LETTER OF RECOMMENDATIONFebruary 18, 2008
To Whom It May Concern,
In October of 2007 we had the great fortune to go on a two week tour of Turkey, led by Mustafa Turgut of Turkish Heritage Travel. He went above and beyond the call of duty in so many ways it is difficult to ennumerate. From the first day, when one of our pieces of luggage got sent to Scotland instead of Istanbul, he was incredibly helpful in calling airlines and eventually getting our bags to us.
We began our tour of the Sultanhamet with Mustafa giving us the architectural and historical details not only about Aya Sofia and the Blue Mosque, but of the underground cistern, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar and the Egyptian Spice Market. Every step of the way, he pointed out the historical and/or religious significance of things we would not have even noticed if he had not been our guide.
From Istanbul we flew to Cappacoccia where we were picked up and driven to our fantastic hotel, The Kelebek, in Goreme. We toured the Goreme Open Air Museum, an underground city, a family run pottery place (with designs dating back to the Hittites 4,000 years ago), and a jewelry making facility. During our stay in Goreme we learned about Turkish Carpets at Sultan Carpets, where they not only spent hours teaching us and showing us about their beautiful fabrics and carpets, but also treated us to a traditional dinner.
Our group had expressed an interest in having a culinary slant to our tour. Mustafa arranged for us to meet some local women in Goreme who invited us into their homes to make "manti" a tradition ravioli of the region. Bread-making, and pide (pizza) making techniques were also shown to us. The hospitality we experienced in Goreme is a gift I will treasure all my life. We were given a fabulous open air jeep ride out for a picnic in a gorgeous area of "fairy chimneys" with fantastical rocks, fruit trees and wild roses. I also saw an advertisement to ride a camel and asked Mustafa if it would be possible to interrupt our touring so I could ride a camel (a life dream I have had since I was eight years old) and he arranged that for me. It meant so much!
We were given a wonderful night seeing whirling dervishes in a caravanserai built in 1249 on the silk road. We toured a necropolis, the ancient ruins of Ephesus and saw the travertine cliffs and turquoise colored waters of Pamukkale. We stopped in Konya to see the mosque where Rumi is entombed and had a remarkable lunch with a leading chef who has preserved recipes of the Ottoman Empire. Every step of the way our visit to Turkey was enhanced and enriched by our guide, Mustafa. His humor and intelligence kept us entertained throughout our journey.
I cannot recommend Mustafa and Turkish Heritage Travel enough. Mustafa answered all our questions and literally made our trip to Turkey one of the most memorable times of our lives. He is a treasure. We feel we have made a friend for life and have already welcomed him into our home here in California.
Please visit our Turkish Cooking Tours page for our 2009 culinary tours.