LEAPING INTO THE SPARKLY WATERS OF THE MEDITERRANEAN IS SUPER FUN. TWO THINGS: DON’T HOLD YOUR NOSE OR YOU’LL BLOW OUT AN EARDRUM, AND MAKE SURE YOUR BIKINI BOTTOMS OR SPEEDOS ARE SECURELY FASTENED BEFORE YOU JUMP.
DAY 1-2 - ISTANBUL
The must-sees: Blue Mosque, Hippodrome and Aya Sofya. The must-eats: Kebab, balık ekmek (fish sandwich) and steamed corn from a street vendor.
Arrive in Istanbul. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with the hotel reception or the hotels noticeboard for confirmation of where and when this meeting will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early, so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please contact the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your trip leader.
Head out on an optional group dinner, a good introduction to some fabulous Turkish cuisine in a street-side cafe
Take a guided tour of the treasures of the Old Town including the iconic Blue Mosque and the Hippodrome
Explore under your own steam in the afternoon. Maybe visit the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market
Perhaps barter for a bargain, enjoy a optional cruise on the Bosphorus or indulge in an optional Turkish hamam (traditional Turkish bath)
DAY 3 - GALLIPOLI - ECEABAT
A sobering visit to Gallipoli today. Then you’ve got time to reflect during a long bus trip to Eceabat.
Take a bus to the shores of Gallipoli, a place of immense significance for Australians and New Zealanders (approx. driving time: 5.5 hours). It is a spot of pilgrimage and reverence and the calm lapping waters belies the murderous campaign that took place here. This now-serene site is located at Turkey’s most westerly point and played a crucial role in 1915 for Allied forces during the First World War. The combatants here included other Commonwealth and British troops, as well as the French and Turkish
Cross the Dardanelles by ferry to accommodation in Çanakkale
DAY 4 - AYVALIK
The town is famous for olive oil, but we suggest finding the nearest seaside cafe and ordering Ayvalik tost - toasted sanga stuffed with sausage, pickle, tomatoes, salad and chips, slathered with tomato sauce and mayonnaise. Stop drooling on the brochure please.
Drive down the coast to Ayvalik (approx. driving time: 3.5 hours)
Optional excursion to Troy, where you can explore the ancient walls, climb around the ruins and gaze across the Troad (the Plains of Troy) towards the waters of the Dardanelles and the hills of the Gallipoli Peninsula
Take an orientation tour of Ayvalik and view its Greco-Ottoman houses, cobblestone streets and lively cafes
A drink at a harbourside bar is a great way to enjoy the sunset
DAY 5 - SELÇUK
Get your local guide to point out secret messages that ancient Christians carved into the rocks to direct worshippers to their next meeting.
Take a local bus to Selçuk (approx. driving time: 7 hours)
Explore nearby Ephesus - perhaps the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world (optional). Ephesus, founded by Ionian Greeks in the 11th century BC and brought to full flower under Roman rule, was always an important religious centre
Walk the marble streets once trodden by Antony and Cleopatra and marvel at the gymnasium, baths and the restored Library of Celsus
Close by is the last home of the Virgin Mary who, as legend has it, came here accompanied by St John and lived out her days in this beautiful spot
DAY 6 - SELÇUK – PAMUKKALE
Live out your Cleopatra fantasies today with a dip in her old pool. Although back in the day she didn’t have to share it with fat dudes and screaming kids.
Set off on a morning orientation tour around Selçuk, a town full of history and packed with artifacts and relics that reflect its past as an ancient fortress on Ayasoluk Hill
Travel to Pamukkale (approx. driving time: 6 hours), with its spectacular natural pools, shelves and ridges, formed by a spring with high calcium bicarbonate content that cascaded over the edge of the cliffs, leaving calcium deposits
Perhaps explore the ancient city of Hierapolis, known for its abundance of temples and religious structures
DAY 7 - FETHIYE
We’ll stop at Oludeniz on the way. This big lagoon is so luminously blue is should have an Instagram filter named after it.
Today we head for the coast and take a local bus to Ölüdeniz, described as 'the Eden bestowed by God to the world'. The three-kilometre-long beach has the appearance of a natural lagoon with warm lapping water. There is plenty of time to enjoy a swim before transferring to our hotel in Fethiye. (Approx. driving time 4 hours)
DAY 8-9 - TURQUOISE COAST SAILING
The sunken city of Kekova Island sits just under the surface of the water. Did you know the colour turquoise was named after Turkey? This is why.
Board a boat for a memorable voyage along the Turquoise Coast and view some of the most stunning coastal scenery in the world
Cruise to the sunken cities around Kekova Island from where remains of mysterious civilisations can be viewed
Walk up to nearby Simena Castle, which offers spectacular views of the surrounding bays and islands
Perhaps explore some of the numerous Lycian rock tombs
Spend some time on the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea
Swim and explore the natural and historical sites along the way
Indulge in feasts before being lulled to sleep by Mediterranean breezes
Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner
DAY 10-11 - UÇAGIZ - ANTALYA
It’s hard to get a bad photo of Antalya (unless your finger is over the lens) thanks to cobblestone streets, the old city, the marina and the Taurus mountains in the distance. Head to Zencefil café for a karniyarik -roasted eggplant split down the middle and stuffed with chopped beef, onions, tomatoes and spices.
Disembark the boat in Uçagiz and head to Antalya
(Approx. driving time - 2.30 hours)
The trip ends today after breakfast
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