TURKEY: Off Beaten Path 2022

 

Balanced stone shapes form the gate to Blaundos.

We’ll visit this interesting and little-known ancient city site in western Turkey.

Rug vendor holds up a handmade blue carpet.

Carpet vendor holds up handmade tapestry rug; Konya.

March 27 – April 13, 2022.
Fly home April 14, 2022.
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2 spaces left!

Off the Beaten Path Tour Highlights:

  • 18-night textile, archeology and cuisine tour, to some fascinating, less-visited areas.
  • Begins and ends in Istanbul; see trip map at the bottom of page.
  • Explore 6 UNESCO World Heritage sites! Ephesus, Çatalhüyük, Hattuşa, Byzantine churches, and more.
  • Watch artisans as they knot and weave carpets in several workshops.
  • Shop in the famous Grand Bazaar for crafts and textiles.
  • See the breathtaking Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
  • Tour historic Ottoman homes; see vintage textiles & clothing.
  • Whip up a Turkish meal in a private home cooking class.
  • Float over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon!
  • Sample all the authentic Turkish foods in each region we visit.
  • See unusual archeological sites in remote areas.
  • Watch the women make tiny needlework flowers for scarves.
  • Visit active archeological sites and famous museums such as Topkapi Palace.
  • Learn about the complex and fascinating history of Turkey. (I’ll give you a cheat-sheet!)

Trip Details

We’ll fly in to Istanbul, one of my favorite cities in the world! Turkish Airlines and others do this efficiently; we’ll send flight suggestions later. Hopefully our visit will coincide with the beginning of tulip blooming season so we can revel in the millions of blooms planted around the city. Our pretty hotel is located in the heart of historical Istanbul, two blocks from world-famous architectural and cultural treasures. For our UNESCO site visit of historic Istanbul, we’ll have a local specialist guide to tell us about treasures such as the exquisite Blue Mosque.

We’ll also visit the nearby Hagia Sophia, and learn its complex story as the superb building was changed from church, to mosque to museum and most recently, back to a mosque. The Grand Bazaar is within easy walking distance to the hotel so we’ll familiarize ourselves with the easy route to that shopping mecca of art, rugs, textiles and jewelry.
Vendors are no longer pushy like in the past; bazaar edicts encouraged a more laid-back attitude and vendors are now very pleasant. In the bazaar, there is a fabulous restaurant owned by some friends, where we’ll have lunch. We may also be able to see a friend’s upscale textile gallery near the hotel.

 

Ottoman era homes in old Safranbolu.

After two nights in Istanbul we’ll meet up with our excellent guide and driver and head east into rural Turkey to begin our ‘off the beaten path’ adventure!

Safranbolu

The UNESCO-designated town of Safranbolu is our first stop. From the 13th century to the advent of the railway in the early 20th century, Safranbolu was an important caravan station on the main East–West trade route. The Old Mosque, Old Bath and Süleyman Pasha Medrese were built in 1322. Safranbolu enjoyed great prosperity as a trading center. As a result, it set a standard in public and domestic architecture, with its apogee in the 17th century. The Safranbolu Ottoman styles exercised great influence on urban development over a large area of the Ottoman Empire.

The old Çarşı district contains hundreds of preserved, red-roofed Ottoman houses on cobblestone streets. Cinci Han is a 17th-century caravansary with rooftop views over town. Nearby, Tarihi Cinci Hamam is a restored 17th-century bathhouse, still in operation. You may decide to experience a traditional Turkish soak and scrub!

Lion's gate at Hattusha ruins UNESCO site.

Ancient lion gate at Hattusa.

Safranbolu is famous for saffron of course, and Turkish jelly candy called lokum. We’ll take time to explore the old part of the city with lots of saffron and lokum shops, and we’ll sleep in a traditional Ottoman home-turned-hotel.

Hattusha

Continuing eastward, we come to Bogazkale, and our next destination: Hattusha (Hattuşa), the Hittite capital. The Hittites were an ancient group of Indo-Europeans who moved into Asia Minor and formed an empire at Hattusa in Anatolia (modern Turkey) around 1600 BC. The Bronze Age site consists of the Hittite city area  and the rock sanctuary of Yazılıkaya among other sections.

A monumental enclosure wall about 8 km in length surrounds the whole city. Archeologists from Germany and Turkey cooperated to uncover a large variety of buildings such as temples, palaces and dwellings, but also technical and communal installations such as large buried granaries and artificial water ponds. These discoveries have given access to one of the most fascinating ancient cities of the Near and Middle East. The site is impressive and this visit will add another puzzle piece to our view of the complex history of Turkey!

Room at our lovely cave hotel.

