Friendly Planet Blog

Archive for May, 2012

See Turkey for free!

May 1 marked the beginning of the second round of our Win the World Sweepstakes. This time, one of the three trips we’re giving away is an amazing trip for two to Turkey on our 14-day Best of Turkey tour (a $4,000 value)! Today’s the last day to enter, so be sure to check out our Facebook page for your chance to win!

Turkey offers the best of the Middle East and Europe, and boasts a rich and long-standing history. Whether you’ve traveled there before or just visited in your dreams, our Best of Turkey tour is sure to amaze.

Don’t believe me? Maybe some of the pictures below will help exhibit all that Turkey has to offer.

The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, more commonly called the Blue Mosque, is one of the most popular attractions in Istanbul. The blue tiles that adorn the walls of its interior are what give the mosque its name. This sight is not to be missed when visiting Turkey’s capital city.

Also located in Istanbul, Hagia Sofia was first an Orthodox basilica, then a mosque, and became a museum in 1935. It is said to be the epitome of Byzantine architecture, and many say that it inspired the design of the Blue Mosque.


Image courtesy of Istanbul.com

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in history. Shoppers can find jewelry, furniture, carpets, leather goods, clothing, and more while walking through this beautiful market. 

Kusadasi is a beautiful shore town on Turkey’s Aegean coast, and has long been a center of art and culture. Travelers will soak up the sun and fun in this sunny resort location.

One of the most famous sights in Cappadocia are the huge rock formations. The people who lived there carved out houses, churches, and monasteries from the rocks, and they’re a wonder to walk through. 

Pamukkale, located in Southwestern Turkey, is a natural site made up of hot springs and travertines. Travelers come from all over to bathe in the pools of water, and have done so for thousands of years. 
Troy is best known as the city from the Trojan War, around which the Illiad by Homer was based. Travelers will see beautiful ancient ruins, and feel like they’re stepping back in time. 
Ephesus was first a Greek city, then a Roman city, and now stands in modern-day Turkey. The Theater in Ephesus, shown here, has seating for 25,000 people and was used for concerts, plays, religious and philosophical discussions, and gladiator and animal fights.

This symbolic Trojan horse at Canakkale stands in commemoration of the fallen Turkish soldiers from World War I.
If you want to see more, you can … for free! Just visit our Facebook page to enter to win a free trip for two to Turkey. And don’t forget to refer your friends for more chances to win. Good luck to all our travelers!

Grannies on Safari make their Friendly Planet Travel debut in Cuba

GRANNIES GO TO CUBA: Watch their adventures
in Havana and beyond

When we met the Grannies on Safari at The Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show, we hit it off immediately. So even after the camera stopped rolling, the conversation kept going.

If you didn’t see our original post, Regina Fraser and Pat Johnson are two friends who travel the world together and film it for their PBS television series “Grannies on Safari.” They’ve turned their love of people, art, and travel into an Emmy® award winning TV series, sponsored by AARP.

In their interview with Friendly Planet Travel blogger Caitlin, Regina and Pat said that Cuba was on their short list for destinations to visit next. Well, it looks like the stars have aligned!

If you’ve been following the blog, you know that we’re one of seven tour operators nationwide offering ‘People-to-People’ tours to Cuba. Cuba was my #1 destination to visit in 2012, and I can’t say enough about this amazing destination.

It was perfect timing to learn that the Grannies wanted to go on a trip that only a few, including us, offered. So we’re sending the Grannies to see the culture and diversity of Cuba, all courtesy of Friendly Planet Travel.

The Grannies will be packing their bags and jet setting to Cuba on June 16. From there, they’ll be spending eight days getting to know the places and faces of Cuba. The People-to-People license that allows travel to Cuba requires that travelers partake in educational exchange activities. That means that Regina and Pat will spend time with local Cubans, learning all about their lives and sharing their experiences as devotees to culture.

They’ll be traveling on our Colors of Cuba tour, where they’ll see local Cuban schools, neighborhoods, and even visit an organic farm to lunch with local Cubans who benefit from the food grown there. We’ll be posting the details of their trip as the departure draws near!

The Grannies on Safari will be updating us on their experiences while in Cuba, so bookmark the ‘Grannies on Safari go to Cuba’ tag for the latest updates and keep your eyes on our blog to hear more about the wonderful destination of Cuba!

Grannies on Safari are traveling to Cuba on a trip sponsored by Friendly Planet Travel. The opinions expressed about their experience on the trip are their own. Friendly Planet Travel will publish their content unedited and in its entirety.

Friday’s Friendly Funny: The best travel T-shirt

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

4 destinations to visit in summer 2012

It’s hard to believe that summer is right around the corner. With Memorial Day weekend fast approaching, I started thinking about the best summer destinations to visit in 2012. Here are my thoughts:

Kenya: See the abundance of spectacular wildlife and lavishly gorgeous, incredibly photogenic landscapesKenya. Although June through September is the rainy season, the great migration of animals that cross the Serengeti occurs during this time, making it well worth the trip. Travelers will be amazed to see the plethora of wildlife as the animals take part in their annual search for water and a mate. Think of it as the best safari ever, unfolding right before your eyes.


Ireland: Enjoy the emerald green countrysideIreland. Pleasant weather during the summer allows travelers to enjoy the lush, green scenery that this country is known for. The friendly, outgoing Irish people will make you feel right at home, and travelers will have more chances to take in all of the attractions, as they have the longest operating hours during the summer.


Greece: Explore the ancient secrets of the Greek islands and bask on the sun-splashed Mediterranean beachesGreek Islands. This summer is a great time to visit, as travelers can take advantage of the many bargains being offered to attract tourists. Although Greece is experiencing unrest and a problematic economy, the exquisiteness and charm of the most beautiful islands that exist anywhere in the world remains unchanged.


