Escorted Tours through Archaeology & History


Is s u e 1 2 ~ N EW S L E T T E R ~ Sp r i n ...
AFRICAN MOSAIC: Phoenician, Roman and Islamic Tunisia
14th - 26th May 2013 (with Farès Moussa)
ANCIENT ILLYRIA: Art, Architecture & Archaeology of Albania
5th – 17th October 2013 (with Carolyn Perry)
For long Albania ...
On the Drawing Board for 2014

But this is a problem that is a pleasure. In an
increasingly shrinking wor...
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Eastern approaches escorted tours through archaeology & history Albania included


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Eastern approaches escorted tours through archaeology & history Albania included

  1. 1. EASTERN APPROACHES Escorted Tours through Archaeology & History ITB BERLIN Is s u e 1 2 ~ N EW S L E T T E R ~ Sp r i n g 2 0 1 3 Many convivial discussions take place at ITB This Newsletter went to press shortly after our return from the annual ITB travel trade fair in Berlin. With more than 170,000 visitors (108,000 of whom are trade), and over 10,000 exhibitors from 180 countries ITB Berlin is the biggest such fair in the world. Even the number of countries, 180, is an understatement as many regions have their own separate representation: the Altai Republic in Siberia, for example, had its own large stand, as did Baltistan in Pakistan. For Eastern Approaches the timing in March is ideal, coming just at the time when we are beginning to plan ahead for the next year. Hence, it is the ideal venue to renew old contacts, discuss existing tours with our suppliers, make new contacts for new destinations and to learn of new opportunities. It is a place where countries and regions can showcase themselves and display the best of what they have to offer. Here at ITB all the world comes together in a single location and so it is possible to see what is happening in the travel industry at the moment and it is also possible to gauge what might happen in the future. This year for example for the first time Iraq had a stand, and a large one at that, presenting its impressive cultural history. Iran was represented too, as were Algeria, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Mali, all places where travel might not be feasible for the present. But that is hardly the point: such countries are displaying what they can offer and are putting politics well behind them to look to the future. If there is one impression that comes over more than anything else at ITB it is sheer, unbounded optimism! May it long remain so. Bessarabia and Bukovina: History and Wine in Moldova and Western Ukraine Bessarabia and Bukovina: half-remembered names that have long disappeared from the map. Once important provinces of the Ottoman Empire ruled by Greek aristocrats reliving the glories of Byzantium, but in the 19th century becoming a part of the territorial tug-of-war between Tsar and Sultan, eventually to disappear into the Soviet Union. Now re-emerged as the republic of Moldova, a tiny Romanian speaking country on the fringes of Europe, and the adjacent Chernivtsi region in Ukraine, with a rich Greek, Byzantine, Jewish, Ottoman, Habsburg, Russian, Slavic, Armenian and Romanian heritage of picturesque old towns, castles and wineries. This will be one of our highlights for 2014. Are you interested? Ask to join the list to receive advance details. RUFUS READE TOURS As many of you know, Edinburgh based Rufus Reade operates his own highly distinctive and unique tours under the Eastern Approaches licence banner. These originally grew out of Rufus’ gallery, The Nomad’s Tent, a well known Edinburgh institution and cultural venue. Rufus’ tours can be botanical, painting, birding or just culturally themed tours. longer an impossible mirage we feel that the time has come to see this country. The country was given its independence by the British at the same time as Ceylon, a year after India. We know it through writers such as George Orwell who had served in the police there, and Kipling’s famous poem survives despite its inconsistencies. This holiday is not envisaged as strenuous! Next year he is offering ... Burmese Highlights in January 2014 Travellers returning from Burma are unanimous with their delight in the place. Now that the democratic process seems no The tour is led by Rufus Reade on his third visit to the country. For more information contact Rufus Reade directly on rufusreade@blueyonder.co.uk or look at his website www.rufusreadetours.com