Cappadocia

Continuing south, we head to the Cappadocia area with its dramatic eroded landscape. There we’ll sleep peacefully near Urgup village, in cozy rooms at our unique and delightful cave hotel. In our cooking class in a village home, we will learn to make delicious traditional dishes, perhaps bouerek or dolma, with fresh local, organic ingredients.

We’ll also visit a carpet gallery in Urgup to learn about local styles and techniques. Here most of the women will be knotting lengths of wool for pile rugs. But as we travel around the country, we’ll see them making rugs using regionally characteristic techniques, patterns and colors. We’ll see how they knot a pile rug and weave a kilim with discontinuous weft, or wrap the warp for the cicim  (jijim) technique.

One day in Cappadocia will be spent exploring the astonishing eroded rock shapes and valleys that make the area famous. In one valley of spires and “fairy chimneys” is a large group of fascinating Byzantine-era cave churches, excavated from the soft volcanic tufa stone.

Landscape in Capadocia is even more exciting from the air; Goreme, Turkey.

Exciting hot air balloon ride over the dramatic landscape of Goreme.

It is believed that the first signs of monastic activity in Cappadocia date to the 4th century when hermit-monks lived in rooms dug out of the tufa rock formations. Later, in order to resist Arab invasions, people began banding together and hiding in underground villages which served as places of refuge. They also needed to worship in concealed churches hollowed out of the rock. Though interesting from a geological and ethnological point of view, the incomparable beauty of the decor of these Christian rock-cut churches makes Cappadocia one of the leading examples of the post-iconoclastic Byzantine art period.

Uchisar town at sunset, Cappadocia.

The density of Cappadocia’s cave-houses, secret churches, and subterranean cities within the rock formations make it one of the world’s most striking and largest cave-dwelling complexes. We’ll clamber up stairs to see some of these churches; the saints’ portraits are colorful and superbly decorated.

In Cappadocia you can soar over amazing, eroded stone landscapes on the highly recommended (and included) hot air balloon ride. The balloons float safely and silently over the area, offering the passengers unparalleled views of the unusual “fairy chimney” volcanic formations.

Contrary to expectations, the early morning ride is not freezing cold; passengers are kept toasty warm by the balloon heaters. (Anyone not ballooning may sleep in, as the balloon crew leaves at 6am and returns for breakfast around 9am.) From Cappadocia, we’ll drive west to Konya. It’s famous for beautiful flat-weave wool rugs (in discontinuous weft, kilim, or tapestry technique), and it has an interesting bazaar and shops in the old town area.

Red and Navy USAK carpet from Metropolotan Museum, NYC. Creative Commons Zero license.

Antique Usak carpet of type made famous in the 16th C by European painters. The designs are still made today.

Konya

Konya is also famous as the home of famous Sufi poet, Rumi. His mausoleum is a pilgrimage site and a fascinating museum. Several stunning mosques and madrasas (traditional Koranic schools) make Konya an interesting place to visit. We’ll also go out of town to see the remains of the fascinating ancient city of Çatalhöyük. There are ongoing excavations and new displays; it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and believed to be the oldest city in the world!

“The taller eastern mound [at Çatalhöyük] contains eighteen levels of Neolithic occupation between 7400 BC and 6200 BC, including wall paintings, reliefs, sculptures and other artistic features. Together they testify to the evolution of social organization and cultural practices as humans adapted to a sedentary life. Çatalhöyük provides important evidence of the transition from settled villages to urban agglomeration, which was maintained in the same location for over 2,000 years. It features a unique street-less settlement of houses clustered back to back with roof access into the buildings.” (UNESCO)

From Konya, we will head northwest to Afyonkarahisar for lunch and a view of an abandoned, empty castle on top of the outcropping that dominates the town. Then we’ll continue to Uşak to see the carpets for which it is famous, and a nearby ancient city site that is little-visited but fascinating. Archeologists continue to excavate the site which features the largest known rock-tomb necropolis in Anatolia. A temple, theater, stadium, a colonnaded street and well-preserved city walls are other features of the city. Recently discovered lengthy inscriptions on thick stone pillars in the bath building have thrilled archeologists.

Selçuk and Ephesus

Separating saffron strands from the purple crocus flowers; Safranbolu.

Then we’ll head west to the pretty town of Selçuk (close to Izmir). We’ll visit the hilltown village of Sirince and have lunch at a friend’s country restaurant. Sirince is popular with tourists but still has a charming ambiance and interesting little shops that sell the local wine, baklava and handmade textiles. The famous archaeological site of Ephesus is next to the modern-day town of Selçuk. It is different from the other archeological sites we have seen. This UNESCO site was an ancient Greek city, built in the 10th century BC. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC. Ephesus was famed for the nearby Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Among many other monumental buildings are the Library of Celsus, and an amphitheater capable of holding 25,000 spectators.

