Is it safe to travel to Turkey or Israel?
With instant communications, our world has indeed become smaller. There will always be tensions in this area of the world as they have been for generations. In our Pilgrimages in 2011 and 2013 we experienced no problems in our travels in Turkey and in Israel.
What does the tour price include?
The tour price includes:
Round-trip airfare between Los Angeles and Istanbul; airfare between Istanbul and Samsun (Samsounta) and Trabzon (Trapezounta) and Istanbul; Round-trip airfare between Istanbul and Tel Aviv.
Guided site-seeing with Greek-English speaking tour guide with modern, comfortable motor coaches
First Class Hotel accommodations with daily breakfast and dinner
Entrance Fees for sites that require it.
What is not included in the tour price?
Items of personal nature, laundry, excess baggage or excess baggage weight fees, some beverages with meals, optional travel insurance, and souvenirs and some tips. Lunches are not included in the tour price. We have found that accommodating all of us at lunch tended to take a long time and cut down on quality time at some sites. We found that there are venues to grab a quick bite at nearly all sites we visited. Some pilgrims took some cheese, bread and fruit and that sustained them all day until dinner. There will be occasions when we do eat lunch together as we normally did on the Island of Halki and some other places.
What about gratuities?
Our coach drivers and tour guides in Turkey and Israel, get paid by the tour companies. As in many service industries here in the US, they also depend on the generosity of their pilgrims. We have found that our tour guides really try to impart the significance of the sites we visit and try to accommodate all our requests. Should you choose to show your appreciation for our guides and drivers, a communal envelope will be available for you to place your gift.
What makes this tour company different from others?
Yael Adventures based in Israel with offices in Atlanta, Georgia has overseen the two prior pilgrimages in 2011 and 2013. Katerina Galloway, our tour coordinator, has been involved in many trips to Constantinople and the Holy Land and is personally known by many of the caretakers of the shrines in the Holy Land which gives us access not available to other pilgrims. In the Holy Land we are normally guided by one of the hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem which gives us further access not granted to other pilgrims. This pilgrimage is tailored specifically to this group.
When we go to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, will we meet the Patriarch?
We will request and audience with His All Holiness during our time in Constantinople. It really depends on his schedule. As we are members of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America under the direct jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, we are visiting our spiritual center, the Mother Church. It is customary to give His All Holiness a gift from the pilgrims for the support and maintenance of the Patriarchate.
Do I need travel insurance?
A Travel Protection Plan (TPP) is optional but very strongly recommended. For any trip of extended length of time or significant price it is best to be covered in the event of trip cancellation for a medical condition or significant event that prevents you from going on a trip. It also offers some protection in case of trip interruption. The travel insurance offered by Yael Adventures is underwritten by TRAVELEX. You may also purchase your own travel insurance from other companies.
I have already gone to Turkey but would want to go only to the Holy Land. Is this possible?
We have included in this program an option for those who have time constraints to participate in our pilgrimage and have separate pricing. For those who wish to only go to Constantinople and Pontos, the tour price is $3,500 double occupancy. For those who wish only the Holy Land portion of the pilgrimage, the tour price is $3,950 double occupancy
Do I need a passport?
Yes. A passport is required for all travel outside the United States. Please check the expiration date of your passport. It must have at least six months remaining after your return date. For this trip it must expire after May 11, 2017.
Is there a lot of walking?
There is quite a bit of going in and out of the motor coach as well as walking to many of the sites we will be visiting. One of the most exhilarating walks is the one up the mountain to Panagia Soumela. We recommend the purchase of an expandable walking stick no matter what your age. The ground is not always even and at times even rocky. By God’s grace we have had a pilgrim who had a triple bypass walk up to Panagia Soumela.
What will the weather be like?
As we all know it is very difficult to predict the weather. However, the weather in Constantinople on the last two tours was very temperate during the day in October and early November. The night was a little chilly. Same with Pontos. Israel tended to be warm in November and a little chilly at night.
I have some electronic devices (Cell phone chargers, iPad/iPhone chargers, battery charges, medical equipment) that I need to take with me. Is there any difficulty?
Electrical devices (Cell phone charges, ipad charges, battery charges, medical equipment):
Please check to see if your device power supply reads “120-240 Volts. If they do, you will not need a transformer to reduce the voltage. You will need an adapter commonly sold in stores that fits onto the American plug that allows it to be plugged into the European round plug sockets. These adapters are also used in Greece
Turkey: 240 Volts- 60 Hz Type C adapter-
Israel: 220-240 Volts- 50Hz Type C
These adapters are also used in Greece
What is the best way to communicate with the US?
In Turkey the wi-fi/ internet was free at our hotel.
In Israel, you generally pay the hotel for wi-fi/ internet service for a specific amount of time. Wi-Fi Hotshot are found in many hotels and cafes both in Turkey and Israel.
SKYPE is probably the most cost efficient way to make calls from overseas. You will need an internet connection and the Skype app on your phone. It was a lot easier and cheaper than using prepaid phone cards and the such.
What about Street Vendors and Hawkers?
Turkey: The Vendors and Hawkers will be at the motor coach as we are boarding to begin our activities. The will try to sell you anything and everything. If you show even the slightest interest in what they are selling, they will do anything to make a sale. Its just the way it is.
Israel: Vendors and Hawkers are not as pronounced but just as persistent. Shopkeepers will try to make a sale in anyway they can.
Do I need to change dollars into Lira (Turkey) or New Shekels (Israel)
You will need money for personal expenses and incidentals and if you wish to purchase gifts and souvenirs. The US dollar is regularly used for purchases in Turkey and in Israel. Local Currency is preferred for street vendors and smaller shops. In Turkey there are many money exchanges in Taxim Square near our hotel. Most hotels will be able to exchange dollars for local currency.