  2. 2. REMAINING TOURS FOR 2013 AFRICAN MOSAIC: Phoenician, Roman and Islamic Tunisia 14th - 26th May 2013 (with Farès Moussa) The greatest remains of the Roman Empire are to be found in its North African provinces, particularly Tunisia. These range from comfortable, almost intact little country market towns such as Thuburbo Majus, Bulla Regia or Dougga, to the desert edge settlements of Sbeitla or Mactar which formed Rome’s frontier, to the immense amphitheatre of El Djem. Carthaginians, Byzantines and Arabs have also left their mark on these shores, with some maginificent works of Islamic architecture. With its rich Punic, Roman and Islamic legacy – not to mention Byzantine, Genoese, Turkish and French! – Tunisia forms a microcosm of Mediterranean civilisation as a whole. Tour price: £2763/ Deposit £280/ Single Sup £192. PLACES STILL AVAILABLE JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF ASIA: The Tuva, Khakasia and Altai Republics in Siberia 10th –25th June 2013 (with Warwick Ball) Kyzyl, capital of the Tuva Republic of south Siberia, is at the exact geographical centre of Asia. But Tuva and its adjacent regions was also a historical centre of huge importance. It was the homeland of the Scythians of the first millennium BC, with their spectacular works of art, often exquisite gold objects, forming major museum collections. Our tour visits the three most famous Scythian burial sites: Salbyk, Arjaan and Pazyryk high up in the Altai, The early Russian settlers have also left their mark with the exquisite lace-like wooden architecture and magnificent brick baroque buildings. Most of all, the spectacular setting of the Sayan and Altai mountain ranges provides some of the most sublime alpine scenery in Asia. Tour price: £4972/ Deposit £490/ Single Sup £429. ONLY 1 PLACE LEFT! THE MOUNTAINS OF HEAVEN: Myths, Mountains and Monuments in the Kyrgyz Republic 13th –25th July 2013 (with Gillian Gloyer) The Chinese word Tienshan, the name given to the mighty mountain range between China and Kyrgyzstan, means literally ‘the mountains of heaven’. Tucked away in these mountains, the Kyrgyz Republic is a spectacularly beautiful, newly-independent country but with a history of great epics, of trade routes and even at one time of being the centre of an empire. Of all the former Soviet republics in Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan is doing the most to present its rich historical legacy to the outside world, and encouraging visitors to see the rich combination of landscape, traditions and monuments for themselves. Tour price: £2674/ Deposit £260/ Single Sup £117. PLACES STILL AVAILABLE NORTH OF ST PETERSBURG: Through Karelia to the White Sea in Russia 25th August - 6th September 2013 (with Warwick Ball) Historically, Karelia belongs within the Finnish cultural orbit, and its very name conjures up the music of Sibelius, Finland’s great national composer. Indeed, the land lies at the very heart of Finland’s conscious identity, the forests, the lakes, the legends, the towns, the people. But the region is rich with Russian history and culture as well. Throughout, we see the intricate wooden architecture that is characteristic of the region, including the magnificent Cathedral of Transfiguration on Kizhi Island. Equally famous is the 15th century Kremlin on the island of Solovki in the White Sea. At this time of year the whole region is bathed in the ethereal sub-Arctic light – the ‘white nights’ – imparting a quality that approaches the surreal. Tour price: £3212/ Deposit £320/ Single Sup £347. NEARLY FULL XANADU TO DUNHUANG: The Inner Asian Frontiers of China 7th – 27th September 2013 (with Caren Dreyer) Nothing evokes more the transitory nature of great empires than the vast but empty walled enclosure of Xanadu, Kublai Khan’s summer capital. Taking China’s frontier with the world of the Inner Asian nomads as its theme, we travel through the provinces of Inner Mongolia, Ninxia and Gansu, following much of the Great Wall of China to its terminus at the Jade Gate, and explore the traces of civilisations from the Scythians and Huns of early history to the Manchus of more recent times. More exciting perhaps are the traces of the lost Tangut civilisation, visiting the extraordinary pyramid tombs of its kings outside Yinchuan and travelling across the Gobi Desert to visit their fabulous ruined capital of Karakhoto. Tour price: £4759/ Deposit £480/ Single Sup £527. PLACES STILL AVAILABLE
  3. 3. ANCIENT ILLYRIA: Art, Architecture & Archaeology of Albania 5th – 17th October 2013 (with Carolyn Perry) For long Albania was Europe’s most isolated country, even more cut off than other Iron Curtain countries. Yet this isolation belies its remarkable heritage reaching back to the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman civilisations not to mention its own rich indigenous culture: Shakespeare’s country of Illyria. Lying at the heart of the Balkans Albania lay open to cultural influences more than most, making it perhaps the most diverse – and certainly the most rapidly changing – country in Europe. With its bewildering array of castles and its magnificent setting – probably the most spectacular combinations of