First Course: Istanbul
As Cosmopolitan As It Gets
Day 1 (June 10, Sunday)
Upon your arrival in Istanbul, we escort you to your hotel so you can settle in and get your first look at this wonderful city. In the late afternoon, when everyone has arrived, we gather for a welcome cocktail and a briefing by your guide, Mr Erkut Aldeniz.
Afterwards, we go to dinner at Rami Restaurant in Sultanahmet to sample the specialties of Ottoman imperial cuisine.
Day 2 (June 11, Monday)
Today we tour Ottoman Istanbul: Topkapı Palace and the Sultan Ahmet I (“Blue”) Mosque, followed by lunch at the Aslan Lokantası.
In the afternoon we take a pleasant stroll thru Istanbul’s old artisan and market quarters to Eminönü, visiting a hidden gem of Ottoman architecture—the Rüstem Paşa Mosque—and the Egyptian Spice Market along the way.
In the evening we meet at our hotel for a relaxing drink and a short talk about Turkish cuisine and the reasons for its surprising range and diversity, followed by dinner at the İmroz Lokantası, a renowned Turkish meyhane(taverna) on Nevizade Sokak in Beyoğlu‘s Balık Pazarı(Fish Market).
Day 3 (June 12, Tuesday)
Today is dedicated to Constantinople (Byzantine Istanbul): Hagia Sofia, the Basilica Cistern and theHippodrome. We then travel to the 4th-century Theodosian Land Walls for lunch at the Asitane Restaurant, followed by a visit to the 13th-century Byzantine Chora Church (Kariye Museum) to admire its wondrous gilded mosaics.
In the evening, we dine at a local kebapçı to sample Turkish kebab (roast meats).
Day 4 (June 13, Wednesday)
The morning is free for you to explore as you like. Pick a likely place for lunch (on your own).
In the afternoon we tour the stupendous Dolmabahçe Palace, home to the Ottoman imperial family and center of power and intrigue during the 19th century.
We then drive to Eminönü to board a vessel for cruise across the Bosphorus.
Debarking at Kadıköy (ancient Chalcedon), we explore its colorful market and drop in at the shop of Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir, Turkey’s original and most famous maker of Turkish Delight (lokum), as well as other sweet treats such as marzipan, helva, hard candies and more.Erkut Bey, your guide and culinary expert, will give a brief talk on Sweets in Turkish Society from the beginning of life right to the end.
Dinner will be in Kadıköy at Çiya Sofrası, renowned for serving lesser-known specialties of Anatolian country cuisine.
Second Course: Anatolian Cuisine
Lamb & Beef Kebabs
Day 5 (June 14, Thursday)
We board a morning flight to Antakya (Antioch) to visit the famous Archeology Museum and its beautiful Roman mosaics, after which we enjoy a lunch of southeastern specialties at the Anatolia Restaurant.Erkut Bey will describe the influence of Middle Eastern cultures on Turkish cuisine, after which we’ll enjoy the most famous local dessert, künefe, a baked confection made with fine shredded wheat and sweet, fresh cheese.
In the afternoon we travel to the small Armenian village of Vakıflı (population 150) to see how the villagers make traditional wine in their homes.
Dinner is at a local kebab restaurant among the waterfalls of Harbiye, once the Roman resort of Daphne.
Day 6 (June 15, Friday)
We drive north to Adana, stopping for lunch in that city’s historic Blacksmiths’ Market, where we sample Adana Kebap, a dish of ground lamb flavored with hot spices, then grilled. During our lunch, Erkut Bey describes the use of spices, pomegranate, peppermint and cracked wheat in southeastern Turkish cuisine.
We continue our drive north, stopping at Niğde, in a region noted for its apples, to visit the mysterious Gümüşlük Monastery, a medieval labyrinth of caves, tunnels, churhes and tombs carved from the soft volcanic rock.
From Niğde we follow the ancient Silk Road to Cappadocia , where we settle in at our hotel, then enjoy a dinner featuring the regional specialty, Çömlek Kebap, savory meat and vegetables slow-cooked on a bed of coals in a clay pot buried underground.
