See the best of Turkey in Tulip Season

Textiles & Tulips Tour of Turkey

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Tour Dates:

April 15 - 30, 2022

Tour Pricing:

16 Nights for $5,320

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Group Size:

12 Max

This is our popular 16-night textile and cuisine tour that begins and ends in Istanbul.

The itinerary has been planned to include some classic sights – the breathtaking Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia – as well as rural areas of central Turkey with their craft specialties. 

We’ll marvel at the eroded “fairy chimney’ landscape In Cappadocia and see the home of famous Sufi poet, Rumi. Finally, we’ll see charming Bursa with the Imperial Great Mosque, before taking the ferry back to Istanbul. The tour is a great mix of iconic highlights as well as less-visited towns and villages.

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Watch artisans knot carpets, make needlework flowers, and print cloth
  • Shop in bazaars and markets for handmade rugs and textiles
  • Meet a Turkish family for a cooking class of authentic local dishes
  • Visit the Byzantine-era cave churches in Cappadocia
  • Walk in the Ballica Cave Nature Park and visit the stunning cave
  • See historical Bursa, the best textile museum and the Koza Han bazaar

BEGIN YOUR ADVENTURE

An Overview of Your Journey

From Istanbul to the Countryside

We’ll have a local Turkish guide (expert in Istanbul) to tell us about treasures such as the Blue Mosque and the Basilica Cistern. We’ll visit 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 walking distance of our hotel so we’ll familiarize ourselves with the easy route to that fascinating mecca of art, rugs, textiles and jewelry. I have several favorite places to show you textiles in the bazaar.

Next we’ll fly east to Samsun to meet our guide and driver, and take off into the Turkish countryside. First stop is a charming, traditional riverside town with historic architecture where we will spend the night. In a nearby town known for woodblock-printing, we’ll have a private printing workshop. The master printer will show us how to stamp cotton scarves, called yazma – using your choice of designs traditional to the area. We’ll savor local foods here, including a favorite regional dish called manti, teeny filled tortellini-like pasta shapes.

Zeynep admires Elsa's scarf.
Cave house of Fairy Chimneys rocks mushroom in Pasabag, Monks Valley, Cappadocia, Turkey.

From Ballica Cave to the Cave Churches of Cappadocia

We’ll drive a ways out of town to see one of Turkey’s tentative UNESCO sites: the astonishingly large and beautiful Ballica (Ball-ee-jah) Cave. We’ll hike through the cave “which provides geological and geomorphologic richness with its unique onion stalactites, well-developed travertine curtains  and more.” It’s a spectacular and unexpected cave experience!

Continuing south, we head to the Cappadocia area with its dramatic volcanic tufa stone landscapes, created by wind and water erosion. The lower layers of sandstone eroded in the wind and the rain, leaving towering columns whose most polite name is ‘fairy chimneys!’In Cappadocia, we’ll sleep peacefully near Urgup village, in cozy rooms at our unique and delightful cave hotel. In a cooking class in a village home, we will learn to make delicious traditional dishes, perhaps bourek or dolma, with fresh local, organic ingredients. The (optional) hot-air balloon ride thrills passengers as we soar silently over the eroded volcanic landscape early one morning.

The Rock-Cut Churches of the Goreme

These 9th and 10th century Christian sanctuaries are beautifully painted frescos with saints’ images.

From Cappadocia, we’ll drive west and visit remains of the fascinating ancient city of Çatalhöyük, believed to be the oldest city in the world. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site containing eighteen levels of Neolithic occupation, between 7400 BC and 6200 BC. Çatalhöyük provides important evidence of the transition from settled villages to urban agglomeration, and it features a unique street-less settlement of houses clustered back to back, with roof access into the buildings.

And in Konya, we’ll hit the main market to search out the beautiful flat-weave (discontinuous weft, kilim, or tapestry technique) rugs they are famous for. Konya is also the home of famous Sufi poet Rumi and we will visit his striking mausoleum and museum.

Historical Konya and Bursa

From Konya, we will head for the charming town of Selcuk with its pedestrian streets in downtown and the carpet and crafts shops. 

Next morning, we will visit 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. Among the monumental buildings are the Library of Celsus, and a theatre capable of holding 25,000 spectators.

After lunch we’ll visit the charming hill town of Sirince, in a famous wine-producing region. Although touristic, Sirince has some unique shops selling local crafts and scarves with oya edging. 

Then we drive 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 cocoon market in a wonderful building called Koza Han, with its hundreds of scarf 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.

Return 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. 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.

You will lunch on your own this day; there are many restaurants within walking distance from the hotel where you can choose lunch.  We will have a Farewell Dinner with group at our Sultanahmet hotel.

Where You Will Be Staying

Istanbul Hotel

We stay in a charming and conveniently located hotel, renovated from two authentic Ottoman period homes. Cozy rooms, friendly staff and great restaurant have kept us coming back over the past 15 years. Five minutes walk from the Blue Mosque and Aya Sophia!

