Posted: Sunday, May 4, 2014
After visiting Sochi, Russia, traveling across the Romanian countryside to see the incredible painted churches of Bucovina, and stopping in the Bulgarian ports of Varna and Nessebar to behold amazing archaeological artifacts, we returned to our starting point: Istanbul/Constantinople. Disembarking here is a poignant end to a trip throughout a rich, multicultural region that has been so influenced by this ancient yet modern city for centuries. It has been an incredible journey—one filled with illuminating lectures and discussions, new discoveries, and many interesting people.
Posted: Friday, May 2, 2014
From the ancient Turkish port of Trabzon (formerly Trebizond), we traveled up into the hills to visit the monastery at Sumela. Built into the cliff, with dramatic views of the gorge below, the group received a lively and engaging explanation by curator Helen Evans of the monastery's wall frescoes dating from the sixteenth century. From Turkey, our group sailed to Batumi, Georgia—a rapidly growing city—before traveling inland to Kutaisi to visit a monastery and cathedral dating back to the tenth and eleventh centuries, respectively. Both are UNESCO World Heritage sites, although the recent and controversial restoration of the cathedral has placed it on a watch list, which may result in removal of the designation by UNESCO.
Posted: Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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.