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.)


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

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


  • 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

TURKEY: Textiles & Tulips

Night-time view of Istanbul's Blue Mosque.

The exquisite Blue Mosque in the evening; Istanbul.

TOUR DATES:  April 15 – 30, 2022.
Fly home May 1, 2022.
Scroll down for price; space limited–only two left!


This shows the hundreds of tulips that bloom all over Istanbul every year.

It’s said that city gardeners plant one million tulip bulbs in Istanbul every year!

Highlights of Tulip Season Tour

  • 16-night textile and cuisine tour, begins and ends in Istanbul.
  • Visit UNESCO site of Ephesus
  • See the breathtaking Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
  • Watch artisans knot carpets, make needlework flowers, and print cloth.
  • Shop in bazaars and markets for handmade rugs and textiles.
  • Stamp your traditional block-printed scarf in our workshop.
  • Meet a Turkish family for a cooking class of typical dishes.
  • Sample all the amazing Turkish foods in each region we visit.
  • Learn about the complex and fascinating history of Turkey.
  • Visit famous museums and archeological sites such as Ephesus and Topkapi Palace.
  • Explore the traveler-friendly town of Bursa and the Koza Han Bazaar.
Cynthia block-printing her scarf.

Betsy and Cynthia print scarves with hand-carved wooden blocks.

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 inhabitant. 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 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 very pleasant.

Block-Printing Center

Next we’ll fly northeast, meet our van and driver and take off into the Turkish countryside. First stop is a small traditional riverside town with historical architecture. 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 (left), 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 pasta dish called manti.

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


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. 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.

Another wonderful experience in Cappadoccia is the optional hot air balloon ride over sensational, eroded tufa stone landscapes. The balloons float safely and silently 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.)

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.”

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

Cappadocia landscape is fabulous from the ground and amazing from the air. Optional balloon ride is possible for the adventurous!

Textiles of Turkey

Turkey is famous for exquisite carpets and kilims, historical regional dress of infinite variety, and remarkable little flowers that edge the hand block-printed scarves. Everywhere we go, we’ll explore museums, studios and workshops to see examples of the brilliant creations. In the north, we will print scarves, then we’ll see rugs being made in Cappadocia. Another place we’ll visit is Konya, famous for beautiful flat-weave (discontinuous weft, kilim, or tapestry technique) rugs, and as being the home of famous Sufi poet Rumi. From Konya, we will head for 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, and a theatre capable of holding 25,000 spectators.

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.

Later, we’ll drive north to Bursa, where we stay in a cozy hotel in the old town. 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 market called Koza Han. 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 not found elsewhere.

Back to Istanbul

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. Next day, we’ll see the excellent Archeology Museum (near our hotel) and a friend’s upscale textile gallery, with the afternoon free. Then 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 is a fabulous restaurant in the bazaar where we can have lunch; it’s owned by some dear friends! Farewell Dinner with group at our Sultanahmet hotel. Pack up and organize for flights home. (Last included night of hotel is April 30.)

Amazingly tiny and detailed needle-worked flowers trim the scarves.

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

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
  • Bottled water always available in the van for road trips
  • Transportation to/from airport on set arrival and departure dates
  • Museum visits to see the textiles of Turkey
  • Cooking class and lunch in a private home
  • Entrance to all historical sights on the itinerary
  • Private Tokat scarf printing workshop with your creations to take home.
  • SPECIAL! Photo book of your adventure once you return.

Not included: Turkish visa fee [$20 for U.S.]; free-day optional activities, airport transportation for early arrivals or late departures; hot-air balloon ride, between-meal snacks and bottled water when not in the van.

A typical room in our cave hotel in Cappadocia!

Artfully arranged salad in Tokat.









NOTE: 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 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 have a small amount of meat, such as stuffed eggplant or stuffed peppers and zucchini. More on food later.

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


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.