Selçuk also has a number of interesting shops with carpets and interesting crafts on a tranquil pedestrian street in the old part of town. And before we head back to Istanbul, we’ll drive out of Selçuk one day, to attend the local weekly market in a charming town where the women make scarves called yazma, with little flowery oya edging. These were typically worn by women all over Turkey, but yazma are worn more in the countryside nowadays. The little flowers traditionally served as a language to convey feelings that couldn’t be openly expressed, such as ‘I’m not getting along with my mother-in-law, or I’m feeling sad and lonely,’ and so forth.

Back to Istanbul

And finally, we’ll take a quick flight from Izmir back to Istanbul in the late afternoon. The next day in Istanbul (April 13) is a free day – yours to explore the city, see something new, or return to a favorite place. Perhaps walk to the nearby hamam for a sudsy scrubdown, or ask a taxi man to drop you off at the exquisite Chora Church with its stunning frescoes – called the Byzantine marvel of Istanbul. You might want to check out The Archeology Museum (an easy walk from our hotel) or the Yerebatan Cistern, right at the end of our street. Or on this free day, you might want to return to admire the Blue Mosque or just wander this beautiful city and see how many tulips are blooming – your choice.

Celsus Library at the ancient Greek/Roman city of Ephesus, Turkey, UNESCO site.

Library at the ancient Greek/Roman city of Ephesus, another UNESCO site.

(Lunch will be on your own, and we’ll regroup in the evening for our Farewell Dinner at the hotel.)

I’m always happy to return to the Grand Bazaar with whoever wants to shop for final souvenirs. We could also drop in at the yarn bazaar (if we didn’t go earlier) where they sell mostly acrylics but it’s fascinating to see. And/or we could visit the place that sells loads of needle-worked flowery scarf trims. These can be added to a commercial scarf if you are handy with a needle! (Lunch on your own on the 13th.)

(Last included night of hotel is April 13.)

Pack up and organize for flights home tomorrow, April 14. The hotel will arrange departure transport to the airport for you. Good-bye to Turkey!

PRICE: $6285

Single Supplement: $850

Includes the following:

  • 18 nights accommodations (double occupancy, in charming boutique hotels, or good modern ones, when best available.)
  • English-speaking, licensed, professional Turkish native guide accompanying trip with Cynthia.
  • All meals – except 2 lunches and 2 dinners.
  • All non-alcoholic beverages with meals (tea, coffee, ayran yoghurt drink, water, cherry juice called vişne.)
  • Unless a meal is family-style, you may order your choice of dishes in restaurants; see Food Notes below.*
  • Interior flight from Izmir to Istanbul.
  • Hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia’s surreal landscape.
  • All ground transportation by private Sprinter van with excellent, professional driver
  • Bottled water available in the van for road trips.
  • Transportation from airport to hotel on official arrival date (March 27).
  • Museum visits to see the textiles and archeology of Turkey
  • Cooking class and lunch in a private home
  • Entrance to all six UNESCO sites on the itinerary: Çatalhüyük ancient city, Byzantine cave churches, Ephesus, etc.
  • SPECIAL! Photo book of your adventure once you return home.

    Route for Turkey 2022 tour.

    Map of the route for 2022 trip.

Not included: Turkish visa fee (around $20 for U.S.), departure airport transportation for flight home from Istanbul; airport transportation for early arrivals, alcoholic drinks, and guide and driver tips (suggested guidelines to come).

Typical scarves edged with needlework flowers called oya.

FOOD NOTES: Occasionally the guide will order a generous selection of different dishes so you can taste everything, to familiarize yourself with delicious homestyle Turkish cuisine. And sometimes in a family-style home-based restaurant, everyone will be served a delicious set meal. At these events, vegetarians will find usually find enough vegetable dishes, fresh breads and pasta to survive quite comfortably.

Vegan diets will be more difficult, but salads are available in many places, and pilaf dishes. Many typical Turkish dishes have a small amount of minced meat, such as stuffed eggplant or stuffed peppers and zucchini. They also eat lots of shish-kebabs of chicken or beef, but not huge chunks of meat like American steaks. More on food later.

Tile rooftops of the Hamam (bath house) in Safranbolu.

Be sure to check out the Photo Gallery of TURKEY here.

For more information, E-mail Cynthia: [email protected]
or call 707-939-8874.

Photo Credits: Copyright Cynthia Samake except the following:
Dreamstime.com: Saffron Safranbolu crocus flowers; Mturhanlar
Cappadocia Uchisar hill; Xantana.
Blaundos ruins; Emiralikokal.
Hattusha Lion Gate, Selçuk Koc.
Grand Bazaar by Evren Kalinbacak.
Usak Carpet: Metropolitan Museum NYC, Creative Commons Zero license.
Ephesus Celsus Library: WikiCommons, Binh.
MAP: Rome2Rio.com

TURKEY: Textiles & Tulips

 

Rug vendors. Steven Chun photo.

