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Highlights of Turkey

from $1,879.00

Visit some of Western civilisation’s most iconic sites in Turkey

  • Reviews 15 Reviews
    5/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Guided
  • Activity Level Leisurely
    1/8
  • Group Size Small Group
    5 - 16
All about the Highlights of Turkey.

Turkey is one of the most important countries in the development of the western world; over the centuries it has provided a geographical and cultural bridge between Asia and Europe, with ruins and monuments attesting to the rise and fall of many great empires. Starting in Istanbul we travel through the country, visiting ancient cities and UNESCO heritage sites such as Ephesus and Hierapolis, exploring the natural wonders at Pammukale and Cappadocia and taking some time out to relax on the coast. Add to that the memorials of Gallipoli for a journey that showcases the best of this country.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.

* All breakfasts
* All accommodation
* All transport and listed activities
* Tour leader throughout
* Airport arrival & departure transfers (at designated times)

What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)

Highlights

  • Ancient history and monuments of the Ottoman Empire
  • Visit the Roman city of Ephesus
  • Optional balloon ride over Cappadocia
  • Limestone cascades and thermal springs at Pamukkale
  • 14 nights comfortable hotels, all en suite
  • Travel by air-conditioned vehicle
  1. Day 1 Start Istanbul.

    Those on the group flights arrive in the mid-afternoon and transfer to city centre starting hotel. There is no formal sightseeing planned. Istanbul is one of the great cities of the world, with a history spanning thousands of years. It has been through several incarnations, firstly as Byzantium, then Constantinople and finally Istanbul. The city today is bustling and its streets are crowded with locals busily going about their daily lives. If you arrive early enough, you can wander and absorb the vibrancy of this exciting city that links Europe and Asia.This evening there will be a Welcome Meeting (please check noticeboard for exact time) held in the hotel, where you will meet your tour leader and fellow travel companions.After our group meeting, we take a short walk. Perhaps we can enjoy our first dinner together in one of the lively cobblestone streets of the Sultanahmet area.Accommodation: Golden Horn Istanbul or similar*Comfortable Hotel*

  2. Day 2 Transfer to Canakkale via Gallipoli peninsula.

    This morning following breakfast we will depart for the Gallipoli Peninsula, where we can explore the battlefields of the ANZAC’s. We will then cross the famous Dardenelles arriving in the city of Canakkale in the early afternoon. We can enjoy an orientation walk of the city and some free time to stroll the waterfront in the afternoon.Approx driving time Istanbul to Canakkale 5.5 hours.Accommodation: Anzac Hotel or similar*Comfortable Hotel*

  3. Day 3 Visit the ancient city of Troy; head to Aegan coastal town Ayvalik.

    This morning after breakfast we visit the City of Troy, immortalised in Homer’s Iliad. Troy (Truva) was a city that existed over 4.000 years ago and was known as a major ancient civilization. For many years people believed that it was the city mentioned only in the tales and had never truly existed, as the area had become known as Ilium, or New Ilium. Archaeological digs subsequently proved that there had been nine separate periods of settlement.We continue this afternoon to the seaside town of Ayvalik; the town centre is surrounded by the archipelago of Ayvalik Islands, which face the nearby Greek island of Lesbos. It was alternatively called Kydonies by the town’s former Greek population. Today a haven for holiday makers and the olive oil capital of Turkey, Ayvalik and nearby Cunda Island, are fine representations of the Greek/Turkish heritage of the Aegean coast. Renowned local produce includes olive oil, seafood and Ayvalik Tost – like a club sandwich but better!Approx driving time Canakkale to Ayvalik 3.5 hoursAccommodation: Elisa Hotel or similar*Comfortable Hotel*