Gamirasu Cave Hotel

A favorite that we have been enjoying for many years, located in a quiet rural village. Spacious and comfortable rooms were carved out of the native tufa stone, with modern bathrooms adjoining. The restaurant here is superb, with a cozy fireplace in the center.

Additional Details & Experiences

What is Turkish food like?

You’ll be delighted with the variety and tastes of the meals on our Turkey and Tulips tour! Plates are very generous and sometimes the guide and Cynthia will order several platters of combinations to eat family-style, so you can taste everything and find some favorites. We also eat in a couple of superb home restaurants with families that we know.

Turkey’s Cuisine

One common and satisfying dish is kebabs – vegetables or ground meat or chicken chunks (or your choice of any combination) are strung on skewers and char-grilled to absolute perfection. The Tulips tour goes inland to central Turkey where some specially cooked meat dishes are renowned; we will try as many local specialties as possible!

What to Bring Home From Turkey

The bazaars of Turkey are not a myth! They are crammed with exciting handmade arts and crafts, especially textiles and ceramics. Vendors welcome travelers and are eager to explain their wares. We visit everything from an elegant, modern gallery that could be at home in Tokyo or New York, to village markets so you can see the variety of treasures made by Turkish artisans.

Photos From Previous Adventures in Turkey

Confessions! I have been on NINE of Cynthia’s trips: Turkey several times, Peru, Bolivia, Thailand, Laos, Morocco, Mali and most recently Bhutan. You might ask why I keep returning! It’s because on each trip I arrive home having had the most incredible time. Always I’ve met interesting people, stayed in small, boutique hotels and visited the usual tourist sites, but because of Cynthia’s ability to strike up hard and fast friendships with her guides and drivers, hotel keepers, shop keepers, and crafts people, we experience an in-depth appreciation for the countries’ history, culture and especially of textile arts and crafts.

Anne Duffey Anne Duffey – Davis, CA

Your Trip Leaders

Cynthia LeCount Samaké

Cynthia began “Behind the Scenes Adventures” to share with others the traditional textiles and festivals of far-flung countries. Since 1998 she has led small groups of textile fanatics and friends all over the world. Desiring some new locations and new types of textiles, she has branched out and found wonderful connections and many destinations for her tours. Now the repertoire includes Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, places where artisans dye and weave stunning silk ikat designs.

Check Trip Availability

Trip signups are accepted on a first-come, first serve basis. Please provide your details below and we’ll be in touch to confirm whether spaces are still available for this trip. If you need to get in contact, we are available during office hours 10:00 am – 5:00 pm MDT, Monday through Friday.

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Whats Included

  • 16 nights accommodations
  • English-speaking, licensed, professional Turkish guide
  • All meals – except 2 lunches and 2 dinners
  • Unless a meal is family-style or a picnic lunch, 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 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
  • Private Tokat scarf printing workshop with your creation to take home.

Whats Not Included

  • Turkish visa fee [$50 for U.S.citizens; see Turkish Government website link for other nationalities’ fees]
  • Any free-day optional activities
  • Airport transportation for early arrivals, before April 15
  • Airport departure transportation since everyone goes at different times
  • Guide and driver tips (we will give you some guidelines for this)
  • Optional hot-air balloon ride [pay around $200 directly to the balloon company]
  • Most hotels have complimentary bottled water and free internet

Registration Information

Dates: April 15 – 30, 2022
Fly Home: May 1, 2022
Deposit: $500
Tour Cost: $5,320 for 16 Nights
Single Supplement: $85

For more information:
Phone: 707-939-8874
E-mail: [email protected]
Read: Frequently Asked Questions

Travel Plans

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Visas

Visa now costs $50 for most visitors. You can usually get one when you arrive but it is much faster and easier to have it already printed out. It’s only three steps to apply for an E-Visa through the Republic of Turkey’s electronic visa site:

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What information will I receive after registering?

Once you sign up for a trip, we will e-mail a general itinerary, lists of Suggested Reading, what to take, cultural considerations, weather charts, etc.

How can I get a detailed itinerary for a tour?

A day-to-day itinerary will be sent once you sign up for a trip. If you need specific information about the flow of the trip and the pace of the specific activities, before committing to the trip, get in touch with your questions and we will be happy to fill you in.

What sort of clothing should I bring?

When you sign up for a tour, you’ll receive detailed lists of what to bring to your destination, as well as weather info, to more easily coordinate your wardrobe with the heat or cold.

We will also include suggestions for appropriate clothing for dressing in conservative countries. Basically you’ll need modest clothes that cover your shoulders and legs. Being well-dressed will show the locals that we respect them and their society.

Are laundry services available?

Most hotels have a laundry service and prefer that you don’t wash clothes in the bathroom sinks. If there is no laundry service, and you don’t want to wash your jeans and wait a day or two for them to dry, asking at the hotel desk is a good place to start.

Please note that it is considered demeaning to wash someone else’s underpants, so we ask that you wash your own underpants. Hang them to dry discreetly in the bathroom.

What is the COVID situation?