TOUR DATES:  April 15 – 30, 2022.
Fly home May 1, 2022. Two spaces available!

Scroll down for price.

Highlights of Turkey: Textiles & Tulips Tour

Cynthia prints her scarf under the watchful eye of the master YAZMA printer.

  • 16-night textile and cuisine tour, begins and ends in Istanbul.
  • See the breathtaking Blue Mosque, and Hagia Sophia, now a mosque again.
  • Stamp a traditional block-printed scarf in our workshop.
  • Visit the Byzantine-era cave churches in Cappadocia.
  • Watch artisans knot carpets, make needlework flowers, and print cloth.
  • Tour famous museums and archeological sites such as Topkapi Palace.
  • Shop in bazaars and markets for handmade rugs and textiles.
  • See authentic Ottoman costumes and clothing at the Ullumay Museum.
  • Visit UNESCO Greco-Roman site of Ephesus.
  • Meet a Turkish family for a cooking class of authentic local dishes.
  • Hike in the Ballica Cave nature park and visit the stunning cave.
  • Sample all the amazing Turkish foods in each region we visit.
  • Learn about the complex and fascinating history of Turkey.
  • Explore the traveler-friendly town of Bursa and the Koza Han Bazaar.

Trip Details

We’ll fly from home to Istanbul, one of my favorite cities in the world! Hopefully our visit will coincide with tulip blooming season so we can revel in the million blooms planted around the city, one bulb for each Istanbul city inhabitant.

Some of the millions of spring tulips in Istanbul.

Our pretty hotel is located in the heart of historical Istanbul, two blocks from world-famous architectural and cultural treasures. We’ll have a local Turkish guide (expert in Istanbul) to tell us about treasures such as the exquisite Blue Mosque, the Basilica Cistern, and Topkapi Palace of the Sultans. We’ll also visit the nearby Hagia Sophia, and learn its complex story as the superb building was changed from church, to mosque to museum and most recently, back to a mosque.

The Grand Bazaar is within easy walking distance to the hotel so we’ll familiarize ourselves with the easy route to that shopping mecca of art, rugs, textiles and jewelry. Vendors are no longer pushy like in the past; bazaar edicts encouraged a more laid-back attitude and vendors are now pleasant. I have several favorite places to look at textiles in the Grand Bazaar, and we will have lunch with old friends in their restaurant in the bazaar.

Block-Printing Center

Next we’ll fly east, meet our guide for the whole trip, driver and van, and take off into the Turkish countryside. First stop is a small and charming, traditional riverside town with historic architecture. Our hotel is right at the river in a picturesque location. Next day, in a town known for woodblock-printing,  we’ll have a private printing workshop. The master printer will show us how to stamp cotton scarves (above), called yazma–using your choice of the hand-carved wood-blocks traditional to the area. We’ll savor the local foods, including a famous and delicious regional dish called manti, teeny filled tortellini-like pasta shapes.

Nighttime vew of our Cave hotel in Cappadocia.

In this area we’ll walk through and explore one of Turkey’s tentative UNESCO sites: the beautiful Ballica Cave. “…the Ballıca cave provides geological and geomorphologic richness with its unique onion stalactites, well-developed curtain travertines, settling ponds and column structures. It’s unlike other caves because of the huge variety of different stalactites, stalagmites and other formations.

Cappadoccia

Continuing south, we head to the Cappadoccia area with its dramatic eroded landscape. There we’ll sleep peacefully near Urgup village, in cozy rooms at our unique and delightful cave hotel, right. In our cooking class in a village home, we will learn to make delicious traditional dishes, perhaps bouerek or dolma, with fresh local, organic ingredients.

Delicious authentic dish called Manti, my favorite!

The geological history of the area is fascinating. After the eruption of Mount Erciyes about 2.6 million years ago, ash and lava formed soft rocks in the Cappadocia Region, covering a region of about 20,000 square kilometres (7,700 sq mi). The softer rock was eroded by wind and water, leaving the hard cap rock on top of pillars, forming the present-day (phallus-shaped) ‘fairy chimneys.’

You can have the amazing experience in Cappadoccia of silently gliding over these sensational, eroded tufa stone landscapes in a hot air balloon (optional). Manned by an expert Balloon Pilot, the balloons float safely and quietly over the area, offering the passengers unparalleled views of the “fairy chimney” volcanic formations! Contrary to expectations, the early morning ride is not freezing cold; passengers are kept toasty warm by the balloon heaters. (Anyone not ballooning may sleep in, as the balloon crew leaves at 6am and returns for breakfast around 9am.)

