Discover the Magic of Istanbul & the Greece of Athens and Santorini
If you are entranced by the tales of Scheherazade and sagas of Homer and Helen of Troy—and if you have imagined yourself sitting at an outdoor café in spring on the island of Santorini high above the sapphire sweep of the Aegean Sea—you should mark the dates of this invitation for April 17 to April 28 of 2010.
Join us for a tour of the great intercultural crossroads of Istanbul, and the Athens of both ancient and modern Greece; the islands of Crete and Santorini, a cruise in the Saronic Gulf and nights beside the surf of the Aegean.
When you travel this part of the world you find your sense of time shifting effortlessly between life in the 21st century and antiquity, between the mythic and the real, because in the Eastern Mediterranean they blend uncannily. Scheherazade was poetic. Istanbul of the Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque are real, and so are the East Meets West atmospherics of this great metropolis.
And not far from there are the Athens and Parthenon, and the Agora where Socrates taught. From Athens it’s an hour to the alluring ocean fronts and mysteries of the Mediterranean island of Crete.
And then Santorini, the jewel of the Aegean, and the site of a vast volcanic explosion 3,000 years ago that gave rise to the legend of the Sunken Continent of Atlantis.
So it’s no wonder travelers experiencing this part of the world bring a wide mix of curiosities. The reality they find is the legacy of two extraordinary civilizations that in their expansion and quest for power spread art and learning along with conflict. The Ottomans of Turkey receded centuries ago but the country is a treasure of discovery for the westerner. What we know about Greece is that it was a fountainhead of science, medicine, drama and democracy. The evidence and history are still there in Athens, as are the surviving splendors of its art and architecture.
For the romanticist stirred both by ancient literature and mythology, these ten days in the Mediterranean of Greece and Turkey fill the senses daily from the Straits of Bosporus to the heights above of the great blue caldera of Santorini.
The land cost of this tour will be $3,350 per person, double occupancy. Arrangements can be made for those traveling single. It includes the service of an English-speaking guide, air conditioned bus, all meals as per itinerary, air costs from Istanbul to Athens and from Athens to Crete, an all-day cruise in the Saronic Gulf and a cruise on the Aegean from Crete to Santorini. Because of changing fare conditions and airline policies, early commitments are a wise and significant part of international travel. Travelers increasingly are making use of frequent flyer mileage to cover airline costs. Where that option is available we urge you to make use of it on this tour. For those wishing to purchase airfare, Northwest/KLM currently has a consolidator fare of $1,030 per person. In all cases we urge you to consult with Suzanne Zapolski at 612 661 4624, toll free at 1-800 843-0606 or cell 612 644 6404. Suzanne is associated with the Borton Overseas agency in Minneapolis and is familiar to hundreds of members of Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures as a quality booking agent. She can advise you on your frequent flyer plans as well as current ticketing options. We strongly suggest that you contact her soon to take advantage of current rates as well as prospective ones.
The deadline for the initial deposit of $750 to secure a place on the trip is Nov. 20 of this year with final payment by March 15, 2010. If you have questions, please contact Suzanne Zapolski by phone or Suzanne@Bortonoverseas.com. or Jim Klobuchar at 763-258-1371 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can make your check payable to Borton Overseas at 5412 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis 55419, Attention Suzanne, or contact Suzanne for a credit card deposit.
For the traveler drawn to the architectural treasures of antiquity, there are few sights to equal twilight over the spires and domes of the Blue Mosque and Sophia Basilica in Istanbul or the preserved elegance of ancient Greece evoked by the Parthenon and the amphitheaters in Athens. It’s a part of the world hard to resist at any time of the year but in the spring the Aegean is glorious and Athens and Istanbul, both the historic and the modern, are still easily accessible without competition from the summer throngs.
If you’re fascinated by the turbulent history of this part of the world, Istanbul is the perfect start. Here is the hinge of Europe and Asia, their land masses symbolically linked (but still separate) in the form of a bridge over the Bosporus, one of the longest suspension spans in the world. This is the onetime stronghold of the Ottomans, who hundreds of years ago spread their empire from Asia Minor to North Africa, Spain, the Balkans and southeastern Europe. It was an era reflected by the elegant Topkapi Palace once ruled by sultans who were then among the most powerful and certainly most acquisitive rulers on earth, judged by the congestion of their harems.
Here is my (our) registration deposit of $750 for Springtime in the Mediterranean with Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures April 17-28 in 2010, due by Nov. 20.
