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#ExploreWithITT – Instagram Contest

Post an Instagram picture from your tour for a chance to win $100!

Important! You must print out the ITT cutout and include it in your picture for proper entry. Any pictures not including the cutout are not qualified to win!

How to Enter:

1) Follow us on Instagram @ImagineTours

2) Take a picture with the “ITT” cutout provided in the below PDF file. Ensure that the cutout is fully visible in the picture.

3) Post the picture to your Instagram, tag our Instagram account, and hashtag #ExploreWithITT within the photo caption.

The contest starts 1/15/17 and all entries must be submitted by 4/15/17. Any entries submitted after that date will not be counted. Throughout the contest period, submissions may occasionally be reposted by @ImagineTours, with appropriate photo credit cited. A repost does not imply a winning photo.  Three winners will be chosen in May and contacted directly to receive their $100 gift card prize. Pictures can be submitted from any imagine Tours & Travel tour location whether in Israel, Greece, Germany, Ireland etc.

Contest Rules:

  • Each entry/picture must be unique, no duplicate pictures.
  • Maximum of one entry per day, per person. 
  • The ITT cutout must be fully visible in the picture and easily read. Pictures not including the ITT cutout will not be entered.
  • To enter, you must be following the @ImagineTours Instagram account. 
  • Creating multiple accounts in an attempt to increase odds of winning will be disqualified entirely.
  • Pictures must be property of the individual submitting the photo.
  • All three winners will be chosen at random and contacted in May.

 

Download the ITT cutout PDF here.

Did You Know This About Germany Destinations?

Augsburg, Germany old town skyline

While Germany is known for its historic charm and traditions, it just might surprise you. This heart of Europe that shares land borders with nine other nations boasts of the biggest economy on the continent. With more residents than anywhere else in Europe, today’s Germany combines age-old nationalism and rituals with multiculturalism, modern ideas and self-confidence. There are numerous must-see Germany destinations, containing interesting facts that you might not know. Many of our tours offer stops at these locations. Click on the link under each Germany destination to see more information about our upcoming tours featuring those locations.

The Frauenkirche

The Frauenkirche is also called the Church of Our Lady. This Lutheran church in Dresden was completely destroyed during WWII and then reconstructed using original plans from the 1720s. It reopened in 2005.

Rhine River

Since it flows through six countries, the Rhine River has linked southern and northern Europe since the Roman Era. The 722 mile river has served as an important trade route into central Europe since ancient times and a string of small towns has grown up along the banks. Because they have been restricted in size, many of these old towns still have a historic atmosphere. The best way to see the Rhine is on a River Cruise.

Cologne Cathedral

Cologne’s most famous landmark for centuries and the greatest Gothic cathedral in Germany, the Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) started construction in 1248 but took over 600 years to complete. Dedicated to the saints Peter and Mary, it serves as the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Cologne.

All Saints’ Church

All Saints’ Church in Lutherstadt Wittenberg is commonly referred to as Schloßkirche (“Castle church”) to keep it separate from the Stadtkirche (“town church”) of St. Mary. This Lutheran Church is also known as the Reformation Memorial Church since it is the site where Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on October 31, 1517, sparking the Protestant Reformation.

Veste Coburg

One of the largest surviving medieval fortresses in Germany, the Coburg Fortress in Bavaria is also known as Veste Coburg. While it’s an interesting castle on its own, it is most famous for hiding Martin Luther for five and a half months in 1530 during the Diet of Augsburg. He couldn’t attend the Diet of Augsburg since he was regarded as an outlaw of the Holy Roman Empire.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle was built as fanciful retreat for King Ludwig II of Bavaria rather than a place of defense. Known for living in daydreams instead of reality, Ludwig became obsessed with creating a castle that materialized his romantic fantasies after he lost complete sovereignty over his kingdom. Unfortunately, the project forced him to go bankrupt, and the banks seized his property. Ludwig reacted irrationally and the government declared him mad. Soon after, he was found drowned in a lake, not ever getting to see his beloved project completed.

Luther House

Formerly known as the Augustinian Monastery of Wittenberg where Martin Luther was a monk, the Luther House became half a residence hall for students and partly the Luther family home. This famous building hosted several important events in Luther’s life, including his transformation from fearful monk into confident preacher of “justification by faith alone.” Years later, the famous conversations with university students, recorded in Table Talk beginning in 1531, were held in the Luther’s living room. Martin and Katie Luther’s wedding procession also started at the Luther House and then headed to the nearby City Church of St. Mary.

