Three majestic, magnificent seas brought me triple delights
on my Crystal Serenity cruise from Istanbul, Turkey to Venice, Italy. In
addition to sailing me to far away places with strange sounding names (like
Kusadasi, Kotor, and Thira), these three seas afforded me a chance to enjoy
three of my favorite things


CRYSTAL Let me make it Crystal clear that there is little wonder
why the readers of
Condé Nast Traveler magazine rated Crystal Cruises the “Best Cruise
Line” (Mid-Sized) for 2011. The ultra-luxe cruise line’s score marks the
18th time the company has won its category–more than any other
cruise line, hotel, or resort in the magazine’s


My recent Crystal Serenity cruise affirmed the belief of Conde
Nast Traveler’s readers, and I couldn’t state it any better than Crystal’s
President Gregg Michel who said that the readers “continue to appreciate and
recognize Crystal’s unwavering focus on delivering what sophisticated travelers
want: new, life-changing itineraries and on-board experiences, plus a chic sense
of design and space that also makes them feel at home.”



 ÇIRAGAN The Çiragan Palace Kempinski Hotel is
an historic Ottoman palace dramatically situated on the European shores of the
Bosphorus. This incomparable view reflects the grandeur and glamour of the hotel
itself, which is the only palace in Istanbul to have become a five-star

In a previous life, this grandiose property was a residence
for sultans.  The palace, built by Sultan
was designed between 1863 and 1867. This was a period in which all Ottoman
sultans used to build their own palaces rather than using those of their
ancestors.  Çıragan Palace is the last
example of this period. The inner walls and the roof were made of wood, the
outer walls of colorful marble. The construction and the interior decoration of
the palace continued until 1872.
On January 19, 1910, a great fire destroyed the palace,
leaving only the outer walls intact. 
After that, the place served for many years as a football
In 1989, the ruined palace was bought by a Japanese
corporation, which restored the palace and added a modern hotel complex next to
it in its garden. The Palace, combining Ottoman-era sophistication, with
state-of-the-art technological amenities, was renovated again during the first
quarter of 2007. Fully restored to its former glory, it now resembles the
authentic palace with its baroque style and soft colors.
The Palace Suites, with their vaulted ceilings, treasured
antiques and rich textiles evoke the opulence of the Ottoman Era.  Guest rooms overlook either the Bosphorus or
historic Yıldız Park, formerly a hunting forest for the sultans. 
With curtains drawn apart and balcony doors open, I
breathed in the beauty of the Bosphorus as East met West.  From the comfort of my room in Europe, I
could watch the sun glow over Asia as the morning mist crept over the European
hotel’s garden.
Tugra, the hotel’s renowned restaurant that features a
classic Turkish menu, is considered one of the finest restaurants in Istanbul.
The feast begins with the ambience … rich
Ottoman décor, live classical Turkish music and the ever-stirring backdrop of
the Bosphorus.  Weather
permitting, dining on Tugra’s terrace lit by
the moon, a candle, and the Bosphorus Bridge, might well be one of the
most romantic meals you will ever have. 
The only thing missing is a handsome Ottoman sultan.
CIPRIANIThe day before my Crystal Serenity
cruise began in Istanbul was a Cipriani day.  The day after my
Crystal Serenity Cruise ended in Venice, Italy was also a Cipriani day…a Harry
Cipriani day to be exact. 
That’s because I’m just wild about Harry!
Harry (Arrigo in Italian) Cipriani, the majority owner of a
string of establishments including Harry’s Bar in Venice and Cipriani Istanbul
in the city of the same name, is the son of Giuseppe Cipriani who founded
Harry’s Bar in Venice in 1931. 
When Arrigo’s father Giuseppe was
working at the Hotel Europa in Venice just before the 1929 Crash, he lent a
down-and-out customer named Harry Pickering about $5,000
USD.  Years later, Pickering returned to Venice and paid him back
five-fold. Cipriani used that money to start the bar which he named Harry’s Bar
after Harry Pickering. 
Harry’s Bar became a hot spot for
celebrities like Ernest
 and Humphrey
. The bubbly Bellini,
a magical blend of white peach juice, sugar and sparkling Italian wine, (often
mistakenly dubbed champagne) is reputed to have originated there.
When I met the world-renowned Harry some two decades ago,
he told me “I’m the only man in the world named after a bar.  I was
born, on April 23, 1932, less than a year after Harry’s Bar
Meeting Harry for the first time many years ago, I expected
a stereotypical backslapping bartender who would be garbed in a slightly soiled
apron tied behind his back.  Instead, what I got was an elegant
graduate lawyer, immaculately dressed in a hand-tailored suit, who graciously
greeted his patrons as if they were guests in his

It was destiny…it was fate…it was bashert…that the Cipriani Istanbul should open mere months
before my arrival in Istanbul.  Of course, I had to dine
Located in the heart of the lively Levent business
district, the restaurant features classic dishes from the original Harry’s
Bar in Venice.   The interior reflects the warm, timeless,
inviting decor of Cipriani locations worldwide.
It was destiny…it was fate…it
was bashert.  It was also
When the last night of my Aegean Odyssey arrived, I headed
straight to Harry’s Bar in Venice. It has been said that, in the legendary city
of Venice, more tourists ask directions to Harry’s Bar than to the Piazza San
Giuseppe Cipriani, Harry’s son, made an interesting
observation. “Istanbul and Venice shared a strong relationship over the
centuries and have many similarities,” he said.  “It’s a curious fact that even
the painter Bellini who inspired my grandfather to name the signature drink he
invented in 1948, went to work for the Ottoman sultan at the end of the XV
century.  Let’s just say that we are bringing Bellini back to
Istanbul, an incredibly beautiful and vibrant city, one of the few capitals of
the world.”
Arrigo (Harry) Cipriani beware! You can’t escape
me.  From Cipriani to Cipriani, I have dined in Cipriani
restaurants around the world and will continue to do so. I will follow you
 JANET STEINBERG is the winner of 38 national Travel Writer
Awards and an International Travel Consultant with The Travel Authority in
Mariemont, Ohio.