Getting on/off a motorcoach with 4-5 steps up/down. Walking about 1 mile including ship and port corridors and gangways; further walking of about 2 miles; steps at church and mosque; standing up to 2 hours.
At the hotel.
After checking out of the hotel, we'll board a motorcoach for our Istanbul field trip, beginning with Hagia Sophia — Holy Wisdom — one of the world’s great historical and architectural wonders. It was built from 527-565 CE during the reign of Emperor Justinian. It was considered the Eighth Wonder of the World and served as a Christian church for nine centuries before being converted into a mosque. Hagia Sophia was declared a museum in 1935 after the founding of the Republic of Turkey under Kemal Atatürk. With a local expert, we will learn more about its history and architecture. Resources were brought from all corners of the Byzantine empire such as rare marbles; green porphyry; mosaics of gold, silver, glass, and colorful stones; and more than 100 columns including some taken from far older sites such as the Temple of Ephesus and Egypt. We will imagine this great monument at the height of its glory before natural disasters and the ravages of war that preceded its modern restoration. Moving on, we will visit the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque for what were originally richly hued blue tiles decorating its interior. It was constructed from 1609-1616 facing Hagia Sophia. Still an active mosque, it is the only one in Istanbul with six minarets where a Muezzin calls the faithful to prayer five times each day. Beneath its multiple domes, there are more than 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles, some 260 stained glass windows, and verses from the Qu’ran displayed in calligraphic art. Transfer approximately 30 minutes to the Port of Istanbul and embark the Aegean Odyssey.
Late lunch on board the ship. Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant.
After completing boarding procedures and having lunch, take some time to unpack, freshen up, and relax. Then begin to become familiar with this comfortable ship that will be our floating home for the duration of the program. The ship’s friendly and courteous staff are scrupulous about hygiene and you will find numerous dispensers with hand-sanitizer we are encouraged to use. Along with everyone on board, we will meet at muster stations when called for the ship’s safety drill. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. The extent and duration of elective walking and other free time activities is according to personal choice. In most ports, complimentary shuttle busses will be available for those who wish to explore independently.
Aboard ship, have dinner in the venue of your choice: the à la carte Marco Polo restaurant, open for dinner as well as lunch on full days at sea; and the Terrace Café with its extensive buffet, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Meals feature fresh local ingredients in tasty preparations. Both restaurants offer open-seating dining. All meals aboard ship are included, as well as afternoon tea and late night snacks. Non-alcoholic beverages plus select wines at dinner are included; other beverages are available for purchase.
On different evenings aboard ship, there will be activities to choose from such as a guest speaker, a performance by talented musicians, and opportunities for interaction with fellow Road Scholars. There is also a well-stocked library with daily newspapers received via satellite. Each evening, a briefing memo/daily journal will be placed in our cabins with highlights of the next day’s activities. Most mornings will begin with a group stretch session. On each full day of the program, we will gather with our Group Leader for an informal “port talk” about what’s ahead. The ship is scheduled to leave Istanbul on our journey to Trabzon.