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October 9, 2012 ($149* pp)
The Parthenon and its Acropolis setting are stunning, no doubt about it. They don’t require interpretation and compose the perfect DIY Athens excursion. On the other hand, visiting the new Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum with a skilled guide who’s on your wavelength adds immeasurably to the experience. We suggest you join us on a focused trip. You’ll see the Parthenon frieze, exquisite sanctuary relics and Archaic sculpture at the Acropolis Museum (picture below; as you can see, the museum sits just below the Acropolis).
Lunch, of course, is tucked away at a taverna favored by Athenian families. For dessert, we’ll visit the richest array of Greek antiquities anywhere — at the National Archaeological Museum.
October 10, 2012 ($69* pp)
Get your cultural bearings in Istanbul with a three-hour visit to touchstones of Istanbul’s identity. Wrapped in Turkish twilight, we’ll visit the Basilica Cistern, rich in Roman and Byzantine history and Greek architectural elements. We’ll peruse the multitudinous vendors of the Grand Bazaar, now in its sixth century of tempting shoppers with jewelry, pottery, carpets and spices. On a short Bosphorus cruise we’ll glimpse the beauty, romance and geographic significance of a city that spans continents, ages and cultures.
October 11, 2012 ($129* pp)
Istanbul is impossible to describe, and has mesmerized travelers for millennia. Layered, amalgamated, flowing. Ancient and modern, secular and sacred. Plunge into Istanbul’s cultural whirlwind with our expert staff, who have been there, done that. On your itinerary: Hagia Sophia. It was the largest cathedral in the world for a thousand years, then a mosque, now a secular museum (so Istanbul). The Blue Mosque is defined by its 20,000 Iznik tiles. We’ll peruse the sweets, spices and nuts at the Spice Bazaar. (A little hazelnut-pomegranate nougat, perhaps?)
Onward to our learning lab in Turkish hospitality doing lunch at Topkapi Palace’s former guard-house. Then we’ll immerse ourselves in the context and treasures of Topkapi, including the Treasury, Harem and Holy Relics sections. Risking total sensory overload, we’ll conclude our day at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.
October 13, 2012 ($129* pp)
Many civilizations have left their mark at Ephesus. It has a complex and many splendored history, often oversimplified. We pull together three important aspects of understanding Ephesus which are rarely presented together. Join us! You’ll meander the Marble Road, visit the legendary latrines, check out the Library, and visit the political and commercial centers of the city. A visit to the Terrace Houses will enliven your picture of Roman-era Ephesus.
We’ll take a break for Mediterranean cuisine in the Selcuk countryside, and then visit the Ephesus Museum in Selcuk, where finds from the excavation of the city are showcased, and you get a fuller look at local history, from the Lydians to the Byzantines.
*NOTE: The cost of lunch is not included but we’ll make all of the reservations and provide all transportation.
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VENICE — Friday & Saturday, October 5 & 6
Venice … the city of art, romance and prestige. Venice’s extraordinary architecture was built on an archipelago of small islands within a network of canals crossed by approximately 400 bridges, once wooden and later replaced by stone.
The Grand Canal is the main city artery. Crossed by three bridges, this S-shaped canal divides the city into two parts, each split into six sestieri (districts): Cannaregio, San Marco and Castello on the left side of the canal and Santa Croce, San Polo and Dorsoduro on the right side. Water transport prevails over land travel, with gondolas, ships, ferries and yachts serving as taxis to transport people and goods. There are few main roads but several small calli (narrow streets) along the canals, campi (squares adjacent to churches), bell towers and fondamenta (streets along the canals) where motor vehicles are not allowed. Refugees from Spina Adria and Aquileia founded Venice after the invasion of the Huns in the 5th century AD.
Under the protection of the Byzantine Empire, 5th-century maritime Venice was self-governed by elected tribunes. In the 9th century the city became a major commercial port, connecting the eastern and western markets through the Adriatic Sea. Commercial power soon turned to military power. Within a few years, Venice dominated the entire eastern Adriatic coast, colonizing territories and conquering important markets, all the while competing with Genoa and the other maritime republics to assert its power.
The Turks chased the Venetians from many eastern colonies. Repercussions of the French Revolution affected this perfect aristocratic government where commerce and military power supported each other. By 1797 Venice was weak, and after the Campoformio treaty it became a subject Austria and was subsequently annexed by Italy.
