TURKEY: beyond Istanbul!

TURKEY: more than just Istanbul.

Say Turkey and people say Istanbul, which ofcourse is fascinating. But there is so much more, just two of those ‘more’ spots I am mentioning here because they so fascinate.

Cappadocia and Pamukale, both miraculous natural wonders that beg to be explored.

Cappadacio’s unique landscape was formed from the erosion by wind and water of ancient lava ash deposits. It created what they call ‘Fairy Chimneys’ that the wind sings through and honey combed caves that were used by early Christians escaping from the Romans. They created hidden sanctuaries and complete settlements from the 4th to the 14th centuries.

The churches, monasteries and cave dwellings are still to be seen and fascinate. An absolute must visit hotel is an attraction that adds to the reasons to go there.

Pammukalle is a phenomenal natural wonder , imagine this crazy white cliff, with stepping pools of unbelievable blue just littered all over! Ofcourse, much as you would like to laze in one of those amazing pools, they don’t anylonger allow because of the deterioration that it was causing the area, however there is a spa pool that can be visited and anyhow it is a spectacle worth seeing.

Istanbul and it’s wonders are listed in this itinerary below that I have put together for what I think is a must do trip of Turkey – that there is much more to do – is a given, but this is a first essential.

Day 1: Arrive Istanbul. Transfer to (Garden house Hotel (http://www.gardenhouseistanbul.com/)  or  Hotel Daphne (www.hoteldaphne.com/)

Sightseeing in Istanbul is not included in the tour cost, incase you just want to wander and do things as you like, but options are listed below if you would like guided tours:

Sultanahmet – Old Istanbul – Small group tour price: 80 EURO per person (Private tour price: 105 EURO per person)
Visit The St. (Haghia) Sophia, which was built by the Emperor Justinian. It was the largest building in the world for over 1000 years. See its intricate mosaics and huge central dome. Continue to the Topkapi palace, which was used by the Ottoman Sultans from the 15th to 19th centuries. We will also see the impressive collection of priceless jewels, crystal, silver and porcelain, robes worn by the sultans and relics of the prophet Mohammed.(Entrance to the Harem is extra). After lunch we will see the Blue Mosque, built for Sultan Ahmet I, which is a unique piece of architecture with its six minarets and features 20,000 beautiful Iznik tiles. Visit the ancient Hippodrome with Obelisk of Theodosius, Snake Pillar and German Fountain of Wilhelm II. Walk through the back streets of Old Istanbul and visit the Yerebatan underground Cistern. See the Grand Covered Bazaar (except Sundays).
Overnight Istanbul

Day 2 –  In Istanbul, sightseeing option as below:
Bosphorus Cruise with Beylerbeyi – Small group tour price: 90 EURO per person (Private tour price: 135 EURO per person)
Visit the exotic Egyptian Spice Market on the Golden Horn. Board your cruise of the Bosphorus, the waterway, which separates the continents of Europe and Asia. Pass Rumeli fortress, built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452 to prepare for his conquest of Istanbul. We will visit the museum of Sadberk Hanim, which has an excellent private collection of artifacts dating back to the prehistoric period and an ethnographic section housed in an old Ottoman building.  After lunch in a seaside fish restaurant, cross over the Bosphorus Bridge to Asia and visit Beylerbeyi Palace, which was the summer residence of the Ottoman Sultans, then on to Camlica Hill, for a magnificent view of Istanbul. Cruise is done by public boat unless other arrangements are made.
Overnight Istanbul

Day 3 – Istanbul – Cappadocia (L)
Take the morning flight from Istanbul Ataturk airport to Kayseri. Arrival and meeting at the airport just outside the arrival’s gate with a sign bearing your name and transfer to Cappadocia. In the morning, first meeting with the lunar landscape of Cappadocia: rock formations beyond belief in Devrent valley; walking in Zelve Open Air Museum: a journey into the past with its troglodyte houses; visit to Pasabag “fairy chimneys” where the voice of wind mixes with the “songs of fairies”. Lunch in Avanos, center of terra cotta work of art since 3000 BC. and a demonstration in a traditional pottery workshop. Afternoon, visit the famous Goreme Open Air Museum and see the best examples of Byzantine art in Cappadocia in rock-cut churches with frescoes and paintings (10th to 13th century). Climb on top of the Uchisar Rock-Castle to have a panoramic view of the valleys of Cappadocia. Overnight Cappadocia.

