1: from Rome to Istanbul aboard the Regent Seven Seas Mariner May 2014 Mike and Barbara Seeley Phil and Christy Norys We met at the Intercontinental De La Ville hotel in Rome on Thursday the 1st of May. Phil and Christy flew in from California. Mike and I left from North Carolina. We only had one day in Rome before boarding the ship the following afternoon. The Mariner left the port town of Civitavecchia at 6 pm Friday and headed to our first port o' call, Sorrento and the Isle of Capri, Italy. Our cruise then took us to: Trapani in Sicily, Italy, Valletta, Malta, Santorini, Greece Kusadasi, Ephesus and Sirince Village, Turkey Volos and the Meteora Monasteries, Greece and finally Istanbul, Turkey. We spent two extra days in Istanbul, staying at the Ceylan Intercontinental Hotel and hiring a private tour guide to bring us to as many sights as possible in far too short a time in this fascinating city. This cruise was titled 'Mediterranean Relics' by Regent because it focused on ancient cities and ruins. The photos that follow certainly reflect that. The camera hung heavy around my neck every day, but for every picture in this book there were a thousand more I wish I had taken. Please enjoy! Barbara Seeley
3: THURSDAY, MAY 1st ROME, ITALY We walked and we walked . . . From the hotel we stopped for lunch at the Caffe Ciampini, eating on an outdoor patio with a beautiful view of the city below us. Then we headed down the Spanish Steps, along cobblestone streets, past wonderful shops and the Trevi Fountain all the way to the Colosseum. A cab brought us back to the hotel in time for a rest and a cocktail before walking to the Antica Trattoria Tritone for an amazing dinner. One day in Rome is not enough but we made the most of the precious time we did have.
5: Domes steeples and ruins dominate the landscape.
6: The Santa Trinita dei Monte with its twin domes overlooks the Spanish Steps. Many people crowded the steps and the plaza below as it was Italy's Labor Day. | Lunch at Caffe Ciampini
9: Marble, travertine, limestone and terra cotta create a rich palette throughout Rome
11: Antica Trattoria Tritone
12: The Vittoriano Monument on the Piazza Venezia and the Colosseum | After breakfast Friday we took a long walk through the area surrounding the hotel. We perused the shops, and found pretty things.
15: SATURDAY, MAY 3rd ISLE OF CAPRI, ITALY | The Mariner arrived in our first port, Sorrento, Saturday morning. We took a passenger ferry over to the Isle of Capri for a full day of sightseeing. Our guide, Paulo, brought us to a restaurant in Anacapri where we had the best pizza . . . ever! Then he set us loose on the shops with beautiful linen goods.
17: Mike and Phil try to keep dry
19: Christy really liked that pizza!!
20: We shop we eat we drink . . . rain or shine we are not daunted.
23: SUNDAY, MAY 4th TRAPANI, SICILY, ITALY
24: Rain kept us from going up the mountain to Erice, but we discovered the charms of this port city meandering in and out of shops and the cathedral. We enjoyed lunch on the outdoor patio of Restaurant San Lorenzo thankful that the rain had stopped.
27: San Lorenzo Cathedral in Trapani
29: MONDAY, MAY 5th VALLETTA, MALTA
31: Valletta, Malta was a surprise. We had no expectations, no prior knowledge, so when we cruised slowly into port we were awestruck at the beauty of this city. It looked as though it had been chiseled out of the limestone rock and the morning sun cast a golden glow upon it. Our first stop was the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady, pictured here, in nearby Mosta. Built in the 1800s, the dome is the fourth largest unsupported dome in the world. From there we traveled to Meridiana Estate Winery, a craft village in Ta' Qali where we visited the M'dina Glass factory and silver shops and finally to the San Anton Palace in Attard.
33: Once a military base this beautiful property is now Meridiana Estate Wines where we had the opportunity to taste and purchase a few bottles.
35: Malta's rich history has been influenced through the centuries by the Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Normans, Ottomans, the French, and the British. It has been an independent, constitutional nation since 1964. The San Anton Palace, built in the early 1600s in Attard, is the official residence of the president.
38: We spent the afternoon in the San Anton Gardens of the Presidential Palace in Attard.
