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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Venice to Istanbul next week

I'm home now, recuperating from surgery, but will join a cruise leaving from Venice on Sept. 30 - just a little more than a week away.

I'm pretty wobbly after general anesthesia and quite vulnerable right now   - a state of being that gives me lots of empathy for those who have given up traveling altogether. The familiar comforts of home are pretty attractive when one is as impaired as I feel today.

But giving up on travel is not on my agenda. I might be somewhat more challenged now, but I've done my homework and am confident I'll not only have great fun but will come back with a couple of stories for News-Herald readers.
I'm joining the Crystal Serenity for an 8-day voyage among a pair of Greek islands, to Kotor in Montenegro and on to Istanbul before a flight back home.

I've  sailed with Crystal Cruise Lines before and know that  I can expect to see many of the worrisome details of travel taken care of. They know when I am arriving and someone will meet me at the Venice airport to take me and my luggage to the ship so I have no concerns about having to roll my bag over bridges spanning canals or aboard the water taxis called vaporettos. I've done that before when traveling to Venice independently and know what a hassle that can be.
Crystal is also very attentive in letting passengers know just what they'll face on shore excursions. If  there's lots of walking over uneven or hilly terrain, you'll know it before you sign up. If it's smart to carry water ashore, you'll find out before you leave the ship - and it's pretty likely that bottled water will be available  to take ashore. If you choose to go off on your own, you will have access to good maps and advice about  shopping streets and cafes for a lunch ashore as well as areas best avoided.

At first I might not have all my usual energy,  but I'll find my favorite mask maker in Venice and stock up on gift masks.   I'll visit Ravenna, in Italy, for the first time and am hoping to arrange a sidetrip to Bologna, the hometown of my friend Loretta Paganini. As a wine lover, I couldn't miss the Temple of Dionysus on the sacred island of Delos, just a 20-minute boat ride from Mykonos where I'll be on Oct. 7. If I get tuckered I'll have two days at sea to rest on deck or arrange a spa treatment and by the time I get to Istanbul I should be fully energized for the Blue Mosque and shopping the Grand Bazaar.

I hope some of you caught my Twitter posts when I first learned of this great-deal cruise and perhaps you booked, too, and I'll see you on board. For the first time ever, Crystal is offering a handful of six-to- eight day voyages in the southern Mediterranean between now and mid-November - an exceptionally nice time of year in this part of the world. Best yet, those who book before Oct. 31 get the cruise for just $1,595 -an uncommonly good price for such an upscale cruise line. Crystal, in fact, has been voted as best in the world in many cruise surveys.  Airfare is extra, of course, but thanks to sharp-eyed travel agent Jennifer Fried at Traveline, our roundtrip air was a little more than $800 each.
So I'll be extending summer in the sunny Mediterranean this year. Check out the options at

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