Overview

Visit the cultural, religious, and historically significant sites of Turkey and Georgia with new friends on this two-part Journey that includes a homestay with the wonderful Friendship Force of Tbilisi, Georgia!

Home Hospitality

Home Hospitality provided by the Friendship Force club of Tbilisi and meeting with members of the FF Kayseri.

Live With a Local

  • Learn about the history of the regions by visiting areas of historical significance and speaking with professional guides, as well as locals and club members.
  • Attend demonstrations by locals including carpet, leather, and wine making.
  • Participate in an optional Turkish folklore evening.
  • Enjoy being home-hosted by the members of FF Tbilisi.

Sightseeing Highlights

  • Go on a walking tour of Istanbul and see the famous sites, including the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Roman Hippodrome.
  • See many of the area's mosques and palaces that add to the rich culture of the city.
  • Visit the battlefields of Gallipoli.
  • Learn about history, archaeology, and other subjects in regional museums of interest.
  • See the famous Trojan Horse and visit the Temple of Artemis.
  • Soak in the warm waters of the mineral pools of Pamukkale.
  • Marvel at the landscape of the Goreme Valley with its distinct fairy chimneys.
  • Admire the aged architecture of the cultural buildings in Kayseri.
  • Spend some time in nature with a hike at Okatse Canyon and a trip into Prometheus Cave.

Time Travel: Wonders of World History and Culture in Turkey and Georgia

28 Days / 27 Nights Program and Itinerary:

April 19, 2018 – May 16, 2018
Coordinator: Jim Kerr
judgejwkerr@juno.com

All Friendship Force Itineraries are subject to change.

Day 1 - April 9

Arrival to Istanbul: Host Coordinator will be waiting for you at the arrival hall wearing a sign of Friendship Force. They will accompany you to the vehicle and you will be transferred directly to your hotel.

Day 2 - April 20

Istanbul walking city tour.

You will visit: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Roman Hippodrome, Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace, and Sultan Tombs.

Return to hotel.

Day 3 - April 21

We firstly visit Dolmabahce Palace, recent residence for Ottoman Sultans. Famous with great collection of European antiquity, furniture and 4.5 ton chandelier, the palace has 285 rooms of 46 halls.

After the palace, the next stop is Bezmi Alem Mosque.

Then we will drive to the restaurant for a lunch break.

After lunch, we will first drive by Golden Horn shores viewing the City Walls, dating back to the Byzantine Era.

Then we will reach Eyup area, where you will take a short cable-car ride up to Pierre Loti Hill, where you can get one of the most magnificent views of Istanbul and Golden Horn. Pierre Loti Hill is named after French author Pierre Loti (Louis Marie Julien Viaud), who fell in love with Istanbul at first sight, and frequented the area.

Free time.

Day 4 - April 22

Free day in Istanbul.

Optional: Half-day Bosphorous cruise. Cruise between two continents on the stretch of water that separates Europe from Asia in the afternoon.

Optional: Bosphorus by Night Istanbul. At 8 pm, we will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the boat to sail up the Bosphorus. The waterway lies between Europe and Asia and passes under the suspension bridges. View Ottoman summer palaces, waterside mansions, and modern villas lining the European and Asian coasts. The panoramic view of Istanbul from the Bosphorus at night and dinner will both be memorable.

Day 5 - April 23

Today we visit the World War I battlefields of Gallipoli, including Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair Memorials, ANZAC Cove, The Nek, Johnston’s Jolly, and original trenches and tunnels.

Overnight in Çanakkale.

Day 6 - April 24

Çanakkale is a city in northwestern Turkey in the Marmara region, on the Dardanelles Strait. It’s a gateway to the Gallipoli World War I battlefields, north of the narrow strait. On the grounds of the 15th-century Çimenlik Castle, Çanakkale Naval Museum Command contains historical artillery.

The archaeological site at Troy, including an ancient theater, is southwest of the city.

Çanakkale Archaeological Museum, in the south of the city, contains headstones, tablets and other artifacts uncovered at the many archaeological sites in the region.

Near the waterfront, the Çanakkale City Museum and Archive focuses on local cultural life during and since Ottoman times.

The nearby 5-story clock tower anchors the central neighborhood of cobblestoned streets.