The Grand Canal offers a quick view of the most beautiful palaces in Venice that reveal the city’s history: the Academia, the Cá d'Oro, the Casino, the palace of the Biennial, the University, the Chiesa della Salute and the popular Rialto bridge, up to Piazza San Marco where the canal opens into a wide area.
The square is the heart of Venice and its symbol. A wonder built in trachyte and Istrian stone, this architectural jewel is one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. In the past, religious and civil ceremonies took place in this square as well as the famous Carnival. At its end are the Basilica and the Clock Tower. The coffee bars and restaurants surrounding the square are pleasant meeting places.
Glass blowing takes place on the Island of Murano, which features several workshops that remain expert in blown glass and artistic crystal manufacture to this day. The craft of murine, the Venetian patterned colored glass blown inside globes, is a particularly difficult and beautiful craft. Several workshops continue to manufacture Venetian mirrors using ancient techniques, with silver plates on glass, enriched by glass frames in elegant shapes. Also extraordinary is the lace making of Venice.
KOTOR, MONTENEGRO — Sunday, October 7
Kotor is located along one of Montenegro’s most scenic bays. First settled during the days of ancient Rome, the city today has a well-preserved urban center with a vibrant community. Medieval architecture (see photo) and numerous monuments of cultural heritage have placed Kotor on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
PIRAEUS (ATHENS), GREECE — Tuesday, October 9
The cradle of Western civilization, Athens today is a bustling, frenetic, modern city with six million inhabitants, one-third of the total population of Greece. The port of Athens, Piraeus, is an integral part of the city.
Although Athens is a huge, sprawling city, much of its political, historical and administrative life is concentrated in a small area including Syntagma (Constitution) Square, the Acropolis and Omonia Square.
According to Greek mythology, the establishment of Athens was a peace offering in a dispute between the goddess of wisdom Athena and her fellow gods. In actual history, Phoenicians founded the city at least 2,000 years before Christ. The founding fathers of democracy, Athenians had to go into battle many times to defend their freedom and build a mighty military strength.
As the leading cultural influence in the Mediterranean region for centuries, Athens attracted both opposition and admiration. The city-state’s intellectual dominance over the Mediterranean began to wane with the rise of the Byzantine Empire, eventually leading to the its being virtually deserted and nearly destroyed by Saracens in the 12th century. By the time the Turks gained control of Athens in the 15th century, its population had dwindled to only a few thousand inhabitants. Between 400 BC and 1400 AD Athens had been raided, sacked and burned at least 30 times.
Gradually, Athens was rebuilt and by the end of the 19th century its fortunes had greatly improved, culminating in the revival of the Olympic Games in 1896. The next period of sustained development came after World War II with aggressive industrialization and maritime enterprise.
The historical attractions of Athens are world-renowned. The Acropolis, at the top of a rocky hillside overlooking the city, is the dominant monument of ancient Greece. It is also the site of the first temple dedicated to the goddess Athena and the stunning Parthenon. Among the magnificent ruins of the Acropolis and fascinating artifacts of the Acropolis Museum, the ancient settlement surrounding the Parthenon — Herod Atticus Odeon, Dionysus Theatre, Muses Hill, the Agora, Hephaestus Temple and Apostles Church — comes to life. In addition to its magnificent monuments, Athens offers the visitor colorful street markets and shops. Plus, of course, irresistible Greek food, such as an array of meze dishes and desserts including baklava.
Not far from Athens is one of greatest engineering feats of humankind, the Corinth Canal. Cut out of solid rock, the canal is a little over 6km in length, 21 meters wide and some 79 meters high, with a water depth of 8 meters. Such was the complexity of its construction that the canal was started by Nero in 66 AD but only completed in 1893.
»» Detailed Athens (12mb) »» (from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism)
ISTANBUL, TURKEY — Wednesday & Thursday, October 10 & 11
Byzantium, New Rome, Constantinople, Istanbul: Four cities, three empires, a 3,000-year history of flourishing commerce between east and west. Along with Rome and Athens, Istanbul has written the most ancient and important history in the Mediterranean. Signs of its power are evident in the monuments and remains still visible today.
Istanbul is also a very modern city, with over 6 million inhabitants. At the same time, it preserves its deeply rooted traditions and ties to the past. The Greeks named it Byzantium, while to the Romans it was the eastern version of Rome, because it too was built on seven hills. The emperor Constantine, confronted with the greatness of the city, transformed it into the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.
