Road Scholar : Home
The Best of Turkey: A Journey by Land and Gulet

Program Number: 18761RJ
Start and End Dates:
5/4/2015 - 5/20/2015; 5/16/2016 - 6/1/2016; 9/12/2016 - 9/28/2016; 10/3/2016 - 10/19/2016; 10/10/2016 - 10/26/2016; 10/24/2016 - 11/9/2016;
Duration: 16 nights
Location: Turkey
Price starting at: $5,450.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 41; 15 Breakfasts, 12 Lunches, 14 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Fat; Low Salt    

Experience the mingling of modern and ancient civilizations as you explore the wonders of Turkey. Beginning in Ankara, find expressions of the living heritage of Turkey in its myriad forms. Walk the streets of Istanbul where crusaders and janissaries once marched, and step aboard an exclusively chartered gulet for a four-night voyage along the Mediterranean coast.


• Board a privately chartered gulet and discover the ancient ruins, harbors and coves of the Turquoise Coast.
• Witness a private Sufi and Zikr ritual not open to the public.
• An expert leads you into the Hagia Sophia mosque and you enjoy views of Istanbul from a boat on the Bosphorus.

Activity Particulars

Walk two hours on paved streets, cobblestones. Steep stairs without railings. Hike up to three hours on uneven terrain. Stooping in underground city.

Date Specific Information

5-4-2015, 5-16-2016, 9-12-2016, 10-3-2016, 10-10-2016, 10-24-2016

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Ankara, 1 night; coach to Cappadocia, 3 nights; coach to Konya, 1 night; coach to Antalya, 1 night; Turquoise Coast Cruise, 4 nights; coach to Kusadasi (Ephesus), 2 nights; fly to Istanbul, 3 nights; departure.

Overnight flight from U.S.A
1 night
Arrival Ankara
1 night
Coach to Cappadocia
3 nights

Get an introduction to Ancient Civilizations of Turkey with a professor from Bilkent University before immersing yourself in ancient Turkey at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and Mausoleum of Atatürk. Journey to Cappadocia to visit an underground city and the Goreme Open Air Museum. Attend a Whirling Dervish performance at a restored 13th-century caravanserai.

Coach to Konya
1 night
Coach to Antalya
1 night

On your way to Konya, stop at the Sultanhani — the best-preserved and the largest caravanserai in Turkey. Visit the Mausoleum of Rumi, the founder of the Whirling Dervishes, and join in a discussion on Rumi and Sufism with a local Sufi leader. Make your way across the lush Taurus Mountains to Antalya, where you can explore the Roman theater Aspendos and the city of Perge.

Coach to Cayagzi
Embark gulet
4 nights

Visit Myra — the birthplace of St. Nicholas — before embarking on your private Turkish gulet. Sail to Kekova Island and its unique Sunken City, spend a day in Kas, and explore the town of Kalkan on your own. Meet local schoolchildren during an afternoon in Xanthos, and hike to the top of Gemiler Island.

Disembark gulet
Coach to Ephesus
2 nights

Journey to Selcuk and wander through the local market. Discover the ruins of Ephesus and explore the Terrace Houses once owned by wealthy Ephesians. Gain a deeper understanding of the ruins of Ephesus during an excursion to the Museum of Ephesus.

Fly to Istanbul
3 nights

Explore the city of Istanbul on foot, taking in the Blue Mosque, the Underground Cisterns and Topkapi Palace. Stroll along the vibrant and colorful Istiklal Avenue before visiting Hagia Sophia with an expert. Get a new perspective of the city via a private boat ride along the Bosphorus, and view the wares of local merchants and artisans at the Spice and Grand bazaars.


Turkey is bracketed by seas on three sides, which has facilitated its status as a crossroads of different civilizations for tens of thousands of years. It is modernizing rapidly, but its past is everywhere apparent. It is a country where centuries-old mosques and castles blend with modern streets and buildings to create a unique blend of past and present, European and Oriental influences.