Hand-block printed scarves crated by 2011 group.

YAZMA selection printed by BTSA travelers.

Thousands of years ago, the people realized that these soft rocks could be easily carved out to form houses, churches, and monasteries with cells for monks. One day we’ll visit the fascinating rock-cut churches of the Goreme Open Air Museum. These 9th and 10th century Christian sanctuaries are beautifully painted with saints’ images, often called frescos.

But instead of the fresco method (painting on wet plaster), cave church artists used the technically more simple secco method. This means the pictures were painted on dry plaster.* These pictures are less durable because the color is only a thin external layer, not part of the wall. The churches contain many examples of Byzantine art from the post-iconoclastic period, depicting scenes from the life of Christ. The icons of Christ Pantocrator in the churches, dating to 850–1100 AD, are among the oldest surviving artistic depictions of Jesus. Dark Church (Göreme) features the finest images of Christ Pantocrator in Cappadocia. Bright and penetrating, they appear in three consecutive domes. All the secco images are a unique artistic achievement from this tumultuous period.

Room at our cozy cave hotel in Capadoccia.

From Cappadoccia, we’ll drive west and visit remains of the fascinating ancient city of Çatalhuyuk, believed to be the oldest city in the world, and a UNESCO World Heritage site:  “The taller eastern mound contains eighteen levels of Neolithic occupation between 7400 BC and 6200 BC, including wall paintings, reliefs, sculptures and other symbolic and artistic features. Together they testify to the evolution of social organization and cultural practices as humans adapted to a sedentary life. Çatalhöyük provides important evidence of the transition from settled villages to urban agglomeration, which was maintained in the same location for over 2,000 years. It features a unique street-less settlement of houses clustered back to back with roof access into the buildings.”

Textiles of Turkey

Amazingly tiny and detailed needle-worked flowers trim scarves in Turkey..

Tiny and colorful handmade needle-worked flowers called oya, ready to buy and stitch onto scarves.

Turkey is famous for exquisite carpets and kilims, historical regional dress of infinite variety, and remarkable little flower edgings on the hand block-printed scarves. Everywhere we go, we’ll explore museums, studios and workshops to see examples of these brilliant creations.

Besides making our own hand block-printed cotton scarves, we’ll see rugs being knotted in Cappadocia. And in Konya, we’ll search out the beautiful flat-weave (discontinuous weft, kilim, or tapestry technique) rugs they are famous for.

Pide with toppings, puffy bread, and other delicious Turkish foods.

Konya is also the home of famous Sufi poet Rumi and we will visit his mausoleum. From Konya, we will head for the charming town of Selcuk to see the famous archaeological site of Ephesus. This UNESCO site was an ancient Greek city, built in the 10th century BC. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic in 129 BC. Ephesus was famed for the nearby Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Among many other monumental buildings are the Library of Celsus (below), and a theatre capable of holding 25,000 spectators.

Later, we’ll drive north to Bursa, where we stay in a cozy hotel in the old town. There we’ll visit the country’s best textile museum with its many fully-accessorized mannequins in traditional dress from all over Turkey. We’ll also visit the old silk cocoon market in a wonderful building called Koza Han, with its hundreds of scarves and textile shops. There you’ll meet some antique textile dealers who will show us the incredible embroidery and needle lace in their collections. Prices here range from moderate to expensive, but there are textiles to buy here that are not found elsewhere.

Back to Istanbul

Celsus Library at the ancient Greek/Roman city of Ephesus, Turkey, UNESCO site.

Library at the ancient Greek/Roman city of Ephesus, another UNESCO site.

Then we’ll take a modern ferry back to Istanbul to see more of that exciting city. Lunch on the ferry is on your own. Later we’ll see the excellent Archeology Museum (near our hotel) and a friend’s upscale textile gallery. Our final day in Istanbul is yours to see something new in the city, or return to a favorite place. Perhaps try a hamam for a sudsy scrubdown, or visit the exquisite Chora Church with its stunning frescoes – called the Byzantine marvel of Istanbul. Or you might return to admire the Blue Mosque or see other stunning architectural wonders of the city – your choice. I’m always happy to return to the Grand Bazaar with whoever wants to shop for final souvenirs and also stop by the place that sells needle-worked flowery scarf trims, above.

Lunch on your own this day; there are many restaurants within walking distance from the hotel where we can have lunch. Farewell Dinner with group at our Sultanahmet hotel. Pack up and organize for flights home. (Last included night of hotel is April 30.)

Fly HOME: MAY 1.    Be sure you check out the Photo Gallery of TURKEY here.