St. Anne’s Church

Built in 1321 in Augsburg by Carmelite monks, St. Anne’s Church, also called St. Anna Church,  played a vital role in the history of the Reformation when Martin Luther stayed there with the Carmelite friars in 1518.  Luther was in town to meet the papal legate, Cardinal Cajetan because they were ordering Luther to submit to the pope. Later, in 1545, St. Anne’s Church converted to Lutheranism.

 

Traveling to Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul sunsetRick Steves, a American expert on European travel, shares his thoughts on traveling to Turkey considering the recent event in Istanbul.

In light of Tuesday’s terrorist attack on Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport, it’s understandable that those dreaming of travel to Turkey are concerned about their safety. I would not fault someone for thinking now is not the time to vacation in Turkey.

But personally, I would travel to Turkey tomorrow with no more concern than if I were traveling in the USA. The tragedy of 41 innocent people being killed during the Istanbul airport bombing is heartbreaking. But so are the more than 30 people killed every day, on average, in gun homicides in the USA.

Turkey is a huge country of 80 million people that faces some serious challenges. And being an ally of Europe and the USA while being on the border of so much sadness in the Middle East (and recently coming to terms with a friendly agreement with Israel) all combines to put Turkey in the target of terrorist groups.

Should I react by not traveling there and, in doing so, contribute to Turkey’s economic hardship? Is traveling there after the recent bombing reckless from a personal safety point of view? Should I embolden the terrorists by reacting the way they want me to? How you answer depends on your perspective. But I choose to answer with a hearty “no.”

 -Rick Steves
 

Refer to Win

Refer a Pastor to Us For a Chance to Win a $500 Visa Gift Card

How to Enter:

1. Click here to refer a pastor to imagine. All you have to do is provide their name, church name, phone number & email address and you will receive ONE entry into the contest.

2. Both you and the pastor you refer will receive FIVE entries into the contest if they contact our office for information about hosting a tour of their own.

3. If the pastor you referred BOOKS a tour with us by July 31, 2016, you both will receive 20 entries into the contest.

 

Contest Rules:

  • You may refer more than one pastor.
  • imagine employees are not eligible to participate.
  • Referred pastor cannot have hosted a tour with us before.
  • A winner will be randomly selected, notified and announced in August 2016.

 

Greece & Turkey Travel Update

In light of recent events in Turkey and around the world, we would like to share with you a letter from one of our group leaders who recently returned from Greece and Turkey. As they share below, even with some inconvenient delays, the group took situations that could have been irritating and instead joyfully turned them into opportunities to pray, study, worship together, and encourage locals. Their attitude and outlook on every situation reflected Christ’s love and peace and contentment. 

As always, the safety of our passengers is our top priority, and we are in constant communication with our groups traveling and our partners overseas. Our tours to Greece, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt are continuing as scheduled. 

Dear imagine,

We returned at the beginning of March from a meaningful tour of Greece and Turkey with 23 people. There was some apprehension on the part of several travelers due to the recent bombing in Istanbul, (and now in Ankara) but mostly people did not appear to be in dread or fear of travel.

In Greece we were met with some delays due to farmers who were protesting the paying of taxes and were lining up their tractors blocking entrance onto the freeways in northwestern and northern Greece.  Even so, we enjoyed seeing the Acropolis, Corinth, Delphi, Meteora, Berea, and Philippi.  We read scripture and used time when the bus was not moving due to the backup to share a Bible study on the Apostle Paul.  On one night of a long journey we sang hymns and songs for over an hour to pass the time. The hospitality in the hotels was marvelous even upon late arrivals! Dinner was served graciously and we were blessed.

We also came upon buses of refugees from Syria who were stalled and could not travel.  We shared a few moments with some of them giving them gloves, a bit of food and money.  They had been at this rest stop for 2 days.  These were families and people who were upset that they had paid much money to get this far and now could not get out of Greece due to border closings in Yugoslavia. What was their future?  The conversations we had with them left our group with hearts full of compassion. When we were delayed getting to our hotels, no one could feel sorry for themselves.  We at least had a destination and would get there!  Our prayers continue for these misplaced persons.

When we came into Turkey, many of our people were amazed that it looked so clean and modern.  I think some thought it would appear more like a war zone or a third world country.  Everything was beautiful in the fields and farms along the Aegean Sea.  The food was fabulous and all of the sites, Troy, Pergamum, Izmir, Ephesus, and House of Mary were amazing experiences of history and Biblical truth.  The hotels were gorgeous; everyone was pleased. Many came away with rug purchases in Ephesus for a lasting memory.