  4. Day 4 To Bergama; visit the ancient city of Pergamon; afternoon transfer to Selcuk.

    This morning we depart to Bergama, where we can explore the ruins of the ancient city. Pergamum was an ancient Greek city that became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon during the Hellenistic period, under the Attalid dynasty, 281–133 BC. It was cited in the book of Revelation as one of the seven churches of Asia.This afternoon our journey continues to the town of Selçuk: a sprawling farming town at the base of the ancient fortress on Ayasoluk Hill. Our early evening orientation walk will take in sites such as the Basilica of St John, (entry not included) Isa Bey Mosque (a fine example of early Seljuk Turk architecture), and the last remaining column of the Temple of Artemis. This evening we may have the opportunity to enjoy local meze in the town square and meet the locals.Approx driving time Ayvalik to Selcuk 3 hours.Accommodation: Akay Hotel or similar*Comfortable Hotel*

  5. Day 5 From Selcuk visit the historic site of Ephesus; head to Pamukkale this afternoon.

    Today we head out to the ancient site of Ephesus, one of the best preserved classical cities in the eastern Mediterranean and a great example of Roman architecture. Always an important religious centre, Ephesus was founded by Ionian Greeks in the 11th Century BC and flourished under Roman rule. The Greeks replaced the cult of the Anatolian fertility goddess Cybele with Artemis and built a fabulous temple in her honour. With the arrival of the Romans, it became the Temple of Diana and was one of the original seven wonders of the ancient world. We visit the vast amphitheatre, walk the marble street once trodden by Cleopatra and Mark Antony, and marvel at the gymnasium, baths and wonderfully restored Library of Celsus.This afternoon our journey continues to our overnight base in Pamukkale.Approx driving times Selcuk to Pamukkale 3 hours.Accommodation: Uyum Hotel or similar*Comfortable Hotel*

  6. Day 6 Explore the limestone cascades of Pamukkale and the Roman ruins of Hierapolis; afternoon transfer to Fethiye.

    Pamukkale, also known as ’Cotton Castle’, is a truly unique sight. This spectacular natural phenomenon was created by deposits from thermal waters that cascaded down the mountainside over hundreds of years, forming a myriad of pools and terraces. As the water overflows from the pools, dazzling cream-coloured stalactites are formed that, from afar, resemble cotton or snow. The pools are filled with hot spring waters that supposedly have healing properties. Close to Pamukkale are the ruins of Hierapolis, which was founded by the King of Pergamon in 190 BC and by the 2nd Century AD had become an important Roman bath centre. The extensive ruins of Hierapolis are well worth exploring and include a theatre, temple, holy area, monumental fountain, bath, basilica and necropolis. We spend the morning discovering the travertines and ancient city before continuing to Fethiye on the Mediterranean Coast.Modern Fethiye is located on the site of the ancient city of Telmessos, the ruins of which can be seen in the city; the Hellenistic theatre is by the main quay. This evening we take a walk along the boat harbour and the lively market square.Approx driving time Pamukkale to Fethiye 4.5hours.Accommodation: Blueberry Boutique Hotel or similar*Comfortable Hotel*

  7. Day 7 Depart Fethiye for coastal town Kas.

    This morning we depart from Fethiye and take the coastal highway to the seaside town of Kas. Situated on the Teke Peninsula, Kas was known as Antiphéllos in ancient Lycia and was a member of the Lycian League. Today you can see evidence of Lycian tombs scattered around the town. This afternoon is free to explore this charming coastal town with cobbled streets and lively cafes.Approx. driving time Fethiye to Kas 2.5 hours.Accommodation: Linda Hotel or similar*Comfortable Hotel*

  8. Day 8 Free day to rest or choose from the many activities available.

    Today is a free day to relax or take advantage of the many activities available on the Turquoise Coast in and around Kas. Options include a boat trip to Kekova and view a sunken city, sea kayaking or trekking on the Lycian way. For more cultural options, take a day tour to Xanthos the first capital of the Lycian Federation, or visit the ancient theatre in Kas.Accommodation: Linda Hotel or similar*Comfortable Hotel*

  9. Day 9 Transfer to the lively city of Antalya.

    This morning we depart for Antalya, Turkey’s biggest international beach resort. Arriving in the early afternoon, we will visit the ancient Kaleiçi. With its narrow cobbled streets and historic Ottoman era houses, it is the old centre of the city. Restored to retain much of its historical character, the area now houses a plethora of bars, restaurants and shops. History buffs may also want to visit the Antalya Museum this afternoon; ranked third in the country, it is among the leading museums of the world on account of the sculptures from the Roman period and other unique finds.Approx driving time from Kas to Antalya 4 hours.Accommodation: Mia Boutique Hotel or similar*Comfortable Hotel*

  10. Day 10 Visit the Greco-Roman site of Aspendos, famous for its theatre; afternoon transfer to Konya, home of the whirling dervishes.