Along the waterfront, a modern wooden Trojan Horse, from the 2004 movie “Troy,” commemorates the area’s mythological history.

Day 7 - April 25

Step back in time today as we visit Troy and its famed Trojan Horse, followed by a tour of the magnificent acropolis of Pergamum. Its impressive temples and library made it a renowned cultural and political centre in its time.

Day 8 - April 26

Absorb yourself in history today with a guided tour of Ephesus and a visit to the site of the Temple of Artemis.

Feel the mystical atmosphere of the ancient city and theatre before continuing to the former Greek village of Sirince, famous for its fruit wines.

Carpet weaving has long traditions in Turkey, and at the carpet village we learn how the carpets are made by hand and what determines their value.

Day 9 - April 27

This morning, we will enjoy a display of locally handcrafted leather goods before heading to the magnificent white calcium terraces, known as Travertines, in Pamukkale, where we also tour the ancient city of Hierapolis.

Take a dip, amongst ancient columns, in the hot springs that were used in Roman times for their therapeutic powers.

Day 10 - April 28

Pamukkale is Turkey’s foremost mineral-bath spa because of its natural beauty: hot calcium-laden waters spring from the earth and cascade over a cliff. As they cool they form dramatic travertines of hard, brilliantly white calcium that form pools. Named the Cotton Fortress in Turkish, it has been a spa since the Romans built the spa city of Hierapolis around a sacred warm-water spring. The Antique Pool is still there, littered with marble columns from the Roman Temple of Apollo. You can swim in it for a fee.

Free time for city exploration.

Day 11 - April 29

Early departure for Konya, en route visiting the mausoleum of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi with its accompanying museum.

Day 12 - April 30

Konya is a city south of Ankara in Turkey’s Central Anatolia region. It is a pilgrimage destination for Sufis, focused on the tomb of the founder of the Mevlana order, Jelaleddin Rumi, in the Mevlana Museum. Sema whirling dervish ceremonies take place at the Mevlana Cultural Center, east of the museum.

The 12th-century Alaeddin Mosque is surrounded by the green parks of Alaeddin Hill.

Day 13 - May 1

This morning we visit Sultanhani Caravansary, the largest in Anatolia, before we trek through the beautiful Ihlara Valley.

Tonight, don’t miss the optional traditional Turkish folklore evening.

Day 14 - May 2

Marvel at the lunar landscape with a fully guided tour of Goreme Valley, the fairy chimneys, Uchisar castle, and explore the many levels of an underground city and more.

Day 15 - May 3

At the very center of this ancient city is its Hisar, built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian during the 500s. It’s the largest part of what’s left of the city’s once-formidable defenses, which included extensive surrounding city walls.

The Hunat Hatun Mosque (1228-1237) in the center of Kayseri was built by Empress Mahperi Hunat (or Huant) Hatun, wife of the great Seljuk Turkish Sultan Alaettin Keykubat (1223-1237). The complex includes the great mosque, the lady’s octagonal tomb, a theological school, and a hamam.

The 18th-century stone Güpgüpoglu Konagi has been beautifully restored to serve as Kayseri’s Ethnographic Museum. Besides the interesting exhibits, consider the layout of the house itself, with the traditional division between selamlik, the public half of the house where the men entertained guests, and the haremlik, the private family quarters.

Near the museum is the Atatürk Evi, the house used by modern Turkey’s founder when he visited the city. It’s now a museum as well.

Day 16 - May 4

Stopover with Friendship Force club of Kayseri.

Day 17 - May 5

Tokat Castle, is an ancient citadel with 28 towers built on top of a rocky peak in the center of Tokat, Turkey. While its first residents are unknown, the city’s history dates back to 3000 BC. The Hittites and Persians ruled over the area.

Tokat Museum is a museum in Tokat, Turkey. It houses historic finds from the region including sculptures and coins. Many of the items originate in the Anatolian Seljuks era.

Day 18 - May 6

City tour.

Overnight in Trabzon.

Day 19 - May 7

View Sumela Monastery (from outside – currently under renovation), as it clings to a sheer cliff facing a deep forest.

Relax beside a fast flowing stream at Altindere Valley National Park.

Return to city center and visit Ayasofya Church, a 13th century church, and study extraordinary collection of byzantine frescoes.