Our last days in Istanbul were full with the visit to the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia,and Topkapi Palace. There was a greater understanding of the history of Christianity, Islam, and the Turks after being here. We took a cruise on the Bosphorus which revealed the spacious and populated area of Istanbul. We were not hassled by anyone except some vendors in the Grand Bazaar and Spice market just encouraging us to buy.  It was sobering to be at the site of the Egyptian obelisk where a suicide bomber killed several people a month earlier. We prayed over this place for our enemies and for God’s love to overcome evil.

We realize that there is no place on earth that is exempt or free of suffering or possible terrorism. But, I do see how this trip confirmed the faith of people to be free of fear and controlled by a deeper message of living by grace and surrendering themselves to what the Apostle Paul witnessed: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Thank you Rick and all at Imagine Tours & Travel for making this kind of travel possible!

Pastor Johan and Sonja Hinderlie

Update on safety in Turkey

Dear Friends,

With the recent events in Turkey, we would like to share with you word from our partners in Istanbul.  They have assured me that the authorities are doing everything possible to ensure safety for tourists and all those in Turkey at this time. The safety and security of our passengers is always our top priority.

Since the events that took place today, the authorities are taking this very seriously. The Turkish authorities have cleared the whole area and are investigating the situation with their central intelligence. They have apprehended four persons that may have been involved in planning the event. Regardless, security is at an all-time high and there are over 200,000 tourists in Istanbul right now from all over the world; most are from Europe and approximately 20 percent are from the U.S.A.

The remaining sites are all open and again security is heightened everywhere (similar to how Paris handled recent bombings) and day-to-day local life and activities continue as normal. Some areas are closed for now and they’re tentatively scheduled to open later this week.

At this time for anyone in Istanbul now, their sightseeing will be revised as needed and they believe everything will reopen by the end of the week. Since the situation is still fresh, we will continue to receive updates in the days ahead. 

Best regards,

Rick

 

Letter from Director General of Ministry of Tourism

November 30, 2015

Dear Friends,

We welcome you to enjoy the warm weather, tourism sites, museums, holy places, attractions, restaurants and night life – all open and operating as usual in Jerusalem, Telv Aviv and in all areas of the country.

Currently, more than 100,000 foreign tourists are on holiday in Israel. Groups and individuals continue to arrive daily and they feel safe and are enjoying themselves. Everyday life in Israel is normal. Children go to kindergarten and school, local residents go to work and business continues as usual. The headlines about the situation in countries along the Mediterranean Sea are not relevant to our daily lives.

A wide range of international events are taking place at various locations in the coming days and weeks, including the 19th International Harp Contest in Acco from November 23 – December, the European Short Course Swimming Competition in Netanya and Superstar American comedian Jerry Seinfeld will perform in Tel Aviv in December as part of his world tour. Christmas celebrations are underway preparing for the thousands of foreign tourists who will partake in the festivities.

In addition, international conferences and exhibitions are going on in venues throughout the country as planned.

We look forward to welcoming you to Israel.

Sincerely,

Amir Halevi

Director General

Letter form Israel Ministry of Tourism

Dear Friends,
Headlines about the situation in Israel can be alarming, but the reality is that everyday life in Israel is normal. Children go to kindergarten and school. Local residents go to work and business continues as usual.

Currently more than 100,000 foreign tourists are on holiday in Israel. Groups and individuals continue to arrive daily and they feel safe, enjoying the warm Mediterranean weather, tourism sites, museums, holy places, attractions, restaurants and night life. All of these locations are open and operating as usual in Jerusalem, as in all areas of the country.

A wide range of international events are taking place at various locations in the coming days and weeks, including the Jerusalem Open House Festival from October 22-24. The Israel Museum in Jerusalem continues to celebrate its 50th Year. TUNE IN TEL AVIV, Israel’s international live music industry conference and showcase, is recognized as the most important industry event taking place in the Middle East from November 11-15. From October 15-22, the Manofilm Festival of Contemporary Art in Jerusalem invites guest to visit galleries and exhibition venues around the city. Wheels of Love, an annual Bike Ride extending over five days in Jerusalem, is taking place from October 19-25, with over 700 riders from Israel and overseas. The Terra Sancta Organ Festival (Holy Land Organ Festival), an international music event and a cultural activity, produced by the Custody of the Holy Land, is happening in Tel Aviv-Yafo , Nazareth and Jerusalem. In addition, international conferences and exhibitions in the field of health, medicine, and graphics, just to mention a few, are going on in venues throughout the country as planned.

The Ministry of Tourism is in contact with all relevant authorities to monitor the situation and ensure the safety of our visitors from abroad.

We look forward to welcoming you to Israel.

Sincerely,

Amir Halevi
Director General

Israel Ministry of Tourism