Show sea days
Istanbul is supremely exotic, warmly welcoming, and quite unique – after all, where else can you tour Europe and Asia on the very same afternoon? Must sees include Haghia Sophia, decorated in 30 million tiny mosaic tiles, the greatest church in Christendom for 1000 years, then a mosque and now a museum; and Topkapi, palace of sultans, complete with harem quarters. And of course shopping in the Grand Bazaar, a medieval version of a mall, for unusual gifts to take home, stopping along the way in a café for a cup of Turkish coffee or mint tea.
Touching both the shores of Asia and Europe, Canakkale sits on the Black and Mediterannean Seas. Visit the ancient city of Troy to see the inspiration for Homer’s Iliad and a replica of the Trojan Horse. Once you do, you’ll understand why people have been passing through here for centuries.
Sure, we could chat about the resort town of Kusadasi and its beaches and restaurants, or nearby places like Dilek Peninsula National Park, but let’s talk Turkey: The star attraction in this neck of the woods is Ephesus. Once the second largest city in the Roman Empire, eclipsed only by Rome, here are just a few of the incredible sights just waiting to be gobbled up! (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.)
There’s the Library of Celsus, still magnificent almost 2,000 years later; the Odeon, home of our “Ephesus: Back to Ancient Times” AzAmazing Evenings eventSM; and the 24,000-capacity Great Theatre, where St. Paul used to preach. Stretching from this jaw-dropping amphitheatre to the harbor is the marble-made Arcadian Street. Stroll past the marketplaces, colonnades, and fields of wild fennel, and into bath complexes that once offered piped-in hot water and a sauna.
Marmaris rests by the sea between two sets of mountains, against a backdrop of pine clad hills – an appealing sight, but only the beginning of a day of amazements that might include the imposing Lycian rock tombs, resting place of the kings of Caunos, elaborately carved into a cliff face; a riverboat ride through a labyrinth of tall reeds on the Dalyan Delta; or a dip in the hot springs at Pamukkale, mineral pools amidst bizarre cascades of stone, created by traces of minerals left by rich thermal streams pouring down the hillside for thousands of years.
Your daydream of a Greek island meets reality in Santorini – its whitewashed villages cling to cliff sides, and bright blue roofs reflect the sea and sky. So beautiful is it, that you can almost believe the myths that claim it as the birthplace of gods. Born itself as a volcanic cone, the island blew its top in 1450 BC, its center sank, and it assumed its current crescent shape, outlined by three main islands. The capital, Fira, a pedestrian haven with narrow, meandering cobblestone lanes, is reachable only by cable car, donkey, or for the fit and fearless, a flight of 600 steps.
Tiny Malta, smack dab in the middle of the Mediterranean and on everyone’s route since ships began to ply the seas, is packed with history from top to bottom. Over time it was ruled by a variety of empires, all of which contributed to the look and culture of the islands. Valetta is living museum of baroque architecture, constructed by the Knights of St. John five centuries ago. Today the city is also a dynamic hub of cultural and commercial activity, its harbor now welcoming luxury yachts and cruise ships.
Siracusa is known for the archaeological and historical sights that define its grand past, as one of the major powers of the Mediterranean world in the 5th century BC. They include a Greek theater, still in use, where Aeschylus produced some of his plays; a dramatic necropolis with burial niches cut into the rock that include the tomb of Archimedes, famous mathematician, engineer, and inventor; and the Ear of Dionysus, a cave with amazing acoustical properties. The “modern” city was rebuilt in Sicilian Baroque style after the devastating earthquake of 1693.
Mountainous and rugged, Sicily’s highest point is the tip of that infamous firebrand, the still active Mt. Etna at 10,900 feet. As a result Catania is richly layered – buried under lava seven times in recorded history, the modern town sits atop the Roman, with the Greek buried even deeper. During the Renaissance Catania was a flourishing cultural, artistic, and political center, and while nature has conspired to hide the city’s rich history, many sites from all periods remain, including much fine Baroque architecture that makes use of the black volcanic rock Etna has contributed.
Naples, a city in southern Italy, sits on the Bay of Naples. Nearby is Mount Vesuvius, the still-active volcano that destroyed nearby Roman town Pompeii. Dating to the 2nd millennium B.C., Naples has centuries of important art and architecture. The city’s cathedral, the Duomo di San Gennaro, is filled with frescoes. Other major landmarks include the lavish Royal Palace and Castel Nuovo, a 13th-century castle.
Rome has something special to offer to all visitors, no matter their interests and tastes. Whether you daydream about fighting with gladiators in the Coliseum, debating with togaed senators in the Forum, tossing a coin in a fabled fountain, or being awestruck by the magnificence of St Peter’s Basilica and Michelangelo’s masterpieces, Rome seems to live up to its sobriquet – the Eternal City. When you need sustenance, today’s Rome will provide delizioso pasta e vino. Or perhaps you draw strength from a little retail therapy – the Italians are also renowned for their sense of style.
Searching for the latest prices…