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The Silk Road



LAX departure on AIR FRANCE
Meals and drinks will be served during the flight to Istanbul

Welcome to Istanbul. Upon arrival you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel in the heart of the old city.
o/n in Istanbul (Elite Hotel****)

Today you will enjoy an orientation tour of Istanbul. First stop is the highest point in the vicinity of Istanbul called Camlica Hill where you can enjoy an absolutely magnificent view of the whole city. Then walk around Uskudar which was anciently known as Chrysopolis, the City of Gold.

After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the Egyptian Bazaar, commonly known as the Spice Market, filled with spices, dried fruits, nuts and seeds, lokum (Turkish Delight) and other edibles. It is located right at the southern end of the old city, separated from the new city on the European side by the wide "golden horn" river.

Tonight, a welcome dinner will be held in one of the most famous traditional "döner kebap" restaurants in Istanbul. (B,D)
o/n in Istanbul (Elite Hotel****)

A very long day today with a very early departure from Istanbul for Ankara. After a 5-hour drive we will arrive in Ankara and visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations. Turkey was inhabited by 3 mighty empires and was host to 13 civilizations. Thus the country holds a host of historic art and architecture from the Hittites, Phryrigians, Lydians, Sumers, Asurs, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman eras. This museum holds the biggest collection in Turkey of such historic treasures. After lunch in Ankara, we will have a scenic drive along the large Tuz Golu Lake, a salt lake on the way to Cappadocia. (B,D)
o/n in Urgup,Cappadocia (Dinler Hotel*****)

The Biblical realm of Cappadocia is situated in central Anatolia, south to south-east of Ankara. The development of this unique wonderland started some 60 millions of years ago with telluric motions accompanied by volcanic eruptions. Subsequent dispersion of ash, lapilli and lavae, plus the erosive process of winds, ice, water and other natural forces eventually led to surrealistic geological formations that make up a unique fairy-tale landscape. Simultaneously, Cappadocia was the seat of important historical events. It was here that one of the greatest civilizations of Anatolia, that of the Hittites, was founded and flourished. And it was in Cappadocia that people who had been worshipping Mother Goddess for thousands of years, promptly embraced the Virgin Mary and her Son. Also in Anatolia St. Paul did most of his work as a great defender of the Christian faith. Despite violence and oppression, Christianity grew in Anatolia and spread to the rest of the world. Proof of this are the abundant monuments of Christianity represented by all the rock churches with frescoes symbolically portraying Jesus, the Virgin Mary, saints and subjects from the Bible. Also, the construction of the underground cities, which started probably before Christ, blossomed when these underground dwellings became secret places of worship of the Christian faith as well as protective shelters from persecuting enemies. These amazing underground constructions are rightly considered the 8th wander of the world. The Rock Sites of Cappadocia and the Göreme National Park have been UNESCO WORLD's HERITAGE SITES since 1985.

On this first day in Cappadocia we will drive first to Soganli for a short stop at the village square where a line of women sell the dolls for which Soganli is famous. The next stop will be at the Underground City of Derinkuyu, the largest and the most interesting of the six underground cities that are open for visitors. Before returning to the hotel in Urgup we will visit the impressive "Uchisar Fortress," drive through the "Pigeon Valley" and, time permitting, make also a short stop at the "Ortahisar Fortress." (B,D)
o/n in Urgup,Cappadocia (Dinler Hotel*****)

Today we will leave the hotel at 7:30am to reach the Göreme open-air Museum as close as possible to its opening time of 8:30am. The dozens of painted churches, chapels and monasteries are best appreciated before the large crowds of late morning and afternoon visitors arrive and often block the small doorways which are usually the only source of light for the interior. This open-air museum deserves, at a minimum, a two-hour visit. The rest of the day we will drive through the Pasabag Valley, also called the "Monks Valley" and finally the Derbent Valley, where we will stop for a while to allow the participants to climb the slopes and enjoy the beauty of the valley with its interesting, weird rock formation. (B,D)
o/n in Urgup,Cappadocia (Dinler Hotel*****)

Another long day today crossing the heart of Anatolia. First we will drive to Konya, an important Roman city, and later the capital of the Seljuk Turkish Empire.

