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Turkey Luxury Cultural Tour with Gulet
Weekly Departures - June through October
Cultural Tour of Turkey With One Week Aboard a Luxury Yacht

Visit the Incomparable Greco-Roman Archaeological Sites of Turkey,
Sail on a Fine Gulet and Stay at the Four Seasons in Istanbul

Thursday: Arrive in Istanbul and connect to your non-stop flight to Izmir, where you will be met by your private guide and transferred to the Kismet Hotel in Kusadasi.  You will have a few hours to rest and relax in the lovely garden overlooking the Aegean Sea. Thursday departures from Istanbul are mandatory to fit your Gulet schedule.

Friday: After breakfast you will have a private tour of Ephesus, one of the most magnificent Greco-Roman ruins in the world. Your guide will show you the fascinating slope houses of the wealthy Ephesians, with their intricate mosaics still vivid, and lead you through the extensive ruins.  You will have lunch at the rural village of Sirinci and after lunch you will visit the small, but richly endowed museum in Selcuk. Later you will see the last home of the Virgin Mary.  The late afternoon is free to enjoy the garden and then walk into town for dinner, or to have dinner at the hotel.
Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L)

Saturday: This morning you will be taken from Kusadasi to Gocek to pick up your Gulet, exploring more archaeological sites along the way.

Stopping first at the peaceful site of Prienne, an ancient Hellenistic city once the home of an important temple of Athena, it is considered a classic example of pure Ionic style. Prienne's ruins still have several standing columns of the Temple of Athena, as well as much of the city wall and a well-preserved theater. The temple enclosed a smaller, 23 foot version of the statue of Athena that was in the Parthenon.

Like many cities in the area, Prienne was originally a port city, but the continuous silting caused by the Meander River blocked the city's access to the sea and a new city was built farther inland, on the site you will visit.

A short drive takes you to Miletos, which was also on the sea in ancient times.  Its magnificent theater was built during the Hellenistic period and held 15,000 people.  Later a Byzantine fortress was built upon it. On the opposite side of the theater there is a Seljuk Caravanserai and the baths of Faustina, wife of Marcus Aurelius (161-180 A.D.)

Driving on, your last stop before Gocek will be Didyma, not far from the coast. It was an important sacred site in the ancient Greek world and its famous oracle and Temple of Apollo attracted large groups of pilgrims as it was second in importance only to Delphi.  The name Didyma means twins and refers to the twins Apollo and Artemis.

The earliest fragments of the temple found so far date to the end of the 8th century BC. The original temple was graced by many statues and a rich treasury built up by the gifts of Croesus, King of Lydia. Of the 122 original 60 foot tall Ionic columns that surrounded the temple, only three remain intact.

Once in Gocek, your crew will be waiting to greet you.  You will be escorted to your yacht and after a welcoming aperitif and a brief orientation, the crew will cast off motoring south toward a pine forested anchorage and your first dinner aboard.
Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner (D)

Sunday: The crew will review your trip with maps and charts and begin your exploration of the Western shores of the Gulf of Fethiye.  Here, the irregular coastline to the West and a group of islands to the East create an enclosed gulf of clear turquoise water surrounded by pine forests and sheer cliff faces carved with Lycian tombs.  Your crew will search for the choicest available anchorages, stopping for lunch and a swim if you wish, before moving on to another spot for tea time.  We will discover a new location for cocktails and dinner and await the stars of the nighttime sky.
Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner (D)

Monday: After breakfast and perhaps a swim or an exploration of the shore, the sails will be hoisted and your yacht will glide like that of the ancient mariners Southwest across the gulf into Fethiye, ancient Telmessos.  As we arrive in the protected harbor, you will see on the hills above you fine rock-carved temple-style tombs and a castle begun in Hellenistic times.  There is also a fine Roman theater just at the harbor which can be explored before the arrival for your van for the trip to Kaya Village.