Depart for Gulbahar Hatun Mosque, Ataturk’s Mansion (a picturesque hillside retreat), visit Ortahisar Mosque (a Comneni cathedral in the old town.)

Drive to Boztepe, enjoy your tea with the panoramic view of the city.

After the tour, you will be get to your hotel and stay overnight.

Days 20 to 21 - May 8 to 9

Welcome to Georgia!

You will be transferred to your hotel and the remainder of the day is yours free to explore at your own pace.

Accommodation in Batumi.

Depart day from Batumi or continue tour in Georgia, home-hosting provide FF Tbilisi, Georgia.

Day 22 - May 10

See Poti, a port city in Georgia located on the eastern Black Sea.

Historically, Zugdidi was the capital of the Principality of Mingrelia (Odishi) until 1867. You will be able to taste different food, hear a different dialect, and learn new songs.

Visit Queen Dadiani Palace, Zugdidi.

Day 23 - May 11

Okatse Canyon Natural Monument is located in village Gordi, Khoni municipality, Imereti region. Okatse Canyon’s 2-3 hour pedestrian route passes through Dadiani historical forest, a 780 m long hanging trail, and finishes with panoramic view, where visitors can take memorable photos. Okatse Canyon has 5 km walking distance. It is possible to take a local jeep, for an extra fee, to reach the canyon and reduce the hiking distance for up to 1 km.

Kinchkha waterfall is located 7km from Okatse Canyon. You have to walk 1 km to reach the waterfalls.

Martvili Canyon is located 25km from Okatse Canyon. Martvili Canyon has walking paths and bridges on the canyon and river into the canyon where you can go canoeing for an extra fee.

Day 24 - May 12

Prometheus Cave is one of Georgia’s natural wonders, one of the largest in the world, and has many underground rivers. It was discovered in 1984. Its unique features include a variety of halls and landscape diversity. Four distinct layers were formed during different stages of the Earth’s development, and tourists are able to journey through the historic territory by foot or in boats.

Prometheus Cave is one of the most popular international tourist caves, and includes various types of stalactites, stalagmites, curtains, petrified waterfalls, cave pearls, underground rivers, and lakes. The cluster of six caves differs significantly from each other in scale and in the unique shapes of petrified flowstones found within.

Day 25 - May 13

City tour of Kutaisi.

Drive to Tbilisi and meet host family.

Host day.

Day 26 - May 14

Visit old Mtskheta Mtskheta, a city in Mtskheta-Mtianeti province of Georgia. One of the oldest cities of Georgia.

Due to its historical significance and several cultural monuments, the “Historical Monuments of Mtskheta” became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

As the birthplace and one of the most vibrant centers of Christianity in Georgia, Mtskheta was declared as the “Holy City” by the Georgian Orthodox Church in 2014.

Day 27 - May 15

Attend a wine tasting.

Visit different wine factories and a museum too.

Day 28 - May 16

Visit the Stalin museum and cave city of Uplistsikhe.

Attend a farewell party with host family.

Depart for home.

Rate:

$4230 USD

Price Includes: FFI and host fees, group transfer from airport in Istanbul, double-room hotel accommodation en route – per itinerary, four nights in host families in Tbilisi, professional English-speaking tour guide for each city, transportation in a fully air-conditioned, non-smoking vehicle, two meals a day (breakfast and lunch) (except drinks), and welcome or farewell dinner. Does not include: Individual airport transfer ($25 per person), entrance fees to the sites visited, personal expenses, optional activities, and tips. Please note: This Journey consists of two parts: Turkey and Georgia. Total cost of the Journey (in USD): $4230 for both parts. If you sign up for individual legs of the Journey, Part One (Turkey) costs $3200 and Part Two (Georgia) costs $1280.

Availability:

12Spaces Remaining

Moderately Challenging

Know before you go

This Journey consists of two parts: Turkey and Georgia. Total cost of the Journey (in USD): $4230 for both parts. If you sign up for individual legs of the Journey, Part One (Turkey) costs $3200 and Part Two (Georgia) costs $1280.
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Our Mission

Friendship Force International provides opportunities to explore new countries and cultures from the inside by bringing people together at the personal level. Through the signature program of home hospitality, local hosts welcome international visitors into their culture, sharing with them meals, conversation, and the best sights and experiences of their region.
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