In Konya we visit the Mevlana Museum, a 13th century whirling dervish monastery. Dervish is a member of a Muslim religious fraternity. The Mevlevi sect (named after their founder Mevlana) belongs to the Sunni mainstream of Islam. The "Whirling Dervishes" are Rumi's followers whose whirling dances are exquisite ceremonies of spirituality designed to achieve salvation. Each gentle turn of the whirling dance becomes increasingly dynamic as the individual Dervishes strive to achieve a state of trans. The music that accompanies the whirling is intended to be mesmerizing.

After lunch we will drive via Egirdir Lake to Pamukkale for overnight. (B,D)
o/n in Pamukkale (Artemis Yoruk Hotel***)

After breakfast we will visit Pamukkale—the word means 'Cotton Castle'—a Mineral Water Spa since ancient times. We will visit the ancient city of Hierapolis, where you can swim in the world famous calcium deposited pools called travertines.

The ancient city of Hierapolis was built on the site of the rich mineral waters of Pamukkale, where the steaming water has hollowed circular basins in the earth as it flowed down the mountainside, coating the slopes in a smooth layer of dazzlingly white calcareous rock.

We will then drive to Kusadasi for overnight. (B,D)
o/n in Kusadasi (Charisma Hotel*****)

After breakfast we drive to the city of Ephesus after visiting first the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. In Ephesus we will admire the extraordinary, impressive ruins of this ancient city, such as the Library of Celsus, the marble Temple of Hadrian, mosaics, the Odeon and a 25,000 seat Theatre.

Ephesus was the capital of Roman Asia Minor and undoubtely one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world. It is the best preserved ancient metropolis in the Aegean Region. We will then visit the House of the Virgin Mary. After the Crucifixion St. John brought the Virgin Mary to Ephesus, where she spent the last days of her life in a small stone house on Mt. Koressos, near town.

We will stay overnight in Kusadasi. (B,D)
o/n in Kusadasi (Charisma Hotel*****)

Enjoy a free day on the beach. (B,D)
o/n in Kusadasi (Charisma Hotel*****)

After breakfast we leave for the hauntingly beautiful ancient city of Pergamon. You will visit the Altar of Zeus, the Temple of Dionysus, the 200,000 volume library, and the Asclepieum of Pergamon.

Leaving Pergamon behind us we drive to Homer's Troy, and the site of King Priam's Treasures.

Troy is probably the most famous city of classical times - who doesn't know the story of the Trojan Horse. After Troy, we will drive to Canakkale for overnight. (B,D)
o/n in Canakkale (Tusan Hotel****)

Today discover the Gallipoli Peninsula. Visit Anzac Cove, Lone Pine Australian Memorial and Cemetery, the original tunnels and trenches at Johnston Jolly, the Nek Cemetery, Chunuk-Bair New Zealand Memorial and Cemetery and Kabatepe War Museum. After Gallipoli, we will drive to Istanbul for overnight. (B)
o/n in Istanbul (Elite Hotel****)

After breakfast you will depart for a full-day tour of Istanbul. Our first stop will be the Hippodrome, where chariot races were held and competitive athletic events took place during the Roman period. You will then visit the world famous St.Sophia - the great Byzantine Basilica built in the 6th century. Next visit will be at the Blue Mosque, famous for its six minarets and the magnificent interior blue tiles.

After lunch you will visit the Topkapi Palace, the residence of Ottoman sultans, housing richness of 700 years. Later on you will be browsing the famous Grand Bazaar. Enjoy a farewell dinner tonight with belly dancing and folklore shows. (B,D)
o/n in Istanbul (Elite Hotel****)

Free day in Istanbul. Today you can explore the Taksim/Pera area and catch up with the last minute shopping. (B)
o/n in Istanbul (Elite Hotel****)

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight on AIR FRANCE
Meals and drinks will be served during the flight to Los Angeles. (B)

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