Day 4  – Cappadocia- (B.L)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 09:30am
Tour to Kaymaklı Underground City, one of the most interesting underground settlements in Cappadocia. Soğanlı Valley, an Open Air Museum in a wild natural setting near a typical Cappadocian village with its different style Rock-Cut churches and frescoes. Villages in the valleys, surrounded by the “table top” mountains, are spectacular. Lunch and Visit to Sahinefendi newly discovered (01 May 2002) mosaic houses & Archaeological excavation site. Continue with Keslik Monastery near Cemil, that hides its frescoes behind a very thin smoke layer which we can only see by torch light. Our tour finishes with a visit to Mustafapaşa (Sinasos), an old Greek town with its spectacular old Greek houses; very fine examples of late Greek settlements and architecture. Overnight Cappadocia

Day 5- Cappadocia- Ephesus (B.L.D.)
Pick-up from hotel 2 hours before flight departure.
Take the morning flight from Kayseri to Izmir  by Turkish airlines: (direct or via Istanbul) . Arrival and meeting at the airport and Visit to the ancient city of Ephesus and first visit the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Ephesus was undoubtedly one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world. Impressive structures we will see include the Library of Celsus, Temple of Hadrian, Theatre and Odeon. We also visit the House of the Virgin Mary and church of St. John. Overnight Kusadasi near Ephesus.

Day 6 – Ephesus – Pamukkale (B.L.D)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 08:30am
Drive to Pamukkale, on the way, visit  Aphrodisias. Aphrodisias was primarily known as a center for the arts, specifically sculpture. The Aphrodisias School of Sculpture had a distinctive style and was very well circulated throughout the Greek and Roman world. Discovery of Travertine terraces and Hierapolis. The travertine terraces at Pamukkale are one of the most spectacular natural wonders we ever have seen. Formed by  various mineral springs in a vast white cliff side, about 200 m overlooking the plain, calcite-laden waters have dripped down over a series of terraced levels and created a fairyland of bizarre solidified cascades and shell-shaped basins. It looks like creations of snow or like swathes of cotton, which gave the scenery the Turkish name Pamukkale (cotton castle): “pamuk” for cotton and “kale” for castle. Moreover the water in the basins changes color with the light through the day. Overnight Pamukkale.

Day 7 – Pamukkale – Istanbul (B)
Pick-up from hotel 2 hours before flight departure.
Transfer to Denizli airport and take the Turkish Airlines morning flight from Denizli to Istanbul Ataturk airport- END OF SERVICES.

Depending on your connecting flight back home the requisite arrangements for another night stay in Istanbul may be made.

Small group tour (Maximum 8 people): 1200 EURO per person sharing a double room.

Private tour (Exclusive for 2 – 4 people):  1500 EURO per person sharing a double room.

Sightseeing in Istanbul:
Sultanahmet – Old Istanbul – Small group tour price: 80 EURO per person (Private tour price: 105 EURO per person)

Bosphorus Cruise with Beylerbeyi – Small group tour price: 90 EURO per person (Private tour price: 135 EURO per person)

(Please note rates are estimated as of Oct 2011 and would fluctuate at the time of booking)

– Domestic flights in the program.
– Airport transfers where needed.
– Transportation by a comfortable AC non smoking Luxurious car/Van with professional driver.
– Professional and experienced licensed guide during the tours.
– Gamirasu Cave Hotel (www.gamirasu.com)   in Cappadocia with breakfast.
– Richmond Thermal (www.richmondhotels.com.tr)  Hotel Pamukkale with breakfast and dinner
– Charisma Hotel (http://www.charismahotel.com/) in Kusadasi near Ephesus with breakfast and dinner.
– Entry fees to the sites and museums
– Parking fees.

– International flights
– Drinks, Lunch, Dinner apart from those mentioned in the inclusive per hotels as above.
– Tips to guide, driver and hotel personnel.

Package Rates based on double room at Gamirasu in Cappadocia (www.gamirasu.com), if you wish to upgrade: for a deluxe room please add 20 EURO per room per night.  For a Cave Suite, please add 90 EURO per room per night. For a Superior Suite, please add 140 EURO per room per night. For Eagle Nest Suite, please add 240 EURO per room per night, for Byzantine King Suite, please add 900 EURO per room per night

** Hot air balloon: http://www.cappadociatours.com/cappadocia_balloon.html
Cappadocia has a magical unique landscape. If you wish to do a balloon ride one time in your life save it for Cappadocia, you will have an unforgettable experience. Please reserve at the earliest, dates and locations fill fairly quickly. Price from 140 EURO per person, please ask for details.