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TRAVEL Q&A

Let's Talk (Ancient) Turkey

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By K.C. Summers
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, July 6, 2008

Q. My husband and I want to visit Turkey and are interested in the history and archaeology of ancient Troy and Homer's "Iliad" and "Odyssey." Any recommendations regarding a reputable agency to book such travel?

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Barbara J. Murphy, Ashburn

A. We always thought Iraq was the cradle of civilization, but, no, Turkey also claims the title, with more Greek ruins than Greece, more ancient Roman sites than Italy.

The right tour guide can make all the difference in exploring them. The Turkish Culture and Tourism Office (877-367-8875, http://www.tourismturkey.org) has a list of recommended tour operators in the United States, including several in the Washington area that offer cultural and historical tours. Aegean Tours in Laurel (301-937-8673, http://www.aegeantours.com), in business for 43 years, offers a 15-day "Private Archeological Tour" of such sites as Ankara, Cappadocia, Ephesus and Homer's legendary Troy. The cost is $6,340 per person double for two (less for larger groups) and includes hotels, meals, transportation and entrance fees. Airfare from Washington is extra.

For a shorter stay, Key Tours in Fairfax (703-591-3550, http://www.keytours.com) has a six-day "Ancient Wonders" tour of western Turkey that includes Istanbul, Gallipoli, Troy, Pergamum, Kusadasi and Ephesus. Cost for the land-only tour is $725 per person double in mid-September and includes hotels, meals and ground transportation.

For a high-end but tempting tour, take a look at Peter Sommer Travels (011-44-1600-888-220, http://www.petersommer.com). Sommer, a British archaeologist and filmmaker, walked 2,000 miles across Turkey in 1994, following in the footsteps of Alexander the Great. Now he offers tours and "quiet cruises" for small groups, with expert guides leading the way. Many of his tours are full for this year, but "In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great," offered next May, includes stops in Troy, Ephesus and Termessus. Cost for the 19-day tour is $6,750 per person double, not including airfare, and includes accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

My wife's passport expires in August. We're taking a cruise in July and will be visiting Germany, Spain, Italy, France and Croatia. I've heard that some countries deny entry if your passport expires within six months after your visit. Is this correct?

Jim Fitzpatrick, North Potomac

Unfortunately for your wife, yes.

Regular readers know that our official mantra is "Get a passport" -- even if you don't think you need one. Our lesser-known, corollary mantra: Renew it at least six months before it expires. That's because of the widely differing rules among foreign governments regarding passport expiration dates for visitors. Because countries can change entry requirements at any time, the U.S. State Department has no effective way of keeping track of the rules.

As for the countries you'll be visiting, we checked with their embassies regarding their current entry requirements.

· Germany: Your passport must be valid for one day after the last day of your stay.

· Spain: Six months.

· Italy: Three months.

· France: Ninety days.

· Croatia: No expiration date requirement.

Details: National Passport Information Center, 877-487-2778, http://travel.state.gov/passport.

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@washpost.com) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.


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