    This morning we travel to Konya via the ancient Greco-Roman city of Aspendos, known for housing the best-preserved theatre of antiquity. With a diameter of 315 ft, the theatre provided seating for 7,000 spectators. After exploring the ancient site, we continue on to Konya, known as ’Iconium’ in Roman times. It was the capital of the Seljuk Turks from the 12th to 13th centuries and home of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, who founded a mystic Sufi order popularly known as the ’Whirling Dervishes’.Approx. driving time Antalya to Konya 5.5 hours.Accommodation: Selcuk Mevlana Hotel or similar*Comfortable Hotel*

  11. Day 11 To the Cappadocia region; visit the Ilhara Valley and the underground city of Derinkuyu.

    This morning we visit Mevlana’s Mausoleum and the museum housing manuscripts of his works, as well as various artefacts relating to the mystic sect that he founded.We continue on to the fascinating Cappadocia region. Shaped by wind and water, the rock formations, rock hewn churches, cave dwellings and underground cities have to be seen to be believed! This afternoon we will visit the village of Belisirma in the Valley of Ihlara on the slopes of Mount Hasan, one of the volcanoes responsible for the formation of Cappadocia. From here we embark on a wonderful walk along the Melendiz River and experience traditional village life, as we pass through the beautiful Ihlara Valley. There are dozens of Byzantine cave chapels to explore along the way and most of them are decorated with exquisite biblical frescoes. We continue on to the underground city of Derinkuyu, with some dwellings containing rooms spread out over seven levels beneath ground level. Early this evening we arrive in Goreme, our base for the next two nights.Approx. driving time Konya to Cappadocia 5 hoursAccommodation: Ciner Hotel or similar*Comfortable Hotel*

  12. Day 12 Visit Cappadocia's Open Air Museum and fairy chimneys.

    Cappadocia’s main attraction, the World Heritage-listed Goreme Open Air Museum, is a monastic complex composed of churches, rectories and dwellings. This morning we explore the rock cut churches of the Museum. Later in the afternoon we drive to the unique Pasabaglari Valley, where multiple fairy chimneys, hewn from the earth and shaped by centuries of erosion, lend a moon-like landscape and atmosphere to the valley. A chapel dedicated to St. Simeon and a hermit’s shelter are built into one of the fairy chimneys, which appears to have three heads!Accommodation: Ciner Hotel or similar*Comfortable Hotel*

  13. Day 13 Transfer to the charming UNESCO listed city of Safranbolu.

    This morning we have an early departure for the charming UNESCO listed city of Safranbolu. Arriving late in the afternoon we will take a walk around this world heritage site. The town has a strong Ottoman heritage with beautiful preserved timber houses and cobblestoned streets.Approx. driving time Cappadocia to Safranbolu 6.5 hoursAccommodation: Akce Konaklari or similar*Comfortable Hotel*

  14. Day 14 Explore Safranbolu; transfer to Istanbul.

    Some Turkish delight tasting is on our list today as the town is famous for the Safron-flavoured candy. We will also visit the Kaymakamlar Muze Ev – a typical Safranbolu home which is now a small ethnographic museum. After lunch we will make our way back to Istanbul arriving in time to enjoy a last night group meal together.Approx. driving time Safranbolu to Istanbul 5.5 hoursAccommodation: Golden Horn Istanbul or similar*Comfortable Hotel*

  15. Day 15 End Istanbul.

    Our adventure ends after breakfast in Istanbul. Those on the group flights will be transferred to the airport for their flight back to London.