42: From a distance in the early morning haze it looked like snow on the mountains, but we knew that wasn't possible. As we neared we realized it was the white washed towns and villages spilling down the hills and cliffs of every isle we passed. Santorini is everything we had imagined it to be: beautiful, romantic, friendly, so blue and so white!
43: WEDNESDAY, MAY 7th SANTORINI, GREECE
46: We opted to explore Santorini sans guide, taking the tram from the dock area up to Thira. After meandering the crowded streets we took a cab to the northern most end of the island and spent half an hour in Oia. When we returned to Thira we walked to Nikolas Taverna for lunch.
47: A final cocktail at Character Café overlooking the Aegean before heading down the path to the ship.
48: Was this the ass that decided to walk back down the donkey path? Interesting 30 minutes! rain + donkey dung = slippery slope
51: FRIDAY, MAY 7th EPHESUS, TURKEY
53: The history of Ephesus goes back 3000 years when it was first founded by the Attic and Ionian Greek colonists and was subsequently occupied by the Romans, the Byzantines and the Ottomans before being abandoned in the 15th century AD. For centuries the city was one of the greatest ports of the ancient world, but the sea has long since receded. It must have been exquisite. I tried to imagine this city of marble reflecting on the blue waters of the Aegean. It must have been magical.
54: the Men's Room | the Lion's Den Christians beware! | facade of Celsus Library where Cleopatra and Mark Antony visited 50+ years B.C.
57: The foot and the heart denote "this way to the pleasure house." | ancient intricate mosaic floors
59: FRIDAY, MAY 9th SIRINCE, TURKEY
61: After touring Ephesus, our guide brought us to Sirince Village where we were treated to a homemade lunch in the small private home of this Muslim woman (pictured with our guide). We then had an hour to meander the village streets and barter with the vendors before returning to the port city of Kusadasi. In Kusadasi we visited a rug dealer and purchased a beautiful 9' x 12' Oushak . . . and this is where I handed Mike the camera. It takes two hands to properly shop!
65: SATURDAY, MAY 10th KALAMBAKA, GREECE
67: The building of 24 monasteries on sandstone peaks began in the 14th century by monks who wanted to be closer to God. The average height is 1000 ft. Only 6 remain.
69: They seemed happy to have their photo taken and they tried so hard to tell me something but it was Greek.
71: This was the only nunnery among the monasteries. Oh Oh! Who's that man in their midst . . . and with binoculars!
72: It is ancient and exotic yet modern and vibrant It is where the Middle East and Europe collide Where the call to prayer is heard over rock 'n roll Where a Christian Church becomes a Mosque, becomes a Christian museum Where you take your shoes off but cover your head to enter a mosque Where a Muslim guide explains a mosaic of the Virgin Mary Where there are women with veiled faces, and women in mini skirts Where the smell of the dusty city, is overpowered with the sweet aroma of the Spice Market Where narrow cobblestone streets are crowded with cell phone vendors Where you can shop Hermes, Dior, Chanel, or the Grand Bazaar It is every city in one and it is the most unique and fascinating city in the world. It is Istanbul
73: SUNDAY, MAY 11th to TUESDAY MAY 14th ISTANBUL, TURKEY
74: Saint Sophia was built in 537 and was the greatest church in Christendom until the conquest in 1453 by Sultan Mehmet II who converted it to Hagia Sophia, an Islamic mosque. In 1934 it was proclaimed a museum and the plastered walls have been cleaned off to reveal the original grandeur of the mosaic ceilings and walls throughout this architectural masterpiece.
76: Hagia Sophia
78: Hagia Sophia
81: The Obelisk of Theodosius, on the right, was originally set up in Egypt around 1450 B.C. before being transported and erected here on the Hippodrome in 390 A.D. It is solid red granite about 62 feet tall without the base.
82: The Topkapi Palace Home of the Sultans 1465 to 1856
88: The Suleymaniye Mosque 1550 | this photo courtesy of Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons
92: The tour included the gardens and cemetery of Suleymaniye
94: The Blue Mosque or Sultanahmet Mosque was built in 1609 to 1616
97: The Blue Mosque
98: Istanbul is the only city in the world that spans two continents. The Bosphorus Strait flows from the Sea of Marmara on the West to the Black Sea on the East separating the city with Europe to the North and Asia to the South. Founded in 660 B.C. as Byzantium, it was later named Constantinople during the Roman Empire 330 A.D. and remained so until the Ottomans conquered in 1453.