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Voyages to Antiquity: The Black Sea, from Istanbul to Istanbul

Program Number: 19520RJ
Start and End Dates:
7/14/2013 - 7/29/2013;
Duration: 15 nights
Location: Turkey/Georgia/Russia/Ukraine/Bulgaria
Price starting at: $5,890.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Ocean Cruises
Meals: 40; 14 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 13 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Vegetarian; Low Salt; Gluten Free    

Embark on a voyage that brings to life the intriguing history of the Black Sea. Begin and end in Istanbul, a city of spectacular architecture and mystical atmosphere. Sail to fascinating ports including Batumi, Georgia, celebrated for its lovely botanical gardens; the ancient city of Nessebar, Bulgaria; and the Byzantine beauty of Thessaloniki, Greece.

Activity Particulars

Walking up and downhill, up to two miles per day. Standing up to four hours per day, with breaks; uneven terrain and steep stairs without railings at historic sites.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Istanbul (Turkey), 3 nights; aboard Aegean Odyssey, 11 nights.

Day 1: Overnight flight from the U.S.A.

Days 2-5: Arrival Istanbul (Turkey) / embark Aegean Odyssey:

Discover the architectural treasures of Istanbul, including the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque. Explore the Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar and enjoy a private boat excursion on the Bosphorus. Lodging: Four-star hotel.

Days 6-7: At Sea / Trabzon:

Enjoy a field trip to the Sumela Monastery, a stunning Greek Orthodox monastery built into a sheer cliff face in the 4th century.

Day 8: Batumi (Georgia):

In this Georgian port city, walk through the seaside Batumi Botanical Gardens, containing over 1,000 varieties of roses and featuring beautiful views.

Days 9-10: At Sea / Constanta (Romania):

Learn about the Greek colony known as Tomis, the oldest city in Romania. The legendary Jason and the Argonauts landed here after finding the Golden Fleece.

Days 11-12: Nessebar (Bulgaria) / At Sea:

Explore Nessebar’s beautiful old town including the Byzantine-style Church of Christ Pantokrator and the Archaeological Museum.

Day 13: Thessaloniki (Greece):

Delve into this city’s Byzantine heritage, including the 5th-century basilica Agios Dimítrios and the Museum of Byzantine Culture.

Day 14: Mount Athos / Kavala (Greece):

Sail past the so-called “Holy Mountain,” actually a long peninsula home to 20 major monasteries, and explore the beautiful Byzantine port town of Kavala.

Day 15: Lemnos (Greece):

Explore the town of Myrina, overlooked by the impressive Kastro castle, a stronghold fought over by the Byzantines, Venetians and Ottomans.

Day 15: Istanbul (Turkey) / disembark / departure

Aegean Odyssey

The Aegean Odyssey is a premium-class ship especially rebuilt for sailing along shallow coastlines, among remote islands and into small, uncrowded harbors that larger ocean liners can’t reach. Public areas include several gourmet restaurants, library, Internet center, sweeping sun decks, outdoor pool, gym and spa.

