send us an
e-mail with your request.
The Hotel Chart
All rooms are double occupancy, all with private