Winner of Ministry of Culture and Tourism and General Directorate of Publications "Extraordinary Reader" award in 2013, Bedriye Engin has never left Kurşunlu, the village she was born in, but always dreamt of turning it into an ecotourism hub.
Located in Gölpazarı district in midwest Turkey's Bilecik, Engin's village has now become a popular tourist destination, especially during the weekends.
The 56-year-old now regularly hosts guests, who get to taste rural life, away from the noise and chaos of a city life, living in stove-heated mud houses, enjoy home cooked bread and have breakfast on a floor table with eggs gathered from around the homestead.
Engin was among the 11 finalists for the "Women of the Earth" awards, organized by French Yves Rocher Foundation.Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Engin said that 11 years ago she would not believe that her dream of ecotourism in her village would one day come true.
Bedriye Engin won the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and General Directorate of Publications' "Extraordinary Reader" award in 2013.
"I could not think people yearned this much for peace and quiet. They come in large numbers and there is a great demand. I saw that most people missed the quietness of a rural life."
"First, I was chosen as an extraordinary reader. Then, I received a lot of invitations from TV programs. Tourism was new in our region back then. After the programs, people slowly started to know about our village. For example, 30 people are on their way right now. They will stay here. Another 45 people from a tourism foundation will come tomorrow. The number is increasing day by day," she said.
"At first when they arrive, we separate the visitors to different houses. Their rooms are arranged beforehand. The menu is same in every house and I prepare the meals.
"Visitors first have their lunch and drink tea or coffee then get some rest. After that, we go for a tour of the village. There are three or four-story houses here, and people like it very much. I show them Çivisiz Mosque, which dates back to 1418."
"Our district was on the historic Silk Road and we have some buildings dating back to that time. We have stone inns, a fountain with 37 basins and a mosque. We take a walk and visit the old Greek graves," she said.
She added that the number of visitors has increased because the village has caught everybody's imagination. "People are tired of the city life. They yearn for waking up with the sound of the roosters and gather eggs from their own farms. There are also some people who experienced these things in their childhood and want to experience them again. The number of tourists has increased and reached hundreds. Same groups have come several times. This shows how satisfied they were with the experience," said Engin.
Neşe Çelik, a tourist from Istanbul, said they were in Kurşunlu to spend the weekend. "We were here last week. It was incredibly beautiful and we were really satisfied. We were welcomed, and this is why I brought a group of friends this week."
"The nature is really beautiful here and you can really get rid of your stress. We have 30 nature lovers in our group, including retirees and young people. A friend who came here last week called me and said it was like a dream. We are really happy to be here. Everything here is organic," she said.
Mine Arısoy, a retired dentist from Istanbul, said: "We enjoy the freedom here. People miss villages after the chaos in Istanbul. The village is really beautiful. We are really happy to be here."
Ebru Boduroğlu, who came with her mother said they like traveling and village life. "I studied tourism and hotel management. We will get some organic eggs, chicken and dairy products here. I really want to learn how to make bread. We will return home with some good memories," she said.
Another visitor Bahriye Turan said: "Fresh air will be the most expensive thing in future. In cities, organic foods are too expensive. I think they will be much more expensive than gold in future. I joined this tour to contribute to the development of our villages."