Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Travelife's Amazing Turkey Tour to Istanbul and Izmir

Magical Palaces and Mosques
plus the wonders of the Ancient World
May 11 - 18, 2011

* * *

Visit the beautiful city of Istanbul,
the Virgin Mary's house in Ephesus,
and the various UNESCO World Heritage ruins
around Izmir.

* * *

Travelife Magazine's Amazing Turkey Tours
are back by popular demand

To request an e-brochure,
pls email
or call Rachel at 813-8400/ 892-2620

We've said it before and we'll say it again. No one does Turkey like Travelife Magazine, and that's because we love the country and we know it inside out. We also have a real passion for showing people the best about a country we love, and for helping them have a really good time. Life is pretty tough for almost everyone, so when people go on a Travelife Tour, we want them to have a proper holiday -- and one they'll remember and recommend to friends.

Many of the 70 readers and friends who joined us for our first Travelife Turkey Tours in November last year were people who'd never been on a tour before. They'd heard all the horror stories about joining a typical package tour: two-star hotels in the middle of nowhere, lousy food and tour companions they simply had nothing in common with. So they'd avoided tours like the plague. However, they'd joined the Travelife tour because it was planned by Travelife Magazine, and most of them, if not all, were very happy. "I'll only join a Travelife tour from now on," is a common refrain we keep hearing from our participants -- even up to today -- and many are recommending us to their friends and family.

We really worked hard to put together quality logistics and a good itinerary that minimizes driving time and even takes jet lag into account. And while we can't guarantee you're going to love your tour companions 100%, I can tell you that most of those who'd joined us last year had a really good time together and even strangers found lots of common things including friends, neighborhoods and schools. About 60% of the participants of the Turkey Group 1 tour last year, for example, happily discovered they lived in the same village!


Regarding the hotels and itineraries, well, we at Travelife Magazine have personally road-tested every tour itinerary to ensure that it's good and reasonable, while also maximizing the short stay. When you spend a week in a country, it's going to be just a little bit hectic whether you like it or not -- unless you're content exploring only your hotel, of course. (I did that once, by the way. I spent eight days on a luxury resort in Elounda Bay on the island of Crete in Greece one summer, and not once did I venture out of the front gates. And, yes, I so regret not making that one hour drive to the famed Palace of Knossos, and exploring a few Cretan villages. Now I feel I've got to do Crete again.)


Anyway, on a one-week tour, there's always a fine line between feeling you didn't see enough and feeling you did see a lot but are completely exhausted as a result. The schedule on a Travelife tour's pretty packed -- you have traveled all the way across the world, after all, so you'd better see a lot -- but it's not one of those tours where you wake up at the crack of dawn and then get to your bed at midnight everyday, and spend most of your day in the bus going long distances. I myself don't like getting out of my hotel before 9 AM.

We're not much of tour people ourselves, and we certainly protest at having to get up at ungodly hours during holidays. We also think a fairly leisurely and good breakfast is an integral part of a trip, as is having enough time to enjoy a cup of coffee at a local shop of your choice or having at least some time to putter around the souvenir stores. And we definitely need adequate shopping time.


So basically, we've planned two tours to Turkey in May that we ourselves would be willing to go on. They're of a very good standard particularly for the price -- we have buffet breakfasts, good three-course meals and five-star hotels -- but they're not luxurious tours. However, most people will be extremely satisfied with the quality and value of these tours.

They're not the cheapest Turkey tours on the market, by the way. But they're probably the best value, considering what you're getting. Unlike the cheap tour which only focus on Istanbul, we fly you to Izmir to see some of the best preserved ruins of the ancient world. This is something you shouldn't miss if you're in Turkey -- but, yes, it jacks the price up since another domestic flight must be factored in.

But if you're reading Travelife Magazine or this blog, we're assuming you can imagine the big difference between a Travelife tour and a regular cheap Turkey tour. This is not a tour, this is a true labor of love. Just ask any of the participants in our previous tours.


If you are interested in doing Turkey in more luxury, by the way, please watch out for Travelife Bespoke, which will be launched shortly. This will be the more luxurious option for those who want to do Turkey in style. But, of course, these will also be priced accordingly. Among many other tours under Travelife Bespoke, we're planning a Turkey gourmet tour that will include stops at food shops and restaurants that have been doing the same thing for centuries; and a luxury Istanbul tour that will include the best the city has to offer. We'll also be doing private arrangements for couples, groups or families who may wish to do Turkey in style. If you're interested to know more about this, please email us at


Now back to the Travelife Amazing Turkey Tours for this May 2011. I'll be posting the Istanbul/Cappadocia itinerary tomorrow, but for now, here are the details of our Istanbul/Izmir tour scheduled for May 11-18, 2011. The basic tour package costs US$1999* and that's from Hong Kong. For the Manila-HK-Manila leg, you can basically choose your own carrier and our travel agency, Interlink, will help you make the choice that's best for you. You can even choose to use a mileage ticket if you are able to get an award ticket in advance.