Meals and Lodgings
   Armada Hotel
  Istanbul, Turkey 3 nights
   MV Aegean Odyssey
  MV Aegean Odyssey - At Sea, At Sea 11 nights
 Armada Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The 4-star Armada Hotel is located in the historic peninsula of Istanbul, with views of two of the great masterpieces of world architecture; the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. The hotel offers modern comfort and convenience discreetly incorporated into the Turkish-inspired architecture, and period engravings throughout the hotel provide an insight into Istanbul's by-gone eras. The name of the Armada Hotel is a tribute to the memory of the renowned Ottoman Admiral Hayrettin Pasha Barbarossa. Located in the heart of the Old City, the hotel is within walking distance of museums, churches and other major attractions.
  Contact info: Ahirkapi Street 24
Istanbul,  34122 Turkey
phone: +90 212 455 44 55
  Room amenities: Each room has a mini bar, hair dryer, bathrobes, telephone, LCD television, safe box, free wireless Internet, 24-hour room service and air conditioning.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers two restaurants, a bar, lounge, meeting rooms, business center with computers and printers, library, free WIFI Internet access throughout the hotel, laundry service and air conditioning. The rooftop restaurants offer magnificent views of the area.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: N/A Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. 1-800-241-1404
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 MV Aegean Odyssey
Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: The MV Aegean Odyssey offers boutique-style cruising at its best. In contrast to the massive vessels cruising to and from major ports, it is a midsized ship adapted for island and coastal cruising. The Aegean Odyssey can visit smaller, less crowded harbors and sail closer to the coast enabling you to really appreciate the magical views.
  Ship Information: Ship’s Tonnage: 11,563 Length: 461 feet Beam: 67 feet Draft: 20.5 feet Cruising Speed: 18 knots Passenger Decks: 7 Stabilizers: 2 Passenger Staterooms/Cabins: 198 Passengers – lower beds: 378 Classification: Lloyd’s Register Society London Ship’s Registration: Malta
  Contact info: Voyages to Antiquity
1800 SE 10th Avenue, Suite 230
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316 USA
phone: 877-398-1460
  Room amenities: All cabins are equipped with a flat screen TV, air-conditioning, and personal safe. Particular importance is placed on the standard of bedding in cabins. Luxury bedding, including fine duvets, covers and sheets, ample soft pillows and quality towels can be expected. Also, shampoo, bath and shower gel, soap, and shower cap are provided. Your cabin steward is always available. Cabins and suites feature outlets with 220 voltage, using the “European” two round pin plug. Hair dryers are provided in your cabin and electric rollers, curling irons, electric shavers and other small appliances can be used in your cabin. For safety reasons, travel irons are not allowed.
  Facility amenities: Dining: MV Aegean Odyssey offers many dining facilities: The Marco Polo Restaurant is the ship's more formal restaurant, providing casual country-club elegance for lunch or dinner; The Terrace Cafe offers a combination of indoor and outdoor seating where you can indulge in breakfast, lunch and dinner from the grill or the sumptuous daily buffet. In the evenings, enjoy breathtaking views over dinner at Tapas on the Terrace. *There is a complimentary choice of wine, beer, or soft drinks with your evening meal. There will be a string trio, pianist and casual dancing before and after dinner. You may also wish to partake in afternoon tea, served in the Observation Lounge or enjoy an evening snack and cocktail, available in the Lido and Rendezvous bars. A limited room service menu is available. Special Diets: Please advise us at the time of booking of any special dietary requirements. The ship can usually meet most general requests such as those made with an air carrier; however, this cannot always be guaranteed. Services: Library; outdoor pool; spa; health center, saunas, massage and beauty treatment rooms and early morning yoga on the Lido Deck; elevators; Internet center (open 24 hours and a charge of $18 for 4 non-consecutive hours is applied, wireless available in reception area); beauty salon; medical center; laundry and pressing services (order form and laundry bag is provided in cabin); lecture theater and cinema and on board shop.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Istanbul, Turkey. 6:00 PM Welcome meeting in the hotel lobby. You will be staying at Armada Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
Istanbul, Turkey. Depart for IST after breakfast on the last day. You will be staying at MV Aegean Odyssey the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. The Voyages to Antiquity Guest Registration Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Istanbul
  Nearest city or town:  In town
  Nearest airport:  Atatürk International Airport
  Transportation to site: The Armada Hotel is located about 10 miles from the airport. A taxi ride from the airport to the hotel costs approximately $30 USD and takes approximately 30 minutes. To book a private transfer, please contact
  From End of Program
  Location:  MV Aegean Odyssey - At Sea
  Transportation from site: The Aegean Odyssey will provide transfers to the Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST). Inquire onboard for pricing.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departures
(Sunday, July 14)
 In Transit: Depart US/Canada on international overnight flight.

