The lively 2013 season's end is a good six weeks behind us, and we at Peter Sommer Travels have been busy with a lot of things. Most importantly, we have finalised our plans for next year, culminating in the production of our 2014 travel brochure. As always, much thought and effort have gone into that document, which was printed and posted last week.
Remarkably, 2014 will be the 19th year that Peter Sommer Travels is conducting archaeological and cultural tours in the Mediterranean. It is tempting to use that occasion to reminisce on the development of the company and its activities, but as we did so in a similar blog post a year ago, there is no need to repeat ourselves.
In 2014, we are offering 25 tours on 21 different itineraries in Turkey, Greece and Italy. Of course, that number does not include our private gulet charters and custom-built guided land tours. Apart from our three in-house tour experts (Peter, Michael and Heinrich), no less than 19 further specialists are involved in giving our guests the best possible insight into the areas we travel, their culture, history and archaeology.
It's been only a few years since first Michael, then Heinrich, joined our core staff. We have been working closely with Peter to expand our range of tours, always in keeping with the ideas that have characterised Peter Sommer Travels since the beginning: an experience that is in-depth and informative, but also enjoyable and relaxing, carefully planned in intricate detail to showcase the most fascinating sites, the most beautiful landscapes, the most striking cultural aspects, the very best foods and wines and the best hospitality our destinations have to offer.
Only fives seasons before, in 2009, our range of tours contained just three days in Greek waters, and none in Italy. In 2014, the programme includes a full nine weeks of tours in Greece and four weeks of tours in Italy. During the same period, we have added several new itineraries to our range of trips in Turkey.
We have already introduced a great many new tours in 2012 and 2013. They include our Exploring Istanbul tour, a very full exposition of that unique city, one of the true pivots of human history, Walking and Cruising Western Lycia, offering guests an opportunity to enjoy the history and beauty of that wonderful region, Cruising to the Cyclades, a rich panorama of nearly a dozen Greek islands, Exploring Crete, giving an in-depth view of that island and its long history, the Gastronomic Gulet Cruise of Caria with its rich offerings of superb archaeology and excellent food, and our Gastronomic Tour of Sicily, providing insight into one of Italy's richest culinary cultures.
Our guests have enjoyed all of those tours to the fullest, which makes us very happy indeed.
In addition, next year includes a series of brand-new itineraries, each of them the fruit of years of painstaking research and preparation, arising from our close familiarity with the areas we work in. This year, our main focus has been on our growing range of "Exploring..." itineraries, bespoke land tours that showcase the best of a region's archaeology, culture and gastronomy. Our aim is for guests at the end of one of our "Exploring..." tours to not just feel that they have been given an introduction to an area, but to really have a sense of intimate knowledge, to have explored it in depth, seeing the main highlights as well as the hidden secrets, having gained a profound sense of the region's landscape, history and culture.
- In Turkey, we have reworked our Anatolian offering into Walking and Exploring Cappadocia and the Land of the Hittites. This exciting tour, led by specialist Nota Karamaouna, who also accompanies all of our Greek tours, combines two of the most fascinating parts of Central Turkey: the great sites of the mid-2nd millennium BC Bronze Age civilisation of the Hittites and the surreal volcanic landscapes of Cappadocia, honeycombed with countless painted Byzantine churches.
- Our first new Greek tour is our Exploring Athens tour, an addition to our growing range of "Exploring..." itineraries; the basic ethos of which is outlined above. Centred on one of antiquity's super-cities, Exploring Athens gives guests an unforgettable introduction to the Greek capital's superb excavations and excellent museums, but also to its lovely surroundings, including the island of Aegina. Guided by Heinrich, who has been living in Athens for a decade, and Nota, who is Athenian, it aims to be simply the best possible presentation of Athenian culture from past to present.
- In Northern Greece, we have created a new 2-week Exploring Macedonia tour. Another "Exploring..." tour, this itinerary introduces an area of extraordinary cultural and historical wealth and variety, including the great sites associated with Alexander and his father Phillip II, but also ranging from early prehistory through the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman past. The tour offers insights into the rich tapestry that is the history of an oft-neglected region of Europe.
- In Italy, our new offering is the epic 2-week Exploring Sicily tour, led by Michael, whose knowledge of that extraordinary island is second to none. Sicily is superlative in most regards: the largest Mediterranean island, settled through its history by a vast range of peoples and cultures, from the local Sikels via Carthaginians/Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans to Arabs, Normans and Italians, offers a uniquely diverse set of stunning sites, plus one of Europe's most diverse cuisines.
- Further, we are glad to be able to reintroduce our 2-week Cruising the Dodecanese, a tour of eleven Greek islands, some well-known, some still untouched by tourism, that includes no less than three UNESCO-listed World Heritage sites.
That's not the end of it. We are keeping ourselves busy, preparing further new tours in all of the three countries, Italy, Greece and Turkey, we are active in, and perhaps beyond. It is too soon to give previews, but if you follow our newsletters or our Facebook presence, there may be a hint now and then. We are eager to announce what we come up with next, but before that, we look forward to seeing you on our tours in 2014!