Our Travel Story

How We Started Traveling

John O’Neill and Julie Roller are from Santa Cruz, California and live in the wine country of Santa Cruz County.

John has a master’s degree in international studies. He taught English in the Sultanate of Oman as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1977-79 and taught students from around the world for 39 years in California colleges. He is now happily retired. He started traveling to Turkey in the summer of 2005 and has been there 18 times, for a total of a year and a half in the country. Since 2013, John & Julie have led small group tours in Turkey & Crete. They’ve traveled to various European countries, especially to Greece, where they have explored a number of islands, Italy and Amsterdam. In winter ‘24 they returned to the Sultanate of Oman to visit after 45 years to see how the country had changed. One of John’s passions is the study of comparative mythology, and he adds this dimension to our explorations of the ancient and modern cultures we visit. He also loves to study languages, and has learned some Arabic, Turkish, and Greek.


Julie has a Master’s degree in geology and was onboard geologist for Special Expedition EcoTours in Baja California and Alaska, She worked for the USGeologic Survey and was the director of Elderhostel, now called Road Scholar, in northern Arizona, where she created and led educational tours to the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and Navajo & Hopi reservations for hostelers from around the world. She has been to Turkey every year but two since 2008 and, along with John, has traveled from one end of Turkey to the other. Julie started Bluestone Imports in 2010 after a 45 day buying trip across Turkey with John and has now curated a body of products specifically for the traveler abroad and in country.