Our trip began today by bringing together the various groups of travelers in Istanbul for lunch: those here for the trip's prelude, others exploring the city on their own, and those arriving today on the group flight from New York. After a sampling of cuisine inspired by Ottoman palace menus, our group then toured the incredible Hagia Sophia. We then strolled on the plaza facing the six minarets of the beautiful Blue Mosque before boarding the bus and driving out of Sultanahmet, across the Golden Horn to our ship, the Variety Voyager. We settled into our cabins and dined on-deck while sailing out of Istanbul, up the Bosphorus and into the Black Sea. Tomorrow brings a day of relaxation at sea as our journey continues east.