mountains, lakes and coast in Europe – Albania is one of Europe’s least discovered gems. Tour price: £2451/ Deposit £240/ Single Sup £161. PLACES STILL AVAILABLE ROAD THROUGH KURDISTAN: Ancient & Modern in Iraqi Kurdistan 8th – 17th October 2013 (with Peter Morgan) On 30th September 331 BC occurred one of the most decisive battles of the ancient world: the Battle of Gaugamela between Darius III of Persia and Alexander of Macedon on the plains west of Arbela, modern day Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan: the end of the old Persian Empire and the beginning of a new Hellenised order. It also demonstrates just how strategic Erbil has been throughout history. Indeed, fewer cities represent both ancient and modern: on one hand one of the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, on the other the capital of the newly separate Kurdish region. Much of history has left its mark on Kurdistan: evidence for the world’s earliest agriculture at the cave of Shanidar, traces of the mighty Assyrian Empire at Sennacherib’s canal near Nineveh, a roll-call of just about every period of history in Erbil’s massive citadel. Altogether this tour is an opportunity to explore one of the least known but culturally richest parts of the Middle East. Tour price: £4209/ Deposit £420/ Single Sup £366. NEARLY FULL THE SULTAN’S ARCHITECT: Sinan, Suleyman the Magnificent & their Age 22nd – 30th October 2013 (with Warwick Ball) The age of Suleiman the Magnificent was the high point of Ottoman civilisation in the 16th century, a golden age of imperial splendour when the Golden Horn lay at the heart of one of Europe’s greatest empires. During the reigns of three successive sultans, Sinan was responsible for hundreds of buildings throughout the empire, not only great monumental mosque complexes but more modest buildings as well. This tour takes both the age and the architect as its theme to look at both the background and the high point of Ottoman achievement in imperial capital of Istanbul as well as the Ottoman’s former capital of Edirne in Thrace. This is an opportunity to explore one of the greatest cities of the world in depth and at leisure by focussing on the works of one of the great world architects.Tour price: £2429/ Deposit £240/ Single Sup £350. PLACES STILL AVAILABLE ROMAN RUINS, SAHARAN OASES: Journey through Eastern Algeria 6th – 21st November 2013 (with Barnaby Rogerson) Its position dominating the southern shores of the Mediterranean has given Algeria an astonishing historical and architectural legacy: Numidian, Roman, Islamic and French. North Africa formed the heart of the Roman Empire as much or more than any of the European provinces, and today the entire coast is littered with the greatest monuments of the Roman world. This tour focuses on the extraordinary legacy of Rome’s desert frontier in Africa. We also explore beyond the actual frontier itself and go into the desert itself to experience the rich world of the traditional Sahara at the lovely old oasis towns of El Oued and the Mzab Valley with its mixed Berber and Arab cultures. Tour price: £4398/ Deposit £440/ Single Sup £321. PLACES STILL AVAILABLE Passengers to India India was the first overseas country I ever visited and it has always been high on the list of potential tours. Now with new and fresh contacts in the country, we are currently considering one of several possible tours for March next year. Hindus, Jains and Buddhists in Southern India, starting at Bangalore and exploring the rich temple architecture of Sravanbelgola, Halebid, Belur and Bylakuppe via Mysore, Seringapatanam and Ootacamund, finishing at Cochin Temples, mosques and forts of Central India, starting at Hyderabad and visiting the magnificent Hindu, Muslim, Portuguese and British legacies at Golconda, Vijayanagar, Badami and Bijapur, finishing at Goa We are also considering a tour of Himachal Pradesh, starting in Lutyens’ Delhi and travelling to the Le Corbusier designed city of Chandigarh, then to the former British summer capital of Simla and into the high Himalayas to explore the spectacular Tibetan Buddhist monasteries towards the border with Tibet At the moment, no firm decision has been made but if you might be interested in these plans, please get in touch. Tel: 01578 730 361 email: info@easternapproaches.co.uk
