2016 WESTERN TURKEY & MEDITERRANEAN TOUR
This tour will be led by one of our excellent, English fluent guides
LAND & AIR (from JFK) COST (includes double occupancy & one domestic flight): $2,680 per person Mar. 2 – Mar. 13, 2016
Day 1 - DEPART USA (Mar 2)
Your international direct flight will depart from
the United States, arriving in Istanbul the next day.
Day 2 - ARRIVE ISTANBUL / CAPPADOCIA (Mar 3)
Upon arriving in Istanbul, you will then take a connecting flight to Cappadocia. In Cappadocia, you will be picked up and driven one hour to the spectacular Cappadocia Cave Suites, the newest and most luxurious “cave living” in Cappadocia. In 2005, Abercrombie and Kent rated the Cave Suites one of the most boutique hotels in the World. Located in Göreme, a World Heritage site, the hotel’s thirty six spacious units almost all have windows with views to the outside and most feature a Jacuzzi. Some units have beautiful 200-year-old wooden ceilings and one unit is decorated in original 8th century painted frescoes showing the Maltese cross. The views are spectacular with the Fairy Chimneys in sight (www.cappadociacavesuites.com). Breakfast and dinner will be at the Cave Suites restaurant.
Day 3, 4 - CAPPADOCIA (One of the Natural Wonders of the World) (Mar 4, 5)
While in Cappadocia we will enjoy the unique landscapes of wind and rain-eroded volcanic rock formations and have opportunities for incredible hikes. Our hotel is just a few minutes walk from the starting point of five different hiking routes. During the hikes, you will see amazing formations, valleys, grapevines and orchards full of fruit trees and hot air balloons fill the sky early in the morning. Cappadocia is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and a World Heritage site. You will see why. Discovering the unknown Cappadocia, we will go off the "tourist track". One of these outings will be to the Ballidere Valley where many formations of rocks, carved by nature (similar to phallic symbols) 100 feet tall (or higher) and 10 to 15 feet wide, create otherworldly vistas. Because it isn’t easy to access this site, most people aren’t aware of it. Missed by 99% of visitors to this area, you will be able to take unbelievable pictures at this site. Also amazing is the incredible underground cities of Cappadocia, some of which were home to as many as 15,000 inhabitants. We will go to Derinkuyu where ancient civilizations from 3,000 to 4,000 years ago started carving layers of living quarters into the bedrock connected by catacombs. These floors are separated by huge wheels of stone that could be moved by a lever to close the passage, providing security. In the region of Cappadocia, a 10,000 square mile area, there are 1,000 churches carved into bedrock by early and later Christians. About 100 of the churches still have frescoes from the Old and the New Testament. We will visit these churches and living quarters at the Open Air Museum, which is less than a mile from our hotel. This is a very impressive site. We will also visit ancient handicraft shops and a caravanserai, an ancient caravan motel. Cappadocia is also famous for its rugs and kilims. We will have an excellent lecture-demonstration on Turkish kilims and carpets.
- Hot air balloon rides over Cappadocia at reduced rates. A balloon ride in Cappadocia (for people of all ages) is safe and nothing less than spectacular. It costs $200 in cash or $210 if paid by credit card. .
- Attend a Whirling Dervish ceremony at a 12th century caravanserai. There will also be an opportunity to take cooking lessons from the Cave Suites chef. A Cappadocia Cave Suites Turkish cookbook will also be available for sale.
Day 5, 6 - ANTALYA - Turkish Riviera (Mar 6, 7)
Today, we will take a long and beautiful drive with many stops along the way to Antalya, also known as the Turkish Riviera. It is a beautiful city snuggled between the Mediterranean Sea and the Toros Mountains. During our stay in Antalya, we will tour the city. A particular highlight here is a museum that features the best preserved Greco-Roman statues in the World. We will also visit the ruined cities of Aspendos and Perge. Aspendos dates back to the time of the Hittites, yet the only visible remains are left over from the Roman Period. The restored theater at Aspendos is said to be the best in all of Turkey. Perge reached its height under Alexander the Great and the Romans. Today, what remain are the ruins of a great theater, a stadium, and the colonnaded main street. We will stay at a 4 to 5-star hotel, which has a luxurious view of the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains. There will also be time to enjoy the warm weather at the beach.
Day 7 – PAMUKKALE (One of the Natural Wonders of the World) Hierapolis, Aphrodisias (Mar 8)
We will depart Antalya early and drive to Aphrodisias, the city of art dedicated to the Goddess Aphrodite. The marble theatre here is beautiful and the stadium that seats over 35,000 is immense. After Aphrodisias we will continue to Pamukkale. Another Greco-Roman city "Hierapolis" is visited here. It has an incredible necropolis (city of the dead) and we will see many sarcophagi (burial monuments). We will visit the snow-like travertine of calcium for which Pamukkale is famous. We will stay at the 5-star Colossae Hotel, with a thermal mineral pool for your enjoyment. The Colossae is the best available hotel in the area.
Day 8, 9 - KUSADASI (Ephesus) (Mar 9, 10)
Today, we will drive two hours to Kusadasi where we will stay at a 4-star hotel. You will have to time to enjoy the beach before dinner at the hotel.
The next day we will drive fifteen minutes to the incredible city of Ephesus and its colossal Greco-Roman Theater where St. Paul preached. This particular theater is still used for performances today. The Marble Road, the Celsus Library, and the Temple of Diana are just a few of the sites we will visit. We will also visit the Ephesus Archaeological Museum as well as the house where St. Mary lived her final days (After the crucifixion of Jesus, St. John brought her to Ephesus). Afterwards, we will take an evening flight back to Istanbul where we will be taken to the 5-star Barcelo Eresin Topkapi Hotel. On this night, we will have a simple dinner.
Day 10, 11 – ISTANBUL (Mar 11, 12)
Today, we will begin our tour of Istanbul. Istanbul, once called Byzantium in the 7th century B.C., was named Constantinople in 326 A.D. by Constantine the Great when he moved the capital of the Roman Empire to what is now Istanbul. The city received its current name from Mehmet II in 1453 and is the only city in the world that spans two continents. It was the capital to three major empires (Rome, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires). Here, we will visit several of Turkey's most famous museums and mosques. Topkapi Palace was first built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453 and was the home of the sultan until the 19th century. St. Sophia was built by Roman Emperor Justinian and was completed in 537 A.D. It was the greatest Christian church in the world for more than 1000 years. The Blue Mosque was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet in 1603 and was constructed with the deliberate intention of rivaling the St. Sophia. We will also visit the Rustem Pasha Mosque with its exceptional tiles and the mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent. In the evening, we will have dinner and drinks with lots of live music and entertainment by a gypsy orchestra. Our stay will be at the Barcelo Eresin Topkapi Hotel.
On the next day, you will have a free day to explore Istanbul on your own. We would recommend visiting the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market on this day. Dinner will be on your own.
Day 12 - DEPART FOR USA (Mar 13)
We will depart the hotel shortly after breakfast for our morning flight on Turkish Airlines, arriving in the United States the same day.
**Flight schedules and itinerary are subject to change**