Day 2: Welcome
(Monday, July 15)
 Afternoon: Arrival at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport (IST). Meet group outside of customs. Transfer to the Armada Hotel. Welcome Orientation at 6:00 PM in hotel lobby.
 Dinner: Dinner in hotel dining room.
Accommodations: Armada Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Istanbul, Turkey
(Tuesday, July 16)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel dining room.
 Morning: Start the day by visiting the amazing church of Hagia Sophia, possibly the most important architectural monument in the city, standing gracefully since 537 AD. Field trip to the Hippodrome, the civic center of ancient Constantinople, where chariot races were run between the four teams of Blues, Greens, Whites and Reds. Then visit the 17th century Blue Mosque, world renowned for its exquisite Iznik tiles surrounding the interior of this wonderful mosque.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: In the afternoon explore the beautiful Underground Cisterns, built by the illustrious Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 532 AD to store water underground. A visit to the award winning Archeology Museum will broaden your horizons as you will witness an outstanding collection of artifacts spanning across millennia including the magnificent Sarcophagus of Alexander the Great.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Armada Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Istanbul, Turkey
(Wednesday, July 17)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room.
 Morning: Explore the Topkapi Palace and the Harem. The Topkapi Palace was the seat of the Ottoman Sultans for 400 years and a great testimony to the wealth and power of the Ottoman Empire.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: We visit the Rustem Pasha Mosque, built by the famous architect Sinan, a small but gem-like mosque demonstrating the most stunning examples of 16th century Iznik tiles. On to the Spice Bazaar, where exotic aromas immediately capture its visitors.
 Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.
Accommodations: Armada Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Istanbul, Turkey - Embark the MV Aegean Odyssey
(Thursday, July 18)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room.
 Morning: This morning, we embark on a private cruise on the Bosphorus to explore the stunning palaces, mansions, and fortresses dotted along the Asian and European shores of this marvelous strait.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: In the afternoon visit the Chora Church/Kariye Museum to witness its exquisite mosaics and frescoes from the 14th century, a period of Byzantine reawakening in arts. Continue the day with a visit to the Grand Bazaar to discover its maze-like streets and alleys and 4,000 shops! Embark the MV Aegean Odyssey in the late afternoon and depart for Trabzon. Late afternoon Road Scholar orientation to the ship in the "Observation Lounge."
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Cruising the Southern Coast of the Black Sea
(Friday, July 19)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: At sea. Attend a lecture given by a shipboard guest speaker.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: At sea. Relax and continue to enjoy the program as the ship makes it way to Trabzon. Attend a talk by your Road Scholar Group Leader.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Trabzon, Turkey / Meeting Locals
(Saturday, July 20)

Note: Heavy walking for one or more hours over uneven terrain, with multiple uphill segments.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: A full-day in Trabzon. This morning's field trip will take us to the Sumela monastery. Built high in the mountains in the 4th century, the monastery is a place of astounding natural beauty.
 Lunch: Road Scholar lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Travel to a local village where we will visit the local mosque, meet the imam of the mosque and the mayor of the village, and share tea and coffee with the locals at a coffeehouse. The villagers grow hazelnuts and our visit will occur a few weeks prior to harvest, so the trees will be filled with hazelnuts. Then return to Trabzon for some free time before re-embarking the ship.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Evening departure for Batumi. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Batumi, Georgia
(Sunday, July 21)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Discover the large, well-preserved fortress that once marked an important Hellenistic and Roman urban center in the region of Colchis. Mythology holds that Jason came to this kingdom in search of the Golden Fleece, and indeed archaeologists have found objects that date as far back as the 8th century BC. En route to the fortress, you'll visit old and new Batumi, the capital of Georgia's autonomous republic of Adjara. Evidence of the city's revitalization is everywhere: a huge tourist complex, an Aqua Park and a Dolphinarium. Your destination is the Gonio Fortress, built at the mouth of the Chorokhi River in the latter half of the 1st century AD. The site rose to prominence in Hellenistic and Roman times, but successive rulers added their touches: pebble-and-brick walls by the Byzantines and merlons by the Ottomans. The Apostle Matthias, who replaced Judas, is said to be buried beneath the crenellated walls. Enjoy a guided excursion of the fortress to see the mighty towers as well as remains of Roman baths and the garrison mosque. Next visit Adjara State Museum, housed in a classical 19th century Treasury building. Here, over 100,000 exhibits illuminate the history, culture and life of Adjara. Continue to Batumi's European Square, dominated by a monumental sculpture of Medea. Conclude your visit at Primorsky Park, founded in 1884. The beautiful colonnade, musical fountains and sparkling blue sea provide a lovely image to take back to the ship.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: A free afternoon to explore Batumi. You may wish to visit the vibrant market or the Ethnographic Museum.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Feodosiya, Ukraine
(Monday, July 22)