Comfortable four- and five-star hotels. Cappadocia: Boutique cave hotel. Gulet: Double and twin cabins, private en suite toilet and shower.
Meals and Lodgings
   Rixos Grand Ankara Hotel
  Ankara, Turkey 1 night
   Yunak Evleri
  Cappadocia, Turkey 3 nights
   Hilton Garden Inn Konya
  Konya, Turkey 1 night
   Rixos Downtown Antalya
  Antalya, Turkey 1 night
   Exclusively Chartered Gulet (yacht)
  Turquoise Coast Cruise, Turkey 4 nights
   Charisma Hotel
  Kusadasi/Ephesus, Turkey 2 nights
   Armada Hotel Istanbul
  Istanbul, Turkey 3 nights
 Rixos Grand Ankara Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Contact info: Ataturk Bulvari 183 Kavaklidere
Ankara,   Turkey
phone: +90 312 410 55 00
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Please contact the program provider; .
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 Yunak Evleri
Type: Boutique Hotel
  Description: The Yunak Evleri is a cave hotel typical of the region, where some caves date from as early as the 6th century AD. The rooms, with a balcony or patio, are carved from the rock, and are tastefully decorated with modern amenities.
  Contact info: Yunak Mahallesi
Cappadocia,  50400 Turkey
phone: +90 384 341-6920
  Room amenities: Non-allergenic beds, direct-dial phone, hair dryer, private bathroom with shower, heat, safety deposit box, CD player, mini-bar, teakettle.
  Facility amenities: Reading room, library, internet connection.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Hilton Garden Inn Konya
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The Hilton Garden Inn Konya hotel, is a modern business hotel designed in perfect harmony with the folklore and traditions of the Anatolian city of Konya and is located next to the Mevlana Culture Center and within walking distance of a range of shopping and business districts.
  Contact info: Aziziye Mahallesi, Kislaonu Sokak No:4
Konya,  42020 Turkey
phone: +0911 0332 221 60 00
  Room amenities: TV and complimentary wired and wireless internet access.
  Facility amenities: 24 hr Pavilion Pantry Market, Baggage Storage, Bar Area, Coin Laundry, Foreign Currency Exchange, Room Service, Safety Deposit Box.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Rixos Downtown Antalya
Type: Five-Star Hotel
  Contact info: Sakip Sabanci Bulvari
Konyaalti Sahili
Antalya,  07050 Turkey
phone: +90 242 249 49 49
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Exclusively Chartered Gulet (yacht)
Type: Other
  Description: Step aboard an exclusively chartered gulet for a four-night cruise. Constructed of teak and oak, the gulet is a motorized sailing vessel unique to Turkey. A maximum of 18 Road Scholars are accommodated in twin-bedded cabins with private toilet and shower. Observation sundecks fore and aft provide ample room for relaxing underway. Meals aboard are prepared with fresh ingredients and feature typical Turkish cuisine, and are served in both indoor and outdoor dining areas. The gulet has a crew of at least three: captain, cook and deckhand(s). As there is no telephone service aboard the gulet, the telephone number provided, in case of emergency, is the Program Provider's office.
  Contact info: 100/1 Mesrutiyet Cad
Istanbul,  34430 Turkey
phone: +90 532 284-2552
  Room amenities: Comfortable twin cabins with modern, private facilities and hot water.
  Facility amenities: Air conditioning, a variety of water sport equipment, and deck chairs.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Charisma Hotel
Type: Five-Star Hotel
  Contact info: AKYAR MEVKII NO:5
Aydin,   Turkey
phone: +0 256 6183266
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Armada Hotel Istanbul
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The Armada hotel is centrally located in the old city of Istanbul, on the city's historical peninsula. It is surrounded by the ancient city walls and is within walking distance and has views of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii). Open since 1994, the building was constructed on the site of a series of row houses which were built for the marine soldiers of the famed Ottoman Admiral Hayrettin Pasha (Barbarossa) in the 16th century. The hotel's façade replicates the original structures.
  Contact info: Ahirkapi Cad, 24
Istanbul,  34400 Turkey
phone: +90 212 455 44 55
  Room amenities: 110 rooms, decorated in the Ottoman style with traditional Edirnekari woodwork painting, are a graceful blend of past and present and offer all modern amenities, including air conditioning, central heat, hair dryer, mini-bar, cable TV, direct-dial telephone, Internet connection and safety-deposit box.
  Facility amenities: Restaurants, bars, rooftop terrace, room service and laundry service.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: Contact Contact the Program Provider to inquire about availability and prices at
  Check out time: 10:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
6 pm. in the hotel lobby for Welcome Meeting You will be staying at Rixos Grand Ankara Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
After breakfast at 10 AM. You will be staying at Armada Hotel Istanbul the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Passport needs to be valid a minimum of 6 months after return travel date. Tourist visa for Turkey can be purchased at the airport of arrival. It costs $20 USD in cash for US citizens and $60 in cash for Canada citizens, at the time of writing. Participants can also purchase and print an electronic visa online at Visa fee is the same. Please enter your date of entry correctly and make sure that the dates covered by your visa includes your program dates.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Shuttle buses are available to the city center.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Ankara
  Nearest airport:  Ankara Esenboga International Airport.
  Transportation to site: A group arrival transfer is organized for all participants who purchased an air inclusive program and arrive on the group date. Participants should look for the Road Scholar sign or their names on a sign board after clearing passport control and customs. Independent travelers may take a taxi directly to the hotel. Taxis are available outside the terminal and will cost around $40 - $50 USD to the hotel. Shuttle buses are available for all domestic and international aircraft landing at Ankara Airport, in front of the arrivals terminal. Ticket costs 10 TL ($5) per person, is payable on the bus in cash only and the trip lasts about 40 minutes.‏
  From End of Program
  Location:  Istanbul
  Nearest airport:  Istanbul Ataturk Airport
  Transportation from site: Group transfers from the hotel to airport in Istanbul, Turkey will be arranged for all participants who purchased an air inclusive program and leave on the day the program ends. Independent travelers may take a taxi directly to the airport. Taxis can be arranged through the hotel desk and will cost around $30 USD to the airport. Taxis can comfortably take 3 people and luggage.
Elevation Note: Yes. Max Elevation roughly 3,100 feet. No risks of lack of oxygen.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departure
(Monday, May 4)
 Evening: Overnight flight.

