Experiencing Culture across Four Countries
We arrive in Athens and are met by our representative and tour guide. We enjoy our panoramic bus tour of Athens on the way to our hotel for dinner and overnight. After breakfast, we begin our sightseeing as we admire the architectural wonders of ancient Athens. We follow our guide to the world-renowned Acropolis to see the Propylea, the Erechtheum and the Parthenon. We visit Mars Hill, where Paul delivered his speech on the “Unknown God.” Then we see 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 also 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. In the afternoon, we will have some free time to explore the famous Plaka, known for its many welcoming sidewalk cafes and unique shops. We will make our way to the port of Piraeus and our 7-night floating hotel, as we begin our 3-Continent cruise to visit Egypt, Israel & Turkey. Today, we enjoy free time onboard our cruise. We will have an opportunity to rest, explore the ship, have time for fellowship and will gather as a group to discuss the upcoming excursions for the week.
See the Pyramids
Morning arrival in Egypt. We disembark and start our included shore excursion to Cairo. We depart from Alexandria in our luxury motor coach and drive to Africa’s largest city, the teeming metropolis of Cairo. Our first stop is at Giza Plateau where the only remaining Wonder of the Ancient World still stands, the Pyramids of Giza. We will park at the base of Chephren’s pyramid and time will be allocated to explore the site on our own. We continue down the valley where the guardian of this mortuary complex, the mighty Sphinx, lies. We take time out to relax and enjoy a delicious lunch buffet at a leading 5-star deluxe hotel (included). After lunch we drive to Tahrir (Liberty) Square, the heart of downtown Cairo. We visit the National Archaeological Museum and acquaint ourselves with Egypt’s ancient history, spanning a period of over 50 centuries. The Museum is the repository of the world’s largest and richest collection of Egyptian Antiquities, amongst them the priceless collection of King Tutankhamen. We then have an opportunity to visit a Papyrus Institute, where the art of paper making from reeds discovered by the Ancient Egyptians is demonstrated. Limited time for souvenir shopping will also be allocated before we drive back to Port Said, where we board our ship. Morning arrival in Israel (Ashdod port). We disembark and start our included shore excursion to Jerusalem. We visit the beautiful Mount of Olives and view this incredible panorama of Jerusalem and the walls of the Old City. From here we walk down the Old Palm Sunday Road to the Garden of Gethsemane with its ancient olive grove, and see the Church of Agony, where tradition holds that Jesus prayed. We then visit the Church of Gethsemane (Church of All Nations) where Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, captured by the Romans, and later sentenced by Pontius Pilate. We continue to the Old City of Jerusalem, visiting the colorful market where three religions coincide. We walk along the Via Dolorosa including St. Anne’s Crusader Church, Pools of Bethesda, the Pavement (where Jesus stood while being tried by Pilate), Ecce Homo Arch, and a short visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the ancient Cardo. We then proceed to the holiest site in the Jewish world, the Western Wall of Herod’s temple. Beyond the wall lies the 35-acre temple area purchased by King David (2 Samuel 24: 18-25). On this site now stand El-Aksa Mosque and the magnificent Dome of the Rock (the third holiest shrine in Islam). We stop for a late lunch break in Bethlehem (included). We will visit the Church of the Nativity, where Jesus was born. Our last stop will be at the Garden Tomb, for a time of worship and communion. Afterwards, we return to Ashdod to board our cruise ship. Late evening departure for Limassol.
Explore the Streets of Cyprus
Morning arrival in Limassol (Cyprus). Archaeological remains on the island include the well-preserved Neolithic village of Khirokitia, and Cyprus is home to some of the oldest water wells in the world. Cyprus was settled by Mycenaean Greeks in the 2nd millennium BC. As a strategic location in the Middle East, it was subsequently occupied by several major powers, including the empires of the Assyrians, Egyptians and Persians, and Alexander the Great. There are no shore excursions included today, as we will visit the island at our leisure. We return to our ship and sail for Rhodes in the early evening. Late morning arrival in Rhodes (Greece). We disembark and start our included shore excursion to Lindos. Lindos is situated 40 miles from the city of Rhodes and bears above it the Acropolis of Lindos, with the ancient Temple of Athena built in 300 B.C. We will come across the captain’s mansions, built between the 16th and 18th century. In the center of the village is the Church of the Virgin Mary (Panagia) of Lindos, with frescoes from the 15th century. We ascend to the Acropolis of Lindos. Here lies the Temple of Athena of Doric order, which was erected on the location of an older monument. The ancient city-state of Lindos was the most important on the island for many centuries. It reached its heyday in the 6th century B.C. At the old city of Rhodes, we go through the D’Amboise Gate to walk on the Street of the Knights. Along this street we find the residences of the Knights, separated according to Order, which still today bear their corresponding crests. We will enjoy some free time on the island before our evening departure.
View Archaeological Sites in Turkey
Morning arrival in Kusadasi (Turkey). We disembark and enjoy our included shore excursion to Ancient Ephesus. At Ancient Ephesus we find immortal relics of the Hellenistic, Roman and Early Christian era. At the archaeological site we have a guided tour among the Agora, the Odeon, the Library of Celsus, the marble-paved main Street of Kouretes, the Baths of Scholastica, Trajan’s Fountain, the Public Latrines, the Residences of the Patricians, the Prytaneum, and the Temple of Hadrian. The Great Theatre, built in the 4th century B.C., could accommodate 24,000 spectators and is famous even today for its acoustics. The finds from these excavations, which have only brought to light 13% of ancient Ephesus, reside in the Archaeological Museum of Ephesus in the city of Selcuk. During the excursion, we have a chance to do some shopping and see the carpet weaving demonstration. We enjoy free time in the afternoon and depart in the evening to sail back to Piraeus, Greece. This morning, we disembark from the cruise ship in Piraeus. We continue our sightseeing with a visit 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 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. We then make our way to our hotel in Athens, where we enjoy our Farewell Dinner and overnight.