DAY 1: MAY 11


Fly from Hong Kong to Istanbul on award-winning Turkish Airlines and enjoy its top-rated inflight catering service and fantastic movie selections.

DAY 2: MAY 12


IZMIR, visit:


Izmir’s ancient agora was once a bustling Roman bazaar and

today you can still see Colonnades of Corinthian columns, v

aulted chambers and a reconstructed arch making it one of

the best preserved agoras in the world.


for shopping. This Ottoman town bazaar offers

sumac carpets, water pipes, camel bone,

and jewelry.

DAY 3: MAY 13



Admire the spectacular ancient sights of Ephesus, site of one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World” and a highlightof any visit to Turkey. Learn about the rich history and heritage as you walk through 2,000 year-old marble streets, the Great Theater, Library of Celsius and Hadrian’s Temple. You will also visit the Fountains of Trojan, Polio, The Temples of Hadrian and Domition, Private House, and the Library of Celsius.


Located on the top of the “Bulbul” mountain 9 km ahead of Ephesus, the shrine of Virgin Mary enjoys a marvelous atmosphere hidden in the green. It is the place where Mary may have spent her last days. She may have come here with Saint John, who spent several years in the area to spread Christianity. The house is a typical Roman architectural example, entirely made of stones. In the 4th century AD, a church, combining her house and grave, was built. During his visit, Pope John-Paul II declared this house as the Shrine of Virgin Mary and a pilgrimage place for Christians.

Proceed to TEMPLE OF ARTEMIS and the ST. JOHN’S BASILICA. The Temple of Artemis is identified as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, while the Basilica of St. John was constructed by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century.

DAY 4: MAY 14


Upon arrival in Istanbul, enjoy a panoramic driving tour through the Old City and the Bosphorus, and a visit to the MOSQUE OF SOLEMAN THE MAGNIFICENT. The Mosque of Soleman the Magnificent is the biggest and the most exquisite of the Ottoman mosques in Istanbul. If the Mosque of Soleman the Magnificent is not available for a visit because of a religious day, you will visit instead the Rustem Pahsa Mosque, known for its vivid display of Iznic tiles.

DAY 5: MAY 15


Visit TOPKAPI PALACE AND MUSEUM. The largest and oldest palace in the world, Topkapi is the crown jewel of the Ottoman Empire, featuring a harem, treasury and exotic buildings overlooking the Golden Horn.

Visit the SPICE BAZAAR. Built in 1660 with the taxes collected from the trade of Egyptian herbs and spices, the exotically domed bazaar is filled with the enticing aromas of cinnamon, caraway, saffront, mint and thyme.

Also visit the GRAND BAZAAR. In operation since the 14th century, the Grand Bazaar is one of the world’s largest covered markets, with 58 streets and over 4,000 shops. The bazaar is specially known for its jewelry, leather, pottery, spices and carpets.

DAY 6: MAY 17


Visit the BLUE MOSQUE. The Sultan Ahmet Mosque (also known as the Blue Mosque) is a superb creation in the classical Ottoman style, with six towering minarets and 260 windows illuminating its vast main chamber, which is decorated with more than 20,000 Iznik tiles.

Visit the AYA SOFYA , one of the finest and largest architectural works of art in the world. This former basilica and mosque is now the Saint Sophia Museum, and it’s often called it as the 8th wonder of the world.

Visit the HIPPODROME. Istanbul’s Byzantine Hippodrome was the heart of Constantinople’s political and sporting life, and the scene of games and riots through 500 years of Ottoman history. Monuments decorating the Hippodrome include the 3500-year-old Egyptian granite Obelisk of Theodosius, brought to Constantinople by Emperor Theodosius in 390 AD.

DAY 7: MAY 18


Visit TAKSIM SQUARE, Istanbul's main shopping district, and the DOLMABAHCE PALACE. The Dolmabahce Palace was the last residence of the Ottoman sultans, and is famous for its impressive collection of European antiques, furniture and a massive chandelier given to the sultan by Queen Victoria. The enormous palace has 365 rooms, one for every day of the year, and 22 saloons.

In the evening, catch your Turkish Airlines flight back to Hong Kong.


As with our previous tours, we'll be offering cultural shows and fine dining options every evening in Istanbul.

Included in the price:

*Roundtrip international flights

between Hong Kong and Turkey

*Roundtrip domestic flights

between Istanbul and Izmir

*Five-star hotel accommodations on a twin-sharing basis

*All guided tours

*Daily buffet breakfasts

*Three-course lunches or dinners as listed in the itinerary

*All porterage fees in Turkey

*All entrance fees and guided tours listed in the itinerary

*Private sunset cruise and dinner along the Bosphorus


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