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Where you stay

Hotels

Hotel standards in Turkey can vary however for this trip we have selected a good selection of hotels all with something different to offer, many of which have a pool and some with free WIFI.
In Istanbul we use a hotel conveniently situated near the old quarter whilst our hotel in Antalya is the Kaleci (old city). In some of the smaller locations the hotels have been chosen to make the best of the area; for example our hotel in Pamukkale has thermal pools within the hotel grounds.

Eating and Drinking

All hotels are included on a bed and breakfast basis. All other main meals are not included, and we suggest you allow about USD$500 equivalent to cover them, add more if you include alcoholic or expensive fruit juice drinks with each meal. Your group leader will normally assist in organizing group meals at most stops so that you may benefit from better choice and prices.
Lunches are normally taken in local restaurants, known as lokantas, or organised as a picnic, and evening meals in lokantas in each town or village; such eating places are widespread throughout Turkey, and the variety, price range and choice is usually quite extensive, but obviously less so in some of the smaller towns in Central Anatolia.

Activity Level: 1 (Leisurely):
This trip is the most wide-ranging, varied and exploratory of all our Turkish programmes, combining the coastal region, history and landscapes of the interior in a kaleidoscope of contrasts for the true traveller, with lots of sightseeing every day. A fair amount of travelling is involved and there are some long days, but these are generally broken up with sightseeing en route or on arrival.
Although the tour is not physically demanding, it does involve a fair amount of road travel, the total distance covered during the trip is about 3,250km and of course there are plenty of sites en route. Some of the main roads are good and fast, but others are not and there are some bumpy stretches that take us to some of the archaeological sites away from the main road.
Some of the archaeological sites involve walking on rocky and/or steep hillsides, but if you don’t feel up to it on a hot day you can either not take part or wander around at your own pace.
In July and August it will be hot to very hot during the day on the Anatolian plateau but this is normally a dry heat and easier to cope with than humidity. Istanbul and coastal areas can be more humid.

Holders of UK, Austrian, Irish, Portuguese, Spanish and US passports require visas. Visa’s must be obtained in advance, passengers need to obtain an e-visa prior to their arrival. This can be done online at https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/ for approximately US$20. The visa is valid for a stay of up to three months (dependent on passport holder’s nationality). For a longer stay a visa from a Turkish Embassy is required.

Overall Rating
5/5
Reviewed On 25/06/2020
4/5

HIGHLIGHTS OF TURKEY

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Truth to tell, the trip through Turkey was inspirational in so many ways. Rather like analysing a rich tapestry, one has to admire the colour, texture, content and skill of the artist(s).The lavish Islamic architecture of Istanbul's Blue Mosque amongst others has to make such buildings remarkable icons of huge historic and modern importance. The Topkapi Palace evokes a sense of the huge lavish empire which was that of the Ottomans, while the phenomena of Cappadocia with its startling landscapes and the blazing white cliffs of Pammukale leave unforgettable images in the mind's eye.Ancient monuments of World Heritage status, the poignant juxtaposition of Galipolli's natural beauty alongside memorials to the many dead on both sides in that cruel war. All was inspirational
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was a very personable and skilled young man. He was knowledgeable and at the same time keen to interact with members of the group and to show an interest in each and every one.Clearly he was well versed in the necessary skills of diplomacy and always ready to be flexible whilst ensuring that we covered the salient items of the itinerary.I feel that we learned a great deal about Turkey from one of its proud citizens.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Read about the country and try to learn a few words. Locals were very warm but especially to hear a few words in Turkish from visiting tourists. Be prepared to be amazed regardless of what you have read or seen in books or films. We travelled in October. Prepare for extremes of weather.North of the Taurus Range nights were cool and required warm clothing. Once we reached the south coast we experienced weather reminiscent of an excellent British Summer. Bring your swimmies!! 
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The hotels were at times disappointing: the best was in Fethiye, others were sometimes cramped or austere.However, relatively little time was spent in our hotels and so given the value for money, it was not too much of a problem. If you're concerned about the accommodation, get a list of the hotels where you'll be staying and see if they feature on Booking.com or Tripadvisor, for example.If you have euros take some with. Often things worked out cheaper paying in euros than in Turkish Lira and if you think on the last day that you won't be back in Istanbul before 8pm, make sure to purchase  items from the Spice Market at the start of your trip.  güvenli bir yolculuk!

