Set up in Ayvalik, a scenic seaside town on Turkey’s northwestern Aegean coast, Tara Hopkins has found a way to impact the lives of women in the community by putting garbage to good use.
Hopkins runs a co-op for women who have never worked for salary before, creating one-of-a-kind accessories out of recycled materials like bottle caps and discontinued packaging for tea and ketchup. Translating to the garbage ladies, çöp(m)adam addresses issues of women’s employment in Turkey and the importance of recycling.
“There are a lot of women’s organizations here in Turkey doing a lot of great work, many of them are focusing on domestic violence, and, as much as that’s an issue, I said we need to focus on other things and take a few steps back,” Hopkins said, recalling how the business came to be from the backroom of the storefront as two women cut up and sew material in the front. “We need to do more to empower women, make them stand up for themselves, believe that they have more worth, so I wanted to incorporate that, I wanted to address issues of poverty, so this came up completely out of frustration.”
On average, the shop saves at least six tons of waste from going to landfills annually with sales of 4,000 items.
After learning about the shop through CEO (chief experience officer) Murat Tuztas, a visit to çöp(m)adam was added onto G Adventures’ itineraries in Turkey passing through the destination.
“I love what it stands for,” Tuztas said. “I see those issues all the time in my country, and it has to improve. I really loved the idea and I thought why not include this in our itineraries?”
The tour operator anticipates sending 500 travellers to the shop in 2020, and is in the process of expanding its partnership with its non-profit organization, Planeterra Foundation. Soon, all G Adventures travellers visiting the shop will receive tote bags made from recycled materials by the women of çöp(m)adam, which currently employs 20 people.
“This social enterprise works with women who have never held a job before and never earned a salary. Once working in this supportive environment, the employees are able to find their confidence and begin to break down cultural barriers to women’s employment in Turkey. More than that, çöp(m)adam is intersecting plastic and other items from landfills and recreating them into something beautiful,” said Rhea Simms, program manager, Asia Pacific at Planeterra. “Despite a low volume of tourists over the last few years, çöp(m)adam had been able to sustain its mission by building partnerships locally, designing and creating bags for organizations across the country. Getting travellers back in the door will allow çöp(m)adam to expand their work, empower more women and do more for the environment.”
A visit to the shop is just one of countless highlights of the eight-day Best of Turkey itinerary, which takes in the history and culture of the bustling city of Istanbul, the continental divide between Europe and Asia, the battlefields and war graves of The Gallipoli Campaign of the First World War, and gems like the picturesque village of Şirince and the cascading cliffs of the “Cotton Castle.”
Steeped in history, Turkey is home to impressive collections of ancient ruins. Travellers will set foot in Troy, a city that once was regarded as a myth, as they learn about the site of the 10-year Trojan War. Immortalized by Homer’s epic Iliad (and by Brad Pitt in the blockbuster movie Troy), the poem was used to uncover the arcaeological site in 1870.
At the ruins of ancient Ephesus, visitors can admire grand monuments of the Roman Imperial period like the Library of Celsus, built in AD 125, and the well-preserved Great Theatre.
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site is the ancient city of Hierapolis, which has the largest ancient cemetery in the world with 12,000 tombs. People have been travelling here for centuries seeking to be cured from diseases, and the hot springs of Pamukkale are believed to have been used as a spa since 2nd century BC.At the heart of the attraction are the white cliffs of Pamukkale, made up of 17 cascading hot water springs, which were formed when calcium carbonate hardened over time, resulting in the origin of its nickname as the “Cotton Castle.”
The site is also home to an ancient swimming pool, dubbed Cleopatra’s pool, where guests can swim in the thermally- heated fresh mineral water among fallen marble columns.
After a bit of a tumultuous time, travel and tourism to Turkey is making a strong comeback, which is particularly significant since the industry plays a big role in the country’s economy.
G Adventures is reporting a resurgence in bookings for the destination with sales of Turkey tours growing by 122% in the last year. In response to the demand, the tour operator increased the number of departures on Turkey itineraries by 80%.
“Travellers are ready and excited to return to Turkey. Bookings and sales of our Turkey tours certainly indicate that,” said Aizaz Sheikh, Canadian marketing director, G Adventures. “It’s an interesting place where East meets West, and there’s something for everyone no matter what your travel motivations are. From the history and beaches through to the man-made wonders and natural phenomena. G Adventures currently offers seven Turkey itineraries across three travel styles, ranging from three to 15 days.”
The Best of Turkey itinerary runs from Istanbul to Istanbul and is priced from $1,299, excluding international flights.
The trip has a Ripple Score of 100 in the ranking that indicates what percentage of a tour’s local expenditure remains in the local economy, a feature which is now showcased in brochures and online itineraries. This means 100% of the money spent locally on accommodation, restaurants and transportation is supporting local people, businesses and their economy.
Turkish Airlines offers non-stop service from YYZ–IST six days a week. Is there anything more luxurious than being able to lay down on a flight? Clients booked on Business Class tickets can take advantage of getting rest on fully lie-flat seats that open into a 193 cm bed, à la carte menu service, power outlets, noise-cancelling headphones designed specifically for flight and a wide selection of wine and spirits. They’ll also have access to the brand new Turkish Airlines Lounge Business at Istanbul Airport, which accommodates up to 765 guests and was awarded one of the 2019 Skytrax World Airline Awards for Best Business Class Airline Lounges. There are multiple food stations serving fresh Turkish cuisine, as well as rotating food from various Turkish Airlines destinations. One of the unique features of the lounge is an art gallery and museum in partnership with Istanbul Modern, Turkey’s first modern and contemporary art museum. The collection will be renewed three times annually, and there are currently 38 works on display by 16 artists.