I am excited, to say the least. This weekend I am finalizing my packing, making sure bills are paid, details taken care of. I will work the first of the week, Mo will arrive Wednesday from Oregon, and we leave for San Francisco on Thursday evening so we can be ready for our 6am flight to Chicago, and then on to Istanbul by way of Frankfurt. We are traveling with Go-Ahead Tours, a first for us, since past international travels have been mostly with Grand Circle. It’s a chance to compare. I am taking the laptop, and plan to write daily and upload photos as well. My last two international trips were journaled sporadically with pen and paper, so hopefully this time I will actually keep better track of everything. This trip has a fairly ambitious schedule, so it might be even more important to keep good track of things since it really can all run together after a few days.
Day 1 Nov 21- Istanbul
Board an overnight flight to Turkey from San Francisco via Chicago and Frankfurt.
Day 2 Nov 22 – Istanbul
Land in Istanbul, the ancient capital of civilization known previously as Byzantium and Constantinople.
Day 3 Nov 23 – Istanbul
On a guided tour of Istanbul, visit 15th-century Topkapi Palace, home of Ottoman sultans; the ancient Byzantine church of Hagia Sophia, illuminated by 30 million gold mosaic tiles; and the stunning Blue Mosque. Pass by the Hippodrome, an elaborate stadium once the site of ancient chariot races.
Day 4 Nov 24 – Istanbul
Free time to explore Istanbul. Plan to visit the Museum of Ancient Civilizations. Possibly join an optional morning cruise among the Bosphorus Straits, the ancient waterway that connects Europe and Asia. View Ottoman palaces and medieval castles during this half-day cruise along the Bosphorus Straits, which separates Europe and Asia.
Day 5 Nov 25 – Canakkale
Stop for a guided tour of Bursa, the first capital of the Ottoman empire. Continue to Canakkale, a town coveted in centuries past for its strategic location.
Day 6 Nov 26 – Kusadasi
A local guide leads a tour of Troy, where Homer’s Iliad comes to life. Tour the ruins, where experts have identified the relics of nine civilizations dating back 5,000 years. Then follow the Aegean coast to Pergamon, visit the ancient Greek Acropolis. Continue on to seaside Kusadasi.
Day 7 Nov 27 – Kusadasi
Visit Ephesus, one of the Mediterranean’s best-preserved classical cities. View the Library of Celsus, the Temple of Hadrian and the house where Mary is said to have spent her final days. This afternoon, opt for a journey to the village of Sirince for a firsthand look at Turkish rural life. The peaceful village of Sirince lies in the hills outside of Ephesus. On a walking tour led by tour director, stroll past some of the country’s best-preserved 19th-century architecture.
Day 8 Nov 28 – Pamukkale
Stop today at the ruins of Miletus. Next, visit Didyma’s Temple of Apollo.
Day 9 Nov 29 – Pamukkale
Take a guided tour of Pamukkale’s travertines, a cascade of snowy white calcium terraces formed from hot springs. The tour includes the ruins of Hierapolis, the Roman spa city built around Pamukkale’s calcium rich waters. In the afternoon, opt for an excursion to Aphrodisias, the best-preserved Hellenistic site in all of Turkey, dating back to at least the 1st century B.C. The site includes a temple dedicated to Aphrodite. In Aphrodisias, explore the city that honored Aphrodite, goddess of love. Ancient sculptures made of glowing marble date back to the late 1st century B.C. in this beautiful getaway.
Day 10 Nov 30 – Antalya
Cross the Kale River Delta to Demre. Visit the 4th-century Church of St. Nicholas. Continue to the ruins of Phaselis, an ancient Lycian city. Later reach Antalya, ancient retreat of Antony and Cleopatra.
Day 11 Dec 1 – Antalya
View the Old Town and visit the archaeological museum and Hadrian’s Gate. Later, a trip to Aspendos and Perge. Perge was settled for new Greek colonists and prospered under Alexander the Great. The ancient remains of the city include the Great Theatre, Hellenistic Gates Roman bath houses and a magnificent stadium.
Day 12 Dec 2 – Cappadocia
Stop in Konya. Visit the Mevlana Museum. Continue to Cappadocia. This evening, an optional excursion to see a Whirling Dervishes performance. The Muslim sect known as the Whirling Dervishes was founded in the 13th century by Mevlana Celeldin Rumi. Learn about this fascinating sect and its modern-day practitioners during this special cultural performance of dance, music and tradition.
Day 13 Dec 3 – Cappadocia
Tour the rock churches of Göreme and visit the towns of Pasabag and Avanos. This evening, attend a traditional Turkish Folklore Evening. Taste Turkish wine, snacks and beer at this authentic Cappadocian restaurant, carved out of sheer rock.
Day 14 Dec 4 – Istanbul
Enjoy a free day in Cappadocia or opt to visit the Eskigimus Monastery. After an included dinner this evening, board your return flight to Istanbul, where you’ll spend your last night in Turkey.
Day 15 Dec 5 – Istanbul
Depart for home .