In the final episode of Globe Trekker’s Round the World Series, veteran presenter Ian Wrightbridges the gap between East and West on an iconic journey from the exotic and cosmopolitan city of Istanbul, to one of Europe’s grandest and most sophisticated hubs, Vienna.
It’s an incredible adventure that takes in seven countries and a multitude of rich and varied cultures steeped in ancient history and set against a backdrop of stunning natural beauty.
Istanbul was the centre of one of the worlds most powerful Empires. At its height, the Ottoman Empire was vast but its 16th century Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, wanted more, namely Europe, and Vienna was the prize.
Ian begins his adventure with a visit to Istanbul’s magnificent Süleymaniye Mosque to experience the grandeur of the Empire and learn about its ambitious Sultan.
Following in the footsteps of the Ottoman Empire’s march on Europe, Ian heads northward, hitching a ride on a truck, to Bulgaria.
First stop, Plovdiv, home to one of the oldest civilizations in Europe. After exploring the cities wealth of Roman ruins and beautifully preserved Ottoman period homes Ian dons a toga and joins in an ancient Thracian ritual where the wine…and blood, flow!
Then it’s off to Serbia. Once at the heart of the former Yugoslavia, Serbia has a complex and tragic history as Ian learns on a visit to its southern city, Nis, where he visits a macabre remnant of the Ottoman occupation there.
But Serbia has much more to offer the adventurous traveller. Ian hops aboard Serbia’s wonderfully old fashioned Sargan mountain steam train and embarks on another adventure towards Bosnia Herzegovina.
Ethnically diverse and surprisingly beautiful, Ian finds the war torn image of Bosnia Herzegovina to be misleading. After taking a death defying plunge with the fearless bridge divers of Visegrad, Ian heads to the breathtaking peaks of Bosnia’s Sutjeska National Park where he explores some of the last remaining virgin forest in all of Europe and spends the evening working and relaxing with the local shepherds.
Moving on, Ian crosses into Croatia to explore the stunning coastline of the Adriatic Sea and its ancient cities, Dubrovnik and Split.
Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Europe and it’s easy to see why. This is where history, culture and outstanding natural beauty come together in perfect harmony and Ian soaks up every sun and sea drenched second of it.
But it was the ancient Romans who spotted its holiday potential first. In Split Ian tours the famous remains of Emperor Diocletian’s retirement palace with none other than Diocletian himself and learns that contradicting an Emperor is not a good idea. Ian is forced to taste gladiatorial combat first hand, but it turns out, he could teach Russell Crowe a few tricks!
In the final leg of his journey Ian travels into Hungary, picking up the Ottoman trail again with a visit to the tiny town of Szigetvar. After getting a lesson in 16th century warfare Ian is ready to tackle his final destination, Vienna.
Home to Mozart, the waltz, Sigmund Freud and delicious cakes Ian explores Vienna from top to bottom, literally. In the tunnels deep beneath the city’s oldest bakery, Ian learns about the one of the most pivotal battles in European history. According to legend, the 1683 Ottoman siege of Vienna would have changed the fate of Western Europe if it were it not for the heroic deeds of the city’s bakers, but to find out how you will just have to tune in.