Travelling to Greece
Embark upon your journey with an overnight flight to Athens. Prepare yourself for a life-changing experience and get some rest on the flight. Tomorrow you will be walking where the apostle Paul walked! We arrive in Athens mid-afternoon and are met by our representative and given the tickets for our flight to Thessaloniki. This is the city where Jason received Paul, who preached the Word of God in Thessaloniki until they rushed him out of the city. The New Testament records two letters from Paul to the Thessalonians during his second missionary journey. We transfer to our hotel for check-in and dinner. Today, we visit the Thessaloniki landmarks, including the White Tower, the Walls of the Byzantine Acropolis, the Roman Arch of Galerius and the Rotonda. We visit two of the city’s oldest and most admired Christian churches, the Basilicas of Saint Demetrius and Saint Sophia. We then follow the route of the Via Egnatia and visit, like Paul and his companions, the area of Amphipolis, to see the famous funerary Lion of Amphipolis. We travel to Philippi and visit the Baptistery of Lydia near the river where Paul baptized her. We also visit the ruins of the Forum of Philippi, the Christian Basilicas, the “Prison of Paul” and the Theater. Then we drive to Kavala (Neapolis), Paul’s first step in bringing the Gospel to present day Europe. A picturesque port, we view the Byzantine Castle and the Roman Aqueduct. We return to Thessaloniki for dinner and overnight.
Set Sail on the Mediterranean Sea
We begin today with a visit to the world-famous Byzantine monasteries of Meteora, perched on summits of gray rock peaks of varied and beautiful shapes. Monks in the fourteenth century sought refuge in the cliff-side caves, then fled higher to build the original wooden shelters, which were later transformed into monasteries. The Meteora landscape is so beautiful that it has been used as film backdrop in Game of Thrones and the James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only. Afterwards, we continue to Athens for dinner and overnight. Today, we set sail on the beautiful Mediterranean Sea from Athens to the island of Mykonos, called the island of windmills. We arrive in time to disembark and experience the waterfront lined with shops and cafes. We stroll the charming walkways through a maze of white-washed buildings before returning to the ship for dinner and overnight cruising. Enjoy this beautiful island at your leisure. In the morning, our ship arrives in Kusadasi, Turkey, where, after a short drive, we visit the amazing ruins of ancient Ephesus, where Paul spent three years ministering to the church. The Agora, Theater, Stadium, Library of Celsus, ruins of the Temple of Artemis (one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”) are among the impressive remains of Ephesus. In the afternoon, we sail to the island of Patmos, where John the Apostle lived in exile. We visit the Monastery of St. John, located on one of the island’s highest points. We also visit the Grotto of the Apocalypse, where tradition says that John wrote the New Testament book of Revelation. Dinner and overnight cruising aboard the ship. In the morning, our ship arrives at Heraklion, Crete. After disembarking, we take a short ride through the town of Heraklion and arrive at the Knosso excavations. Here, Sir Arthur Evan’s archeological discoveries revealed a civilization dating to 4000 B.C. that flourished on the island of Crete. Paul left Titus in Crete and instructed him to appoint church leaders in the town. In the afternoon, we cruise to the picturesque island of Santorini to explore and shop at our leisure. Santorini is often referred to as the most breathtaking of all the Greek islands. The exquisite, whitewashed villages, including the town of Fira or Thira, cling to volcanic cliffs, accessible by cable-car or mule. Dinner and overnight cruising aboard the ship.
Journey to Delphi
In the morning, we port at Pireaus and disembark the ship for the last time. We then drive to the ancient city of Corinth, the once-glorious city near Isthmus, with a stop at the amazing Corinthians Canal. Corinth is where the apostle Paul met Aquilla and Priscilla and spent eighteen months ministering to a young church there during his second missionary journey. The New Testament records two letters from Paul to the Corinthians. We visit the Archeological Museum, the Forum, the Temple, the Acropolis, and the famous Bema, where Paul stood before Gallio. Then we drive to Chenchreae, the little harbor from which Paul sailed back to Asia at the end of his second missionary journey. We continue to Athens where the architectural wonders of ancient city come alive as we explore the world-renowned Acropolis and visit the Propylea, the Erechtheum, and the Parthenon. We remember Paul’s sermon to the “Unknown God” with a visit to Mars Hill, and his message to skeptical Athenians with a visit to the Agora, the center of economic and public life in the ancient city. During the bus tour, we see Constitution Square with the House of Parliament, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Temple of Zeus, Old Olympic Stadium, and the neoclassic buildings of Athens. Dinner and overnight at in Athens. Today, we journey through beautiful countryside and scenic mountain villages on our way to ancient Delphi, where we visit the archeological museum, which includes the Gallio inscription (Acts 18:12). Ancient Greeks considered Delphi the center of the earth (“omphalos” meaning navel) because the most important oracle in Greek culture, the Pythia, resided there. Also, in Delphi, the eternal flame burned in the Temple of Apollo. Beginning in 586 B.C., Delphi also hosted one of the precursors to the Modern Olympics, the Pythian Games. Dinner and overnight in Athens. Those not joining us on the Rome extension will transfer to the Thessaloniki Airport for our return flights back to the U.S.A., arriving home the same day.
Optional 4-Day Rome Extension
We transfer in the morning to the Thessaloniki Airport for our flight to Rome. Upon arrival, we meet our tour escort and travel to the coast to visit the spectacular ruins of Ostia Antica, the port of ancient Rome in New Testament times. The excavations continue today and provide insight into what Roman cities were like in the first century. On the way to Rome, we stop to walk on the ancient stones of the Appian Ways, as Paul did on his way to Rome as prisoner. Afterward, we tour the Trastevere area of Rome where Paul lived for two years. We then check in to our hotel for dinner and overnight. Today, we visit the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel, the celebrated Chapel of the Pope and the venue of the conclaves for Papal elections. One of Michelangelo’s finest works, the Sistine Chapel ceiling is a splendid masterpiece in the history of world art. From here, our next visit is to the Basilica of St. Peter, the largest church in the world, which overlooks the enormous Piazza San Pietro. In the afternoon, we tour Rome, the eternal city, and marvel at the monuments of this great capital. Then we stop near the Fontana di Trevi and promise to return to Rome by tossing a coin into the fountain, a worthwhile tradition. Dinner and overnight are in Rome. Today, we visit the Catacombs, explore the tunnels, and view the carvings on the walls from early persecuted Christians. We continue to St. Peter in Chains, followed by visits to the ancient Colosseum, the Forum, and the Piazza Venezia, dominated by the imposing monument to Vittorio Emanuel II. In the afternoon, we visit St. John Lateran and the “Sacred Steps.” As a monk, Martin Luther climbed these steps on his knees, trying to merit forgiveness. Afterwards, we visit The Church of Saint Paul at Tre Fontane (Abbey) where Paul was beheaded. We conclude our journeys of Paul with a visit to The Basilica of Saint Paul, the burial site of the great apostle to the Gentiles. Dinner and overnight in Rome. We transfer in the morning to Rome Airport for our return flight back to the U.S.A. and arrive the same day.