Teacher Study Tours 2014 – Group 1: Ankara

11 07 2014

⦁    Departure from Hotel & transfer to Ankara Esenboga Airport (ESB)
⦁    Homebound flights from ESB through Istanbul

Day 13

10 07 2014

Beginning our last day, we are exhilarated and reflecting on our experiences as we leave the Dinler Hotel in Cappadocia and head to Ankara on a four hour bus ride.  Personally, I’m feeling refreshed after an amazing Turkish bath experience the night before.  I am in brand new skin! A nice metaphor for wrapping up the journey.  Today, Orhan is wearing a T-shirt displaying the words, “I’m probably lying.”  He has given us deep insights into everything related to Turkey, spiced with his trademark humor and warm, personable style, invaluably shaping our journey. Among the many large and small wonders we’ve seen, one of my favorites is the massive fields of sunflowers in bloom, cultivated for oil and seeds.  There are lots of fields along our way today.  As well as the massive salt lake, Tuz.  Anitkabir, Ataturk’s tomb, an impressive monument to the great man and leader who brought a lasting and mixed bag of reforms, was reminiscent of the memorials in Washington DC. Ankara itself is a vibrant and beautiful city.  Guler joined us for lunch in the charming Ankara Castle, which commanded a spectacular view of the city. A highlight for me of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, in addition to holding treasures from many of the places we’ve visited, was the pottery that was so similar to that of the Pueblo culture of New Mexico.  In a session with the museum educator, we came away with his motto of hands-on learning –- Think Talk Touch = Teach.  We had a delightful and enlightening visit to the home of the US ambassador to Turkey and gained additional perspective of Turkey’s important place in the world at this moment in time.    Our final farewell dinner at the Girdion Hotel was a bittersweet testament to all that this trip has meant to each and every one of us.


Teacher Study Tours 2014 – Group 1: Cappadocia,Ankara

10 07 2014

Day 12

9 07 2014

Today was a “wow!” day of new experiences for many of us. The hardy dozen plus our wonderful Alp staggered out of the hotel at 4:15 to rise above the fantastic landscape of Cappadocia in hot air balloons. Floating above the rock formations in the midst of a rainbow cloud of maybe 50 other balloons was a remarkable way to start the day. From there, our magic school bus took us to the town of Goreme, where we explored first the underground shelters carved into the rock (complete with wine cellar, living rooms, a church…nice place to stay if you don’t mind living in the dark with only oil lamps for three months) and then went on to see the rock churches painted with icons from the 1100s. We ended the day at the rug weaving cooperative, Matis, where we learned about the finer points of carpet weaving from silk, cotton and wool. The visit ended in a shopping frenzy with many teachers going home as proud new owners of the colorful local wares.


Teacher Study Tours 2014 – Group 1: Cappadocia

9 07 2014
  • Kaymakli underground city
  • Lunch at Matis, a local carpet workshop followed by a lecture on Turkish nomadic rugs
  • Goreme Open Air Museum
  • Scenic views of Uchisar, Pasabag (Monks Valley) and Pigeon Valley
  • Wrap-up meeting and presentations of lesson plan outlines at hotel
  • Dinner at hotel

Day 11

8 07 2014

After a duly restful night from the previous day’s tedious but exciting day, teachers were ready for another day of adventure, excitement and discovery.

Our magnificent driver, Ismail, safely led us to the first stop of the day- an ancient safe haven for merchants away from bandits and curtailers; havens where caravans and individual travelers could take shelter and reflect on the needs of a culture that finds its roots in the nomadic lifestyle of the Turkish tribes of central Asia. The old, but glamorously kept edifice portrayed huge spaces for the safety of cattle and horses, while there are enormous spacious living quarters for the merchants. The beauty of the structure- the stone walls, dome roof and enormous depth gave it a gothic but pleasant outlook.

Teachers were entreated to a glamorous landscape as they traveled towards Cappadocia. They were blown out of control at the site of the mushroom rocks in the country side of the Pasag. These  “ mushroom”  rocks are sedimentary clay rocks that are shaded by a another hard rock with  a flat surface called “gendarmes” because of their imposing structure which give the sense of guidance  and security upon very slippery slopes. Some of these mushroom rocks are actually harnessed for commercial purposes- shops, restaurants, hotels and homes – such was the beauty of nature as teachers made their way to Cappadocia.

The day was crowned by a solemn theatrical performance called “Sema” at the historical caravanserai of Cappadocia. It was a Mevlevi worship ceremony, the Mevlevi order of whirling dervishes – a mystic group whose members are followers of the Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, a great Turkish poet and mystic. The solemn and orderly entrance of the actors, the synchronized actions and the silence of the audience gave a sense of grandeur and solemnity. The invocation (intone by the scholar), the black over cloaks of the costumes and elongated caps intensified the solemnity.  The performance was heightened by the swirling of the actors- an act of ecstasy where they “relinquish the earthly life to be reborn in mystical union with God.” A kettledrum called the “Kudos” booms out followed by the plaintive sound of the “ney”  (reed flute) and the symphony of the “cannon”- the stringed instrument. Passages of the Qur’an are chanted ceiling the communion of man and God.

The day ended with a sumptuous dinner at the Dinler hotel at Cappadocia.


Today we began our day visiting Mevlana’s (Rumi) tomb and museum. It was another surreal experience to learn about this well known and respected philosopher. We then went to 2 caravanserais. The first one was the largest one in the area, Sultanhani. It was an enlightening experience to actually stand where the people stopped along the Silk Road for rest and to eat. After a scrumptious meal in a lovely multi-level restaurant where we had a salad, bread and beef stew in these delightful little pots, we visited the second caravanserai. We were treated to some Turkish tea before watching the amazing performance by the whirling dervishes. Wow,, what a treat! Lastly, we boarded the bus to travel to our hotel. Unfortunately, this is our last 2-night hotel stay which means our journey is slowly and sadly coming to an end. This has been the best trip ever! I love TCF! :-)


Teacher Study Tours 2014 – Group 1: Konya,Cappadocia

8 07 2014
  • Sultanhan Caravanserai
  • Lunch at Bizimev Restaurant
  • Firca Seramik, a local ceramic art & workshop
  • Whirling Dervishes ceremony at the Saruhan Caravanserai
  • Dinner at hotel

Day 10

7 07 2014

This morning we woke up early in order to enjoy the mineral springs and calcium pools at Pamukkale and to see the Roman Baths there. Just like the Romans did 2000 years ago, we enjoyed a relaxing walk through the pools. After we were done, we headed farther east into the Anatolian plain. We arrived in Konya  the former capital of the Selcuk empire- and had a chance to see Rumi’s tomb and monastery. Our time there coincided with the afternoon call to prayer which made for a very spiritual experience. Finally, we drove outside of Konya to see the Neolithic site of Catalhoyuk. Catalhoyuk is a spectacular site dating back up to 12,000 years ago. It is an ongoing archaeological dig so we got to see excavations that started just last week. The excavations have led to new realizations about the beginnings of civilization and what a significant role Anatolia has played in the evolution of our earliest civilizations. From Catalhoyuk we could see a dozen more mounds just waiting to reveal their secrets. Another amazing day journeying through the rich history of Turkey!


Teacher Study Tours 2014 – Group 1: Pamukkale,Catalhoyuk,Konya

7 07 2014
  • Lunch en route to Konya at Sapci Restaurant
  • Museum and Tomb of Mevlana Celaleddin RUMI
  • Neolithic site of Catalhoyuk
  • Dinner at hotel