Day 2: Arrival and Check-in/Registration and Welcome Meeting/Welcome Dinner
(Tuesday, May 5)

Note: Upon arrival in Ankara Airport, clear passport control, claim your bags, go through customs and the sliding doors and look for the Road Scholar sign.

 Arrive To: Arrive in Ankara Airport, clear passport and customs.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner in the hotel.
 Evening: We will gather in our private meeting room at the hotel at 6:00PM where your group leader will greet you with a warm welcome and introduce everyone. We will review the up-to-date daily schedules, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures and answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
Accommodations: Rixos Grand Ankara Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Lecture and Excursion to the Anatolian Civilizations Museum and the Mausoleum of Ataturk.
(Wednesday, May 6)

Note: Walking up to ½ mile during excursions and at the Mausoleum of Ataturk

 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: Start your day with a lecture on the ancient civilizations of Anatolia with emphasis on Hittite & Phrygian cultures. Lecture will be delivered by Prof Thomas Zimmerman, head of the Department of Archeology at Bilkent University of Ankara. Continue to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, an award-winning Museum to have a general overview about the civilizations of Turkey. The Museum exhibits boast artifacts from the Paleolithic era and continue chronologically through the Neolithic, Early Bronze, Assyrian trading colonies, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartian, Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman periods. The Museum is renowned especially for its artifacts from the Neolithic site of Catalhoyuk. The collection includes Mother Goddess sculptures, wall paintings, clay figurines, stamps, earthenware containers, and agricultural tools made from bones. The most impressive parts of this exhibit are a hunting scene on plaster from the 7th millennium BC, a reproduction of a Çatalhoyuk room with wall-mounted bull heads, a Mother Goddess Kybele (later Cybele) sculpture, obsidian tools, wall paintings of the (now extinct) volcano Mount Hasan erupting, and wall paintings of a leopard.
 Lunch: In a restaurant in the old city.
 Afternoon: A visit to the Mausoleum of Ataturk will provide a good background to modern Turkey and enable you to get a deeper understanding of this revolutionary character that shaped modern Turkey. The mausoleum's museum provides insight to the history of modern Turkey and the personality of Atatürk. Later on, depart for Urgup, Cappadocia, a landscape of spectacular volcanic pillar formations.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Yunak Evleri
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Magical formations of Cappadocia
(Thursday, May 7)

Note: Walking in uneven terrain, for up to 1 mile. Sturdy walking shoes highly recommended. Some caves/churches require crouching to enter.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: There will be an optional hot air balloon flight this morning for those interested in discovering this unique geography from the air. Ballooning is a sunrise activity but you will return to the hotel for breakfast and join the excursions during the rest of the day. This morning we shall visit the Goreme Open Air Museum, a monastic center comprised of caves carved out of the soft volcanic rock of Cappadocia and decorated with frescoes and paintings. You will learn about the history of Christianity and monasticism in the area and discover the artistic and religious significance of frescos in these churches.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant carved out of rock that was once home to the hosting family.
 Afternoon: We will visit the workshop of a local artisan that specializes in pottery making, using the clay from the nearby Halys River. You will learn about this 5,000 year old craft and have your chance to work on the potter's wheel. Before going back to the hotel, we will attend a Whirling Dervish ceremony, performed by local Sufis at a restored caravansaray (ancient camel motel on the Silk Road) from 13th century.
 Dinner: Your choice to explore local fare.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Yunak Evleri
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Cappadocia, Miracle of Nature
(Friday, May 8)

Note: An optional hike through the formations of Cappadocia will be offered to those interested. Good walking shoes are a must.

