Thursday, June 19, 2008

Seabourn Food & Wine Cruise - September 27, 2008

On September 27, 2008 I will be hosting a special Food & Wine Cruise on the all suite, all luxury, Seabourn Spirit cruising from Athens to Istanbul. I have a number of events and tours planned which should make this cruise even better than the one I hosted last year on the Seabourn Legend which cruised from Barcelona to Monte Carlo.

This is the itinerary:

Saturday - September 27 Piraeus (Athens), Greece
Sunday - September 28 Mykonos, Greek Isles
Monday - September 29 Mylos, Greek Isles
Tuesday - September 30 Patmos, Greek Isles
Wednesday -October 1 Fethiye, Turkey
Thursday - October 2 Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey
Friday - October 3 Cruising The Dardanelles
Saturday - October 4 Istanbul, Turkey

My thoughts and plans:

I suggest arriving early into Athens and overnighting at the St. George Lycabettus Hotel with views of the Acropolis from your room. After a rest, dinner at leisure in a local restaurant as a way to begin immersion into the Greek and Turkish foods and customs to follow.

On the morning of the cruise I will be providing a complimentary tour of Athens with one of the best driver-guides in Greece, whom I have personally used on a number of occasions. We will stop at all of the important sites, have a wander around the Plaka and then enjoy a local Greek lunch before heading over to Piraeus to board the Seabourn Spirit for a 5:00 p.m. departure.

The next morning we arrive in Mykonos...just as many of the Saturday night partiers are going to bed. This morning is a great time to slowly wander over to the beach or wander about the narrow alleys of the town, followed by a local lunch. Because the Spirit doesn't sail until 11:00 p.m. there is plenty of time to head back to the ship and then enjoy some early nightlife and dinner back in town.
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I have not yet been to Mylos, but I understand the natural beauty is breathtaking...as are the whitewashed houses and windmills. I am looking forward to what I expect to be a great opportunity to enjoy truly local foods and wines in a location unspoiled by hoards of tourists.
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In Patmos I am hosting a complimentary tour to all passengers who have booked through an Ensemble Consortium travel agent. This island, long a pilgrimage destination, offers some wonderful cultural opportunities. My tour, starting at 1:00 p.m. (so you have plenty of time to explore on your own or just "beach it"!) will include a visit to the town of Chora and the Monastery of St. John (built in 1088). From there we travel to the Grotto of St. John were it is said he wrote the Book of Revelations (95-97 AD). Leaving the important religious history of the island, we will then visit a traditional Patmain house which is said to be breathtaking and filled with 18th Century furnishings, mosaics and crafts. Finally, we drive to the settlement of Aloni for some ouzo and Greek snacks before returning the our ship in Scala.
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We cruise overnight to Fethiye, Turkey for a fantastic day which can be one immersed in the ancient Lycian history of the area including a boat ride through the numerous waterways, or tours of other nearby historical cultures of Lycian, Hellenistic, Latin and Byzantine periods or you can opt to take a tour to a wonderful hotel on the Oludeniz (Dead Sea) or just wander the local area and enjoy a Turkish Bath in a 400 year old Hamam or shop, eat and drink!
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Probably the highlight of our next day, in Kusadasi, will be our Exclusive Seabourn Experience. After a day exploring the incredible Roman city of Ephesus and the House of the Virgin Mary, and shopping at the Bazaar, Seabourn will transport us back to Ephesus for an enchanted private evening of chamber music, wine, cocktails and canapes. As we depart Kusadasi at 11:30 p.m. some evening exploration and shopping is something to consider.
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Finally a relaxing day at sea. This day, however, is not just any day at sea. We will be passing by Gallipoli, a battle site which is extraordinarily important to both sides of that war which had enormous casualties. The Turkish people consider the battle as the start of modern Turkey - with Ataturk leading the movement eight years later and the United Kingdom and Australians (ANZAC) consider it sacred not only to all those who lost their lives, but as a defining moment in understanding their nationalism.
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I plan on having a complimentary private wine tasting during the day where we can taste and discuss not only some of the interesting local wines and foods, but share some of the wonderful times we will have had during our cruise. If Seabourn comes through like it did during last year's cruise, this will be a truly memorable event.
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It is worth rising early our last morning to share our arrival in Istanbul on the port side of the ship. While we are disembarking this morning, Istanbul is a fascinating city and is, to be sure, one of my favorite places in the world. Some people are partaking of Seabourn's "Sail and Stay" program which includes transfers, two nights at the Swisshotel and a half day tour of Istanbul.
Others are making their own arrangements. I would highly recommend the Ciragan Palace and the Four Seasons as possbile alternatives.
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I will be staying in Istanbul for two days after the cruise, so I will be available to assist you while you are there. I hope to, however, be tied up in a full day visit to an ancient Hamam; something I have been looking forward to repeating from a visit some years ago!
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Highlights of Istanbul include my favorite little town of Ortakoy (which means middle village), Dolmabaci Palace, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Yerebatan Saray (the underground cisterns - a favorite of mine!), the Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar and, of course, the Grand Bazaar. There are so many other things to do and see in Istanbul such as the Galata Tower, a ferry ride up the Bosporus, many other mosques/synagogues/churches, shops and restaurants galore, etc., etc.
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This is going to be a fantastic experience not only from all that Seabourn has to offer, but what Greece and Turkey do, from culture, history, sun and sand, food and, of course, wine.
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If you are interested in this cruise, please let me know as soon as possible. There is limited availability.