Voyage of discovery: an eastern adventure
Matthew Hawker tells the tale of cruising to Egypt, via Istanbul and the Greek islands of Santorini and Lindos
For many, the concept of a cruise beckons the thought of old-age and retirement. Today’s youth commonly associate cruise voyages with lethargic relaxation and an exploration capacity that is, at best, limited. So, it’s relatively unheard of for an aspiring traveller to view the sights of the world via cruise ship. However, there are in fact numerous companies that aim to offer a more hands-on approach to sightseeing. One such company is Voyages of Discovery, a multi-award winning line that has garnered widespread critical acclaim. Their Eastern Adventure programme allows you to see some of the most spectacular sights of Ancient Greek, Egyptian and Ottoman culture.
As the largest city in Turkey, Istanbul constitutes the heart of the country’s economic, cultural and historic reverence. As one of the few transcontinental provinces—situated in both Europe and Asia—Istanbul is one of the most densely populated urban cities in the world. Naturally, the city boasts some of the most astounding sights to be seen: namely, the mosque of Sultan Ahmed.
The tale of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque—commonly referred to as the Blue Mosque— is bested only by its majesty. Built by Ahmed I as a tribute to his own legacy, it is widely considered the last great mosque of the Ottoman Empire. Boasting an unprecedented six minarets, eight minor domes and a central dome, it is truly a sight to behold.
Home to the site of the eruption of Thera, Santorini is a truly beautiful island. Unlike its counterparts, it is more appreciated for its endearing and idyllic culture than for its historical wonderment. Unfortunately, time limits allow for just a single day ashore, meaning this piece of paradise is reduced to a taster session—though it is a day you’re sure never to forget.
A Greek stay wouldn’t be complete without a journey into the ancient era. The Ancient Greeks, famed for their intuition and resourcefulness, were innovators of the acropolis. During its extensive history, the acropolis of Lindos has housed a number of diverse civilisations: from its founders, the Greeks, to the Ottomans of Asia, via the Romans, Byzantines and the Knights Hospitaller. It is deservedly heralded amongst the most impressive of ancient citadels and is a must for an enthusiast of ancient architecture.
Prior to the great pyramids and sphinx of Giza came another pyramid of importance: the pyramid of Djoser. One of the oldest known pyramids of the ancient world, the pyramid of Djoser was to be a burial ground for the great, eponymous pharaoh, Djoser.
Of course, all great feats are devised by great men. Djoser’s architect, Imhotep, is one such great man. It would be an injustice to him, then, if his achievements were not recognised; fortunately, a visit to the Imhotep Museum is located neatly alongside the pyramid of Djoser.
There are some who would argue that Cairo has lost its edge of late; that the pharaohs of old are becoming less of an attraction. Those people would be incredibly wrong.
Admittedly, the greatest attractions that Egypt has to offer are its pyramids. If you were to indulge in only one sight during your stay, direct yourself toward Giza; the sight of one of the original seven wonders of the world. The true magnificence of the pyramids of Giza can only be appreciated in person; the sheer enormity is sure to induce shock and awe in equal measure.
Yet if that doesn’t whet your appetite, a visit to the Cairo Museum assuredly will. After which, be sure to finish your journey with a taste of authentic Egyptian cuisine—the perfect end to the experience of a lifetime.
Pyramids, Giza: Flickr // archer 10
Banner image: Flickr // timkelley