Itinerary

Discovery of Eurasia 2019
Date:
September 02, 2019 - September 19, 2019
Meeting point:
Skiathos, Greece
Length:
18 days / 17 nights
Mileage:
4,765 NM
Day 1 - Monday, September 2: Arrival in Skiathos, Greece

Welcome to Skiathos! Air Journey staff will greet you at the Atrium Hotel.
 
All participants will meet for introductions and attend an extensive briefing covering the general procedures of our journey as well as details for tomorrow's departure.
 
Afterwards, we'll meet for a welcome cocktail before dinner.

Renowned among returning guests for offering unparalleled Greek hospitality, Atrium Hotel Skiathos is a home away from home. All accommodations are inspired by nature, seamlessly blending wooden and stone elements to create a comfortable and modern ambience.
 
Atrium Hotel Skiathos masterfully combines style, tradition, and high-end, tailor-made service, with an emphasis on the guests’ personal needs and preferences. Its accommodations boast high-end facilities and stunning, panoramic views of the sea or the island’s idyllic natural landscape, making for an unrivalled and unforgettable Skiathos experience.

Hotel : Atrium Hotel
Welcome cocktail and Dinner included
Day 2 - Tuesday, September 3: Skiathos → Tbilisi - Tour of Old Town (990nm)

Fly to Tbilisi. Upon arrival at Tbilisi international airport this afternoon, clearing immigration and customs, the group will be met by our local guide. You will then be privately transferred to your hotel in the center of town by private luxury vehicle. Transfer to Tbilisi (30min) and check in at the Stamba Tbilisi Hotel.
 
Stamba Hotel was conceived to highlight the industrial splendor of the 20th century printing house in which it is situated. Housed within historic atriums, passages and courtyards of what was once Georgia's most important printing house, Stamba Hotel is a celebration of Tbilisi's ever-evolving identity as a hotbed of talent and originality.
 
This afternoon explore the sites of this captivating city with your expert guide in a private luxury vehicle. Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia and the country’s largest city. The city is a vibrant example of the mix of nationalities, cultures, religions, and ethnic groups found in Georgia. Tbilisi was founded in the 5th century AD by Vakhtang Gorgasali, the Georgian King of Kartli (Iberia) and made into a capital in the 6th century. Today Tbilisi is a significant industrial, social, and cultural center.
 
On your tour you will pass through the old quarters and the center, with its famous sulfur springs along the Mtkvari River. Traditional houses with balconies and grape vines are the backdrop to your stroll towards Narikhala, the 4th century fort overlooking the city. The fort provides an exquisite view of the city and region.

Hotel : Stamba Hotel
Breakfast and Dinner included
Day 3 - Wednesday, September 4: Visit Mtskheta - the Ancient Capital of Georgia - Uplistsikhe cave town

This morning drive to Mtskheta  (30 min.) – the ancient capital of Georgia. The country's conversion to Christianity occurred in Mtskheta in 337 AD and it is considered one of Georgia's most important religious centers. Saint Nino erected the first Christian cross and the first churches were built here. Visit the monastery of Jvari perched on a cliff overlooking Mtskheta and continue to the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.  
 
Svetitskhoveli church has long been the principal Georgian church and remains one of the most venerated places of worship to this day. This UNESCO World Heritage Site today functions as the seat of the archbishop.
 
Continue to Château Mukhrani. The Château was established as the prince’s estate of the royal Bagrationi name. In 1876, Ivane Mukhranbatoni, a royal family representative and political and public figure of 19th century Georgia returned from France with the chateau winemaking concept and since then the estate’s own winemaking history began.
 
Our wine tour will guide you to discover the Georgian royal family history and breath-taking legends, a flavor of antiquity and enchanting wines which have just won 4 prestigious Medals the 23rd Grand International Wine Award Mundus Vini - one of the most important wine competitions in the world.
 
After a delicious lunch accompanied by wine tasting, continue the drive to Gori town to visit the cave town Uplistsikhe (Fortress of the Lord) dating from the 1st millennium BC. The rock-hewn town includes houses, temples, streets, and Roman theatres which were carved out of the cliffs. Drive back to Tbilisi.
 

Hotel : Stamba Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included
Day 4 - Thrusday, September 5: Tbilisi - Ananuri - Kazbegi

After breakfast check-out of your hotel and depart on a visit to one of the mountainous regions of Georgia.
 
In order to see the high peaks, roaring rivers and mountain lifestyle of Georgia’s Northern borderlands we will travel towards Mtiuleti and Khevi provinces via one of the oldest roads in Georgia, which the Russian Tsar Alexander I named the Georgian Military Highway.
 