Note: This day includes heavy walking for one or more hours over uneven terrain with multiple uphill segments.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: At sea. Enjoy the Observation Deck if the weather is nice, or dive into a good book from the ship's library.
 Lunch: Lunch on board or at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: You don't need to be a military architect to appreciate the Ukraine's most impressive surviving fortress, perched on a massive cliff above the town of Sudak. In the 13th century the Genoese set up large trading posts in the eastern Crimea which thrived on commerce along the Silk Route to China and central Asia. One of the defenses remaining from this time of Italian colonization in the Black Sea overlooks the town of Sudak. This remarkably preserved fortress is hailed by UNESCO as a unique complex of monuments of medieval archaeology and architecture of the 6th to 16th centuries. The magnificent sandstone structure was built during the 14th and 15th centuries by Tatar craftsmen with massive 6½-foot-thick walls that blend harmoniously with the surrounding natural landscape of sheer cliffs and sea. This superb example of Genoese fortification architecture resembles a mini Great Wall of China. Of the 18 original towers, 10 remain, many with their original Italian names. These include the Tower of Torsello, the Consul's Tower and the mysterious Virgin's Tower. Walk the cobblestone courtyard and take in the spectacular views. Following your visit there'll be more panoramas to enjoy on the scenic drive back to the port.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: A late evening departure for Yalta. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Yalta, Ukraine
(Tuesday, July 23)

Note: There are approximately five steps to Chekhov House restrooms.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Combine a visit to the home of writer Anton Chekhov with a visit to Livadia Palace, the last summer residence of Tsar Nicholas II and site of the Yalta Conference in 1945. Drive from the ship, enjoying a panoramic view of Yalta en route to the Anton Chekhov Memorial House, where the Russian author (1860-1904) wrote his famous short story The Lady With A Lap Dog and such plays as The Cherry Orchard and The Three Sisters. The charming two-story cottage sits amid delightful gardens laced with a winding footpath. Chekhov designed both the house and gardens himself. He also loved to entertain, and his guests included Tolstoy, Gorky and Rachmaninov who played the piano you can see in the sitting room. Drive next to Livadia Palace. Built in 1911 for the last tsar, this neo-Renaissance palace was site of the February 1945 Yalta Conference when Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin met to divide post-World War II Europe. Franklin Roosevelt and members of the American delegation stayed at this palace, designed by Russian architect Nickolay Krasnov in white Crimean stone. Enjoy a guided excursion of the palace's rooms which evoke a tsarist past. Later, there will be free time for souvenir shopping on the ground floor, which has an exhibit about the conference.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Step into a world of impressive wealth on this excursion featuring exotic Alupka Palace. Your drive begins with a photo stop at a viewpoint above the famed Swallow's Nest Castle where you have a superb view of this Gothic fairytale castle. Since its construction in 1912, the castle has been the symbol of Yalta and the Crimea. Drive next to Vorontsov Palace in Alupka, enjoying panoramic views of the coast and Ai-Petri Mountain, the palace's stunning backdrop. Alupka Palace is also known as Vorontsov Palace because it was built for Count Mikhail Vorontsov, one of the richest men in 19th century Russia. The building was designed by English architect, Edward Blore, who designed parts of Buckingham Palace. Work on the grandiose building started in 1826. The Count imported serfs from his estates throughout Russia to complete the palace and park. The result is a bold-but-harmonious blend of styles in a building that resembles a Scottish castle from one angle and the Moorish Alhambra from another. Explore the lavish interior into which Vorontsov poured his wealth unstintingly. View such splendors as the Wedgwood blue room, the English dining hall and indoor conservatory. Admire the Southern Façade behind the palace where six marble lions by Italian sculptor Bonani flank an ornate staircase. When Winston Churchill stayed here during the 1945 Yalta Conference, he is said to have remarked that one of the lions resembled him. Since then, it's been known as the Churchill Lion.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Sevastopol, Ukraine
(Wednesday, July 24)