Italy: Experience the art, fashion, and music that flourish in the citiesItaly. Though a great year-round destination, some places are better visited in the summer. Tuscany is lavishly fertile, with vineyards and olive groves as far as the eye can see, delectably fresh food, and magnificently endless panoramas and rolling hills. Venice and Florence are also great to visit in the summer, thanks to many outdoor performances and festivals. The Amalfi Coast and Sorrento, aka the Sunbelt of Italy, is home to some of the most beautiful towns, dramatic coastlines, and stunning panoramas in Europe, and should not be missed. There’s also nothing like enjoying a summer evening outside at one of the countless restaurants with a delicious Italian meal, glass of wine, and good friends.


If you’re interested in booking a trip to one of these destinations, or would like to speak with a member of our reservations team about other fantastic summer getaways, you can reach us at 800-555-5765.

Where are you traveling this summer? Let me know your top choices in a comment!

Friday’s Friendly Funny: Lesser-known travel destinations

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

Friday’s Friendly Funny: A dangerous photo opp

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

Famous Philadelphia places and faces

Friendly Planet Travel blogger Caitlin previously quizzed Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show attendees on their Philadelphia knowledge. I thought everyone did a really good job, but we decided to take it one step further.

It’s one thing to ask a question, but can travelers recognize the people and places that make Philadelphia famous just based on a photo? Could you tell the difference between Benjamin Franklin and William Penn? How about Harry Kalas and Bradley Cooper? We put attendees to the test, with the help of a trusty iPad, of course.

I even got in on the action and took the quiz myself. Check it out for yourself to see what picture everyone had the hardest time identifying!

Did you pass the test?

Friday’s Friendly Funny: A sign that it’s time to book another trip

Friday’s Friendly Funny by Dave Blazek is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at blog.friendlyplanet.com.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://blog.friendlyplanet.com.

Aung San Suu Kyi makes change in Myanmar a reality

AUNG SAN SUU KYI: Making change
in Myanmar

I wrote about Aung San Suu Kyi and the progressive changes she’s making in Myanmar (also known as Burma) a little over two and a half months ago. During this time, considerable strides have been made towards democracy after decades of military rule.

This includes the election of Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the National League for Democracy opposition party in Myanmar, to parliament on April 1. While her party’s swearing in was delayed because of a dispute over the wording of the oath of office, a compromise was agreed to yesterday, and Aung San Suu Kyi was sworn in to Myanmar’s parliament today!

Aung San Suu Kyi has already been invited to Europe to attend meetings with high-ranking officials. She also plans to visit Norway to show her gratitude for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her peaceful struggle while on house arrest as a political prisoner for almost two decades.

It seems very fitting that this woman, who has been a symbol of freedom for so many people, will now have a chance to accept the Peace Prize in person! This will be the first time in 24 years that Suu Kyi will travel outside Myanmar, as she had previously feared that the military junta would refuse her entry back into the country.

I have been personally fascinated by this woman, who has been revered as a worldwide symbol of peace, along with such figures as Nelson Mandela and even Mahatma Gandhi. When Suu Kyi announced that tourism to Myanmar only supported the military junta — not the people — and therefore should not be encouraged, I listened. This was in spite of many requests from our clients who wanted to go there.

So you can imagine our excitement when Suu Kyi, in clear recognition of the loosening of the generals’ iron grip on the country, announced that the time was right to come and visit. We went right to work on our long-anticipated program. (more…)

Like Friendly Planet Travel on Facebook to enter to win a free trip to Turkey!

LIKE US AND WIN: Enter our Facebook sweepstakes for
a chance to win three amazing trips!

In the first three months of 2012, we gave away three amazing trips through our Win the World Facebook Sweepstakes — one to South Africa, one to Peru, and one to China. After the excitement of Phase I, and a one-month hiatus to catch our breath, we’re ready to launch Phase II of this amazing program!

Yes, that means the Friendly Planet Travel Win the World Facebook Sweepstakes is back on with three more trips for a winner and the guest of his or her choice over the next three months. The first trip up for grabs? A getaway for two to the crossroads of Europe and Asia — Turkey — on our Best of Turkey program, valued at more than $5,000.

So how can you win? Since it’s the start of Phase II, we’re wiping the slate clean. If you entered your information between the months of January and March, you must enter your information again to be entered in Phase II. The good news is that once you’ve submitted your name, you’re in the running for all three giveaways!

As in Phase I, you can earn extra entries into our sweepstakes by inviting your family, friends, coworkers, Facebook friends, and anyone else who would love to win a free trip to enter. For every entry into our sweepstakes from your referrals, you’ll get an extra entry for yourself.

Our Win the World Sweepstakes will give travel aficionados a chance to escape to an exotic destination with included flights, great hotels, some meals, and plenty of escorted touring, all the great features travelers expect from Friendly Planet. The winner will experience visits to Istanbul, Cappadocia, Antalya, Pamukkale, and Ephesus. Check out the detailed itinerary for our amazing Best of Turkey tour on our website to learn more about all that the winner will see.

I’ve written in detail about what travelers should expect while visiting Turkey, so if you want to further explore the facets of this destination, check that out. After the Best of Turkey tour, we’ll be giving away our A Taste of Ireland tour on July 1, and our Taj Mahal Express tour on August 1.

But if you don’t enter, you won’t win. And if you don’t help us spread the word by referring your friends, you won’t get extra chances to win. What are you waiting for? Visit our Facebook page, like us, and fill out the form to win one of three marvelous trips.

Oh, and here’s an important tip. If you already like our page, just be sure to fill out the form again to enter Phase II. Refer your friends for more chances to win, and then be ready on June 1 when the next drawing will take place. Maybe I’ll be calling you to tell you that you’ve won!

About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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