If weather conditions permit we'll see ‘Mkinvartsveri’ or Kazbek peak meaning ‘ice-top’ in English. It is a spent volcano soaring to height of 5047 m. Mount Kazbek is the third highest and one of the best known peaks in the Caucasus. Its white pristine beauty wrapped in the rays of the rising sun almost fills the sky. Grand and dignified, it is at times capricious, even savage. Natives of Khevi often call this giant volcano looming over their homes ‘the Bride of the Khevi’.
 
Stop for a lunch at leisure at a charming local restaurant.
 
Drive to Ananuri 16th – 17th century fortress and church. The complex comprises fortification, two churches and civic buildings. Ananuri was a kind of a guardian of North borders of Georgia.
 
Arrive in Kazbegi and check in at the stylish Rooms hotel. The Caucasus Mountains provide a spectacular backdrop to Rooms Hotel Kazbegi. Nestled in a valley in the northern part of Georgia, this alpine retreat offers panoramic views from the terrace and from equally atmospheric indoors.
 
Board a 4-W Toyota (1 car for 2 pax) to go up the mountain to visit Gergety Trinity Church – the most important altar of 14th century, located on the slope of Mount Kazbek. The stone decoration represented on the façade of the church, lead us to the ancient rituals and believes.

Hotel : Rooms Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included
Day 5 - Friday, September 6: Kazbegi - Tbilisi → Bukhara, Uzbekistan (175nm)

Fly to Bukhara. On arrival, transfer to the Zargaron Plaza Hotel situated in Bukhara's historic center.
 
One of Central Asia's oldest cities, Bukhara was a legendary stop on the ancient Silk Road, a network of trade routes between China and Europe. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its historic center, the city remains the best example of a well-preserved medieval Central Asian city.

Hotel : Zargaron Plaza Hotel
Breakfast and Dinner included
Day 6 - Saturday, September 7: Bukhara

With our local guide, explore Bukhara's historic center. Experience a time when this ancient city was a fabled trading outpost on the Silk Road and an intellectual center for Islamic scholars. Take note of not only the impressive mosques, religious schools and shrines that represent the best of Islamic architecture, but also the careful urban planning that led to the city's UNESCO designation.

Hotel : Zargaron Plaza Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included
Day 7 - Sunday, September 8: Bukhara > Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Fly to Samarkand. Known as one of the most ancient cities with history dating back to more than 2,500 years ago, Samarkand used to be the capital of Uzbekistan in the 19th century before it lost its status to Tashkent, the current capital of Uzbekistan. Samarkand was blessed with a strategic geographical location which made it a pivotal part of the Great Silk Road. With such a rich history and culture, it’s no wonder that Samarkand is also known as the heart of the great Silk Road.

Hotel : Emir Han
Breakfast and Dinner included
Day 8 - Monday, September 9: Samarkand

Our exploration today begins with a visit to the tomb of Tamerlane who made Samarkand his capital. He set about making it the richest city on earth by pillaging and destroying all other cities and removing their wealth and skilled traders to Samarkand.
 
There will be a visit to Ulugbek observatory - one of the most advanced observatories of the ancient world.
 
We’ll then take in the sights of the Registan complex, the remarkable market place of ancient Samarkand. It is enclosed by spectacular medressas on three sides. These huge buildings with domes and minarets covered in a mosaic of azure tiles were built from the 1400s. The Registan is one of the wonders of the ancient world. We visit another highlight of Samarkand - the huge Bibi-Khonum mosque.
 
Later, visit a workshop where handcrafted paper is made according to traditions handed down from the 8th-century, when paper-making began in Samarkand.

Hotel : Emir Han
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included
Day 9 - Tuesday, September 10: Samarkand → Mary, Turkmenistan (170nm)

Fly to Mary. On arrival in Mary, you will drive east of Mary, towards Bayram-Ali, the contemporary re-incarnation and humble suburb of the glorious Ancient Merv (UNESCO World Heritage Site).
 
One of the major archaeological sites of Central Asia, Merv played an important part in the development of the Silk Road for more than 2000 years. Within the limits of the archaeological park, which is 1200 ha, you will have a chance to observe all constituent parts of the “wandering city”.
 
Besides remnants of the cities of Merv, you will visit the 6-9th centuries AD forts of Big and Little Kyz-Kalas, excellent examples of the so-called corrugated Koshks; the splendid XII c. mausoleums of Sultan Sanjar and Muhammed ibn-Zeyd, demonstrating exquisite Seljuk period brickwork and architectural decor. If time permits, a possible visit to several more interesting spots within the site.
 
After sightseeing, you head back to Mary for lunch at a local restaurant. Then you visit Regional Mary Museum, presenting a wide array of archaeological finds (dating back to the 3rd mill. BC through the late 19th century) from both Ancient Merv and Bronze Age sites as well as interesting ethnographic displays reconstructing the scenes of daily life of the Turkmen population and other minorities of the Murghab oasis.
 
Today you will also visit a local house in a village owned by a painter to see ordinary village life.
 
