I had the pleasure and opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream and travel to Turkey with Abercrombie and Kent for 9 nights.
I was met at the airport by our driver holding up a sign with my name on it and taken by a small limo to my first stop, The Four Seasons at Sultanahmet, in the oldest historical district of Istanbul. The hotel, when you drive up to it, was not overly impressive but, WOW, when you entered the lobby and main entrance, it was breathtaking. I had done a little reading up on the properties where I would be staying and this hotel was the old prison featured in the film Midnight Express, so I was just a little leery on how well they had remodeled it. It really holds up to the Four Seasons quality. It is lovely and the rooms were huge and very well appointed. The staff members greet you by name and the service is incredible.
We stayed there for 2 nights and traveled the beautiful ancient city of Istanbul–a city filled with many sights, smells, and of course, the call to prayer 5 times a day, starting at sunrise.
We then flew to Cappadocia, a city where you’re immersed in a study of survival and history. It is a land of caves–some going down 400 feet where the early Christians found safety hiding underground from the Romans.
We were able to experience how incredibly they lived and survived. You can tour down to 200 feet below, sometimes crawling on your knees, and it was truly and unforgettable experience. Areas where food was stored and wine was made, were still preserved and intact. Absolutely magnificent!
We stayed at the Argos, a unique hotel built into the side of a mountain where some of the rooms were actual caves—an incredible and unique property. We enjoyed dinner one night in a monastery cave room dating back to 100 AD, where we ate like kings and queens–all the food is organic, natural and amazing.
On our 3.5 hour dive to Izmir, we stopped at Apollo’s temple which is pretty amazing it was a huge structure and some of the main columns still stand 3 stories high.
Izmir is on the coast and the Bosporus is absolutely gorgeous and busy. We stayed at the Swissotel Bosphorus, where the restaurant we went to was wonderful–known for its flaming grouper dish encased in salt.
From there, we hopped on a 1.5 hour flight to Ephesus. WOW. I can barely describe it other than incredible. Marble streets lined pathways where Anthony and Cleopatra once strolled.
They had working bathrooms and heated baths, as well as heating and cooling systems for their homes. A testament to early engineering–hollow bricks were built into the walls, where they ran cold water through to cool and hot water through to heat. All designed and created before Jesus was born. There were several 3 story homes that had beautiful Frescos on the wall and on the floor. Ceramic tiles that still held their bright and vibrant color after all of these centuries, adorned the walls. The Amphitheatre, where Gladiators entertained, was absolutely impressive.
We visited Bodrum, a beautiful seaside town, showcased a huge castle to guard the city. We stayed at The Marmara Bodrum, a very unique and gorgeous hotel on the hill overlooking the ocean and the city.
We then took a 2.5 hour flight back to Istanbul and stayed in an old sultan palace–The Ciragan Palace Kempinski. It used to be the home of many sultans throughout time. The suite was fully appointed and we enjoyed a panoramic view of the Bosphorus Sea. Sheiks, dignitary and clientele of all sorts roamed the lobby. The property was incredible, huge, breathtaking and very upscale and welcoming. The restaurants were inviting and the staff, so friendly, they made you feel very welcomed.
All in all, this was one of the best experiences in my 25 years of being in the travel industry and seeing the world. It was one of those trips of a lifetime you dream of taking and I was fortunate enough to have that dream come to fruition. Our guide, Leyla was wonderful and I highly recommend Abercombie and Kent for touring Turkey.
Ready to fulfill your own travel dreams? Contact me today! Toll-Free: (800) 795-0720 | Direct Line: (858) 592-7543 or request a quote.
Diana Shirey, Vacation Specialist for Carefree Vacations
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