Tour Price:  $ 5320
12 people maximum.
Single Supplement: $850

Includes the following:

  • 16 nights accommodations, (double occupancy, in charming boutique hotels, or good modern ones when necessary)
  • English-speaking, licensed, professional Turkish native guide
  • All meals –except 2 lunches and 2 dinners.
  • Unless a meal is family-style, you may order your choice of dishes in restaurants.*
  • Non-alcoholic beverages with meals (tea, coffee, ayran [yoghurt drink], water, cherry juice, etc.)
  • Interior flight to Samsun.
  • All ground transportation by private, high-top Sprinter van with excellent, professional driver
  • Wood-block printing lesson in Tokat; Turkey.Bottled water always available in the van for road trips.
  • Transportation from airport to hotel on set arrival date.
  • Museum visits to see the textiles and archeology of Turkey.
  • Cooking class and lunch in a private home.
  • Entrance to all historical sights on the itinerary such as Çatalhuyuk ancient city, Ephesus, etc.
  • Private Tokat scarf printing workshop with your creation to take home.
  • SPECIAL! Photo book of your adventure once you return.

Not included: Turkish visa fee [$50 for U.S.]; free-day optional activities, airport transportation for early arrivals, departure transportation, guide and driver tips (we will give you guidelines), and optional hot-air balloon ride [pay around $200 directly to the balloon company]. Most hotels have complementary bottled water and free internet.

FOOD NOTE: Occasionally in a restaurant, the guide will order a generous selection of different dishes so you can taste everything, to familiarize yourself with delicious home-style Turkish cuisine. And sometimes in a family style home-based restaurant, everyone will be served a delicious set meal. At these events, vegetarians who can be a bit flexible will find enough vegetable dishes, fresh breads and pasta to survive quite comfortably! But many typical Turkish dishes do include meat, such as stuffed eggplant or stuffed peppers and zucchini. Kebabs of eggplant, tomatoes and onions are common alongside the chicken and beef kebabs. More on food later.

*Excellent website on the churches and history of Cappadocia with tips for the church visitors. Information on frescos and seccos and websites below by Jason Borges.

https://www.cappadociahistory.com/post/goreme-open-air-museum

https://www.cappadociahistory.com/post/10-pro-tips-for-church-visitors

For more information, E-mail Cynthia: [email protected]s.com
or call 707-939-8874.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turkey: Hike and Sail

Walk, Cruise and Explore: Turkey
(We would love to return to Turkey when the situation is calmer….Check back for future dates.)

NO CURRENT DATES

Behind the Scenes’ expert guide Zeynep (Zee) Parlak (below), and Cynthia LeCount Samake, will lead this exciting trip that combines traditional Turkish culture and textile viewing/shopping with hiking and sailing. Zee is a Turkish native, speaks excellent English and is a licensed, experienced, professional guide who consistently receives rave reviews. Combining knowledge of her country’s traditions and history with her personal anecdotes, she is a delight to travel with! Zee will be joined by a specialist nature/adventure guide who has been walking the Mediterranean coastal trails for decades; he will explain the historical Roman archeological sites we encounter. He also knows first-aid for hikers.

Happy Zeynep, guide in Cappadocia, Turkey. Photo: Steve Chun

Happy Zeynep, guide in Cappadocia, Turkey.
Photo: Steve Chun

Istanbul cafe with chicken doner, or vertical grill--yum!

Istanbul cafe with chicken doner, on vertical grill–yum!

We start and end in Istanbul, visiting the most renowned monuments and the wonderful bazaar with its array of new and old textiles, ceramics and other crafts. (If you’ve been here before, you may want to find other things to visit or re-visit.)

Eroded formations in Cappadocia; note tiny cyclists passing by.

Eroded formations in Cappadocia; note tiny cyclists below.

Then we fly to Cappadocia with its amazing eroded landscape, a World Heritage designated area. It also features unusual Byzantine-era cave churches with beautiful frescoes, a cooking class/demo of delicious country cuisine with local village friends, our wonderful, atmospheric cave hotel, a visit to a carpet weaving workshop, and an optional hot-air balloon ride—a fabulous experience for the adventurous. We’ll have a free day here, so you can begin your hiking trip in Turkey by exploring the village paths near our beautiful hotel—or you can relax, read, or soak in the pool.

Looking down on our Cappadocia hotel at night, and the pool, below.

Looking down on our Cappadocia hotel at night, and the pool, below.

Cappadocia Hotel.pool LOW

One of the unique rooms at Cappadocia Cave Hotel

One of the unique rooms at Cappadocia Cave Hotel

A short flight takes us to Antalya, where we’ll have lunch in the historical part of the city with its cobblestone streets. Next, we drive to Cirali and begin walking the Lycian Way, a waymarked foot-path linking ancient pathways, mule and caravan trails, and back country roads.  You’ll carry only a day pack with water, sunscreen and camera; the van will meet us each afternoon at the hotel, with our luggage.