Check in at a local Mary Hotel, located in the city center. It is the largest hotel in Mary city built in 2015. There are 177 rooms equipped in classical style. The six-floor hotel has a restaurant, a gym, swimming pool, and sauna. There are tennis courts in the adjoining territory. Apart from that, guests may enjoy shopping in the souvenir and the carpet shops.

Hotel : Mary Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included
Day 10 - Wednesday, September 11: Mary - Tbilisi → Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Fly to Ashgabat. Upon arrival at Ashgabat international airport this afternoon, clearing immigration and customs, the group will be met by our local guide. You will then be privately transferred to your hotel in the center of town by private luxury vehicle. 
 
This afternoon there is an orientation tour of the city.  You will see such monuments as the Monument and Park of Independence (looking like a white-marble “Eiffel Tower” standing in a beautiful park) and a rocket-like Arch of Neutrality, beautiful Ertoghrul Gazie Mosque (reminiscent of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul), and the unusual “Palace of Happiness” (the official name for the Wedding Palace).
 
In the evening you will enjoy a folk show of traditional Turkmen music and songs, see some of Turkmen customs and rituals.

Hotel : Yyldyz
Breakfast and Dinner included
Day 11 - Thursday, September 12: Ashgabat: Old Nisa and Arkadash horse farm

This morning your tour includes the World Heritage listed fortress of Old Nisa, the earliest of the Parthian Empire capitals. Located in an atmospheric area on an irregular pentagon hill, at the foot of the Kopet-Dag Mountains, Old Nisa is a beautiful landmark.
 
Afterwards continue to the Arkadash stud farm, home of the famous Akhal-Tekke horse. The breed is one of the oldest in existence and well known for its stamina. Snacks and tea will be provided at the farm.
 
On the way back to Ashgabat make a sightseeing stop in Kipchak, to visit a complex of the biggest mosque in Turkmenistan (called “Turkmenbashi Spirituality Mosque”) and the family mausoleum of the first President.  You will also visit the National Museum of History (more than 327.000 objects on a display) exhibiting exclusive ancient artifacts from different historical & archaeological sites of Turkmenistan, such as Old Nisa, Ancient Merv, Kunya-Urgench & others.

 

Hotel : Yyldyz
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included
Day 12 - Friday, September 13: Ashgabat → Yerevan, Armenia (925nm)

Fly to Yerevan, Armenia. Upon arrival in Yerevan International airport, you will be met by our local guide and privately transferred to your hotel. Check-in at The Alexander Luxury Collection.
 
Introducing an exclusive new address to the city’s developing social landscape, The Alexander is heralded as the first luxury international hotel in the historic center of Yerevan. Each of the 114 non-smoking guestrooms and suites features scaled back, minimalist design, grand gold accents and hints of decorative Armenian motifs.
 
The Alexander’s collection of bars and restaurants attracts Yerevan’s most discerning social scene. An all-day menu is offered at the signature Gabriel’s Bar & Lounge, whilst fine dining venue, Atelier 1797 Penthouse Bar & Grill, is located on the building’s top floor. The wood-paneled, The Keys Aficionado's Private Club, with handsomely designed bar and glass wine cellar, is the perfect place to enjoy a fine vintage, whilst French and Armenian sweet treats can be sampled in the elegant Gabriel's Patisserie, accessible via Abovyan Street.
 
After a one hour rest, begin a short city tour of Yerevan by your luxury vehicle. Enjoy a panoramic drive of Yerevan to see Opera and Ballet Building, Presidential House, National Assembly, Republic Square. Visit the Armenian Genocide Museum and Memorial.
 
Continue to Yerevan Brandy Factory for tour and Cognac tasting.
 
Visit the Cascade Monument and modern art galleries.
 
Finish your day with a welcome to Armenia dinner at Charles restaurant in Cascade.

Hotel : Alexander Luxury Collection
Breakfast and Dinner included
Day 13 - Saturday, September 14: Explore the Geghar Cave monastery and Garny Temple

This morning drive with our local guide to Geghard, one of the treasures of Armenia. It is a medieval monastery in the Kotayk province of Armenia, partially carved out of the adjacent mountain, surrounded by cliffs. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 
While the main chapel was built in 1215, the monastery complex was founded in the 4th century by Gregory the Illuminator at the site of a sacred spring inside a cave. The name commonly used for the monastery today, Geghard, or more fully Geghardavank, meaning "the Monastery of the Spear", takes its name from the spear which had wounded Jesus at the Crucifixion, allegedly brought to Armenia by Apostle Jude, called here Thaddeus, and stored amongst many other relics.
 
Enjoy a private Spiritual Vocal Concert arranged specially for you. 
 
Continue to Garni, a large village in the Kotayk Province of Armenia which is known for the nearby classical temple. En route stop for lunch at a rustic local restaurant. Enjoy the local food as well as the master class of Armenian lavish bread making. After lunch, continue to the ancient pagan temple of Garni.
 