 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: We will visit and explore the village of Sinasos. This village had a largely Greek population in Ottoman times. Today it is a thriving town with a small university lots to see and do nearby.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own
 Afternoon: This afternoon will be dedicated to more exploration in the gorges and valleys of Cappadocia. We will visit an impressive underground city, carved out of the ground to provide shelter from the attacking armies. There will be a short optional hike and various photo stops at some important vantage points to get an overview of this magical landscape?
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant in Avanos, located on the southern bank of the river Halys.
 Evening: On your own
Accommodations: Yunak Evleri
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: The Silk Road and Sufism
(Saturday, May 9)
 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: Drive west to Konya, on the central plateau of Turkey, following the . ancient Silk Road. We wll visit Sultanhani, a 13th century Seljuk caravanserai built on the Silk Road to accommodate the caravans of trade. Sultanhani is the largest and best preserved of the existing caravanserais.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant in Konya, specializing in local dishes from the area.
 Afternoon: Once in Konya, we will visit the Museum/Mausoleum of Mevlana Rumi, founder of the Whirling Dervish sect of Islam. You will learn about the mystic aspect of Sufism and hear some beautiful poetry by Rumi. Your group leader will discuss the principles of Sufism with the group and enlighten you about their beliefs and rituals.
 Dinner: At the hotel
 Evening: At leisure
Accommodations: Hilton Garden Inn Konya
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: The Magnificent Roman Theater of Aspendos & the ancient Greek-Roman city of Perge.
(Sunday, May 10)

Note: Walking at ancient Greek/Roman sites up to ½ mile. Occasional uneven pavement at ancient sites.

 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: We will depart Konya after breakfast and head south towards the Mediterranean Coast of Turkey by crossing the impressive Taurus Mountains.
 Lunch: In a restaurant en route.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, you will visit the stunning theater of Aspendos and your group leader will give you a detailed on-site lecture about Roman theaters. You will also visit Perge, an important city of the Roman province of Pamphylia and wonder at its impressive Hellenistic city gates.
 Dinner: At the hotel
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Rixos Downtown Antalya
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Award Winning Museum of Antalya and Embarkation on Gulet
(Monday, May 11)
 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: Start your day with a visit to the award winning Museum of Antalya. This museum is one of Turkey's largest museums and includes 13 exhibition halls and an open air gallery, displaying over 5,000 works of art which illuminate the history of the Mediterranean and Pamphylia regions in Turkey. Later on depart Antalya heading inland then south through the lush valleys of the Taurus Mountains. Arrive in Gocek in mid afternoon to embark on our privately chartered exclusive gulet.
 Lunch: In a restaurant en route to Gocek
 Afternoon: Embark on our gulet in Gocek for the four-night cruise along the coast. Lift anchor and cruise a short distance to spend the night in a quiet and pristine cove.
 Dinner: Aboard the gulet.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Exclusively Chartered Gulet (yacht)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Gemiler Island (Island of St.Nicholas)
(Tuesday, May 12)

Note: Optional hike up to the summit of the island on uneven terrain

 Breakfast: Aboard the gulet.
 Morning: Cruise to Gemiler Island. On the island are the remains of several churches built between the fourth and sixth centuries AD, along with a variety of associated buildings. Archaeologists believe it was the location of the original tomb of Saint Nicholas. Gemiler (means ships in Turkish) is noteworthy because its north shore is lined with galliot and other ancient ship parking slips. Once home to Lycian and Byzantine pirates, there are remains of an entire village and it is possible to walk from the pirate-ship slips through a covered walkway to a basilica. Gemiler Island is a great setting to swim and snorkel, and an equally splendid spot to take in a hilltop sunset.
 Lunch: On board the gulet
 Afternoon: Relax aboard the gulet or choose either a hike to the top of the island to explore its ruins, or to Kayakoy, a now-abandoned village used during the "Exchange of Citizens" between Greece and Turkey in the 1920s. There, learn more about the history of the village and talk to some locals from a nearby village that was inhabited by Turks sent from Greece.
 Dinner: Aboard the gulet.
 Evening: At leisure. Opportunity to discuss various subjects/topics about Turkey with your group leader.
Accommodations: Exclusively Chartered Gulet (yacht)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 10: Lonely Ruins of Lydae
(Wednesday, May 13)

Note: Walking on uneven terrain during hike

 Breakfast: Aboard the gulet.
 Morning: Cruise for a few hours to the cove called the Hamam, also called by the locals Cleopatra's Bath where Cleopatra supposedly had a bath built due to the hot thermal waters in the cove. Cleopatra who gave her name to the Bay was here twice, once in 46 BC and again in 32 BC on her honeymoon with Marc Antony who was en route to Actium.
 Lunch: On board the gulet
 Afternoon: Enjoy a 1 hr optional hike to walk up to the ruins of Lydae, not accessible by car as there is no road to this ancient site. Off the beaten path and rarely visited, Lydae features many vivid bits of ancient buildings including mausolea, agora foundations, statue remnants, Corinthian column sections and inscribed pedestals from the Roman and Byzantine periods.
 Dinner: Aboard the gulet.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Exclusively Chartered Gulet (yacht)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Rock Tombs, Kaunos and Loggerhead Turtles
(Thursday, May 14)

Note: Additional boat ride on a locally chartered vessel to cruise the Dalyan Delta and to visit Kaunos.