DT.Lycian path.trees7856332

The Lycian Way takes its name from the civilization that once ruled the area from the 15th to 6th centuries BC. The section we will traverse passes through typical villages, mountain hamlets, and ancient Lycian and Roman sites, as we wend through pine, juniper and cedar forests. In many places, the trail offers panoramic views of the bright blue sea and the picturesque harbors and islands.

The trail is well-maintained and the walk is listed as one of the Ten Best Walks in the World. The route is graded “medium;” it is not level walking, but has many ascents and descents as it approaches and veers away from the sea. We’ll hike a section that is not too strenuous, and we will take the time to explore some of the numerous archaeological sites along the way—many of which can be accessed only by the footpaths.

Harbor of Oludeniz, Turkish Mediterranean.

Harbor of Oludeniz, Turkish Mediterranean.

Then we’ll leave land behind and board the TAYAZA, our pretty wooden yacht or gulet, to cruise the Mediterranean. We’ll travel by sail when time and weather permit, stopping in little bays to give you time to swim in the crystal clear water.We will also dock in many places and go onto shore to experience more of Turkish village life. An expert Turkish chef will prepare our meals on board with fresh and healthy ingredients; he might even let you help to layer a bourek or roll a grape-leaf sarma—staples of the delicious Turkish cuisine!

Wooden yacht called Tayaza.

Wooden yacht called Tayaza.

In Byzantine times, the gulet was developed for transport and fishing in Mediterranean waters; it has a sharp bow, a broad beam and a rounded aft. Modern gulets are 2-masted yachts, and still traditionally handcrafted of mahoghany, pine and teak. They are fitted with sails and motor, and modern conveniences, designed for leisurely travel along Turkey’s stunning southern coastline.

Lounge on the Gulet Tayaza.

Lounge – on the Gulet Tayaza.

After our sailing, we’ll drive to the Dalaman Airport for the flight back to Istanbul. The rest of that day, and the next are free days in Istanbul. Cynthia will be happy to help you find the sights that you’d like to see: For instance, the Topkapi Palace, the Chora Church, the Museum of Archeology, the Museum of Islamic Arts (just totally renovated), the Spice Bazaar, etc. There are so many things to do that are easy to find, in proximity of our hotel, that you will find that you quickly feel comfortable in Istanbul!

Flights home on October 16; note the arrival and departure dates carefully when buying tickets. If you would like to spend a few more days in Istanbul after the trip, when you know how things work–or even before the tour–let us know and we will give you the hotel contact info and arrange for the hotel’s taxi to pick you up at the airport.

TOUR PRICE: $6250 USD in double room or cabin
(SINGLE ROOM or CABIN:  $900 USD)

Includes the following:

  • 18 nights “Boutique” Hotel* or Pension and Gulet (yacht) accommodations–in double rooms/cabins with private bathroom*
  • 4 nights Istanbul; 3 nights Cappadocia; 5 nights along Lycian Route; 6 nights floating peacefully on gulet
  • Optional day-trips on land, from boat. Swimming while we are anchored is a treat in clear blue sea…
  • All meals, all soft drinks and water with meals, except 2 lunches and 1 dinner during free days.
  • (* This will change if the group is fewer than 8.)
  • International Arrival airport transfers to IST hotel (on group arrival dates)
  • Local transportation with modern, A/C high-top vehicle and professional driver.
  • Three Domestic flights (Istanbul to Nevsehir; Nevsehir to Antalya; Dalaman back to Istanbul)
  • English-speaking, professional, Turkish native Guide
  • Trip Photo Book – Your fabulous experience in living color; a paper book and link to e-book!
  • Entrance fees for all natural and historical sites, as on itinerary
  • Group Transfers for domestic flights from airports of Istanbul, Nevsehir and Antalya
  • On the Lycian trail, lunches are mostly picnic-style bag lunches.

Tlos-tombs, Turkey

EXCLUDES:

  • International Flights
  • Travel insurance –*Required*  (Suggested companies info later.)
  • Airport Departure transfer from Istanbul. Hotel Kybele desk will arrange transportation for you with the hotel van driver.
  • Between-meal snacks and drinks, ie. trail snacks and gulet snacks (I will bring some.)
  • Alcoholic drinks, and 2 lunches and 1 dinner on free days.
  • Personal expenses such as internet and laundry– and optional activities such as the balloon ride.
  • Tips for guide and driver. Budget about $100-150 total per person for guide and about $75 total per person for the driver. Naturally tip amounts are up to your discretion – and your appreciation of the services.