Note: Some uneven surfaces. Hats, sun block and walking shoes recommended. Temperatures inside the Balaklava Harbor museum can be cool, so consider a sweater or jacket.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: "Into the valley of death rode the six hundred." Visit Balaklava Battlefield, the setting for the doomed Charge of the Light Brigade described in Tennyson's famous poem. Your adventure starts with a drive to Sevastopol's vast panorama hall, where valor in the Crimean War is depicted in the magnificent (377 feet long, 46 feet high) painting. Opened in 1905, the museum's showpiece is an enormous canvas by Russian battle artist F. Roubaud depicting the assault on Sevastopol on June 18, 1855. From atop the observation platform in the center of the hall, you will feel as if you are on Malakhov Hill during one of the fiercest battles of the Crimean War. Your excursion also visits the 4th bastion, which was one of the main fortifications of the city during the siege of Sevastopol. Following this, you will have time to visit the gift shops near the museum. Your excursion continues to Sapoune Ridge and the observation platform over the Balaklava Battlefield, site of the ill-fated British cavalry charge on October 25, 1854. Stand on almost the same spot where British Commanderin- Chief Lord Raglan watched the disaster unfold and imagine his horror as he saw his men ride into a cul-de-sac controled on three sides by the enemy. Sapoune Ridge is also site of a memorial to World War II and there is an outdoor display of weapons used during battles in Sevastopol. Your guide will relate the history and you will have some free time before continuing to Balaklava Valley, where vineyards now grow, to lay wreaths at the Monument Stone of Reconciliation.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Discover a top-secret Cold War facility straight out of a James Bond film. Now a Naval Museum, the secretive submarine site is one of many historic spots on Balaklava's seafront. Ancient Greek and Byzantine historians spoke of this inlet as Symbolon-Limne, the Harbor of Omens. Homer deemed it a pirate's lair. During the Crimean War of 1853-56 and the siege of Sevastopol, Britain used this harbor as an army supply base, building the first Crimean railway from the docks to the front-line near Sevastopol. The harbor's unique S-shape made it an ideal shelter for ships, but not enough to protect them from the severe winter of 1854, which destroyed much of the fleet and threatened to do the same to the sailors. Back home, women knitted wool caps and sent them to Balaklava. Drive from the port to the Naval Museum, formerly an underground plant for submarines which could carry nuclear weapons. This made Balaklava one of the most restricted towns in Russia until the Soviet Union collapse in 1991. The base is hidden deep inside the hillside and accessed by canals running through an underground cave to a secret inner harbor. The base was complete with dry dock and room for up to 9 submarines capable of carrying nuclear missiles. At one time most of Balaklava worked at this top-secret base. Today a guided excursion lets you see the inner workings of this hush-hush facility. Then continue to Balaklava's seafront for a refreshing stroll during which you'll learn more about this harbor and the town's Genoese heritage, which includes majestic Cembalo Fortress on the Eastern Cape.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Overnight in Sevastopol.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Sevastopol, Ukraine
(Thursday, July 25)

Note: There is over a mile of walking and some uneven surfaces, with 70 steps. Photos and video are not allowed inside the Cathedral.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Trace the roots of Russian Orthodox Christianity and earlier civilizations on a walking excursion of Chersonesos, a Greek colony founded in 422BC. In addition, visit the site's Archaeological Museum and magnificent St Vladimir Cathedral. Chersonesos played an important role in Crimean and Russian history. It is called the cradle of Russian Orthodox Christianity, for it is here that the Kievan Prince Vladimir was baptized in 988AD and introduced the faith to his country. Drive from the ship to the magnificent ruins whose name means "peninsula.” Here you'll begin your walking excursion. Sights include a Greek theater, and Roman temples and fortifications. View elaborate marble columns from an early Christian church. Visit the site's Archaeological Museum, where thousands of years of history are chronicled in pottery, mosaics, coins and ornaments excavated at the site. In addition, admire St Vladimir Cathedral, built in the 19th century on a small hill overlooking the site. This Byzantine style church has recently been restored and the effect is impressive.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Free afternoon to enjoy Sevastopol. Alternatively, you may wish to take an optional excursion to Khan’s Palace (additional cost, bookable on board).
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Evening departure to Odessa. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Odessa, Ukraine
(Friday, July 26)