 Breakfast: Aboard the gulet.
 Morning: Cruise a short distance to Ekincik, another lovely cove on the Mediterranean. We transfer to a local small boat to put-put through the reeds and the maze of the Dalyan River delta. We will see the impressive Lycian rock tombs carved out of the hillside, built for the local kings and dignitaries. You will also visit the well preserved Carian city of Kaunos.
 Lunch: Aboard the gulet.
 Afternoon: For the interested people, there will be an optional hike back from Kaunos back to Ekincik. Spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing and swimming. The nearby Iztuzu Beach is a 3 mile long beach near Dalyan. The beach is a narrow spit of land, which forms a natural barrier between the fresh water delta of the Dalyan river and the Mediterranean. It is one of the main breeding grounds for loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in the Mediterranean and is therefore often referred to as "Turtle Beach". (The loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) is on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red list of endangered animals. For this reason the beach has had a protected status since 1988. The greatest threat to the survival of the loggerhead sea turtle is on these sandy beaches where its life begins. This has triggered an international conservation effort that began in the 1990s. The effort to protect loggerhead sea turtle eggs and to assure a safe breeding ground for this endangered species has made international headlines. This issue is one of the most critical items on Turkey's environmental agenda.
 Dinner: Aboard the gulet.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Exclusively Chartered Gulet (yacht)
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Hands-On Experience/Lecture on Turkish Carpets
(Friday, May 15)
 Breakfast: Aboard the gulet.
 Morning: Disembark the gulet in Ekincik following breakfast. Drive north to Selcuk, near Ephesus.
 Lunch: At a local carpet weaving center
 Afternoon: Hear a lecture on the centuries old craft of hand-made Turkish carpets and silk production at a local carpet center. Opportunity for a hands-on trial of carpet weaving. During this in-depth visit with the women weavers, share tea and coffee and learn about their lives, families and work.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: At leisure
Accommodations: Charisma Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Ephesus, the Jewel of Asia Minor
(Saturday, May 16)

Note: Walking up to 1 mile on uneven terrain in the ancient city of Ephesus. Climbing a few stairs will be necessary to visit the unique Terrace Houses.

 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: Begin with a lecture on the Graffiti of Ephesus delivered by a British professor of antiquities. Discover the ruins of Ephesus, the jewel of Greek-Roman cities and capital of Asia Minor. Explore the Terrace Houses, once inhabited by the wealthy Ephesians.
 Lunch: In a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Visit the Museum of Ephesus to see the wonderful artifacts uncovered at the excavations from Ephesus. Also stop at the Temple of Artemis, one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Charisma Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Introduction to Istanbul, the Imperial City
(Sunday, May 17)

