The tour with a taste of everything that makes for a memorable holiday. History, adventure, sailing and sunshine! We’ll experience Istanbul as vibrant and colourful as its history, then pay tribute to our soldiers at Gallipoli and ANZAC Cove before crossing the Dardanelles to Troy and Canakkale. We visit, Pergamon, Aphrodisias, Pamukkale, Antalya and the amazing ancient Ephesus. For those who wish, we’ll take you high over the tuff landscape at Cappadocia in a hot air balloon, then to an underground city in Goreme. We y to Athens to join our ship for a cruise around some fabulous Mediterranean islands including Mykonos, Santorini, Kusadasi, Rhodes and Crete. Back in Athens we visit the Acropolis and other local iconic sights, a full day trip to Delphi and time to meander the streets or shop at leisure.
“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe ” Anatole France
30 may - 24 june • 27 DAYS
NEW ZEALAND – SINGAPORE one night Singapore
Days 1-2 Departing New Zealand today on Singapore Airlines, our magnificent destination is Istanbul, the only city in the world to span two continents, Asia and Europe. En-route we’ll have a brief stay in the Changi Airport Transit Hotel.
SINGAPORE – ISTANBUL three nights Istanbul
Days 3-4 After a morning arrival in Istanbul, we’ll enjoy a brief orientation tour of the European side of the city, Omer, our Turkish guide will point out some of the more significant places of interest, many of which we’ll be returning to over the next few days to experience in depth. We’ll make our way to our hotel, where the remainder of the day is yours to relax and get settled in. Our hotel is perfectly positioned in the old city close to many famous sites which are within minutes walking distance.
Over the next two days we’ll show you some of the greatest highlights of this wonderful city, including the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, the Hippodrome, Hagia Sophia, Cistern Basilica, Egyptian Spice Market, Grand Bazaar and more. We’ll also have the pleasure of an afternoon cruise on the Bosphorus.
ISTANBUL – CANAKKALE one night Canakkale
Day 5 We start the day a little earlier as we have some ground to cover making our way south west toward the Gallipoli Peninsula. Arriving around midday we begin our visit at ANZAC Cove, before continuing to Lone Pine Cemetery and of particular importance to New Zealanders, Chanuk Bair, where many of our soldiers from that ill-fated campaign are remembered. Learn about the tragic losses, along with the heroic and compassionate acts carried out by soldiers from both sides during the campaign. Late afternoon we cross the Dardanelle Strait by ferry to Canakkale (Cannon Castle) and our overnight stay.
CANAKKALE – TROY – IZMIR one night Izmir
Day 6 A short hop to start the day as we head firstly to Troy. Despite popular belief there is more to Troy than just the Trojan Horse. See the remnants of nine cities built one upon the other, the first dating back to the 3rd millennium and really highlighting the importance of Troy’s strategic location. The catalyst for the Trojan Wars (1180 BC) was again ignited over 3,000 years later at Gallipoli.
We continue on to Pergamon via scenic farmlands and g plantations where, time permitting, we will stop and give you the opportunity to purchase some of the wonderful produce. Pergamon is located on fertile plains, punctuated by steep hills and the seemingly inaccessible fortress better known as the Acropolis. Rich in archaeological sites and steeped in history Pergamon and Izmir (Smyrna) are two of the Seven Churches in the New Testament Book of Revelations written by John the Apostle.
IZMIR – EPHESUS – PAMUKKALE (Cotton Castle) two nights Pamukkale
Day 7 Today we visit two stunning sights. Travelling predominantly across fertile farmland we skirt the ancient city of Ephesus, the third church visited on this trip that is mentioned in the Book of Revelations. Our first stop is at the House of the Virgin Mary. It is believed St John brought Mary to Ephesus after the crucifixion, where she spent her remaining years. We continue on to the archaeological sight of Ephesus itself, entering the city via the ancient Agora. We walk the famous Marble Road, see the stunning Library of Celsus, Temple of Hadrian, Hercules Gate and the magnificent Stadium. We’ll stop for lunch in a quaint country restaurant before embarking on our next highlight of the day Aphrodisias, home to one of a few remaining Tetrapylon Gates in the world, a magnificent theatre, the Temple of Aphrodite and one of the best preserved examples of an early stadium you’ll find. We continue on to Pamukkale, to enjoy the wonderful facilities on offer at our thermal spa resort before dinner.
