Istanbul, home of the emerald dagger

After our recent island idyll (see below), we woke up April 25 to find ourselves in The Big City – Istanbul — the storied metropolis that bridges the gap between Europe and Asia. We were on the program that extended our two-week ship experience for two more days, but without the ship. Instead, we disembarked to go aboard the Grand Hyatt Istanbul. The essential three-part Istanbul experience was accomplished in the first morning, while our land-based staterooms …

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Naxos and Lemnos, Cats and Dogs

We have carried a couple of well-respected travel books on this cruise. As a longtime guidebook writer, I believe in the important role of printed guides for foreign travel. But they’re never the be all and end all of travel knowledge. These last two Greek islands, on April 23 and 24, were both ignored by these volumes. Our visits to Naxos and Lemnos were symbolic of the Voyages to Antiquity approach to creative port calls and unusual …

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Santorini – Living on the Edge

  In a ocean full of islands, Santorini certainly is unique – not just unusual — it must be one of a kind. From a distance, many cruisers on the Aegean Odysseythought the island was a snow-capped mountain. Return visitors, however, knew differently. As the ship neared, it gradually became apparent that these were houses. Like most Greek off-shore settlements, the buildings are nearly all super-white, often with blue roofs, or a few other pastel colors, all …

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Saved – My tour of Knossos

What did in the Minoans? That is a great debate among academics today. It’s a conundrum that may not be solved in a lifetime. Today, April 21, Voyage to Antiquity cruisers have been visiting the most important archeological site on the island of Crete, the Palace of Knossos, center of the Minoan civilization. All were happy to be here. Yesterday we were supposed to have visited Monemvasia, another Greek island featuring another Venetian fort. However rough seas …

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Corfu: Exit through the church, please

Corfu I believe is a perfect Greek island, even if it doesn’t look very Greek. Over the centuries every nationality in Europe seems to have had a shot at Corfu, and all have left their mark in art and architecture. But the cumulative effect seems to be that everyone feels welcome here, and I feel almost at home myself – which I know is silly because I have visited only once before, and for an equally brief …

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Dubrovnik, Kotor Bay and Southward

It’s late afternoon, April 18, and the Aegean Odysseyis heading almost due south at 14 knots. For the first time on this cruise some of us are feeling some uncomfortable rolling and pitching as we head from the relatively protected Aegean toward the Ionian Sea and the main body of the Mediterranean. This has been a busy day. The morning featured a whirlwind exploration of the walled city of Dubrovnik, accomplished in less than three hours. The …

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Korcula — What’s a day without sunshine?

KORCULA, Croatia — We had to look this one up on the map, too. It seems like a door knob opening up a portion of the Croatian coast. Or maybe just a quaint medieval lump with lots of stair-step streets . In any case, it’s totally charming to Europeans in months like July or August. But to us it seemed wet, windy and slippery on dates like April the seventeenth. The Aegean Odyssey managed to tie up …

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Split personality

I didn’t really expect to find 101 of them. But no matter where I looked, I couldn’t come up with one. Brown dogs, black dogs, fuzzy dogs, small dogs and big ones, were walking the streets, on and off leash. We were in the city of Split from Monday morning ‘til midnight. This is legendary Dalmatia, but there were no Dalmations – that is, none of the canine variety, not even at the fire house. If there …

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A day from Venice: A wet and once-wild Pula

A humbling aspect of frequent travel is that occasionally you find yourself at some prominent place that…well…I’m sorry, but I never heard of it. On this trip that place was the city of Pula, a busy port on the Adriatic, just a day’s sail from Venice. Long a ship-building center, it is now in Croatia. I say “now” because when I was growing up and not hearing about it, it was in Yugoslavia. At one point in …

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Venice: How much is that doge in the window?

VENICE – Our first included shore excursion attracted many of our number to St. Mark’s square and its perennial Venetian favorite, the Doge’s Palace. I’m here to tell you that on the outside, at least, it looks pretty much like the one in Las Vegas. Inside, however, the splendor of the 14th to the 18th century Republic of Venice comes alive, beginning with our ascent of the Golden Staircase, and continuing inside with the trappings of the …

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