Note: Some walking in the old city of Istanbul during the orientation

 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to Izmir Airport to take a morning flight to Istanbul.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant in Istanbul upon arrival.
 Afternoon: Enjoy an orientation tour of the old city, including a visit to the famous Blue Mosque, one of the most important landmarks of the city, dating back to 1616. The Blue Mosque soars above the old city with its 6 minarets and is a testimony to the golden age of Ottoman architecture. Walk through the ancient Hippodrome of Constantinople and learn about the monuments that once adorned this huge structure.
 Dinner: At the hotel's restaurant
 Evening: On your own
Accommodations: Armada Hotel Istanbul
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15: Jewels of Istanbul
(Monday, May 18)
 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: Start your day with a visit to the Topkapi Palace, once the seat of the Ottoman Sultans for 400 years and a great testimony to the power and wealth of the Ottoman Empire. You will also be able to visit the amazing Treasury and the intriguing Harem and catch a glimpse of daily life behind closed doors.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant in Sultanahmet
 Afternoon: Continue to Taksim Square for a stroll on vibrant and colorful Istiklal Avenue, which demonstrates Turkey's position between the East and the West and the forces that affect it. This pedestrian street is always young and dynamic.
 Dinner: On your own to explore the local fare
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Armada Hotel Istanbul
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16: From the Palace to the Bazaar
(Tuesday, May 19)
 Breakfast: In the hotel.
 Morning: This morning you will start your day with a field trip to the breathtaking Church of Hagia Sophia. You will learn about the architecture of this unique 1,500 year old building and awe at its size and glamour. Continue to visit the Underground Cisterns, built in 532 AD by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in order to store water for his city. You will then drive along the ancient City Walls of Istanbul and learn about their strength and history.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant serving Ottoman food straight from the court of the Sultans.
 Afternoon: A visit to Kariye (Chora) Museum will reveal the most exquisite examples Byzantine mosaics and frescoes, dating to pre-Renaissance. Later on in the afternoon, the small but gem-like mosque of Rustem Pasha will demonstrate the stunning masterpieces of Iznik tiles from 16th century. Spend the rest of the afternoon at the Spice Bazaar that immediately captures visitors with its exotic aromas and the Grand Bazaar, a maze of 3,000 shops from the 15th century, literally the first shopping mall in history. End the day and the program with a cruise on the Bosphorus, on a privately chartered boat and enjoy the palaces, mansions, yalis, fortresses built along the shores of the Bosphorus.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at a local restaurant within walking distance to the hotel
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Armada Hotel Istanbul
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 17: Departure
(Wednesday, May 20)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: There will be group transfers from the hotel to Istanbul Airport, depending on the departure times of flights. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures, and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Cappadocia Hot-Air Balloon Ride
This unique type of ballooning is called "contour ballooning." See the fascinating formation of Cappadocia from the air, as skilled pilots steer the balloon to float through the ravines, gorges and valleys, just above the treetops and land formations. The flight follows the contours of the unique landscape of Cappadocia. The flight begins at sunrise and lasts up to 1.5 hours. The cost is approximately €250 and includes round-trip transportation to and from the hotel and a champagne breakfast. A preliminary reservation form is included in the program materials and should be returned to the Program Provider prior to departure, however actual booking and payment is made on-site directly with the balloon operator.
  Konya Karatay Tile Museum
The Tile Museum in Konya is housed in the Karatay Madrasa, which was built in 1251 as one of the first universities of the Ottoman Empire. The museum was opened in 1955. Constructed of stone and ceramic, the building has tile decoration on the massive dome squinches in turquoise, indigo and black. For additional information, visit
  Turquoise Coast Cruise Hikes Ashore
The group leader will offer a hike for those interested to sites that are not accessible by other transportation. These may include ancient sites, a ghost village abandoned 80 years ago, or viewpoints with spectacular scenery. For those who do not wish to hike, other leisure activities on the gulet include relaxing, swimming, sunbathing and reading.
  Town of Kas
Ancient theater of Antiphellos.
A small and quaint resort town.
  Istanbul Archaeological Museum
The museum houses artifacts from Turkey spanning 5,000 years of history. The exhibits are from Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire and the many civilizations of Anatolia and ancient Egypt. Nineteenth-century archaeologist Osman Hamdi Bey's finds include the famous fourth-century Alexander sarcophagus discovered at the royal necropolis of Sidon in Lebanon. The Museum of the Ancient Orient contains artifacts from Egypt and Mesopotamia, including a magnificent frieze of a bull from the Ishtar gate in Babylon. Located at: Osman Hamdi Bey Yokusu, Telephone: +90 212 5207740.
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Suggested Reading List

A Short History Of Byzantium

Author: John Julius Norwich

Description: No time to wade, albeit enjoyably, through his three volume Byzantium series? This recent edition is based on his Byzantium trilogy and is equally as intelligent and inspired. Norwich is, as always, ever entertaining and engaging about this subject. An efficient read without loss of style or spirit. If you can’t manage three volumes right now, this one is for you.

Ataturk: A biography of Mustafa Kemal - Father of Modern Turkey

Author: Lord Kinross

Description: Kinross tells the story of Ataturk in such an engaging way that you stay glued to the page. Beginning with his birth in 1881 in Salonika, Greece, during the usual Balkan struggles, the book traces his youth through his early education and military service. Along the way Kinross reveals the experiences that formed Ataturk’s rebel spirit, leads you through the evolution of his hatred for the rich, the corrupt, and the abusive religious and political classes. He takes you onto the battlefield where Ataturk’s leadership and inspiration routs the Greeks who invaded Turkey in the aftermath of W.W.I. Kinross takes you step by step through the formation of a new, secular Republic, free of domination by Sultans, Moslem Caliphs or foreign countries, and describes how Turkey secured a place among nations. You’ll learn of Ataturk’s commitment to equality for all people, men and women alike, and how he lead the new Turkish nation westward by adopting the western alphabet overnight, creating a new Turkish language, and provided free education for all. A “must read” in order to understand present-day Turkey’s struggle to maintain the secular principles Ataturk established.

Birds Without Wings

Author: Louis de Bernières

Description: In his first novel since Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernières creates a world, populates it with characters as real as our best friends, and launches it into the maelstrom of twentieth-century history. The setting is a small village in southwestern Anatolia in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire. Everyone there speaks Turkish, though they write it in Greek letters. It’s a place that has room for a professional blasphemer; where a brokenhearted aga finds solace in the arms of a Circassian courtesan who isn’t Circassian at all; where a beautiful Christian girl named Philothei is engaged to a Muslim boy named Ibrahim. But all of this will change when Turkey enters the modern world. Epic in sweep, intoxicating in its sensual detail, Birds Without Wings is an enchantment.