Day 8 This morning we visit the ancient Hierapolis to see the famous white travertine terraces and pools. After bathing our feet in the soothing thermal springs there is ample time to visit the Agora, the magnificent Theatre and the Martyrium of St Philip, one of the twelve apostles who died here in 87 AD. For those interested in old bones and ornate crypts, this afternoon you will be fascinated when we visit the elaborate Necropolis (ancient cemetery).
PAMUKKALE – ANTALYA two nights Antalya
Day 9 As we cross the Taurus Mountains and pass pine forests today, we make our way to the sea and one of Turkey’s most archaeologically significant cities, Antalya. Excavations near this area uncovered artefacts dating back as far as 1900 BC. It was also from Antalya that the Knights of St John set sail to Palestine during the Crusades.
Day 10 A day at leisure today. Explore more of the Old Town, relax by the pool for a while, or perhaps make your way down to the beautiful blue Mediterranean for a refreshing swim. Our hotel is perfectly positioned to make the most of this tremendous coastal location.
ANTALYA – KONYA one night Konya
Day 11 We climb the Taurus Mountains again today and view some of the prettiest scenery in Turkey. Our destination is Konya, origin of the Whirling Dervishes of Mevlana, a religious sect formed in the 13th century by Jalauddin Rumi, a mystic, poet and Su Muslim.
KONYA – CAPPADOCIA two nights Cappadocia
Day 12 Today we travel across the Anatolian Plain following the route of the old Silk Road, destination Cappadocia. We see a number of Caravanserai along the route, an ancient hotel and safe haven for the camel caravans during their long journey. We’ll also show you how silk is transformed from the raw material into beautiful carpets! Words cannot do justice to the region of Cappadocia, a landscape dotted with fairy-chimneys, underground dwellings and monasteries carved out of hillsides. Entire cities exist underground, some as deep as 12 floors down!
Day 13 For those who have elected to, we start the day early with an incredible flight over the sparse plains and fairy chimneys of the Urgup/Goreme region in our Hot Air Balloon. Following champagne to celebrate and a good breakfast we take you to explore the beautifully preserved Tuff cave dwellings and churches at the Goreme Open Air Museum, complete with colourful frescos depicting religious scenes from the Christian faith dating back as far as the 10th century AD.
CAPPADOCIA – ISTANBUL – ATHENS one night Athens
Day 14 This morning we depart Cappadocia and bid farewell to Turkey, flying to Istanbul and on to Athens, where an overnight stay awaits before we join our Greek Island cruise.
CELESTYAL CRYSTAL CRUISE, IDYLLIC AEGEAN seven nights Celestyal
Days 15-22 The Celestyal Crystal has a yacht inspired design with classic teak decks which evoke an intimate atmosphere. Step aboard and enter a world where modern technology meets grand era of ocean travel. With a maximum of 1,200 guests on board and a crew of 406 to ensure passengers are well cared for, the cruise features authentic local experiences from each region and you’ll enjoy all-inclusive meals and drinks as well as comfort and extra special touches with our additional services.
Day 15 Athens Today is at leisure until mid-afternoon when we transfer to Piraeus to join our cruise ship MS Celestyal Crystal. 6pm we depart Piraeus bound for Kusadasi.
Day 16 Kusadasi This former seaside village is now a popular Aegean resort town. Streets bustle with vendors of carpets, leather goods and books, and the customary ice-cream sellers. There’s a shopping mall with sleek jewellery stores and European fashion boutiques. For the energetic, consider a walk along the peninsular to see the castle on Güvercinada (Pigeon Island).
Day 17 Rhodes Famed as the island of sun, sea and sand, it is the third largest Greek island and (unofficially) the sunniest place in Europe. Built by the Knights of St John, it was an important stopover point en-route to Palestine and the Crusades. The mighty statue of Colossus once stood guarding the harbour, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Rhodes combines the cosmopolitan character of a contemporary city with the picturesque character of a medieval town. It’s a wonderful accessible place to explore by foot, with a plethora of things to see and do to fill your day, and that’s what we recommend.