Today the jeweled opulence remains along with the courtyards, but the harems have disappeared into the librettos of operas and James Bond movies. It is still very much Istanbul, a huge polylingual city touched—like Cairo—with an atmosphere of intrigue and mystery that is not imaginary. There is profuse international commerce and politics here. There is also a lot of fun, in the coffee houses and the shops, in the discovery of genuine Turkish cuisine, and in the Grand Market of nearly 4,000 (that is correct) shops under roof. There the merchants compete and customers haggle, stroll and banter with the shopkeepers, and the goods are incredibly diverse and often high quality.
Athens, of course, is much more than the locale of Aristotle’s Greece. It’s bouzouki music and impetuous cab drivers, gyros you can’t imagine and the shops, arcades and hawkers, cafes and the indestructibly live music of the Plaka district.
Here is the daily itinerary for those flying Northwest-KLM. Frequent Flyers will have the identical land itinerary.
April 17—Depart Minneapolis NW 565 p.m., arrive in Amsterdam 8:15 a.m. April 18.
April 18—Depart Amsterdam KLM 1613 at 9:25 a.m. and arrive Istanbul 1:45 p.m. Transfer to our Celal Aga Konagi Hotel for welcome dinner at Karavansary night club. (D)
April 19— Half day tour of Istanbul Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace Museum. (B, L)
April 20—Half day tour of Istanbul: Grand Bazaar, cruise in Straits of Bosporus. (B, D)
April 21—10:30 a.m. flight to Athens and transfer to Herodion Hotel. Afternoon tour of Athens including Parthenon on the Acropolis. (B, D)
April 22—Cruise in the Saronic Gulf with time ashore on the islands. Overnight Herodion. (B, L)
April 23—Flight to Crete, transfer to Rinela Beach Hotel. (B)
April 24—Day at leisure on Crete with options. Overnight Rinela Beach Hotel. (B)
April 25—Transfer to Heraklion harbor for cruise to Santorini. Transfer to Astir Thira Hotel. Explore Santorini. (B)
April 26—Day at leisure on Santorini with options. Overnight Astir Thira. (B)
April 27—Flight to Athens, also covered in land costs. Farewell dinner. Overnight Herodion Hotel. (B, D)
April 28—Transfer to airport for early departure of KLM 1572 at 5 a.m., arriving Amsterdam 7:30 a.m., transfer to NW41 leaving Amsterdam at 10:20 a.m. arriving Minneapolis 12:20 p.m.
Bring cameras, swim suits, suntan lotion and be primed to be amazed.
The Voyagurs were robust and impetuous French fur traders who paddled their canoes, sang their songs and left their mark on the history of what are now Canada and northern Minnesota.
We’re going to bike this June through the land and among the waters where those rollicking Frenchmen roamed, places whose names now evoke their passage and their explorations—Grand Marais, Pigeon River, Grand Portage and more.
The format of this 35th annual Jaunt With Jim will be altered somewhat this year because of special opportunities available to us to enjoy the lake country as modern Voyageurs, except that these will travel with short pants and water bottles.
The dates are June 12-19. We’ll begin by biking along the most absorbing of all of the seascapes of the North Shore drive of Lake Superior, from Tofte to the Canadian Border. We’ll camp for three different nights in Grand Marais, and then ride the Gunflint highway into the interior of the Boundary Waters Canoe country of the Superior National Forest. There we’ll spend two nights at the renowned Gunflint Lodge on the shore of Gunflint Lake, part of the original route of the Voyageurs.
To do this we’ve made arrangements with the management of the Gunflint Lodge to reserve virtually all units of the lodge for our use under special discount rates. These include 22 of its immaculate and tastefully furnished lakeside cottages, offering from one to four bedrooms that can accommodate from to 2 to 12 people. Also available to us are bunk houses normally used by canoeing parties in the Boundary Waters but for June 16th and 17th also offered to our group.
The Gunflint segment of the ride departs for two nights from our customary practice of camping overnight in city parks or on the school campus of communities en route. We will be tenting the rest of the trip, for three nights in Grand Marais, one in Tofte and the other in Grand Portage near the Canadian border.
Tenting by a group our size is not available at the Gunflint Lodge or any similar facility on the Gunflint Trail. We certainly want all who have biked with us through the years—plus newcomers —to share in this experience. In order to do it fairly and to allow you choices, options for our stay at the Gunflint will be provided in the registration form below.
This is the route: June 12, pre-ride tent camp at the Birch Grove school on the south edge of Tofte, a 5 to 6 hour drive from the Twin Cities. We’ll park our cars there. Parking information will be provided later to all who register. June 13—Ride to Temperance River Gorge then to Grand Marais. June 14—to Grand Portage near the Canadian Border. June 15—Ride back to Grand Marais. June 16—Down the Gunflint Highway to Gunflint Lodge. June 17—Gunflint Lodge—canoe, hiking tours, biking to end of Gunflint Trail. June 18– Return to Grand Marais. June 19—Ride to Tofte.
