"Ancient Treasures, Modern Wonders: Cruising Turkey & Greece" explores Istanbul, Troy, Pergamum, Chios, Ephesus, Patmos, Kos, Bodrum, Rhodes, and Athens. The 16-day adventure includes roundtrip, international airfare from Boston, Miami, New York and Newark; 7 nights aboard an OAT private small ship; accommodations for 3 nights in Istanbul, 1 night in Canakkale, and 3 nights in Athens); 32 meals (14B, 7L, 11D); 14 small group activities and all shore excursions; services of a resident, expert Trip Leader; all land transportation; a 5% Frequent Traveler Credit towards one's next OAT adventure (at least $194 per person); and more.
Istanbul Photo (c) Linda Garrison
On this adventure, travelers arrive in Istanbul, where they'll spend three nights and days exploring the great romantic city that straddles the Bosporus Strait. Among the landmarks they'll visit will be the majestic Topaki Palace, the stunning Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, one of the world's greatest buildings, and the ancient Roman Hippodrome. They'll spend time bargain hunting or exploring the miles of mazes that make up the Grand Bazaar and perhaps opt for OAT's "Sailing Between Continents" excursion that will bring them across the Bosporus to the Asian shore or enjoy some free time to pursue their own interests.
After Istanbul, the group travels to Canakkale, where travelers will visit Gallipoli, site of a major World War I battle, and then later, visit another battlefield - the ancient site of a skirmish ignited by the abduction of Helen of Troy and immortalized in Homer's The Iliad. The next day, travelers depart for the seacoast port of Dikili to meet their small ship, and en route, they'll travel through the ruggedly beautiful Kozak Valley and stop for lunch at the home of a villager. That afternoon, they'll visit the ruins of Pergamum before arriving at the port of Dikili and embark their small, private ship. That evening, travelers enjoy a welcome cocktail and dinner, and the ship begins its overnight cruise to the island of Chios.
The next day, the ship arrives at the Island of Chios and travelers will disembark to explore the town. Part of their exploration will include a visit to a local cooperative that produces gum mastic, a sticky local resin that made Chios one of the richest islands during medieval times. They'll also visit Mesta and Pyra, two picturesque medieval fortified settlements known as mastichochoria, or "mastic villages" before boarding their ship for an evening cruise to Kusadasi, the lively Aegean resort town and gateway to the ruins of ancient Ephesus.
The ship's early arrival in Kusadasi means OAT's travelers can explore the ruins of the city of Ephesus, considered to be among the world's greatest relics of antiquity, before the crowds arrive. The Basilica of St. John and the site of the Temple of Artemis, one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, are just two of the sites to be seen. After lunch on the ship, travelers will meet local carpet-makers to learn how these hand-woven Turkish carpets are constructed. That evening, the ship will moor for the night in Kusadasi.
The next morning, travelers can relax on deck and enjoy the views of the Dodecanese, the most southerly group of Greek Islands that are scattered along the Turkish Coast, all the way down to Patmos, the volcanic island where St. John the Evangelist dictated The Book of Revelation. Travelers will disembark to see the Holy Cave of the Apocalypse where St. John lived and worked and spend a free afternoon strolling around the quaint harbor town of Scala. The following day, the ship sails for Kos, an island that has attracted settlers since 3000 BC and which is known for as home of the healing temple of Asklepius, founded after the death of Hippocrates, the "father of modern medicine." Travelers will visit the ruins of ancient agora, or community meeting place, and the site where Hippocrates taught medicine to his students 2,400 years ago. The ship will moor at the harbor Town of Kos, so that in the morning, travelers can visit the hilltop sanctuary of Asklepion, where Hippocrates wrote his famous oath that's still sworn by medical practitioners around the world.
After lunch, travelers will head to Bodrum, a 3000-year-old Turkish city, formerly Halicarnassus and now a bustling international yachting center. They'll visit the Castle of St. Peter and the site of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, a majestic tomb built in the 4th century BC to honor King Mausolus and one the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
The next day, the ship sails to the historic islands of Rhodes. After lunch on board, travelers will take a panoramic drive around Rhodes Town, a well-preserved medieval walled city, and a walking tour of Rhodes' Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They'll also visit the Palace of the Grand Masters, a "fortress within a fortress" and last line of defense for crusading Knights. Later that night, travelers will enjoy a final dinner onboard their ship, which will overnight in Rhodes. The next morning, travelers will fly to Athens, spending three days and nights in this ancient capital. During their stay, they'll visit the Parthenon, explore the Plaka district and Syntagma Square, and enjoy free time to pursue their own interests. They may also choose an optional tour that begins in ancient Corinth or enjoy free time to explore on their own. On the last evening, travelers will enjoy a festive farewell dinner and the next day, depart for home or begin a post-trip extension to Crete.
OAT offers travelers trip extensions before and after their trip. The five night "Ankara & Cappadocia, Turkey" pre-trip extension begins at $895 and includes: roundtrip air to and from Istanbul; 2 nights in Ankara and 3 nights in Goreme; daily breakfast and dinner plus 2 lunches; tours of Ankara, Hattusha and Goreme, and the underground city of Kaymakli; a pottery demonstration; visit to a village school (when open) and lunch at a villager's home; and the services of an OAT Trip Leader. The four-night, post-trip option to Crete, Greece, begins at $845 and includes airfare from Athens to Crete, 3 nights in Crete and 1 in Athens; daily breakfast and a lunch at the home of a local villager; visits to the Palace of Knossos and the archaelogical museum; services of an OAT Trip Leader; and all transfers.
Departures for OAT's "Ancient Treasures, Modern Wonders" are scheduled from March-October 2008, and lead-in prices range from $3895-$4895, depending in departure dates. For more information, a free catalog, or a complimentary copy of "101 Tips for Small Ship Travelers Abroad", please call 1-800-873-5628 or visit the OAT web site at www.oattravel.com
Information Source: Grand Circle Travel
Dateline: November 2007