While we do not have to get up really early today, we have a packed day ahead of us that will take us to a Turkish carpet emporium, the underground city and then a flight back to Istanbul.
Breakfast is at the hotel and we have our luggage outside our door. Our driver, Mustafa, has a separate van to transport the luggage to the airport and we board the tour van with him at the wheel. We have bonded with this jovial driver and will miss him.
We arrive at the carpet weaving studio and carpet shop just after 10AM and our congenial host shows us an eight station room where skilled women are making carpets using the "Turkish Double Knot" technique. He tells us that the carpets are actually made all over the country in private homes and this room is both for demonstration purposes and a limited production. The ladies work for only 20 minutes at a time and then have a break to rest their hands in this all handmade craft. Some of the more skilled workers are making very tight density silk carpets with hundreds of knots per inch. Others are making wool carpets with a lesser density. Some carpets take many months to complete. The workers get a good percentage of the sale price for their efforts.
In the next room, we are introduced to the process for extracting the fine silk threads from the cocoons spun by the silk worms. The individual threads are gathered into a multi-thread yarn that is then used to make the fine silk carpets.
We spend the next hour in the carpet showroom where carpet after carpet is rolled out for our viewing (and possible purchase) as we are treated to potations like Turkish coffee, tea, or raki (a Turkish unsweetened, anise-flavored hard alcoholic drink). Of course, the idea is to sell carpets. Tom is attracted to a very expensive silk carpet, but when he sees one with no dyes and color just from the sheep's wool that Anne likes, he changes his mind and that carpet is being shipped to Webster right now.
After a quick lunch and a long drive, we arrive at a catacomb-like Underground City. The cities (we visited only one) were discovered in the 1950s and were refuge for Christian Cappadocians who were under siege by Arab invaders in the 7th to 10th centuries. Again, the soft volcanic rock has been cut away to form houses underground that go down for at least three levels at the site we walked into. Each level can be sealed off with large wheel-shaped stones to keep any invader away from the inhabitants. There are ample storage areas in each of the levels for food and water, necessary during a siege. A lot of the tunnels between the rooms were very low and narrow with only "full hunching headroom." After a last chance visit to the Underground City gift shop, we head off to the airport where we bid our new friends farewell. It has been a wonderful journey with Classic Journeys!