Kaya is a Greek village begun in the 1500s in a mountain valley above Fethiye. Abandoned in 1923 during the population exchanges between Greece and Turkey, today the ruins of the houses and churches stand silent and overgrown with fig trees and the streets are wandered by goats. It is a quiet and reflective place. After you explore Kaya you will be taken to a nearby restaurant where you will recline on cushioned banquettes set under the deep green shade of fig trees and grape arbors while your chef prepares a lunch of grilled lamb chops and other meats and vegetables. This rural valley is a lovely place for a glimpse of village life as you stroll along small lanes which wander between houses whose farmsteads and gardens are enclosed by stone walls. Returning to Fethiye in the late afternoon, you will be free to explore the town or rest aboard the yacht as your dinner is prepared.
Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner (D)

Tuesday: On Tuesdays Fethiye hosts a large open air market with all nature of goods for sale.  A mind-boggling array of produce and fruit is available and a second series of halls offers clothing and home goods.  Your guide will escort you through the maze while your chef shops for any additional needed items. Then your gulet sets sail south and east toward Gemiler Island.  Passing southward along the forested Western edge of the Fethiye Gulf, pausing for lunch, and then turning west along a spectacular stretch of rugged coastline spotted with dramatic rocks covered with oleander, you may justifiably think you are in heaven.

Rounding this wild bit of coast, the boat will turn North, again into a deep bay.  You will arrive and anchor at Big Gemiler Island in the afternoon and at tea time, a visiting boat will prepare for you a series of made-to-order gozleme: a flat bread with various fillings rolled up for eating.  There are savory combinations with potato, cheese and parsley but also sweet combinations such as banana, honey and walnut.  This evening, the sun will set to our West and perhaps the sea will turn the dark purple of Homer’s “Wine Dark Sea.”
Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner (D)

Wednesday: Those who wish may explore the ruins of Gemiler Island, where just a short way up are the ruins of the apse of a Byzantine church. Those that trek further are rewarded with more ruins including an excellent colonnaded street.  Once your explorations are finished, your crew will hoist anchor and continue east toward the village of Kalkan, where you will anchor outside the harbor at Yesilyova – the green place.
Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner (D)

Thursday: After breakfast your yacht will move into Kalkan harbor where your transport awaits to take you on an exploration of the Xanthos Valley and its cities of Patara, Letoon and Xanthos. These cities are rich in history and mythology. Patara served as the port for the cities in the valley and boasts imposing ruins from the Roman era including a theater, a monumental gate and a bath complex. Letoon is the city of Leto, the mother of Apollo and Artemis. Pursued by a jealous Hera, she fled to Asia Minor and sought refuge at this site. The local shepherds tried to drive her away when she sought water for her children and so in revenge, she turned them into frogs. The frogs still remain today: sunning themselves at the bases of the columns of her temple which rest in a shallow bog.

Xanthos was the capital city of the Lycian Federation and its greatest city for most of the Lycian age. Discovered in the 19th century by the British explorer Charles Fellows, it is an ancient site - finds date back to the 8th century BC, but it is possible that the city may have existed during the Bronze Age. Fellows returned to Xanthos and dismantled the Nereid Monument, bringing it to England where it is now a major asset of the British Museum.   The history of Xanthos is quite violent: the Xanthosians twice demonstrated their fierce independence when they chose to commit mass suicide rather than submit to invading forces. In the 6th century BC the Xanthosian men set fire to their women, children, slaves and treasure upon the acropolis before making their final doomed attack upon the invading Persians.  Xanthos was later repopulated but the same gruesome story repeated itself in 42 BC, when Brutus attacked the city during the Roman civil wars in order to recruit troops and raise money. Brutus was shocked by the Lycians' suicide and offered his soldiers a reward for each Xanthosian saved. Only 150 citizens were rescued.
Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner (D)

Friday: After breakfast, your yacht will turn westward along the coastline until reaching an attractive spot for lunch on the Western side of the Gulf of Fethiye.  Later you will cross the Gulf exploring the coastline as your crew looks for a pleasant spot for tea and dinner.
Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Dinner (D)

Saturday: You will sail slowly into Gocek to rendezvous with your transport back to the Dalaman airport for a morning flight to Istanbul. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to the Four Seasons, in the heart of the historic Sultan Ahmet district, where you will be for four nights. After lunch at a nearby restaurant or in the hotel, you will be given a two-hour orientation walking tour of the area to become familiar with Sultan Ahmet.

