Alumni Travel Program in Turkey

Punahou Alumni Travel headed to Turkey for its third international destination. Led by Mei-mei Zane ’84 Engel and highly sought-after native guide Mert Taner, 23 alumni and friends ranging from Classes of ’69 – ’07 set out on an exquisite adventure in a country with a deep history and a rich fabric of culture and religion. More photos from the second half of the trip will be coming soon.

The adventure began in Istanbul, with a visit to Hagia Sophia mosque. Constructed in 532 AD, it was one of the world’s largest and most magnificent cathedrals before the Ottomans converted it to a mosque in 1453. Alumni and friends marveled at this historical treasure while receiving a historical and architectural lesson about the structural fortitude of this architectural wonder. The day was topped off with an Ottoman dinner, priming us for the next day’s visit to Topkapi Palace.
One has to get ahead of the crowds to fully take in Topkapi Palace in peace. The palace served as residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman sultans. Led by guide and native Mert Taner, the group strutted in the footsteps of sultans, wandered the courtyards and browsed the sensational treasures of Topkapi Palace. They emerged to an astounding sea of visitors waiting anxiously to enter, grateful for the head start.
Fishing and mussel boats mingle with huge oil tankers along the Bosphorus Strait, a lively waterway between East and West where Turkey stands as the only country in the world situated on two continents.
Alumni and friends enjoyed a variety of meze, ciçek dolması (stuffed squash blossom), fresh dolma, Lahmacun (Turkish pizza) and an array of handmade fruit desserts and homemade ice cream dusted with pistachio. What an honor to have a surprise opportunity to meet Chef Musa himself!
Meze for breakfast, lunch and dinner! An abundance of fresh, organic fruits, vegetables and spices lend way for delicious and invigorating daily dining in Turkey. An hour and a half plane ride to Kayseri, followed by a bus ride to Cappadocia brought the group to an incredible and charming cave hotel.
Lentil soup, homemade flat bread with butter and grapeseed molasses, ciçek dolması, pickled vegetables, fresh chopped salad with lemon and pomegranate molasses dressing. The woman who runs the restaurant is married to a cave carver, who was responsible for carving the incredible Cappadocia cave hotel where the group stayed.
After an orientation of the quaint and comfortable town where many university students flock to study viticulture, aviation and archeology, the group bussed to Göreme Open Air Musem. There, they explored the insides of this important Byzantine monastic settlement of multiple churches, a nunnery and wineries carved out of the mountainside. 
Alumni and friends soared peacefully in the wind currents over fields, cave-decorated mountains and fairy chimneys millions of years in the making. Definitely a highlight of the trip! Being met on the ground with a champagne toast was a surprising frill to the experience. 
A local villager opened her home for an authentic home-cooked meal and shared stories about her life through an intimate Q&A session. Fahriye is the second of a four-generation farming household in Cappadocia, weaving her own traditional Turkish carpets, jewelry and booties, while her main source of income comes from growing and selling vegetables.
The Kaymakli ancient subterranenan cities are carved entirely into the rock landscape and down six stories by early Christians who fled from persecution by hiding and living in secret. The Punahou Alumni Travel group, including Haydn Hite ’07 pictured here, crouched, crawled and walked through the vast corridors of this underground world using their imaginations to fill in the details for how these civilizations once flourished here.
What a delicious feast for the eyes as alumni and friends watched a cooking demonstration in the working kitchen of the Old Greek House, the oldest restaurant in Mustafapaşa. After a little lunch and shopping before saying goodbye to lovely Cappadocia, the travelers hopped on a plane to Izmir to stay on the Agean Sea coast in the charming modern city of Kusadasi.
Another sunrise bus ride to start the day ahead of crowds at Ephesus and the Terrace Houses. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Ephesus was an ancient port city and once considered the most important Greek city and the most important trading center in the Mediterranean region. The group marveled at the Greek architecture and sculptures, while tracing the steps of Julius Caesar, Saint Paul, Antony and Cleopatra through these well-preserved ruins.
A rich history of centuries of the traditional craft of pottery prompted the establishment of the Guray Maze Cave Pottery Museum. The Antique Hall collections of dishware, storage vessels, oil lamps, tools and smoke pipes, dating back 2000 – 1200 BC, are juxtaposed with the Modern Works Hall filled with world-renowned contemporary and traditional ceramic art works.

Join us: Vietnam and Cambodia

Punahou Alumni Travel is planning its 2020 trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. Rich with an eclectic mix of ancient temples, bustling street markets, hill tribe villages and breathtaking natural scenery, this 20-day adventure in November 2020, includes options to customize trip lengths by choosing land-tour and river cruise itineraries.

An informational session for Punahou alumni interested in the trip will be held Thursday, October 24, from 5 – 6:30 p.m., in Luke Lecture Hall in Wo International Center at Punahou School. Register for the free informational session and view the full trip itinerary

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