Reviewed On 25/06/2020
5/5

An absolute gem of a tour

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia was amazing, no doubt about it, definitely worth the very early start. It was actually cancelled due to bad weather (fog) the first morning but the tour guide managed to book us in with another balloon company the next morning - thank goodness. Ephesus was another highlight, and Termessos as it was so picturesque and quiet. There were plenty of other highlights but one worth mentioning was a caravanserai that wasn't on the official itinerary but the tour guide and driver took us to break up a long drive - it's an inn for travellers and camels along the Silk Road and I really loved it as I'd never seen anything like it before.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Zafer was amazing, one of the best tour guides I've had - and a few others on the tour agreed. He knows a huge amount about Turkey and Turkish history which helps make every stop interesting, he can read the crowd and knows when to crack a few jokes or get the bus singing, and he made an effort to find local cheap places for us to eat. I really appreciated his effort.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for some long drives and if you travel in Sept, variable weather from north to south - a little cooler in Istanbul but then hot hot hot down south. I recommend at least another day or two in Istanbul before and/or after the tour to make sure you have a chance to see a bit more of the city. Most of the hotels are 2-3 stars, which are totally fine, just be prepared for a few hard beds and small bathrooms that's all. Some of the sights I could've missed but that's probably because I was so spoilt by places like Ephesus and Cappadocia. But these are all little things, overall the tour was fantastic - unbelievable history, delicious food, beautiful geography, wonderful company.

Reviewed On 25/06/2020
5/5

Wonderful holiday of discovery

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many I could mention..... but the major one was the breathtaking balloon ride at sunrise - yes,expensive but an experience that should not be missed as it will live in your memory forever. Despite the initial weather glitch of early morning fog which meant no balloons went up that morning, after much effort by Zafer who knew how keen we were to go up, the flight took place the next morning - truly amazing. I also loved the relaxed atmosphere of Fethiye in a great hotel by the beautiful marina. The stunning white cascades of Pamukkale were another unique sight followed by evening shopping and dining amongst the locals in the nearby town.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    After many Exodus trips I can truly say that Zafer put in more effort than anyone else in the past to ensure that our trip was everything we wanted it to be. Everyday he was very clear about the proposed itinerary and kept us updated enroute with information (something that has been lacking on previous trips) he had the patience of a saint and a great sense of humour. The long journeys were interspersed with plenty of information about the areas were were travelling through and unscheduled stops at places of interest along the way - the Sultanhanı Kervansarayı was a wonderful historic place and a fascinating mosque with wooden pillars - the only one of its kind. Zafer was archaeological graduate who provided sufficient information on sites but never bored us and always had fascinating historic stories to tell. He gave 100% and even gave us the option of being taken to Ölüdeniz and Kayaköy on his day off! Nothing was ever a problem or too much effort and he provided us with various great dining options and experiences which were always to out advantage - wonderful sunset from the hill town of Assos is a great memory.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are a true 'traveller' you won't be deterred by a couple of long days on the coach -we had a great like-minded group who had rarely wanted to leave each others company which made the two weeks fly by. The hotels were varied (some with swimming pools) but more than adequate and realistically are a bed for the night after a fulfilled and exhausted day, a good meal and a few beers!! The weather was lovely in Turkey in September with plenty of hot days so take hats and plenty of suncream, but then evening on th coast chilled off.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Your fellow travellers and tour leader can make or break a trip and we had the best which meant a memorable, and thoroughly enjoyable holiday with so much to see and do. Like all Exodus trips, go with an open mind and be prepared to be flexible and sociable - your guide has done the trip many times before and knows what he's taking about so listen to his help and advice and go with his recommendations and you won't go far wrong.

