Walk in the Footsteps of Paul in Greece and Turkey
Embark upon our journey to the land of ancient treasures and Christian history as we walk in the Footsteps of Paul. Arrive in Thessaloniki, the city where Paul was received by Jason. Paul was preaching the Word of God here until he was rushed out of the city. We will transfer to our hotel in Kavala for dinner and overnight.This morning we travel on to Philippi and visit the Baptistery of Lydia, near the river where Paul baptized her. Lydia was the first convert of Paul on European soil and the conversion of the jailer followed. Also, we will visit the ruins of the Forum of Philippi, the Christian Basilicas, the “Prison of Paul” and the Theater. Next, we drive to Kavala (Neapolis), Paul’s first step in bringing the Gospel to present day Europe. It is a picturesque port! View the Byzantine Castle and the Roman Aqueduct. Then continue to Thessaloniki for a panoramic city tour. Next, we will see the world famous Byzantine monasteries that are perched precariously on summits of gray rock pinnacles of varied and beautiful shapes. Their history goes back to the 14th century when the monks sought refuge in the cliff-side caves. Then they fled higher to build the original wooden shelters, which were later transformed into monasteries.
Embark on Three-Night Greek Isle Cruise
We set sail from Athens to the quaint isle of Mykonos, called the island of windmills. Experience the waterfront area lined with shops and cafes and then stroll the charming walkways through a maze of white-washed buildings. No shore excursions included this day, as we will disembark and walk around this marvelous island at our leisure before returning to ship for dinner and evening activities. The next morning we will arrive in Kusadasi, Turkey, and drive to Ephesus, where Paul spent three years during his ministry. The impressive remains of Ephesus include the Agora, the Theater, the Stadium, the Library of Celsius, the ruins of the Temple of Diana (one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”), and many more. Later we will sail for the island of Patmos, where we visit the Monastery of St. John on one of the island’s highest points. From there, we will walk down to the Grotto of the Apocalypse, the site of the apocalyptic Revelations of St. John the Divine. (Shore excursions to Patmos & Ephesus are included today.) The following morning we arrive at Heraklion, Crete, where we can choose to visit the Minoan Palace of Knossos, home to king Minos and his legendary beast the Minotaur. In the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion, we can find the unbelievable works of art (pieces of sculpture and pottery, jewelry, arms, frescoes) that have been found in a number of Minoan sites all over Crete. Then we sail north to the isle of Santorini, the most breathtaking of all the Greek islands to explore the exquisite whitewashed villages. We can also visit Fira (or Thira, the ancient name of island), which clings to volcanic cliffs and are accessible by cable-car or mule. (No shore excursions included this day.)
Explore Ancient Athens and Corinth
After we disembark our cruise ship and begin our sightseeing tour of Athens, we will admire the architectural miracles of ancient Athens. We follow our guide to the world-renowned Acropolis to see the Propylea, the Erechtheum and the Parthenon. Then we visit Mars Hill, where Paul delivered his ingenious speech on the “Unknown God.” Next, we view the Agora, the ancient center of the economic and public life of the city, where Paul preached to the skeptical Athenians. During the bus tour, we can see Constitution Square with the House of Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Temple of Zeus, the Old Olympic Stadium and the Neoclassical Buildings of Athens. Today we continue our trip to Ancient Corinth. This is the once glorious city near the Isthmus, where Paul met Aquilla and Priscilla and spent a year-and-a-half preaching the Word of God. We will visit the Archaeological Museum, the Forum, the Temples and the famous Bema where Paul stood before Gallio, accused by the Jews of Corinth. Then we drive to Cenchreae, the little harbor from which Paul sailed back to Asia, thus ending his second missionary journey.
Continue the Journey with an Optional Rome & Florence Extension
We have sightseeing with the group as listed above on Day 9 and then we say our good-byes and transfer to Athens Airport for our flight for Rome. We arrive in Rome where we will be met by our agent and transferred to our hotel in downtown Rome for our late evening welcome dinner and overnight. After breakfast, we transfer to the train station for our one-hour and 20 minute train ride to Florence. We will then meet our Florence city guide who will take us on a walking tour of Florence, where we will include a special visit to Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and Academy of Fine Arts, also known as the Accademia. The Accademia is home to Michelangelo’s David. It has housed the David since 1873. We then return back to the train station for our return to Rome. Dinner and overnight will be in Rome. Today our sightseeing tour will include a special visit to the Catacombs, where we will explore tunnels and see the carvings on the walls from early Christians. From here we visit to St. John Lateran and the “Sacred Steps.” As a monk, Martin Luther climbed these steps on his knees, trying to merit forgiveness. Afterwards, we make a special visit to St. Paul’s Church where tradition believes the Apostle Paul is buried. We conclude our day with a stop to see the Forum and St. Peter in Chains followed by dinner and overnight in Rome. Our first visit will be to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel, the celebrated Chapel of the Popes and the venue of the Conclaves for Papal elections. From here, we visit the Basilica of St. Peter, the largest church in the world which overlooks the enormous Piazza San Pietro. We then start our sightseeing of the eternal city. Driving through the main streets of Rome, we will marvel at the monuments of this great capital and visit the Colosseum, which symbolizes the eternity of the Roman civilization. Next, we visit the Piazza Venezia, dominated by the imposing monument to Vittorio Emanuel II. Before we return to our hotel, we stop near the Trevi Fountain and follow tradition by tossing a coin into the fountain, promising to return to Rome. Dinner and overnight will be in Rome.