This week's smart deal offers travelers a glimpse of part of the world that is perhaps not as familiar to the average American as perhaps it should be, and the nature of the special that Gate 1 Travel (tel. 800/682-3333; www.gate1travel.com) is offering makes it easy -- it's an escorted, airfare inclusive 14-day trip to Turkey, from $1,499 . The price is based on round-trip fares from New York to Istanbul and includes quite a bit: Twelve nights of first-class accommodations, all transfers, transportation in an air-conditioned coach, 19 meals, services of an English speaking tour manager, and entrance fees where noted. Airport taxes, fees and visa fees are not included. Other departures are possible for an additional price. The lowest advertised price reflects April 24, May 8 and October 23 departures; dates on either side of those, such as April 10 and September 11, 18 and October 2, 9, and 16 are priced from $1,599.
Now that we've dispensed with the nitty-gritty, onto the itinerary details. It is a bit of a whirlwind around the country, but there is plenty of free time, too. The trip starts off when you arrive in Istanbul and, gratefully, you'll have the first day at your leisure. From Istanbul you travel to the 4,000-year-old city of Troy with an overnight in Canakkale in northwest Turkey. Spend the following day in Pergamum and the Acropolis, home to the Altar of Zeus, the Sanctuary of Athena, among other attractions, with an overnight in Izmir. After a couple of days of touring and traveling, you have a short respite, with the following day to spend in Izmir as you see fit. If you need some suggestions, Gate 1 can recommend tours or activities, such as a Turkish kebap dinner. After Izmir, you'll spend two nights in Antalya, with visits to the Antalya Archeological Museum, Hieropolis (Holy City), followed by two nights in Cappadocia with an itinerary that includes whirling dervishes. The trip wraps up with a night in the city of Ankara followed by three more nights in Istanbul with free time to catch what you didn't have time to see when you arrived.
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