Note: Please dress respectfully entering the cathedral. Women are asked to cover heads. No shorts for men. Photos and video are not allowed inside the Cathedral.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Discover historic and cultural landmarks of Odessa. Drive from the port to the new monument to Catherine the Great, where the walk begins. See the statue of Odessa's first governor, the Duke de Richelieu, set above the sweeping Potemkin Staircase, which welcomes visitors arriving by sea. Continue with a walking excursion along historic Prymorsky Boulevard, lined with majestic trees and aristocratic palaces. At City Hall, view the statue of the poet Pushkin and a British cannon captured during the Crimean War. Explore the Archaeology Museum's artifacts from Greek, Scythian and Slav cultures, as well as its Golden Room of ancient jewelry. See the exterior of the grandiose Opera and Ballet Theater, a 19th century structure by Viennese architects, where Anna Pavlova once danced. Then drive to City Garden, a small park centrally located beside the famous Deribovskaya Street. It is decorated with flowers and a fountain in the middle. Have a walk in the garden and call at the Passage to see its beautiful interior. Next proceed to the recently restored Transfiguration Cathedral, Odessa's largest church. In Cathedral Square, you'll have free time to browse. Admire the monument to Count Mikhail Vorontsov (1781-1856), a former governor who built the first steamship to navigate the Dnieper and established steamship service for Black Sea ports. Following this highlight-filled trip, you return to the port.
 Lunch: Road Scholar lunch at the famous Londonskaya Hotel.
 Afternoon: Enjoy an afternoon at leisure or book the optional excursion to view Count Tolstoy's and Prince Gagarin's Palace (addtional cost, bookable on board).
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Attend an exclusive performance and guided excursion of the famed National Opera House and Ballet Theater. Renowned for its rich architectural detail and its creative biography, the Opera House is one of Odessa's premier highlights.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Odessa, Ukraine
(Saturday, July 27)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Free time to explore Odessa on your own or, alternatively, visit the Catacombs & Monument to the Unknown Soldier (additional cost, bookable on board).
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: At sea. Attend a shipboard guest lecture as the ship sails towards Nessebur.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15: Nessebur, Bulgaria
(Sunday, July 28)

Note: Extensive walking, some uneven terrain and 70 steps. Most sites are not accessible by wheelchair.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Sailing toward Nessebur. Attend a talk by your Road Scholar Group Leader.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Step back in time on a delightful stroll through the heart of Old Nessebur, one of Bulgaria's most endearing towns and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Over 3,000 years ago Thracians came to this rocky peninsula and founded a settlement called Menabria. Greeks followed with a colony in 6BC. In the middle ages, this was one of the most important Byzantine towns on the Black Sea's west coast. Each layer of history enriches Nessebur, where a walk takes you through the centuries. There are walls of the original Thracian fort, and over 40 churches from the Byzantine Empire. Stroll along quiet cobblestone lanes winding down to the sea. Savor the charm of the small squares lined with 19th century wood houses. Your guide will provide insight into Nessebur's history on your visit to the magnificent ruins of the Old Metropolitan Church, a basilica that dates to the 5th century. Step inside the Archaeological Museum to admire the brilliant display of local icon paintings that illuminate the city's Byzantine past. On this walking excursion, view Nessebur's abundant churches, which include Christ Pantocrator, St John Aliturgetos, Blessed Saviour, St Paraskeva and Holy Archangels. You will also enjoy a visit inside the 11th century Church of St Stefan, noted for its beautiful 16th century frescoes. Following this, there will be free time for shopping before returning to the ship.
 Dinner: Enjoy a late afternoon Road Scholar cocktail party. Farewell Dinner on board.
 Evening: Evening departure for Istanbul.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16: Istanbul, Turkey / Departures
(Monday, July 29)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Disembark and transfer to Istanbul's Ataturk Airport (IST) for departures.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

The Towers of Trebizond

Author: Rose MacAulay, Jan Morris (Introduction)

Description: Mixing high farce, archaeology, history and lively travel writing, Rose MacAulay's impossibly witty short novel is back in a new edition. Originally published in 1956, MacAulay follows the adventures of English missionaries traipsing to across Turkey from Istanbul to Trabzon.