NOTE: Behind the Scenes Adventures and Cappadocia Tours reserve the right to change the itinerary or accommodations when necessary or desirable, to ensure the group’s comfort or safety.  In case of poor weather and/or sea conditions, the cruise program is subject to change without notice.

 Necessary Equipment for hiking: (More info to come when you sign up.)

  • Comfortable trekking Shoes– (Vibram soles) and water-repellent (Gore-Tex)
  • Walking clothes (WindBreaker, water-repellent)
  • Day Pack with water bottle to re-fill
  • Walking Sticks/poles if you like to use them.
  • Sunscreen, Sun Hat
  • Sun Glasses, flashlight
  • Swimsuit and water shoes optional

Adventure in Turkey

Installment #1: Adventure in Turkey with the Muchachas–‘The Girls’ from Philly
I landed in Istanbul, one of my favorite places in the world, on a sunny morning in May. The “Muchachas,” a group of friends from Pennsylvania, had asked me to lead a private textile tour of Turkey and I had arrived a few days early. Although I hadn’t yet met the ladies, they’d been delightful in all correspondence thus far, and I was looking forward to the adventure with them.

 

At the Kybele Hotel, the friendly owners welcomed me back. Vefa stood smiling at the desk, under colorful hanging lamps, just a few of the thousand glowing lamps that give the Kybele its cozy ambiance. The brilliant turquoise paint job outside only hints at the Bohemian atmosphere of the establishment!
The hotel is named after the Phrygian Mother Goddess or Earth Goddess, Kybele (Cybele to the Greeks). Pretty cool name for a hotel owned by three brothers!
The Kybele Hotel is full of rich colors and beautiful Ottoman-period antiques. A strong kid sprinted up the winding marble staircase with my bulging suitcase, up two floors to my room. The suitcase must weigh about a ton–with all those chocolate bars I bought in Geneva on my way to Turkey–dark chocolate with creme brulé, dark with quinoa, milk with caramel crispies, dark with nougat crunch–all easy decisions in the block-long chocolate aisle. The Swiss have as many chocolate choices as we have cereal.
I headed up Yerebatan Cadessi [Street]. Along the pedestrian street, past numerous ATMs, cafes, fancy jewelry stores, and a Starbucks…in 6 minutes I was at old stone arch leading to the Nuruosmaniye Mosque, next to the Grand Bazaar. The mosque was undergoing repairs and restorations, and a serious heavy-gauge iron-roofed structure covered the walkway, protecting the faithful and the bazaar shoppers from any ancient chunks that might fall from above. Each tall, thin minaret was in a scaffolding cage and workmen tiptoed around the uppermost levels, scraping and patching.
I walked on through the huge arch, into shopper’s paradise. Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with over 4,000 shops.  Construction on the bazaar began in 1455! The whole complex now also contains two mosques, two hamams [Turkish baths], four fountains, and multiple restaurants and cafes. It’s also a textile collectors’ heaven. And the carpet sellers, who used to drag shoppers in by the sleeve, seem to have been re-trained to realize that tourists are more likely to buy a rug when not harangued into entering the shop and being force-fed little glasses of tea!
I was starving, after 15 hours of tiny airplane meals. I walked past long rows of shops, not pausing once to check out the sequined belly-dance outfits, hand-painted ceramic tiles, sleek leather jackets, pirated Prada bags, or the Evil Eye protector key chains. There it was! my favorite restaurant called Pedeliza, in a little courtyard, with tables all set up for lunch. Like many restaurants in Turkey, here the food is already prepared, which works perfectly for this kind of cuisine, often served at room temperature.
I looked over the selection of savory mixtures, and pointed to my lunch–a stuffed eggplant dish called “The Imam Fainted,” from pleasure I presume, since it is absolutely delicious. Another theory is that the thrifty Imam fainted when he found out how much expensive olive oil is used in the preparation… In the US, we don’t eat much eggplant and I think it’s because we don’t cook it enough; here eggplant dishes are baked in olive oil, into perfect tenderness, with tomatoes, cumin, chile and green peppers. Other eggplant dishes include cubes of lamb or ground beef, and are equally popular. The Pedeliza Restaurant is only open from noon to 3, and by that time the delicious food is GONE!

As I ate, I watched the chef at the outside corner of the restaurant, slicing thin pieces off a tower of meat, called döner kebab, literally ‘rotating roast.’ Traditionally made of lamb, döner kebab is cooked on a vertical spit and sliced off to order. A chicken version has become popular recently, and chefs sometimes layer carrots with the meat, so that the tower of succulent white meat is decorated with orange circles. I devoured my lunch more quickly than is polite, drank water from the little clear plastic container at my place, and paid the bill. Then I hurried off to find the textile stalls.