The city has two parts, one in Europe, one in Asia — the only city that straddles two continents. The 1560-meter Galata Bridge joins the two parts and represents to the Turks both east and west and the meeting point of the old and the new. Museums, monuments, mosques, shops and picturesque bazaars, quiet parks, first-rate hotels and restaurants and a busy nightlife guarantee entertainment 24 hours a day.
St. Sophia Basilica, now a museum, is an extraordinary example of architecture with marble, metal and precious stones decorating the walls and galleries. The Blue Mosque (Sultanhamet Mosque) had been conceived to supersede the basilica in beauty. With its domes and minarets, it is one of the most beautiful and popular Islamic centers in the world. The Hippodrome was for centuries the core of public life. Of the original structure we can presently admire Theodosius Obelisk, the Serpentine Column in bronze and the brick Obelisk. Topkapi Palace Museum is the most important in the city. It contains Turkish ceramics, arms, china, books, miniatures and the emperor’s jewels, not to mention the relics of the Islam prophet Mohammed.
Turkish cuisine is worth mentioning. Specialties include cerkez tavugu (Circassan chicken) and biber dolmasi (stuffed peppers). Cakes are outstanding: hanim gobegi and dilber dudagi are just two delicious examples.
Istanbul is especially good for shopping, both in the timeless old bazaar and in modern shops, whether for simple objects or finely crafted jewelry. Tourists gravitate to the Grand Bazaar, in the old city. Its narrow alleys and market stalls present a variety of specialties, including carpets, among which Anatolian is the most popular. Copper, onyx and leather objects are also finely handmade, including with Turkey’s famous teapots.
MYKONOS, GREECE — Friday, October 12
The island of Mykonos is one of the most picturesque — and popular — of the Cyclades archipelago, situated between Tinos and Naxos. During peak season the island’s local population of 5,000 inhabitants swells by a factor of 10 or 15. Many visitors arrive at the island from Piraeus, near Athens, via the daily ferry service, or by air from the Greek capital city. The picture-postcard main town of Mykonos is a maze of narrow streets lined with pretty whitewashed houses and shops. Nearby are several splendid beaches.
The history of civilization on Mykonos is not well chronicled, although the generally accepted view is that the island was first colonized by the Ionians and later developed by the Athenians. There followed a relatively prosperous period under Ptolemy and again under the Romans. Little knowledge exists of the island’s fate during the Byzantine era, but Turkish rule beginning in 1537 ushered in a period of great riches and influence. Thanks to considerable commercial maritime activities, Mykonos became one of the most powerful islands in the archipelago by the end of the 1700s. The island also became a regular target for pirates, thus Mykonos came under the direct defense of the army, which maintained a presence until independence in 1821.
The architectural highlight of the capital town is Panaghia Paraportiani church, a magnificent combination of Byzantine and western features. The church, with seven chapels around a square, is located in the picturesque hillside Kastro area, originally fortified by the Venetians. Indeed, the area below Kastro is called Venice for the houses seemingly built on the sea. At another square, according to tradition, any woman who drinks from each of three fountains will marry within a year.
Another popular building is the local art museum, which includes a collection of furniture, religious icons, sculptures and musical instruments. An archaeological museum has exhibits from the ruins of Renea. Grilled fish is a highly recommended Mykonos specialty.
KUSADASI (EPHESUS), TURKEY — Saturday, October 13
Kusadasi — “Bird Island” — is set in a magnificent gulf known for its sparkling water, broad beaches and huge marina. The city has managed to retain a certain earthiness while doing a brisk trade in Turkish carpets and leather goods with visitors. The town’s old quarter is a picturesque maze of winding streets and houses adorned with flowers and birdcages. In the center stands a 17th-century caravanserai, an old roadside inn now converted into a hotel. The resort is also gateway to important sites of archaeological and religious interest.
Ionian Greeks settled this part of Asia Minor as early as the 10th century BC. They founded cities around the finest natural harbors in the Mediterranean, and Kusadasi became an important commercial zone.
A visit to Ephesus will put you in touch with some of the area’s most stunning ancient ruins. There is an Odeon, or small theater, with a capacity of 1,400. It was also used for public meetings of the city council. The Magnesian Gate and Town Hall are near at hand.
The impressive Library of Celsus stands at the foot of the main street. Its stately two-level facade is being carefully restored. The interior walls were designed to display 12,000 scrolls in niches, to protect from humidity.
The Temples of Domitian and Hadrian are impressive, and the Great Theatre, still in use, seats 25,000 spectators.