Blue Guide to Turkey

Author: Bernard McDonagh

Description: Blue Guides are complete and jam-packed with historical and practical information. This one lives up to the reputation. You want to go to Nemrut Dag and learn what you’re looking at once you’re there? The Blue Guide is for you. Painstakingly researched it is a course book text on the history of civilization and includes detailed town plans, up-to-date classical site information, route maps, hotel recommendations and lots of information about Turkish customs, food and history. From one end of the country to the other! It’s all there. The book to have, whether you’re exploring Turkey with us in a group or out there on your own.

Classical Turkey

Author: John Freely

Description: A well written, well illustrated, architectural guide for travelers new to the Graeco-Roman sites of Western Turkey. Detailed with good drawings of most ruins accompanied by historical information about these great sites. Freely is the master.

Constantinople; City of the World’s Desire, 1453-1924

Author: Philip Mansel

Description: Mansel is a noted historian and author of several works about the Sultans and the Ottoman World. This book focuses on the political and architectural history of the capital Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) and covers the span of the Ottoman empire. The book ends on November 17, 1922 when the last Sultan and a small party slipped out of Palace at 8 AM and scrambled aboard a British naval ship that hauled anchor for Malta at 8:43 AM. A fine work, lots of detail, very readable and helpful in sorting out the complexities of 600 years of Ottoman power.

Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds

Author: Stephen Kinzer

Description: A passionate love for the Turkish people and an optimism that its ruling class can complete Turkey's transformation into a Western-style democracy mark Kinzer's reflections on a country that sits geographically and culturally at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. Kinzer, the former New York Times Istanbul bureau chief, gives a concise introduction to Turkey: Kemal Ataterk's post-WWI establishment of the modern secular Turkish state; the odd makeup of contemporary society, in which the military enforces Ataterk's reforms. In stylized but substantive prose, he devotes chapters to the problems he sees plaguing Turkish society: Islamic fundamentalism, frictions regarding the large Kurdish minority and the lack of democratic freedoms. Kinzer's commonsense, if naeve, solution: the ruling military elite, which takes power when it feels Turkey is threatened, must follow the modernizing path of Ataterk whom Kinzer obviously admires a step further and increase human rights and press freedoms. Kinzer's journalistic eye serves him well as he goes beyond the political, vividly describing, for instance, the importance and allure of the narghile salon, where Turks smoke water pipes. Here, as elsewhere, Kinzer drops his journalist veneer and gets personal, explaining that he enjoys the salons in part "because the sensation of smoking a water pipe is so seductive and satisfying." Readers who want a one-volume guide to this fascinating country need look no further.

Essential Rumi

Author: Coleman Barks

Description: A collection of poetry by the 13th-century Sufi mystic. Coleman renders a well-chosen selection of Persian estatic poetry into contemporary English

Eyewitness Guide Turkey

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: Gorgeously illustrated and filled with excellent maps, this compact book is a thorough overview of Turkey, its history, traditions, cultures and sights. With hundreds of color photographs and illustrations.

Harem - The World Behind the Veil

Author: Alev Lytle Croutier

Description: The author left Turkey at age 18 for the US, returning 15 years later to visit her birthplace and family. Intrigued upon learning that her grandmother had lived in a harem, she interviewed aunts and other family members about their recollections. About that same time (mid 1970’s) the Harem of Topkapi Palace was opened to visitors. With thoughtful research and richly illustrated, Croutier pieces together a realistic description of daily life in the Sultan’s Harem. Her fascinating insights into customs, food and ceremony of the Palace through 450 hundred years, make this an enjoyable read. The addition of family photographs and an amusing chapter about Western misconceptions of the term “harem” sets this work apart from all other books of its kind.

Istanbul: The Imperial City

Author: John Freely

Description: Whether you call it Byzantium, Constantinople, or Istanbul, the “old Turkish hand” John Freely tells the story of each creation and decline up to today’s Istanbul under the Turkish Republic. Spirited and colorful, Freely gives his readers a lively account of the turmoil each incarnation brought. In addition to “page turning history”, Freely gives a complete listing of monuments & museums in the city - he has lived there for decades. This is the one to read on Istanbul if you have a short list of books and limited time to get into its history.

Istanbul: Memories and the City

Author: Orhan Pamuk

Description: Turkish novelist Pamuk (Snow) presents a breathtaking portrait of a city, an elegy for a dead civilization and a meditation on life's complicated intimacies. The author, born in 1952 into a rapidly fading bourgeois family in Istanbul, spins a masterful tale, moving from his fractured extended family, all living in a communal apartment building, out into the city and encompassing the entire Ottoman Empire. Pamuk sees the slow collapse of the once powerful empire hanging like a pall over the city and its citizens. Central to many Istanbul residents' character is the concept of hüzün (melancholy). Istanbul's hüzün, Pamuk writes, "is a way of looking at life that... is ultimately as life affirming as it is negating." His world apparently in permanent decline, Pamuk revels in the darkness and decay manifest around him. He minutely describes horrific accidents on the Bosphorus Strait and his own recurring fantasies of murder and mayhem. Throughout, Pamuk details the breakdown of his family: elders die, his parents fight and grow apart, and he must find his way in the world. This is a powerful, sometimes disturbing literary journey through the soul of a great city told by one of its great writers.