The distances between overnights this year are shorter than the average of previous rides and generally will be around 40 miles, the Gunflint Trail ride being closer to 50. In each case we’ll recommend scenic extensions of up to 15 and 20 miles. These will obviously be devoured easily by the high energy stars of our group. The North Shore is always lovely but the ride from Grand Marais to Grand Portage is spectacular. The Conductor believes the nearby casino at Grand Portage will present scant temptation to the few casual gamesters in our number. As a bonus: When you’re riding beneath the forested cliffs of the great Lake Superior headland, the lupine season will be in full glow, spreading the hills with purple, white and vermilion.
In the arithmetic that follows here, please remember that the five meals included at the Gunflint Lodge are equivalent to the cost of the catered meals normally provided by civic and service groups on our ride. Registration for the ride will be $165, which covers services of the duffel bag shuttle truck, the Penn Cycle maintenance van and other services we receive in the communities and schools.. The traditional t-shirts will be distributed the morning of the first day along a detailed daily itinerary.
Camping is not feasible on the Gunflint premises. The total cost of two overnights in the communal bunk houses at the Gunflint Lodge is $15 per person. Nearby showers will be available. The per person cost of the lakeside lodge accommodations will be $25 a night, $50 total, a huge reduction from the lodge’s normal summer prices. The cost of five meals at the lodge will be $37. This means the total cost for your two-day stay at the Gunflint Lodge, with de luxe cottages and all meals plus free access to its fleet of canoes, will be $87 per person, tax included. If you prefer a bunk with meals and all the other services included, the cost will be $52.
We want these choices to be offered fairly in a way that will help you to arrange for lodge partners if you choose. In all of the cottages, individual privacy is assured. All of the multiple units have at least two bathrooms with showers and, in some cases, Jacuzzis. The lodge offers eight cottages with one bedroom each. All have one king bed that can accommodate a single or a couple. For understandable reasons, couples will be given preference, but there is ample space in the rest of the cottage to accommodate singles. The lodge has four cottages with two bedrooms that can accommodate four to eight people. From there it has cottages with from two to four bedrooms that can accommodate from six to 12 people. Your registration form includes the usual contact information plus space to indicate your lodging preference–cottage or bunk. It will also ask you to indicate whether you wish to share a cottage with friends and to identify them so that we can align as many people as possible with their friends. Please recognize that there may be a surplus of that type of reservation. If decisions have to be made in that regard, the postmark of your registration will be governing. If consultations by email or phone make sense, we’ll do our best to accommodate you. The lodge management will not be involved in the allocation of rooms. But there should be enough space to accommodate all of you who choose a cottage. We also should have some flexibility once we’re into the ride.
Your registration should include a check for $165 made out to Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures, and a check for either $87 to Gunflint Lodge, or $52 to Gunflint Lodge, for lodging and meals, depending on which of the lodging options you choose. The bunk accommodations are simple but comfortable and close to the center of lodge activity.
We’ll be arriving at the lodge by early to mid afternoon on June 16, a Tuesday. The lodge’s canoes are available to all riders free of charge during our stay. The next day is completely open. One of the prime options is a guided canoe trip with two manageable portages to Ham Lake, and a lakeside lunch. If you haven’t experienced a portaged canoe trip in the lake country, this one’s perfect as a starter. An option is a guided nature hike to the heights above the lake. Another is a bike ride to the end of the Gunflint some 15 miles away. Or you can simply enjoy the lodge ambience and it’s the lakefront.
We’re going to be camping three separate nights on the campus of the Cook County high school above Lake Superior, and have our breakfasts there. Because of relatively early arrivals, we’ll have plenty of time to explore this historic town where the Voyageurs once traveled, and to dine in some of its numerous and sociable lakeside cafes. The ride from there to Grand Portage will give you an opportunity to spend time at the site where the great nine-mile portage began for the Voyageurs on their journey up the Pigeon River. En route we’ll pass the storied Naniboujou Lodge beside the great sweep of Lake Superior, where gangland figures from Chicago of the 1930s were said to have dodged the FBI as well as the IRS.
Our only pursuers are the gulls of Lake Superior
Here is my (our) registration for the 35th Jaunt With Jim bike ride, “Echoes of the Voyageurs.” Enclosed are checks of $165 to Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures and $87 or $52 to Gunflint Lodge for accommodations and meals June 16 and 17. I (we) prefer cottage or bunk (circle one) accommodations. (If cottage, indicate whether you prefer to share the accommodation with friends, and list their names. Mail to Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures, P.O Box 47063, Plymouth MN 55447.