TURKEY

KUSADASI: DISCOVERING TURKEY’S VILAGES AND COUNTRYSIDE, A PRIVATE SHORE EXCURSION 

Meet your local English speaking guide at 9 a.m. on the pier (he/she will be holding a sign with your name) to begin your tour by private vehicle.

Journey into Turkey’s hinterland for a provincial look at the olive groves, cotton fields and apricot orchards.  Visit the ancient town of Tyre (now spelled Tire) for a glimpse into Turkey’s historic past.  Stop at several mosques surrounding the central market which dates back to the pre and early Ottoman eras. Built as centers of ‘Ahi’ organizations, or guilds where artisans and shopkeepers gained their apprenticeship and would be indoctrinated into the high morals of ‘right conduct’ in business.  These centers of activity are still full of life today.  Tire is famous for its grilled meatballs, a Turkish specialty called “kofte”.

Continue further inland (approximately 30 minutes) to the village of Birghi, once an important centre of learning, the village continues to live in its medieval character.  Celebrated for its classic Seljuk and Ottoman architecture, Birghi is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit a restored 18th century country home, reminiscent of the wooden yalis along the Bosphorus in Istanbul.

Alternatively, explore the beautiful village of Sirince, 5 miles east of Ephesus. This village has been beautifully preserved and is protected by law. Until the exchange of populations following the Turkish Independence War (Turco-Greek War of 1922), the village comprised of both Turks and Greeks.  Sitting overlooking the gorge, enjoy the sight of endless olive groves in the direction of the Aegean Sea.

Stop in Kusadasi to shop at the local market before returning to the pier.

Estimated Cost per person:  $320 USD (based on 2 people traveling together) #DTVCUTS

 

KUSADASI: A PRIVATE TOUR OF ANCIENT EPHESUS

At 9 am, you will be greeted at the exit of the customs area of Kusadasi Cruise Pier by United Travel Service’s English speaking guide, for departure by deluxe air-conditioned minivan to the remarkable Greco-Roman archaeological site of Ancient Ephesus.  Dating back to the 11th century B.C., it has been painstakingly excavated and restored and is one of the world’s most fascinating sites of antiquity. Ephesus flourished as a prominent city and seaport between 600 B.C. and 500 A.D.  We will begin our private walking tour along Royal Road also known as the Arcadian Way, a 4th century white marble chariot thoroughfare whose most striking sight is the two-story Library of Celsus. Uniquely beautiful, with its restored facade now the famed symbol of Ephesus, the Library once housed 12,000 scrolls of papyrus manuscripts making it the 2nd largest in the ancient world after the library in Alexandria, Egypt. Your walk along the Royal Road will also take you past the remains of some of the ancient city’s major civic buildings and temples as you move toward the Ephesus Theater from which St. Paul once preached to the Ephesians.

The theater, seating 25,000 has exceptional acoustics and is still in use today for concerts and theatrical performances.

You will also visit the ongoing excavations of the Greco Roman PALACES the ”ELITE YAMAC HOMES OF ANTIQUITY” (Terrace Houses) with their magnificent mosaics and frescoes being restored by archeologists as you visit the site.  In addition to the historic monuments, your tour will also include a visit to the House of the Virgin Mary, a lovely little chapel set in the hills behind Ephesus believed to be Virgin Mary’s last home.

At the end of the tour, you will be escorted back to your cruise ship by 2 pm.

Estimated Cost per person:  $350 USD (based on 2 people traveling together) #PTAEUTS

 

ISTANBUL:  OUR EXCLUSIVE REAL LIFE TOUR, A PRIVATE SHORE EXCURSION

Meet your local English speaking guide at 9 a.m. on the pier (he/she will be holding a sign with your name) to set off by private vehicle on your exploration of this vibrant and energetic city.

Begin with a visit the hip and trendy Istinye Park neighborhood and stroll through its bazaar.  Styled after a traditional Turkish bazaar, Istinye Park is home to a great butcher, a ‘green’ grocer, a charcuterie, a bakery, a liquor store and a fish shop – all fresh and delicious.  Enjoy a Turkish coffee before exploring the various offerings of Turkish olive oils, organic foods, and original handicrafts.

Next explore the Pera district, the present-day heart of Istanbul where the city’s cosmopolitan energy is concentrated. Experience the multi-cultural life of this metropolitan capital, appreciate the beautiful neo-classical, neo-renaissance and first-republic architecture, and enjoy views of the city from atop the ancient Galata Tower.

