Duration: 8 Days
Turkey is a unique country with a unique identity straddling both Europe and Asia. Your 8-day Turkish Escape starts in Istanbul, a city of great diversity and a combination of tree-lined boulevards, cafés and cosmopolitan restaurants set against a backdrop where little has changed for centuries. During its 3,000 years of turbulent history, it has been home to the Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Ottomans and the Turks themselves- all leaving their marks. Highlights of your sightseeing are inside visits to the 6th century Hagia Sophia, the largest church and for over a thousand years the largest covered space on earth and to the amazing Topkapi Palace which was the seat of the government of one of the greatest Empire of the Medieval age.
Pay tribute to the fallen war heroes at the Anzac cemetery and visit three of the most famous ancient sites in the country: Troy, Pergamon and Ephesus. Each very different and distinctive. Troy, the oldest, dating from 3,000BC and made up to 9 separate cities all built over each other; Pergamon an impregnable defensive site with amazing views in all directions which flourished as one of the ancient world’s greatest centers of healing; Ephesus, the greatest city in the Eastern Mediterranean during Roman times which boasts an extraordinary number of superbly preserved monuments.
Cross from Europe to Asia on board a scenic ferry journey across the Dardanelles Straight and get ready to taste the superb Turkish cuisine, an interesting blend of Mediterranean specialties and flavours.
This is the perfect vacation if you are looking for a genuine and unique blend of diverse cultures, centuries of history and an atmosphere the mysterious East with the familiar West.
After arrival at Atatürk Airport, check into your hotel. At 6:30 pm, meet your Tour Director and traveling companions for a welcome dinner at your hotel. (D)
Founded by the Greeks as Byzantium more than 2,500 years ago, renamed Constantinople in 330 AD when Constantine the Great elected it the capital of the Roman Empire, and finally called Istanbul after the Ottoman conquest in the 15th century, the city on the Bosporus remains one of the most exciting places in the world. Its strategic location as gateway between Orient and Occident, the Islamic and the Christian worlds, and the Black Sea and the Mediterranean predestined it for a turbulent history. Guided sightseeing starts at TOPKAPI PALACE, the residence of the Ottoman Sultans. Admire the rich and spectacular kaftans of the sultans that were worn during the Ottoman period. Then, tour the HAGIA SOPHIA, followed by the ROMAN HIPPODROME, and visit Sultan Ahmet’s BLUE MOSQUE. (B)
Visit the colorful GRAND BAZAAR before setting out on your discovery tour of a country with the population of Britain and more than three times its size. Drive along the European shore of the Sea of Marmara and head westward through sunflower and olive groves to the Dardanelles. Visit the WWI battlefields on the Gallipoli peninsula, where Allied troops, mainly Australians and New Zealanders, suffered heavy casualties in a disastrous campaign. Pay tribute to the heroes of those tragic months of 1915 at the ANZAC CEMETERY and the LONE PINE MEMORIAL. Travel by ferry across the Dardanelles to the Troy area for your first overnight in Asia on the Aegean coast. (B,D)
Enjoy a guided visit of TROY, the perfect place to brush up on Homer’s Trojan War—hollow wooden horse and all! Vistas of the Greek isle of Lesbos greet you as you follow the shores of the Bay of Edremit. Continue south to Pergamum, an ancient center of learning and the arts, and visit its MUSEUM. After lunch, visit the ASCLEPION, a shrine to the Greek god of medicine. Drive to Kusadasi for your overnight. (B)
Today, visit Ephesus, home of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, and later, the capital of Roman Asia Minor. Visit the SITE OF ANCIENT RUINS and the ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM with its famous statue of Artemis, goddess of fertility and destiny. Then, travel along the Silk Road, and through the lush valley of the meandering Menderes River. Next, Pamukkale. The name means "Cotton Castle" and refers to the spectacular white lime cascades formed by its hot springs. (B,D)
This morning, visit the fascinating archaeological site of HIERAPOLIS, the thermal resort founded by a Pergamene king in 190 BC and greatly enlarged and embellished by the Romans. Then, enjoy the ever-changing cultivated landscapes and timeless scenes of rural life on your way to Bursa. Spot farmers working their fields or transporting produce in traditional horse-drawn carts. Bursa lies in the shade of the Uludag–also called Mount Olympus of Mysia—a 7,700-foot-high ski mountain surrounded by lovely orchards. Founded by the Greeks, like most ancient cities in this part of the world, and hotly contested during the Crusades, Bursa had its heyday as the first capital of the Ottoman Empire. In the afternoon, visit the GREAT MOSQUE (Ulu Camii). Also on the agenda, of course, are the ancient Covered Bazaar and the Silk Market. (B)
Visit Iznik, site of the first Ecumenical Council. See its ancient city walls before visiting ST. SOPHIA CHURCH and the ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM. Later, return to Istanbul in style. Tonight, (LF) a farewell dinner with wine at a local restaurant celebrates the success of your Turkish Escape. (B,D)
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. (B)