Reviewed On 25/06/2020
5/5

Ancient Sites, Friendly People

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Termessos was my highlight site. It is in a natural state, and our group was virtually alone there, allowing us time to wander, explore, contemplate. This contrasted with Ephesus, which has been partially restored, but was busy with cruise ship crowds. Istanbul's Blue Mosque was fantastic, but so too were sites not on the itinerary. Such as the caravanseri at Saltanhani, and the restored wooden Esrefoglu Mosque at Beysehir. The Museum Of Anatolian Civilisations, and Antikabir were other highlights. We were amazed to find Kemal Ataturk is so highly revered even today. And of course, being Kiwis, and having relations who fought and died at Gallipoli, this was an amazingly special place. The balloon ride is a not-to-be-missed highlight. Our flight had to be rearranged for the 2nd morning in Goreme after the first flight didn't go ahead due to low cloud.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Zafer was an excellent guide. His knowledge, enthusiasm and pride for his country was evident throughout the journey. Long days in the coach would be broken up with history lessons on upcoming attractions, explanations of modern Turkey, and then at the appropriate moment he would throw in some humour to lighten things up. He was always available to answer questions and help make our trip memorable. On the 'free' day at Fethiye Zafer took us to the Lycian rock tombs, the Kayakoy village, then a swim at Oludeniz followed by buying us all ice-creams. It was a wonderful gesture. Zafer took us to group dinners most nights at local restaurants; these are cheap and authentic. By comparison, dinner at the Antalya resort hotel was very average and expensive. A memorable lunch spot was an out-of-the-way riverside restaurant near Aspendos.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Our tour was in September, and it was very hot in the south, as stated in the trip notes. And Turkey is a big country, there are many miles spent on the coach, and some unexciting roadside lunch places. Try to enjoy it all. I enjoyed a wonderful hamam in Fethiye. Do it! And don't miss out on the balloon flight! There is more to Istanbul than what this tour has time for; allow extra time before or after the tour. We also traveled back to Gallipoli for a few more days of leisurely exploration and relaxation.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We have traveled a fair bit, often self-guided. Our only other Exodus tour was in Morocco 5 years ago and the guide for that trip used local guides at most of the local attractions, an added expense. We much preferred that Zafer had the credentials to do the local guiding. We had a great crew of fellow travelers that really helped make this a most memorable trip.

Reviewed On 25/06/2020
4/5

The best of Turkey

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many to mention but Capadoccia, Ephesus and the underground city at Derinkuyu were all highlights. Istanbul is fascinating, with plenty to see and do and the hotel in Cunda was especially nice, with dinner on a private jetty.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Fatih Develi was knowledgeable, calm and professional and went out of his way to arrange different things for us to see on the way, including a wine tasting, which everyone really enjoyed. He is passionate about his country and knows so much about its history and culture, there wasn't a question he couldn't answer - and we put him to the test!! We couldn't have asked for a better guide and our driver Mustafa was great too, always with a ready smile and there were some long drives.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Spend extra time in Istanbul at the end of the holiday if you can, as there is so much to see there - a boat trip is definitely worth doing. Pack a good mix of clothes - in early September, it was hotter than expected, so take some things to layer up. A spare battery for your camera is also a good idea, one I wish I had had when my camera died while at Ephesus!
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Consider a change of hotel in Istanbul - all the hotels were good, but the Istanbul choice was probably everyone's least favourite. It would also be nice to go to more authentic Turkish restaurants in the evening, but depending on where you are, this is not always possible.

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Package Confirmed Dates Trip Status Trip Status Price (PP) Excluding Flights Price (PP) Including Flights  
October 3, 2020
Available
$1,949.00
N/A
October 17, 2020
Available
$1,879.00
N/A
April 24, 2021
Available
$2,149.00
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May 22, 2021
Available
$2,149.00
N/A
June 5, 2021
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$2,249.00
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August 21, 2021
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$2,249.00
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September 4, 2021
Available
$2,249.00
N/A
September 19, 2021
Available
$2,249.00
N/A
October 2, 2021
Available
$2,149.00
N/A
October 9, 2021
Available
$2,149.00
N/A