Welcome to Istanbul, the city where East meets West. A Discovery Adventures representative will meet you at the airport and transfer you to our comfortable hotel. Please note that check in time is approximately 2pm, but the hotel will be happy to store luggage for early arrivals. There are no planned activities today, until this evening when we meet our Discovery Adventures Tour Leaders and fellow group members for a welcome meeting. Check the notice board for a message from the guide or ask at reception for the exact time and location of this group meeting. Afterward, we have the option of heading out for a meal in a local restaurant with our travel companions. If you arrive late, the guide will leave a message at the front desk. If you arrive early, today is a good day to visit the atmospheric Grand Bazaar, as it is closed on Sundays. Overnight in Istanbul.
We begin our day in Istanbul with a tour to the Blue Mosque, Hippodrome and the magnificent Aya Sofya. Built as one of the great churches of the Byzantine Empire, it was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest. We explore the beautiful Blue Mosque, admiring the symmetry and internal tile work of the building. As it is a working mosque, take the chance to learn more about the ceremony behind Islam, the religion of around 98% of Turks. In front of the Blue Mosque, the ancient Hippodrome was once the scene of chariot races and now houses monuments from various stages of Istanbul’s history. The remainder of our time is free - consider visiting the Topkapi Palace, the magnificent former home of the sultans, or wander down to the Bosphorus to check out the hubbub of the ferries and fishermen going about their daily business. Take a rest at a café overlooking the busy waters and sip on some sweet Turkish tea. Overnight Istanbul.
This morning we fly to Ankara. We undertake a short tour of the highlights of Ankara including the Roman and Ottoman quarters of town and Ataturk’s mausoleum, learning more about the fascinating history of this comparatively contemporary capital and its relationship to modern Turkey. We finish at the magnificent Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which contains an outstanding collection of artifacts documenting this region. Later today, we continue on to Cappadocia. With an environment shaped and molded by nature, Cappadocia's man made and natural attractions beg to be explored. We arrive in the early evening in time for an orientation walk. There is also the option to attend a "Turkish night" where you will experience a multi-course meal followed by local entertainment. On the morning of Day 4 we will enjoy a guided visit the Goreme Open Air Museum, a complex of medieval painted cave churches carved out by Orthodox monks. There are more than 10 caves to visit, and many of the churches are up to 1000 years old and still retain amazing color and vibrancy. One of the best ways to explore Cappadocia is on foot. Take the option to head off on a walk with our leader through one of the beautiful valleys. Explore many old houses, churches and orchards, all boasting fabulous views. Later this evening, we will travel to a village and have dinner with a local family. While enjoying the home made menu, with dishes that change according to the food in season, take the chance to ask our friendly hosts all about life in rural Cappadocia. One of the most beautiful vantage points to view this beautiful and unusual region is from the air. Why not book an optional dawn balloon ride for a spectacular bird’s eye view. Ask your leader for more details. Overnight in Goreme (2 nights). Estimated travel time: Istanbul to Ankara, 45 minutes Ankara to Goreme, 5hrs
This morning we take a short flight from Cappadocia to Izmir, then transfer to the village of Selcuk. On our arrival, we undertake a walking tour of this attractive and historic town. We begin our explorations at the remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the World - the Temple of Artemis. While the single column is a scant remain, it is easy to picture how magnificent this sight must have been in former times. We continue on to the Mosque of Isa Bey. This building is the best example of a building which reflects the change from the dominant Selcuk, to Ottoman style of architecture. Our final stop is the hilltop remains of the Basilica of St John. The ruined church provides stunning views over the surrounding countryside and is the reputed burial place of St John who died here around 100AD. The following morning, we visit the ruins of the ancient Roman town of Ephesus. One of the foremost cities of the world in its time, with a strategic location on the trade route, this well preserved city is one of the best places in the world to get a real feeling of what life must have been like during Roman times. The massive, well preserved theater dominates the view down Harbor Street, which leads to the long-silted-up harbor. The impressive two-story library, whose façade has been carefully reconstructed from all original pieces, was built in 125AD and once held nearly 12,000 scrolls. There is even a chance to see 2000 year-old public toilets. We compliment our exploration of the site, with a visit to the small but exquisite Ephesus Museum in Selçuk. Later in the day, we will take an excursion to the picturesque Greek village of Sirince where we enjoy a local lunch of gozelme, which are savory pancakes cooked over an open fire, we can also sample some of the local wine, visit the church and shop for homemade crafts. Overnight in Selcuk for two nights. Estimated travel time: Cappadocia to Kayseri airport,1 hour, Flight Kayseri to Izir, 1 hour, transfer from Izmir to Selcuk, 1 hour.
Today we make our way north, towards Istanbul passing lush orchards, crop filled pastures and plenty of glimpses of the picturesque coastline. On our way to the city of Çanakkale, our base for the night, we pay a visit to the world famous Troy. Troy was first made famous by the Iliad, Homer's epic poem, and more recently by Orlando Bloom and Brad Pitt in the film of the same name. For centuries this story in the Iliad, was regarded as just a myth, until the ruins of the city were found in the mid-nineteenth century. While today not too much remains, it is possible, with a bit of imagination to get a feel for what a great city this must once have been. Of course we won’t want to miss the chance to have a photo taken with the Trojan horse. We then continue to the harbor town of Çanakkale, a busy port with a thriving student population. Join the crowds as they stroll the waterfront nightly, seeing and being seen. Why not try "kumpir", the Turkish version of a stuffed potato. Overnight in Çanakkale. Approx travel time: Selcuk to Troy, 5hrs; Troy to Çanakkale, 40mins
We continue our journey to Istanbul where there will be the opportunity to continue sightseeing or get in some last minute shopping. Overnight in Istanbul. Approximate travel time: Canakkale to Istanbul, 5 hours.
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