My Name Is Red

Author: Orhan Pamuk

Description: A dead man, a dog, a murderer, a coin, two lovers, and a tree take turns narrating this tale, which is Pamuk's follow-up to the well-reviewed but little read The New Life (1997). Set in sixteenth-century Istanbul, the novel is equal parts mystery, love story, and a philosophical discussion on the nature of art and artistic vision. Two men have been killed: Elegant, a miniaturist engaged (with others) on a book project glorifying the life of the sultan, and Enishte, the man who hired the artists to do the book. During a trip to Venice, Enishte became particularly entranced with the new Italian painting, particularly its use of perspective and figurative art. He urged his employees to adapt the new art form in their illustrations of the grand book they are producing. Black, Enishte's nephew, wants to win the hand of Enishte's daughter, Shekure, which he can only do by solving the murders. This intellectual mystery will appeal to fans of Eco, Pears, and Perez-Reverte.

Tales from the Expat Harem: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey

Author: Anastasia M. Ashman, Jennifer Eaton Gokmen

Description: As the Western world struggles to comprehend the paradoxes of modern Turkey, Tales from the Expat Harem reveals its most personal nuances. This illuminating anthology provides a window into the country from the perspective of thirty-two expatriates from seven different nations—artists, entrepreneurs, Peace Corps volunteers, archaeologists, missionaries, and others—who established lives in Turkey for work, love, or adventure. Through narrative essays covering the last four decades, these diverse women unveil the mystique of the “Orient,” describe religious conflict, embrace cultural discovery, and maneuver familial traditions, customs, and responsibilities. Poignant, humorous, and transcendent, the essays take readers to weddings and workplaces, down cobbled Byzantine streets, into boisterous bazaars along the Silk Road, and deep into the feminine stronghold of steamy Ottoman bathhouses. The outcome is a stunning collection of voices from women suspended between two homes as they redefine their identities and reshape their world views.

The Bastard of Istanbul

Author: Elif Shafak

Description: In her second novel written in English (The Saint of Incipient Insanities was the first), Turkish novelist Shafak tackles Turkish national identity and the Armenian "question" in her signature style. In a novel that overflows with a kitchen sink's worth of zany characters, women are front and center: Asya Kazanci, an angst-ridden 19-year-old Istanbulite is the bastard of the title; her beautiful, rebellious mother, Zeliha (who intended to have an abortion), has raised Asya among three generations of complicated and colorful female relations (including religious clairvoyant Auntie Banu and bar-brawl widow, Auntie Cevriye). The Kazanci men either die young or take a permanent hike like Mustafa, Zeliha's beloved brother who immigrated to America years ago. Mustafa's Armenian-American stepdaughter, Armanoush, who grew up on her family's stories of the 1915 genocide, shows up in Istanbul looking for her roots and for vindication from her new Turkish family. The Kazanci women lament Armanoush's family's suffering, but have no sense of Turkish responsibility for it; Asya's boho cohorts insist there was no genocide at all. As the debate escalates, Mustafa arrives in Istanbul, and a long-hidden secret connecting the histories of the two families is revealed. Shafak was charged with "public denigration of Turkishness" when the novel was published in Turkey earlier this year (the charges were later dropped). She incorporates a political taboo into an entertaining and insightful ensemble novel, one that posits the universality of family, culture and coincidence.

The Turks Today

Author: Andrew Mango

Description: Istanbul-born, British-based Mango (Atatürk) offers an insightful, sympathetic portrait of recent Turkish history. The first third of the book discusses the growth of the Turkish state after Atatürk's death in 1938, with a fitful spread of democracy, clashes with Greece and the departure of Istanbul's Greek community. Economic and social conflict from 1960 to 1980 was subsequently "contained" by a military-driven constitution and rapprochement with Europe. A battle over the logo of the mayoralty of Ankara, the capital, illustrates the recent negotiations between Islamists and secularists. Istanbul, whose "infrastructure does not match its size," is growing as a regional base. In impoverished, traditionalist eastern Turkey, "the Third World has not been banished," though Mango argues that integration with the state—if not assimilation—is the best hope for the Kurdish minority. Turkey today, Mango suggests, resembles the late modernizing countries of southern Europe in many ways. He sees potential for a fully democratic and secular state, but warns that it takes time to "implant Western institutions in non-Western soil." Though this volume lacks some of the bite and immediacy of a journalist's book like Stephen Kinzer's Crescent and Star, it emerges as a more thorough introduction to a less-known but increasingly vital country.

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