The Temple of Garni is a reconstructed classical Hellenistic temple and the best-known structure and symbol of pre-Christian Armenia. It is the only "Greco-Roman colonnaded building" in Armenia and the former Soviet Union. Enjoy traditional duduk flute by the temple.
 
Return back to Yerevan to visit Matenadaran Museum - The Institute of Ancient Manuscripts.
 
There will be free time to relax this afternoon.

Hotel : Alexander Luxury Collection
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included
Day 14 - Sunday, September 15: Yerevan → Kayseri, Turkey (420nm)

This morning check-out of your hotel and drive to Khor Virap monastery. Visit Khor Virap and see the best view of Mt. Ararat. Enjoy the process of dove release at the monastery.  

Continue to Echmiatsin – the spiritual center of the Armenians, as it is the seat of the head of the Holy Armenian Apostolic Church. The focal point of the site is the Mother Cathedral of Holy Etchmiadzin, which is one of the oldest churches in the world. Originally known as the Holy Mother of God Church, it was first built by Saint Gregory the Illuminator as a vaulted basilica in 301-303, when Armenia had just adopted Christianity as a state religion. The church was enlarged, notably in 480, 618 and 1658.
 
Lunch at the Armenian Cross Unity center.
 
After lunch, you will be transferred to the Yerevan International airport (20 min. drive).
 
Fy to Kayseri, Turkey. Upon arrival at Kayseri international airport this afternoon, clearing immigration and customs, you will be privately transferred to the Museum Hotel in Kapakokya.
 
The Museum Hotel is composed from the restorations of old ruins into a luxury boutique hotel. With its unique location you can enjoy panoramic views of the major sites of the region including Avanos, Goreme, Love Valley, Pigeon Valley, Red Valley and Mt. Erciyes from all its rooms.
 
The hotel founder is an antique collector that has a great collection from the period of Ottoman, Seljuk, Roman, and Hittite. His vision was to allow hotel guests to experience the Cappadocian culture and let them feel the sense of a living museum. All of the rooms and outer spaces are decorated with the priceless antiques that are registered in Nevsehir Museum. During your time at the Museum Hotel, you will be enjoying your time in a real museum with many valuable antiques.

Hotel : The Museum Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included
Day 15 - Monday, September 16: Balloon Adventure - Goreme - Kaymakli - Fairy Chimneys

If the velocity of the wind will be suitable today, it will be an early bird departure from the hotel for a formidable “Balloon Adventure” over the enchanting “lunar landscape” of Cappadocia, to hail the slowly rising sun with a glass of champagne.  The balloon ride over Cappadocia at sunrise is an experience of a lifetime. With all the excitement of seeing from above, the farthest “fairy chimneys” of the vast region as a lunar landscape, only possible in one's fantisies.

You will then return to your hotel for a leisurely buffet breakfast (included in room rate), before you are ready for a new day in Cappadocia, with other “fun” experiences and wonderful cultural “surprises”.
 
This morning, explore one of the most extraordinary treasures of sacred art, the rock-carved churches of Goreme, now an ‘open-air museum’. This museum hosts some of the finest examples of ninth and tenth century. What survives at Goreme and other sites scattered about Cappadocia marks out the region's rock-cut churches and chapels as one of the greatest museums of medieval art in the world.
 
Next, you will visit another marvel of the region: the ‘underground city’ at Kaymakli. The enigmatic cellar villages, over 40 of which have been discovered empty, are among the wonders of Cappadocia.
 
After a morning of touring glorious sites in Cappadocia, you will be transferred to a specially-chosen vantage spot where, white-gloved country lunch has been arranged. Right in the midst of the Cappadocian landscape next to “fairy-chimneys”, this is truly being here!
 
Another cultural experience, unique to this region, is a visit to the group of young village girls from all over Cappadocia, at their “Art School”, where they happily learn to become masters of the national art of weaving Turkish carpets and kilims to be able to contribute to their traditional dowry, before they get married.

Hotel : The Museum Hotel
Breakfast and Dinner included
Day 16 - Tuesday, September 17: Kayseri → Bodrum, Turkey (380nm)

Fly to Bodrum, situated on the southern Aegean coast of Turkey.
This fabled coastline is where Homer's heroes were born, where the ancient Greeks consulted their oracles and the Romans built magnificent temples to honor their gods.

Hotel : Mandarin Oriental
Breakfast and Dinner included
Day 17 - Wednesday, September 18: Bodrum

Today is at leisure to relax and explore on your own.

 

Hotel : Mandarin Oriental
Breakfast and Dinner included
Day 18 - Thursday, September 19: Bodrum → Bologna, Italy (860nm)

Fly to Bologna before flying our separate ways as we head home.

Breakfast included