The COVID situation is changing daily, but Turkey has done well with its vaccination campaign and it continues to improve. Masks are worn in all indoor venues such as museums and markets, and restaurants require proof of vaccination. Entry into Turkey now requires just a Vaccination card, proof of recovery from Covid, or a negative Covid test in the past 48 hours. A Vaccination Card is the easiest way to go through Customs and Immigration. We recommend bringing your original and a copy, and you carry them in two different places. Don’t count on having important docs like these downloaded on your phone.

Do I need any vaccinations or immunizations?

This varies with each country. Make an appointment with your travel doctor and take your tours itinerary with you. Some areas of certain countries require malaria pills and others do not; same with Yellow Fever and others such as Cholera and Typhoid. He or she will have all the latest requirements at hand. A rural visit to a farm may require extra precautions, for example. We will send you the links to the CDC.gov information pages for your specific destination so that you can ask questions.

You should be current on all your typical childhood and international travel shots such as Polio and Tetanus. Some countries now demand proof of vaccination against COVID. Behind the Scenes Adventures requires you to have two COVID vaccinations. We recommend you have a booster as well.

How much physical activity is involved during the trip?

Each trip has different activity levels that will be fully explained in the specific tour material. But no activities or events are mandatory, and you are always welcome to sit at the bottom of the stairs to a temple or wait in the van while others ascend or visit a particular place. Walking sticks are fine to bring if they help you. We cannot accept wheelchairs or walkers.

For most tours, you’ll need to be able to walk the distance of 4-5 city blocks on your own, with sturdy shoes.  Please note that sidewalks in many countries are full of big holes and broken cement chunks, with bits of re-bar sticking out, and you must constantly be alert to these dangers. In urban areas where distances are greater, the group will take taxis and/or get help from local assistants. If you need a personal taxi or additional special aid, that will be at your expense.

What will the weather be like?

Our Turkey trips are planned for temperate weather with little or no rain, in April-May and September-October. Average daytime temperatures are usually in the 70s and nights can be cooler, in the 50s. With global warming, it is much harder to predict but we will send weather charts with your pre-departure info.

Meals & Accommodations

What sort of hotels will we be staying in?

The hotels we will be staying in are charming and traditional whenever possible. For instance, two Ottoman-era homes with marble staircases were joined to form our charming Istanbul hotel. Occasionally we stay in a modern hotel if no boutique hotels are available. 

Before we depart, we will send you a list of all hotels with contact information in case someone at home needs to contact you.

What sort of food will we be eating?

Turkish food is fresh and delicious, usually featuring locally grown, organic ingredients. Breakfast often consists of many different foods: yogurt, dried fruits such as apricots and raisins, walnuts and almonds, dates, olives, and tomatoes. Fresh breads of different varieties and menemen, a scrambled egg dish with tomatoes and peppers, are both common breakfast specialties too.

Each region has its own specialties, often varieties of char-grilled meats served with grilled vegetables with a big scoop of yogurt. On the coast lots of fresh fish and seafood is served, although it is often prohibitively expensive — and further inland beef or lamb are served with rice. Chicken (tavuk) kebabs are popular everywhere, served with grilled vegetables.  

Desserts are everywhere, with crispy baklava being a national specialty. It’s made from very thin layers of pastry called yufka, and pistachios or walnuts, soaked in a honey syrup.

Will I be able to accommodate my dietary needs?

If you have any special dietary, health, or nutrition issues, restrictions, etc, there is no guarantee that Behind the Scenes Adventures will be able to accommodate your special diets in foreign countries. Please contact us before departure, and bring sufficient alternative foods. Travelers with severe peanut allergies cannot be accepted. Vegan diets are possible but with much less variety than at home. Vegetarian diets are often fairly easy to accommodate, but also with less variety than what is available at home.

Turkish food is rarely spicy but you can always ask for no hot peppers.

Flights & Travel

Will I need a visa for connecting countries?

It is very rare to need a visa for a connection if you stay in the Transit area. This will be regulated by the connecting country and the airline will send information as to this requirement.

What are the requirements for my passport to be valid?

Your passport needs to have one blank page for your visa, although, with an E-Visa, you will have just a piece of paper to show, and don’t need room for anything except Immigration stamps in your passport.

Will I be met at the airport?

Yes! Cynthia, an assistant or a driver will meet you with a sign with your name and/or Behind the Scenes Adventures. They will have your flight schedule and know you will need time to pick up your luggage. Wait for them in the terminal, right outside the Arrivals area, and don’t go with any other drivers that don’t have your name on a placard.

What is the best airline to fly to the country?

Turkish Airlines is very good and has many flights daily into Istanbul from the USA and Europe.  Several reputable European and American airlines such as United, Delta, Lufthansa and others fly into Istanbul from JFK and other cities. Direct flights on Turkish from JFK, SFO or LAX are much easier, especially nowadays with Covid testing.

What will we use for transportation?

We use a Mercedes high-top Sprinter for interior transportation. We will also fly on one or two interior/domestic flights, still on Turkish Airlines.