1453, The Holy War For Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West

Author: Roger Crowley

Description: In this well-paced history, Crowley recounts with drama the events surrounding the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks.

A Short History of Byzantium

Author: John Julius Norwich

Description: A richly detailed and evocative history of the tumultuous span of the great empire from the fourth century to the 15th, brimming with intrigue, skullduggery, palace revolution and other treachery.

Ancient Turkey, A Traveller's History

Author: Seton Lloyd

Description: Turkey's archaeology and early history for the traveler by the former head of the British Archaeological Institute in Ankara.

Art of the Byzantine Era

Author: David Talbot Rice

Description: Wide-ranging and literate, this thoroughly illustrated introduction to Byzantine art is an indispensable classic.

Black Sea

Author: Neal Ascherson

Description: In this skillful portrait of a region, Ascherson weaves his own travels and impressions with a fascinating account of the Black Sea's history. From ancient mythology to modern politics, he admirably never loses sight of the sea itself.

Borderland, A Journey through the History of Ukraine

Author: Anna Reid

Description: Reid, who was for three years the Kiev correspondent for The Economist, combines first-person reports, interviews and history in this vivid portrait of the region and its people. With chapters on Kiev and Odessa.

Bradt Guide Ukraine

Author: Andrew Evans

Description: This guide in the popular British series features comprehensive practical information and provides a short section on the country's history and culture. With over 30 maps.

Crescent and Star

Author: Stephen Kinzer

Description: This insightful anecdotal report on contemporary life, culture and politics in Turkey comes from a former New York Times Istanbul bureau chief, who is especially attuned to the powerful geographic position of Turkey and its multiple identities in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Eyewitness Guide Istanbul

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: This superb guide to Istanbul features color photography, dozens of excellent local maps and a district-by-district synopsis of the city's attractions. Handsome, convenient and up-to-date, this is the guide to carry.

Istanbul, Memories and the City

Author: Orhan Pamuk

Description: Nobel Prize-winner Pamuk writes with quiet grace of the city of his birth, celebrated in his many novels: a magical place of crumbling mansions and Ottoman riches, mingling Asian, Islamic, secular and European influences.

Noah's Flood, The New Scientific Discoveries about the Event That Changed History

Author: William Ryan, Walter Pitman

Description: Yes, there was a flood! So report the scientist-authors in this vivid account of the geology of the Black Sea. They draw on biblical history, marine geology, archaeology and mythology to demonstrate that the Black Sea was breached by the Mediterranean 7,600 years ago.

Odessa, Genius and Death in a City of Dreams

Author: Charles King

Description: King (Black Sea, The Moldovans) writes with verve not only of the history of this great port city but also of noteworthy personalities, including Alexander Puskin, Isaac Babel and Nobel Prize-winning biologist Ilya Mechnikov.

Russia, A Concise History

Author: Ronald Hingley

Description: Well-known scholar Hingley sketches Russia's multiple transformations from her illiterate, pagan, Slavic roots to a multi-ethnic empire in this highly readable, well-illustrated brief history.

The Black Sea, A History

Author: Charles King

Description: A brisk history of the region, showing the Black Sea as uniting diverse cultures in the Balkans, Central Asia and the Middle East.

The Collected Stories of Isaac Babel

Author: Isaac Babel

Description: An authoritative edition of Isaac Babel's powerful short fiction, including his early Red Cavalry Stories and The Odessa Tales.

Turkish Reflections, A Biography of a Place

Author: Mary Lee Settle

Description: Settle's captivating travelogue is a richly detailed portrait of contemporary Turkey, its people, monasteries, myths, archaeological treasures and living traditions. Exemplary.

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