  4. 4. On the Drawing Board for 2014 TRAVEL INSURANCE But this is a problem that is a pleasure. In an increasingly shrinking world it is all the more a delight to discover that there are always new worlds to explore. Hence, next year we are offering no less than four completely new destinations: Oases and Trade Routes of Southern Morocco, Lutyens and Le Corbusier in India, the Sicilian Vespers, and Bessarabia & Bukovina (Moldova & Ukraine). Some of the world’s most famous mountain ranges figure highly (pun unintended?): the Himalayas twice (India and Hunza & Baltistan), the Caucasus (in Georgia) and that great division of Europe and Asia, the Urals (actually a low range of hills). The following list must be viewed as very provisional as dates and destinations might change over the coming months, and others might still be added. Do get in touch if you are interested and would like an early bird alert. Choosing travel insurance can be a tricky business and only companies that are members of the Financial Services Authority are in a legal position to recommend policies. However, in December 2012, Which Magazine recently reviewed some travel insurance policies which our associate, Rufus Reade, has summarised. We felt that this might be of interest to some of our clients and include the summary below. February - Southern Morocco March - Southern or Central India April - Jordan in Depth April - Byzantine Art in Macedonia May - The Sicilian Vespers June - Art & Architecture of the Urals July - High Caucasus in Georgia July - Gilgit, Baltistan & Hunza (Pakistan) September - Western Turkey September - Moldova with Chernivsti October - Lutyens & Le Corbusier in India October - Maltese Gems November - Uzbekistan & Kazakhstan Typically, our groups are made up of between 80% and 90% returnees. Indeed, some on our ‘maiden tour’ of Eastern Iran in 1994 are still travelling with us, and many of our regulars come back year after year, some even several times a year. This is something we are very proud of, and we naturally find most gratifying. However, it does bring with it one drawback: we constantly have to search out new destinations to satisfy our regular clientele! • Adult (variously defined!) Feedback, suggestions, ideas and just wishful thinking is always welcome! Money Matters ATOL Confirmation Certificate If you have booked with Eastern Approaches recently, you will have received an ‘ATOL Certificate’. At the top is the rather bald statement, “This confirms that you can get home ... if your travel company collapses”. This is a recent new regulation from the CAA reassuring passengers that they will get home if the company goes bust. This regulation is aimed at the large massmarket operators, who pay their suppliers in arrears and who use charter airlines. As Eastern Approaches is a small operator, all our passengers are issued with return tickets before travel and all our ground arrangements are fully pre-paid to our ground agents before travel. Not only will you enjoy your Eastern Approaches tour but we can guarantee - you will get home! Card payments For debit card payments there is no charge for processing, but in common with most travel companies a surcharge of 2% is applicable for credit card payments. This surcharge is not ours but is imposed by the banks and card providers. However, we have decided from now on that in order to make booking easier for our customers, we will waive the credit card surcharge for deposits only. Please note though, the surcharge will still be applicable for final balances. Regarding security for card payments, please do not send card details by email, but only by post, fax or telephone. For payment by bank transfer please request bank details (but note we only hold sterling (GBP) accounts). Each annual policy (named in brackets) was given a percentage score, and an age over which the policy did not apply. And the price. The top two in each category are given (except 80 years plus where 3 insurers are shown). The score given by Which was not determined by price but by the quality of coverage of the annual policies. Holiday Safe (premier) 77% 55 years £37 Annual travel insurance.com (super) 72% 65 years £39 • 65 to 69 years old covered2go.co.uk (gold) 81% 70 years £77 O2 74% 69 years £76 • 70 to 74 years old Lets go insure.co.uk (traveller’s choice) 80% 74 years £114 Holiday safe(premier) 77% 74 years £135 • 75 to 79 years old Travel insurance medical (comprehensive) 76% 80 years £268 Flexicover (Gold) 73% 80 years £380 • 80+ years old Saga 94%No age limit £456 Age UK 85% No age limit £579 Travel insurance medical (Comprehensive) 76% 85 years £349 Which concluded that many insurance websites pass their 85 year old enquirers on to Goodtogo insurance for their Platinum policy which charges (in Which’s own words) a staggering £1738. Which also lists insurance companies who it deems to be Which Recommended Providers (WRPs) based on members’ reports and Which’s own assessment. Their top four providers are: LV with an overall score of Saga with an overall score of Age UK with an overall score of First Direct with an overall score of 81% 79% 76% 76% (Information supplied by Rufus Reade) EASTERN APPROACHES 5 Mill Road, Stow, Galashiels, TD1 2SD, Scotland UK Tel: ++44 (0)1578 730361 / Fax: ++44 (0)1578 730714 info@easternapproaches.co.uk / www.easternapproaches.co.uk