Proposed Tour Itinerary
Please check in at SFO airport at least two hours early for departure from San Francisco. We will fly Lufthansa to Frankfurt. Enjoy dinner aloft and some sleep. Arrival in Frankfurt about 11 hours later. Polar route saves us about 6 hours enroute compared to connection in New York. Brief stop in Frankfurt before connecting flight on Lufthansa to Istanbul.
Connection in Frankfurt then continue to Istanbul for evening arrival. Clear passport control on arrival in Istanbul and bus to hotel.
Morning domestic flight to Izmir (Ancient Smyrna) on the West Coast of Turkey. At Izmir we will see the ruins of the theater where Polycarp was martyred. Izmir is a modern seaport city having been completely rebuilt after a great fire in 1922 at the close of the Greek-Turkish war. We plan to stay at a deluxe hotel in the seaside resort town of Kusadasi, near Ephesus. (B,L).
Ephesus (Efes) was an ancient trading and religious city dating back to at least 1300 BC, centered around the Cybele, the Anatolian fertility goddess. Under Ionian influence Cybele became Artemis, the virgin goddess of the hunt and of the moon. Under the Romans, Artemis became Diana, and Ephesus became the Roman provincial capital (pop. 300,000). The theater where Paul preached still stands. One tradition has it that Mary the mother of our Lord came here towards the end of her life (37-45 AD), with the Apostle Paul.
Mary is supposed to be buried here. John the beloved Apostle was pastor here many years and probably wrote his gospel while at Ephesus. Paul lived two years in nearby Selçuk. We will visit such places as the Agora, Library of Celsus, St. John's Basilica, the Temple of Hadrian, Fountain of Trajan and the Ephesus Museum. The ancient harbor is now silted up by alluvium from the Kaystros River. Ancient Miletus (Acts 20:17) is nearby. Return to hotel in Kusadasi. (B,L).
Day 5 Sardis (Sart) was the capital of ancient Lydia, home of the fabulously wealthy King Croesus (560-546 BC). Croesus was defeated by Cyrus and the Persians. An impressive old Jewish synagogue has been excavated in Sardis. Also to be seen are an ancient gymnasium, an unfinished Temple of Artemis, and an altar refurbished by Alexander the Great. Philadelphia (Alasehir) was named for King Attalus of Pergamum (159-138 BC), whose surname Philadelphus meant "loyal to his brother (Eumenes)." By 400 AD Philadelphia was known as "little Athens" because of its beautiful temples. Return to our hotel in Kusadasi at day's end. (B.L).
Day 6 Pergamum (Bergama) was a great commercial rival to the city of Ephesus during Hellenistic times, and a rival of Alexandria, Egypt in learning and the arts. The ruins date back to the Attalids who ruled in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. Here are the home of Galen, the famous physician, and the Asclepion, dedicated to the god of health and medicinea famous health spa and foremost medical center (symbolized by a pair of entwined snakes). The ancient great library once housed 200,000 parchment volumes. Writing on parchment (goatskin sheets) instead of papyrus was developed here. The city prospered under Alexander's general, Lysimachus. Most of the ruins of the Acropolis were removed to the Pergamum Museum in East Berlin in 1873ff. The restored theater seats 10,000. Thyatira (Akhisar) is midway between Pergamum and Sardis. Known in ancient times for trade unions and a special purple dye made from madder roots rather than shellfish. Ruins today are not especially impressive. Return to our hotel in Kusadasi. (B,L).
Day 7 Our boat to the Island of Samos leaves at 8:30 AM from Kusadasi. Pythagoras the mathematician and philosopher was born here c570 BC. Samos has exquisite beaches and the largest ancient temple in Greece. The island has a population of about 32,000 people and encompasses 185 square miles. Samos has been inhabited for at least 3000 years. Overnight on Samos at Doryssa Bay hotel. (B,D).
Day 8 Hydrofoil from Samos to the Greek Island of Patmos. Morning worship service on the Lord's Day including visits to the fortress Monastery of the Apocalypse (1088 AD) which has an important library of ancient manuscripts. The Grotto of John is said to be the cave where the Apostle John was imprisoned when he received and wrote down the book of the Revelation about 95 AD. Patmos is only 13 square miles and has a population of about 2,600. Hydrofoil back to Samos for overnight at Doryssa Bay hotel. (B,D).
Day 9 From Samos we will take the early morning ferry boat return arriving back in Kusadasi, Turkey around noon. We will then board bus and proceed to Pamukkale. Check-in at hotel in Pamukkale. (B,D).
Day 10 Laodicea (Denizili), Aphrodisias, Hieropolis (Pamukkale), and Colossae The mineral waters of an ancient hot spring have left dazzling white limestone terraces at Pamukkale known from Roman times. These are just opposite Hieropolis, founded in 190 AD by King Eumenes II of Pergamum. Only a small theater survived after an earthquake in 60 AD, but the ruins of the city stretch for over a mile. Tradition has it that Philip the Apostle was martyred here in 80 AD. The ancient Hellenistic city of Aphrodisias (named for the goddess of love) flourished in Roman and Byzantine times as a center for the arts, especially sculpture. Excavation in the 1960's revealed a city of great importance with a stadium seating 30,000, Christian basilica and Baths of Hadrian. Return to hotel in Pamukkale. (B,L).
Day 11 Drive to Izmir for evening flight to Istanbul. The Emperor Constantine made this ancient city the new capital (Constantinople) of the Roman Empire in 330 AD. The city reached its height in the 1l00's and from 1453 to 1922 was the capital of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. The capital of Turkey was moved to Ankara in 1923 when the modern republic was established. After hotel check-in, begin tour of Istanbul. We plan to stay at the Hotel Sultan, Istanbul. (B,L).
Day 12 Continue tour of Istanbul. We plan to see the Biblical mosaics in the Kariye and Hagia Sophia museums. The Blue Mosque is famous for its 17th century Turkish architecture. The superb church of Hagia Sophia is the supreme achievement of 6th century Byzantine architecture. and a number of other famous and beautiful museums, mosques and palaces including the courtyards and buildings of the famous Topkapi Palace. At day's end, return to Hotel Sultan, Istanbul. (B,L).
Day 13 Istanbul. Four or five days could be easily devoted to touring Istanbul. We will continue our group tour today and include a Bosphorus cruise to view the Rumell Hisar, Camilica Hill and imperial mansions on the far shore where Ottoman Turks and Sultans lived. Hotel Sultan, Istanbul. (B,L).
Day 14 Istanbul. Free Day. If you wish you may visit the world famous and very old Grand Bazaar. This wonderful oriental bazaar is said to have over 4000 shops! You will have lots of time for shopping. Hotel Sultan, Istanbul. (B,L).
Day 15 Today we return to San Francisco, morning departure on Lufthanssa to Frankfurt where we will connect with our non-step polar flight to San Francisco. Arrival back home the same day. A long day, but the best possible return connections. (B).
Key: (B, L, D) indicates Breakfast, Lunch,
or Dinner provided as part of tour package.
Other meals or snacks at your own expense.