An interesting place to visit this afternoon, either on your own or with your guide, is the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum across from the Blue Mosque.

Housed in the magnificent 16th century Ibrahim Pasha Palace, it was built by the first Grand Vizier appointed by Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent in the 16th century. Ibrahim Pasha was born in Parga, in what is now Greece, and at the age of six he was sold as a slave to the Ottoman palace where he became a good friend of Suleyman who was the same age. This friendship gave him the advantage of being promoted to various posts and finally to the Grand Vizier of the sultan. He also married Suleyman's sister, forming a strategic alliance with the Ottoman royalty.

The museum houses two important sections: Turkish and Islamic arts section such as fine collections of ceramics, miniatures, calligraphy, textiles, woodwork, stonework, metalwork, and a magnificent collection of carpets, some of which date back to 11th century. There is also an ethnographic section where one can see the traditional Turkish way of life from 18th-19th centuries, which includes nomad tents, rug-making with natural dyes, Ottoman houses and textiles, and Turkish baths.
Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L)

Sunday: Today you will have a tour of Topkapi Palace and the Harem section of the complex. The construction of the palace began in 1459, on the orders of Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Byzantine Constantinople. The palace is a complex made up of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. It is full of large collections of colorful robes, weapons, shields, armor, Ottoman miniatures and Islamic calligraphy as well as an extensive collection of Chinese blue and white porcelain which is housed in the former kitchens. The Ottoman jewelry collection alone is worth the visit.

You will have lunch at the palace, overlooking the confluence of the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus.

In the afternoon you will have a tour of Hagia Sofia, the original Hagia Sophia of which was built on this site in the 4th century by Constantine the Great. Constantine was the first Christian emperor and the founder of the city of Constantinople, which he called "the New Rome." Hagia Sophia was rebuilt in her present form between 532 and 537 under the personal supervision of Emperor Justinian I and is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture in the world, rich with mosaics and marble pillars and coverings. After completion, Justinian is said to have exclaimed "Solomon, I have outdone thee!"
Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L)

Monday: A trip up the Bosphorus to Büyükdere will take you the highly acclaimed Sadberk Hanim Museum. A private museum, it houses a wide range of exhibits including Ottoman art, silver, Iznik tiles and ceramics and Chinese celadon. There is also a section on exquisite rare silks and jewelry. After lunch you will return to the city to visit the ornate Dolmabache Palace whose design and décor reflects the increasing influence of European cultural standards on Ottoman culture. Neo-Classic, Baroque, Rococo and Ottoman styles all blend together into glittering opulence and grandeur. Dolmabache has the world's largest Bohemian crystal chandelier at four and one half tons while one of the great staircases has banisters of Baccarat crystal.

Fourteen tons of gold in the form of gold leaf were used to gild the ceilings of the almost five million square foot palace.
Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L)

Tuesday: In the morning your guide will take you on a tour of the Egyptian Bazaar (the Spice Market) and the Rustem Pasha Mosque with its incomparable and brilliantly colored Iznik tiles, one of the most beautiful displays of tiles in the world. You will then continue on to the Asitane Restaurant for lunch, a restaurant famous for delicious dishes from the Ottoman kitchen.

After lunch you will visit, with your guide, the Kariye Church Museum, listed by the author of “1,000 Places to See before You Die” as among the top 30 must-see museums in the world. Noted for its mosaics, they are considered among the best ever created. Also known as the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora, this often-overlooked museum began as a chapel or church built as early as the fifth century, after which it flourished as a mosque during the time of the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. After Hagia Sophia, it is the most important Byzantine monument in Istanbul.
Meals: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L)

Wednesday: You will have a private transfer to the airport where you will either depart for home or take a trip extension to Cappadocia.
Meals: Breakfast (B)

You May Extend Your Stay in Istanbul, Either Before or After Your Trip