Harbor Street, also known as the Arcadian Way, connected the port district with the center of town. Beautiful colonnades on both sides and marble pavement made a dazzling first impression on visiting dignitaries. It was one of the rare ancient streets to be lit by lamps at night.
Some distance away, you can see the ruins of the massive Temple of Artemis, which was several times larger than the Parthenon. There had been temples here as early as the 7th century BC; this one was completed about 430.
Even in its abandoned state, Ephesus remains an awe-inspiring city, in an amazing setting. The Ionians lived well and wisely. Even those who live in great luxury today must tip their hats to these imaginative people.
SANTORINI, GREECE — Sunday, October 14
One of the Cyclades Islands, Santorini is a spectacular jewel of the Aegean. Born out of a volcanic eruption around 1500 BC that formed the two islands of Aspronisi and Terrasia, Santorini is a magnificent mixture of dramatic cliff-side villages, glorious black sand beaches and ancient treasures. Steep cliffs plunging into a crystalline sea distinguish the west coast, while the gentler east coast features a fertile plain, delicate bays and the Profitis Ilias mountains in the background.
Archaeological investigations have shown that the 69 kilometers of coastline of Santorini was probably inhabited in prehistoric times, and the first chronicled civilization to live on the island were the Phoenicians. Through the centuries the island continued to fall under different rulers, including the Spartans, Athenians, Byzantines and Turks. Commencing in 1967, ongoing excavations near the pink sand beach at Akrotiri have revealed the ruins of ancient Thira, the center of population on the island before the volcano destroyed it.
Among the extensive remains are ceramics, stone and bronze tools, ornaments and small artworks. A series of frescoes suggests a highly developed community; some researchers believe it is the site of the mythical lost city of Atlantis.
One of the prettiest spots on the island is the village of Oia, a network of narrow marble-paved alleys, lined with yellow and blue domed houses, and extraordinary views out to sea.
SPLIT, CROATIA — Tuesday, October 16
In Croatia, the Old Town of Split wraps around the luxurious palace where the Roman emperor Diocletian lived out his last days after abdicating in 305 AD. Today, this remarkable white limestone palace, on the UNESCO World Heritage List, awaits your discovery. Part luxurious villa, part military camp, the palace is enclosed by imposing walls and connected by roads linking the eastern Silver Gate with the western Iron Gate. Within: an octagonal domed mausoleum, temples and a monumental court accessing the imperial apartments.
»» Croatian Cultural Heritage »» (23mb file from the Croatian National Tourist Board)
Speakers have confirmed their intent to participate; however, scheduling conflicts may arise.
Why does Florence capture the imagination and Tuscany linger in the memory? Ponder the question on location on a five-day, pre-cruise visit to the cradle of the Renaissance. Florence’s art and architecture, an informed look at Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo’s work, Lucca’s cuisine, the elemental pleasures of the Tuscan countryside, and Pisa’s cultural riches are our mileposts. Anchor your Times Journey cruise album with images of Tuscany when you join us on this optional sojourn.
What says “Italy” to you? Sunshine and Roman ruins come to mind. Join your fellow Times Journeys travelers for a choice exploration of another Italy, home to many of Italy’s iconic contributions to the world. We’ll make a pre-cruise, optional five-day visit to Milan, Parma and Bologna on our way to our conference sailing from Venice. We’ll partake of Milan’s dynamism and delicacies, view “The Last Supper,” explore the region’s musical legacy, sample culinary specialties, take guided rambles through medieval cities and soak in Northern Italy’s visual beauty. Join us in Milan and start the fun and wonder early!
Here was the weather for the corresponding days of our cruise, during the year indicated. Historical averages are from the late ’90s to current day.
Cruise prices vary from $1,799 for an Interior Stateroom (Better Interior shown) to $6,099 for a Deluxe Suite, per person. (Cruise pricing is subject to change.) For those attending our PROGRAM, there is a $1,575 fee. For detailed information and pictures of our ship and the cabins, please visit CABIN & SHIP INFO page. Government taxes and fees total $111 per person. Gratuities are $12 per person per day. All prices and fees are detailed on the BOOK NOW page.
For a detailed listing of the cruise itinerary please review our ITINERARY page.
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The program fee is $1,575 and includes all of the sessions below. Seminars only take place when we’re at sea, between 8:30am and 7:30pm.
Seminars subject to change at the discretion of the speakers.
*Knowledge Network author.
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