Day 7 (June 16, Saturday)
Our morning adventure takes us to the medieval frescoed cave churches of the Göreme Open Air Museum and the nearby Zelve Valley.
For lunch, we drive to Avanos on the banks of the Kızılırmak (Red River) famous for its red and white clays used to make everything from simple roof tiles to exquisite art objects.
In the afternoon we visit a local pottery works to learn about the Anatolian red clay, used to make pottery for daily use, and the fine white clay made into ceramics for the Ottoman imperial court.
In the evening we stop at a historic old Ottoman Greek mansion in Mustafapaşa where the family prepares a traditional home-cooked dinner for us.
Day 8 (June 17, Sunday)
In the morning we descend into the labyrinthine Underground City at Kaymaklı, an ancient defensive refuge of eight stories underground. We then drive to the Soğanlı Valley to walk among cave churches, homes, storage chambers and dovecotes.
For lunch, we stop at the village of Aravan where we learn about Central Anatolian village cookery, its ingredients, traditions, and the formidable tandır(Turkish tandoori).
In the afternoon we learn about one of Cappadocia’s most famous products: wine! We stop at a local winery for a tour, a tasting, and information on grapes, vineyards and the wines of Cappadocia.
Dinner tonight is at a simple local grill-bar where we can talk over the experiences of the day.
Day 9 (June 18, Monday)
Today we drive from Cappadocia along the ancient Silk Road caravan route to Konya, city of the Whirling Dervishes and capital of the medieval Seljuk Turkish Empire.
We visit the Mevlana Museum, the magnificent tomb of Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi, founder of the Mevlevi(Whirling Dervishes) and exhibits about the life, traditions and ceremonies of the dervishes.
For lunch we sample a variety of regional dishes at a local restaurant, including brick oven-baked flatbread, and Etli Ekmek, Konya’s version of Turkish pizza topped with ground lamb.
We continue our drive through dramatic mountain scenery as we cross the Taurus range and descend to the Mediterranean coast at Antalya, where our culinary focus changes from the lamb and beef of the highlands to the fish & olive oil of the seacoast. We settle in at our Antalya hotel for the night.
Third Course: Turquoise Shores
Fish & Olive Oil
Day 10 (June 19, Tuesday)
In a warmer climate, we set out to explore the ancient Greco-Roman city of Perge, followed by a visit to the wonderfully-preserved Hellenistic theatre of Aspendos.
To demonstrate the diversity of coastal cuisine, we head for the hills and a mountain village to sameple the cuisine of traditional nomads, which differs dramatically from that of the coast. Erkut Bey will tell us about the nomadic tribes, their use of goat and goat’s milk, and other ingredients suited to their lifestyle. We return to Antalya for the night.
Day 11 (June 20, Wednesday)
From Antalya we drive south, then west along the coast to historic Demre to visit the Church of Saint Nicholasand the ruins of Roman Myra.
We continue to the unspoiled coastal village of Üçağızand board glass-bottom boat to explore the Sunken City at Kekova: ancient ruins beneath the clear waters of the Mediterranean. We have lunch as we cruise, then journey to nearby Kaş where we settle into our hotel.
The rest of the day is yours to explore the town (although one of the best things to do in Kaş is take a table at a coffeehouse or restaurant in the main square and indulge in some light-hearted people-watching).
Dinner is on your own, and Kaş has lots of pleasant places to find it.
Day 12 (June 21, Thursday)
From the Mediterranean we drive to the Aegean shore, stopping to visit the ancient cities of Didyma and Prienealong the way. We arrive in Kuşadası, the port for Ephesus, where we settle into our hotel, then stroll through the local fish market for a look at what’s fresh.
Day 13 (June 22, Friday)
The morning is dedicated to exploring the ruins of Ephesus, once the capital of Roman Asia Minor and one of the world’s greatest cities at that time. In the afternoon, we escort you to the airport for your onward or homeward flight.
If you’d like to extend your stay in Turkey for more time on your own, please ask us! It can easily be arranged.
Here are all the details of hotels, restaurants, transport, fees and costs…