Day 18 Heraklion, Crete Also known as Iraklio, Heraklion is the capital of Crete. Here pedestrian streets connect historic squares and arcaded walkways with the wonderful medieval centre. Stroll the promenade where you see traditional fishing boats moored. Pop-in to one of the many small seafront tavernas and try a freshly caught grilled sh washed down with a refreshingly cool drink! Heraklion is renowned for the incredible Palace of Knossos, built by the Minoan civilisation around 3200 BC. An excursion to Knossos is included in today’s program.
Day 19 Santorini Cruising toward Santorini is something magical. Whitewashed houses and blue-domed churches perched atop lofty cliffs above the blue Aegean promises visitors adventure coupled with legendary tales. Strolling the gleaming white streets of Oia and her larger cousin Thira through a labyrinth of cafés, shops, taverna and galleries is to experience a living postcard. The changing vistas over the caldera from the cliff-top is stunning, and everything we imagine of a Greek Island.
Day 20 Santorini – Milos – Mykonos Milos is renowned for its stunningly clear blue waters, pristine beaches and lacy coastline. It’s a beach lover’s dream with over 75 beaches in an area covering 160 square kms. By comparison Christchurch covers an area of 1400 square kms! It’s RnR on Milos, and for the non-beach goers the seaside town of Adamas has plenty to keep one occupied.
Day 21 Mykonos A vibrant blend of art and culture and carefree Mediterranean lifestyle is an apt description of Mykonos. The town is easy to navigate, its cobbled whitewashed streets brimming with fabulous boutiques and galleries. The area of town referred to as Little Venice has the iconic windmills, and an abundance of quaint taverna, cafés and restaurants specialising in local fare. Beautiful beaches, ancient ruins and a photographer’s paradise, Mykonos has it all.
Day 22 Athens Arriving back in Athens we’re met by our local guide.
ATHENS three nights Athens
Day 22 Athens, the ancient centre of the arts, learning and philosophy, and regarded as the cradle of Western civilisation and democracy. Upon disembarkation we visit highlights of this famous Olympic city including the original Olympic Stadium, the Acropolis and Pantheon atop Temple of Nike and see Hadrian’s Gate, plus many points of interest along the way. This evening to really immerse ourselves in the Greek way of living we’re going to dine in a local restaurant located in the narrow cobbled streets of Athens old town, the Plaka. We’ll be entertained by local singers and musicians and enjoy a wonderful night of traditional Greek fare accompanied by fine wines and ouzo, the local Greek drink of choice.
EXCURSION TO DELPHI
Day 23 Leaving Athens for the day we explore the Greek countryside on a day trip to Delphi, sanctuary to the god Apollo. En-route we pass the distant fields of Marathon and Mt Pentelikon where marble was mined for the construction of the Pantheon. Nestled in the bosom of Mt Parnassus, Delphi is rich in mythology and Greek legend, and it is to the Temple of Apollo ancient Greeks came to seek the wisdom of the Oracle. Conjecture still remains as to when Delphi was constructed, however academics widely accept the city existed 3,500 years ago.
Day 24 Today is yours at leisure to explore on foot. There is still so much to see in very close proximity to our hotel. We’ll take you sightseeing, shopping or exploring whatever you have on your to do list! The Plaka area has many fascinating things to see and experience and is worth exploring during the day. There are also many fabulous museums one can see, none more so than the wonderful Acropolis Museum. Tonight we celebrate our time together on this inspiring adventure at a local restaurant.
ATHENS – SINGAPORE transit Singapore
Days 25-26 We bid farewell to our Greek hosts and transfer to Athens International Airport for our flight to Singapore. Arriving Singapore early morning we have a full day in transit en-route to New Zealand.
SINGAPORE – NEW ZEALAND
Day 27 We arrive in Christchurch this morning, full of memories of time spent with new found friends, experiences beyond expectation and a greater appreciation for this wonderful part of the world.