Turkey’s a personal favorite destination, one treasured for its ancient sites in spectacular locations, marvelous food, souks and boutiques full of irresistible crafts. Over the years, I’ve shopped ‘till I dropped for carpets, copper and ceramics, tiles, saffron and tribal jewelry—you name it. What I never thought to look for were Turkish towels, until talking with the experts at California-based International Nature & Cultural Adventures (INCA).
“The art of hand-weaving a Turkish towel on a traditional loom is rapidly vanishing,” reports INCA’s vice president, Marika Roberson. However, when in Istanbul, most of the company’s clients stay at the Four Seasons Sultanahmet in the heart of the original Constantinople, or Old City, where she directs those interested just down the street from the hotel to Jennifer’s Haman, whose store owner is doing her best to preserve this art in particular and hand-weaving in general.
Among the shop’s many unique woven products are pestamels, the traditional flat-weave towel associated with hamams or Turkish baths that come in a variety of colors with hand-knotted fringe; they are fast drying and light weight. Jennifer’s weavers also make the thick looped towels we know today. They originated in Turkey, and were first woven for bathing ceremonies in the palaces of the Ottoman Empire. With new weaving techniques, certified organic Turkish cotton and rainbows of colorful dyes, today’s Turkish towel is a beautifully patterned, skillfully woven work of art.
Equally carefully crafted for exploring Turkey are INCA’s two luxury-class, small group tour programs for 2015.
The 19-day Origins of Civilization takes clients ballooning over exotic Cappadocia and hiking through a Mediterranean landscape; cruising aboard a traditional Turkish gulet or yacht; exploring the ancient sites of Didyma, Priene, Ephesus, Aspendos and Myra. Specific highlights include four days in Cappadocia; a 6-day cruise of the Turquoise Coast aboard an air-conditioned gulet; visits to the Greco-Roman ruins, Crusader castles, mosques, churches and museums; and four nights in Istanbul at the Four Seasons Sultanahmet. Departure dates are May 11 and 25, Sept. 14 and 28; the land price is $10,495 per person based on two persons sharing.
The 14-day Turkish Adventure is a shorter version of the Origins of Civilization, capturing the delights of the Turquoise coast, Ephesus and Istanbul, and including the 6-day cruise aboard a luxury gullet and four nights in Istanbul. Departure dates are May 16 and 20, Sept. 19 and Oct. 3; the land cost is $9,495 pp based on dbl.