Turkey is where east meets west by the narrowest of geographic margins, known as the Bosphorus. Istanbul straddles this narrow channel of destiny. It is where the Emperor Justinian built monuments to the blossoming religion that is Christianity, expressed in the soaring dome of the Haghia Sophia, a structure so magnificent that succeeding Muslim conquerors left it standing. A place of singular beauty Turkey is where the rugged precipitous land kisses the azure sea in a blush of white sand. Walk along streets, where the pantheons of the ancient gods and goddesses are housed in astonishing colonnaded ruins next to those of early Christian churches. Sail on a traditional, luxury gulet through the Aegean Sea and the Turkish Riviera, to visit places covered in the patina of time and filled with the voices of yesteryear.
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.
Your journey begins as you board your overnight flight to Istanbul, Turkey.
Arrive Istanbul, the city that bridges the two continents of Europe and Asia, established in the 7th century B.C. and one of the most historic cities in the world. Your expert guide will greet you upon arrival with a friendly smile and transfer you to the stylish Midtown Hotel, located at Talimhane, Taksim district which is one of the centers of the city of Istanbul. Enjoy a welcome dinner tonight. ISTANBUL MIDTOWNN HOTEL. (Meals Aloft, D)
Today begin your exploration of Istanbul. Highlights of today’s tour include the Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, the Church of Divine Wisdom (Haghia Sophia) built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th Century and converted into a mosque by Sultan Mehmet II just after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, and the Grand Baazar the father of what we now call a “mall” which houses some 3500 shops of various kinds. ISTANBUL MIDTOWNN HOTEL. (B)
Transfer to the airport for your morning flight to Izmir, then drive along the beautiful Aegean coast to ancient Pergamum originally constructed in the 4th century B.C. Visit the Temple of Trajan, a wonderfully restored second century A.D. marble temple dedicated to the Roman emperor. Not far from the Acropolis of Pergamum, rests the Asklepion dedicated to the god of healing, Asklepios, who was worshipped in cultic centers around the Greek and Roman world. Drive back to Izmir, the second-largest port and third largest city in Turkey, also rich in history and archaeological remains. Your home for tonight overlooks Izmir Bay and is just feet from the bustling, seafront promenade – the Kordon, which is lined with the city’s best seafood restaurants. Dinner tonight will be at the local Altinkapi Restaurant, famous for its doner kebap. SWISSOTEL BUYUK EFES IZMIR. (B,D)
Depart for Ephesus memorialized in the New Testament by Saint Paul in his letter to the Christian congregation of Ephesus in 60-62 A.D. Step into biblical history within ruins of the Basilica of Saint John, the traditional burial site of John the Baptist or the Church of Saint Mary purported to be one of the first churches dedicated in her honor. As well, see the remains of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. In the afternoon you will have time to do some shopping. Your home tonight is a new, luxurious five star property located in the city center of Kusadasi, directly across from the yacht marina. DOUBLE TREE BY HILTON. (B,L)
Today explore three towns with significant histories and archeological sites: Priene, Miletus and Didyma. Sitting on a plain beside the Meander River, Priene features ruins such as the Temple of Athena, commissioned by Alexander the Great. Miletus is an ancient city at the mouth of the Meander River, home of the 6th century B.C. philosophers Anaximander, Anaximenes, and Thales. Didyma is the famous cult center dedicated to Apollo. Conclude your day in Bodrum (Halicarnassus) where you embark your luxurious gulet, a two-masted wooden sailing vessel traditional to the southwest coast of Turkey. M/S AGEAN CLIPPER OR SIMILAR. (B,D)
Set sail for Knidos, whose atmospheric ruins sit on a high peninsula, separated from the mainland by a narrow isthmus. Over the centuries portions of Knidos have been subsumed by the sea, so some exploration will require a snorkel and flippers! M/S AEGEAN CLIPPER OR SIMILAR. (B,L,D)
Sail to Datca peninsula, a long, narrow, mountainous finger of land that separates the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. Explore the quaint picturesque little seaside village of Datca and wander its charming narrow streets. M/S AEGEAN CLIPPER OR SIMILAR. (B,L,D)
Set sail this morning from Datca back to Bodrum stopping along the way in Türkbükü on the Turkish Riviera. Disembark this afternoon from your comfortable gulet and drive to Bodrum airport for your short flight back to Istanbul where the rest of the day is at leisure. MIDTOWN HOTEL. (B,L)
Transfer to the airport for your flight back to New York arriving home the same day. (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. Fly over this enchanting land in a hot air balloon (additional cost) and see the spires stretch out before you to the horizon as you experience the enchantment of Cappadocia to its fullest.
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