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Posts Tagged ‘Istanbul’

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!

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!

Getaway Dossier: What to know before you go to Turkey

When we introduced our new Taste of Turkey tour last week, there were a lot of things I wanted to tell travelers about Turkey in our press release. Things like, what types of foods are served there? How should you dress? What should you pack? What’s the climate like?

But there’s only so much you can fit into a press announcement.

So I decided to start a series on the blog called Getaway Dossier. Here, I’ll share the information I’ve learned over the years so you can get to know Friendly Planet’s fascinating destinations before you go.

I’ll cover the great places to eat, landmarks to visit, and all the essentials you shouldn’t forget to take with you.

Since Turkey is top of mind, I’ll start there. Here we go!

Weather: Know the seasons. Turkey has the most temperate weather in the spring (April and May) and the fall (September and October). These months are also the busiest tourist seasons. Spring and fall have the least amount of rain and the most comfortable temperatures. In the winter, travelers can take their pick of numerous winter resorts. This is also when you typically find the best travel deals. The country can be quite warm in the summer and travelers should prepare accordingly with sunblock and sunscreen. Overall, it’s a great destination to travel to year round.

Food: Order a cabbage dolma and a doner kebab. A can’t miss Turkish dish is cabbage dolma. It’s a combination of sauteed rice, pine-nuts, currants, spices, and herbs, all tightly wrapped in translucent cabbage leaves. There’s also baklava and many “muhallebis” (pudding shops) with dozens of different types of milk puddings. But my favorite Turkish dish is doner kebabs. They’re made from rotisserie grilled and sliced lamb meat cooked on vertical spits. The edges are shaved off, and the meat is served on a bed of bread, salad, or pilav rice. When you’re in Turkey, you can’t miss these kebabs. They’re a common meal here, and it’s easy to find them in any metropolitan area.


Currency: Lira or euros? The primary currency is the lira, but many stores will post prices in both lira and euros. As with many countries in Europe, Turkey sometimes includes tip on restaurant bills and other services, so check before tipping extra. However, in upscale restaurants, a good practice is to tip 10 percent additional, even if the tip has already been included on the bill. And speaking of tipping, tip porters three million lira and tip tour guides around five to 10 U.S.D.

Landmarks: It’s a grand time at the Grand Bazaar. One of my favorite places in Turkey is the Grand Bazaar. It has over 4,000 shops on 58 covered streets. Any shopper would get lost in the sea of jewelry, rugs, leather goods, tiles, pipes, painted ceramics, and antiques available here, many of which are handmade. Bartering is customary and a good rule of thumb is to initially offer 25 percent of the price you are willing to pay. Most shop keepers are hardworking, honest people but if you do buy an antique, be sure to obtain an official permit to export it.

Don’t forget: Sneaks and sunscreen. Turkey is rich in history and archaeological sites and much of its ancient architecture and cobblestone streets still stand today. While beautiful to experience, this means some walkways can be tricky to navigate. A good pair of walking sneakers or sandals is important for a pleasant sight-seeing experience. Sunscreen and a hat are also great items to bring along, as you will probably spend a decent amount of your time out and about enjoying the history and culture of the country. These are general guidelines for any destination, but are especially important when visiting a country as full of archaeological history as Turkey.

Culture: Modesty is important. Like many European countries, it’s considered respectful to dress modestly when entering a place of religious worship. Women should cover their shoulders and wear modest-length shorts, and everyone should remove their hats and sunglasses inside. In case you’re wearing summer clothes and decide to visit a place of worship while on the go, most will provide a shawl to cover exposed shoulders and legs.

Turkey is a destination for every lover of architecture and history. The country finds its roots in Greek, Roman, and early Christian history. It’s even the site of an epic WWI battle, the Gallipoli Campaign. You’ll notice how it’s Eastern and Western influences mingle in everything you see. Turkey’s language is based in Latin, so English-speakers will have a general understanding of some street signs. However, the tiles of the buildings have a distinguished Eastern influence.

Our Taste of Turkey tour has seven departures leaving from November until March 2012, so there are a lot of opportunities in the future to see what this historic country has to offer. You can visit our website for the full itinerary. And as always, feel free to write to me or call 1-800-555-5765 and speak to our reservations team if you have any questions about booking a trip to Turkey.

Turkey bound: Friendly Planet Travel introduces its first tour to Turkey

At the beginning of every year, I give myself a Friendly Planet Travel to-do list. One of the items on my list this year was to add new destinations to our tour offerings. I can put a check mark next to that one today! For the first time Friendly Planet Travel is going to Turkey, with our new 14-day Best of Turkey tour.

Whirling dervishes

I’m excited to offer travelers a chance to visit Turkey, a country steeped in history and touched by many civilizations. It’s where the east and west truly blend together.

But you’ll find much more than just history in Turkey. The sun-splashed Mediterranean beaches, modern cities, covered bazaars, and whirling dervishes will leave even the most experienced traveler in awe, and with a new appreciation of world history.

For 14 days, you’re transported around the country beginning in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city. You start at the Sultanahmet Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, for its tiles adorning the walls of the interior. Later, roam the Grand Bazaar built in 1461. It’s one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world with 1,200 stores.

From there you’ll stroll the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, Turkey’s capital. The museum holds Anatolian artifacts from excavations including Assyrian trading colonies, Hittite, Hellenistic, Roman Byzantine, and Ottoman periods.

Cappadocia rock formations

In the land of the fairy chimneys, get to know Cappadocia. It’s famous for its natural rock formations and underground cities. Afterwards, you’ll go south to the coastal cliffs of the Mediterranean Sea to Antalya. Upon arrival you can take a tour to Aspendos. It is renowned throughout the world for its magnificent ancient Roman theater, famous for its perfect acoustics.

Depart the coast for Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish. The city contains hot springs and terraces of carbonate minerals left by flowing water. After a night in the town, you’ll leave for Kusadasi, a port town on the Aegean coast.

Here you’ll take a short drive to Ephesus to see the Temple of Artemis. It’s one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the second most well-preserved ancient site in the world. It’s also home to the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean.

In the last portion of your trip, you’ll make your way back to Istanbul stopping in Pergamon, a powerful kingdom during the Hellenistic period in the first century. Then Asklepion, a famed ancient medical center built in honor of Asklepios, the god of healing. Before you cross the Dardanelles for Istanbul, you can’t miss the ancient city of Troy, the focus of the Trojan Wars as described in the epic poem by Homer.

The best part is that you get all of this and more in the $1,599 price tag. Included in the price are roundtrip, nonstop flights from New York (JFK) via Turkish Airlines, including fuel surcharges; arrival and departure transfers with meeting, assistance, and porterage; intra-Turkey transportation; accommodations in superior hotels; 22 meals; comprehensive touring program including entrance fees; and a professional, English-speaking tour guide.

Right now we only have five departure dates available. So if you want to visit Turkey, book the 14-day Best of Turkey tour for $1,599 before Sept. 22, or as long as space lasts. If you have any questions, visit our website for the full itinerary. And as always, feel free to write to me or call 1-800-555-5765 and speak to our reservations team.

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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