Bridge the gap between Europe and Asia on this unmatched historical, cultural and culinary journey through the ancient land of Turkey. With its diversity and abundance of foodstuff due to its rich flora, fauna and regional differentiation, your adventure through Turkey will be a deeply enriching experience. Taste a “dolma” – a combination of rice, pine-nuts, currants, spices and herbs all tightly wrapped in vine leaves, sip the glorious wines, enjoy “baklava,” the traditional Turkish desert, visit a “muhallebi” (pudding shop) with a dozen different types of milk puddings, and top off your delectable meals with Turkish coffee! Every day will be a feast for the palate and the senses!
Moderately Active. May involve some moderate hikes in forests and nature reserves, getting in and out of vehicles and rocking boats, and walking in uneven pavement in archaeological sites, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.
Coastal Turkey has hot steamy summers and moderate winters, while Central Anatolia can have extremes of cold and heat during these times. Mid June through August can be quite hot, and after November, it can get very cold in Cappadocia. Ideal times to travel to Turkey are April/May and September/October, but no matter what time you visit, Turkey is delightful. Istanbul can be visited at any time of the year if you’re prepared for some rain and steamy conditions.
Depart the USA for Istanbul and connect to Izmir. On your transfer to Kusadasi, learn about the history, culture and daily life of the people of this region. This afternoon, embark on an excursion to Pigeon Island, with its beautiful beaches and crystalline turquoise waters. Your first dinner in Turkey is at one of the finest seafood restaurants in the city. DOUBLETREE BY HILTON. (Meals Aloft; D)
Begin your day in Tire with its impressive Islamic architecture. Twice weekly, Tire has a market. The haggling and jostling as people make their way through the narrow isles while the vendors compete for attention, create a cacophony of sights, smells, sounds and activity, and one can enjoy high quality fresh food, which can only be obtained in the Pazar; try Tire’s specialty, the kebab. Continue to the hillside village of Sirince with its beautiful serene landscapes, vineyards and olive groves. As you walk about the cobblestone streets, visit local wineries and taste the fruits of their labor. DOUBLETREE BY HILTON. (B,L)
Visit Ephesus, the most complete ancient city to be excavated. In A.D. 53, St. Paul attempted to spread Christianity in Ephesus. When the harbor of Ephesus silted up, the majority of the city relocated to the nearby area surrounding the basilica of St. John, built by the Emperor Justinian. Visit the Museum, the Basilica of St. John and the house of the Virgin Mary. After lunch, arrive in Klazomenal, one of the 12 classical Ionian cities, and tour the oldest olive oil workshop, dating back to the 6th century. Next, on to Smyrna – Izmir, where at the local market your adventurous spirit may propel you to try a couple of the favorite street foods - ‘Kelle’, the head of a sheep and ‘kokorec’, the grilled intestines of lamb. Dinner will be at a seafood restaurant overlooking the Aegean. SWISSOTEL IZMIR. (B,L,D)
Delight your taste buds on a breakfast of Boyoz, Tulum cheese and Mastic Jam, all delicacies of Izmir. Continue to the Jewish Quarter and Havra Street, which gets its name from the 500-year-old synagogue located there. Purchase local produce, spices, cheeses, pickles and olives at the local market before leaving Izmir behind on your drive along the coast of the Aegean Sea to the ancient city of Pergamum, another cultural center of antiquity and one of the seven churches of the Bible. Not far from the Acropolis of Pergamum, the Asclepion was known as one of the foremost medical centers of classical times. Late this afternoon, arrive Ayvalik, where dinner is served at ‘Bay Nihat’ known for incredible seafood and typical Turkish “mezes” cooked with olive oil. HALIC PARK HOTEL. (B,L,D)
Drive along the Bay of Edremit, the olive oil capital of Turkey, and then inland up to the village of Adatape to see the Altar of Zeus, surrounded by olive groves with wonderful views of the Bay. Take a look at the very long history of olives in this region at the Adatepe Olive Oil Museum. Continue to Assos and ascend through the cobblestone streets of the village to the Temple of Athena built in the classical period and overlooking the Greek island of Lesbos. KERVANSARAY HOTEL. (B,L,D)
Depart for legendary Troy, site of the tragedy of Paris and the beautiful Helen. In 1871, wealthy industrialist Heinrich Schliemann used Homer’s Iliad to find the ancient city. Enjoy lunch in Canakkale and feast on Ezine Cheese, grilled sardines wrapped in grape leaves and baked cheese, and Halvah, a traditional Turkish dish. Then, cross the Dardanelles by ferry and continue to the wine capital of Turkey. Wine tasting will be a treat at the Melen Wineries, where the remains of a one-thousand year-old monastery are found, before your departure for Istanbul and your boutique hotel at the vivid Taksim Square. ARCADIA BLUE ISTANBUL. (B,L)
Visits today include the Hippodrome, the center of Byzantine life for 1,000 years where many coronations and chariot races took place. View the Blue Mosque of Sultan Ahmed I, with its six minarets. This amazing structure is called the blue mosque due to the 20,000 blue iznik tiles that line the interior walls. Feast on Ottoman cuisine at the Konyali Restaurant, and tour the Topkapi Palace, the residence of the Ottoman Sultans for three centuries, and Aghia Sophia, once the religious center of Byzantium, and today a museum. The Grand Bazaar is saved for last and dinner tonight will be aboard a private yacht, ‘The Hunker’. Dine on authentic Turkish cuisine as the ship navigates the Bosphorus and enjoy an insightful lecture about the wonderful food, olive oil and wine you’ve been introduced to so far. ARCADIA BLUE ISTANBUL. (B,L,D)
Enjoy a typical Turkish breakfast at a local restaurant —Kaymak (clotted cream), honey, regional selection of cheeses, spicy Turkish sausage and other local delicacies. Continue to the Spice Market with its incredible array of herbs, spices, natural medicines, and large assortment of nuts, dried fruits and meats. After lunch, visit the Balik Pazari to acquire fish and fresh vegetables for this evening’s meal before heading to the Istanbul Culinary Institute, a professional school of Turkish cuisine, to prepare your meal from the day’s purchases under the tutelage of top Turkish chefs – an ample way to say goodbye, as tomorrow you return home. ARCADIA BLUE ISTANBUL. (B,L,D; B,Meals Aloft)
Travel to captivating Cappadocia on this magical post extension. Stand below the otherworldly Fairy Chimneys, spires of richly hued rock formed by the erosion of volcanic soil over eons. This ancient land of the Hittites has seen its share of invasions, and Cappadocians responded by carving hiding places within the soft rock of the region. See homes, chapels and entire subterranean cities in Goreme, Derinkuyu, and the Zelve Valley. Enjoy lunch at the Ortahisar Museum Restaurant, serving authentic homecooked food.
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