Continue on to “Çiçek Pasajı” (Flower Market), a food ‘temple’ offering the finest quality of groceries including a selection of organic seasonal fruits and vegetables, European and Turkish charcuteries, and local seafood from the Black and Marmara Seas, regional delicacies such as “Kokoreç” and an exquisite array of flowers.

Enjoy a short promenade on the pedestrian “İstiklal Avenue” to Istanbul’s official ‘first’ restaurant, Haci Abdullah for lunch.  Sample the best examples of Turkish cuisine including to “die for” fruit compotes and desserts made in strict accordance with the owner’s grandmother’s recipes.

After lunch, visit the Nisantasi district, boasting elegant boutiques and cafes and reflecting another one of the city’s many identities.

Late this afternoon board a private boat for a ride on the Bosphorus River.  Cruise the romantic Bosphorus, taking in the majestic skyline of the city straddling the European and Asian continents.  Enjoy a fascinating ‘peek’ of the homes of the 15th century Rumelihisarı Fortress, the Summer Palaces of Lady Ottoman Sultans, and the historical Wooden Houses (Yalis) of famous Turkish families, alongside plebeian fishing villages.

Disembark at a local fishing village and take in the sites on a leisurely drive along the famous Bosphorus Avenue.  Transfer back to your cruise ship by 4:00 p.m.

Estimated Cost per person:  $450 USD (based on 2 people traveling together) #RLTUTS

 

A PRIVATE TOUR OF ISTANBUL – HALF DAY

Your private guide will meet you at the cruise pier at 9 am for your private sightseeing tour of Istanbul.

Your private tour will start with a visit to 6th century Underground Cistern- perhaps the most unusual structure in Istanbul, exhibits the engineering marvels that solved water supply problems. Originally, Constantine built this vast underground space in the early-4C as the water reservoir for the Imperial Palace, and it was later enlarged under Justinian in 532.

You will then continue to the Old Town of Istanbul to visit the World famous Hagia Sophia which is one of the most extraordinary constructions in the history of architecture. The awesome building inspired countless generations by its colossal definition of what the ideal interior space in a domed basilica should be and with its innovations in weight-support and construction techniques.

The last visit will be to the Spice Market- for a “true taste” of culture mosaics in Istanbul! Originally devoted to spices and herbs, it now sells a great variety of goods in 88 vaulted rooms. You enter from a large city square and see before you a lengthy, tunnel-like building with 19 stalls on each side. At the end, the ‘tunnel’ turns left 90 degrees where an even longer building stretches away, containing the other 50 stalls.

At the end of the tour, you will be transferred to Istanbul Cruise Pier to board on your ship by 1 pm.

Estimated Cost per person:  $250 USD (based on 2 people traveling together) #PTHDUTS

 

A PRIVATE TOUR OF ISTANBUL – FULL DAYUBROVNIK WALKING TOUR

Your guide will meet you at the cruise pier at 9 am for your private sightseeing tour of Istanbul. Your private tour will start with a visit to Topkapi Palace, which was the center of Ottoman government and the court, the Turks ruled most of Europe and the Middle East from here. Covering the prime property on the peninsula, the court-defined grounds of the Palace express in the architectural sense the Ottoman ideal of the perfect life balanced between its formative components. Explore the Harem Section, breath-taking grounds, domes, porticos, terraces and great halls of the Palace, marvel at its exhibits of costumes, Chinaware, jewels and manuscripts, gaze at its marble and tile covered walls, royal chambers and gardens of tulips and roses, its views of the Sea, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn.

Lunch will be served at a recommended local/select restaurants close to the sights, at your own cost.

Next visits will be to the Roman Hippodrome and Blue Mosque- the masterpiece of 17th century Ottoman Architecture, famous for its unique handmade original Iznik Tiles impressing the guests with their rich dominant blue colors and oriental patterns. They have become collectors’ items today, auctioned at celebrated houses like the Sotheby’s.

The last visit of the day will be to the Grand Covered Bazaar. No bazaar, however, is more dazzling than the Grand Covered Bazaar, built in 1461 and in service ever since.  Along with magnificent mosque complexes, the mother of all bazaars was a monument to the ‘Rise of Istanbul’- the great master plan of the Turks for the rejuvenation and reanimation of an old imperial capital. It contains 3,500 shops employing more than 20,000 people all under one roof. Everything imaginable is for sale, gold and silver jewelry, rugs, carpets, antiques, tiles, leather, souvenirs, but just seeing and experiencing this mother of all bazaars is worth the trip.

At the end of the tour, you will be escorted to your hotel by 4:30 pm.

Estimated Cost per person:  $420 USD (based on 2 people traveling together) #PTFDUTS