Following the Footsteps of the Apostle Paul
October 7 - 21, 2016
Days 1 & 2 – Arrival
Depart US, arrive Thessaloniki, Greece
Our pilgrimage begins as we depart the United States on our international flight. We are met in Thessaloniki and transferred to our hotel for dinner and a relaxing evening. (D)
Day 3 – Veria and Vergina
When Paul arrived in Veria (Berea), he went immediately to the Jewish synagogue and shared the message of the Messiah with them, proving that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies (Acts 17). We visit the traditional rostrum where Paul delivered his sermons, and the remnants of the Jewish quarter housing the synagogue.
Then we are off to Vergina, one of the most fascinating sites of recent discovery. In the mid-seventies, the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, was discovered containing silver vessels and golden crowns. The Royal tombs also house one of the few remaining paintings from the Macedonian period. In the afternoon we return to our hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 4 – Philippi and Neapolis (modern day Kavala)
Today we continue our journey in the footsteps of Paul and his companions, Silas, Timothy, and Luke. We make our way to the riverside of Philippi and spend a few moments recalling Paul’s words to Lydia (Acts 16) whose heart was opened to the Gospel. It was in this stream that Paul baptized her and welcomed her into the Christian community. In the baptistery dedicated to Lydia we join in singing praises as we are thrilled by the marvelous acoustics of the chapel.
Following lunch, we make our way to the ancient city of Philippi, walking through the forum, seeing two major basilicas and a Roman theater. We pause at the prison cell of Paul and Silas and recall their words of salvation. Then we travel to the port city of Neapolis (Kavala), Greece's most picturesque mainland port. Paul arrived at this port when landing in Greece. Here we see a modern mosaic depicting Paul's vision and arrival at Neapolis before returning to our hotel and dinner. (B,L,D)
Day 5 – Thessaloniki
The New Testament books to the Thessalonians are Paul's letters to this community of first century Christians. In Thessaloniki we see the old city ramparts, the landmark White Tower proudly adorning the harbor, and the Arch of Galerius that rises over the Via Egnatia. We visit the most beautiful basilica in the city, the 1,400 year old church of St. Demetrius, dedicated to a Roman military officer who was martyred for his faith in Christ by Emperor Galerius. As part of our appreciation of modern Greece, we visit the bustling open air market with its wide variety of Greek olives and feta chesses. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 6 – Meteora
Nestled in western Thessaly lies the rock forest of Meteora where famous Byzantine monasteries perch precariously on summits of soaring, sheer-sided gray rock pinnacles of varied and spectacular shapes. Hermits began meeting in this area in the 9th century and in the evolving centuries formed community life, first in wooden shelters and later transformed into monasteries. We visit the Grand Meteoron and with its Hall of the Martyrs, the Independence Museum, Kitchen, and Ossuary. We enjoy lunch and then off to Delphi for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 7 – Delphi
Delphi was considered by the ancient Greeks to be the center of the world and the most sacred of precincts. Today the village is lined with quaint shops and cafes. We take the Sacred Way to the ancient site to witness the Athenian Treasury, the Theater and the Temple of Apollo after our visit to the Museum where, among other treasures, we behold the unique 5th century B.C. bronze charioteer. We relax from our walk with lunch overlooking a spectacular view of the valley below filled with over a million olive trees. In the afternoon we head to our hotel at the foot of the Acropolis in legendary Athens. (B,L,D)
Day 8 – Athens
The architectural splendors of this ancient city are magnificent. We begin the day at the new Acropolis Museum, which contains innumerable treasures from the Classical Age of Greece, including the legendary Parthenon Marbles. On our way to the Parthenon we visit the Theater of Dionysus, the birthplace of drama and comedy, as well at the grand Propylaea entrance. On top of the Acropolis, we stand in awe of the Parthenon, which has awed visitors for nearly 2,500 years. We then descend to the Areopagus (Mar's Hill) and read the sermon that Paul addressed to the Athenians of his day (Acts 17). From there we stroll through the ancient Athenian Agora and into the modern Plaka marketplace district. (B,L,D)
Day 9 – Athens Free Day
Enjoy this free day by ambling through the historical district of the Plaka, noted for its shops, cafes, taverns, and colorful people. Explore one of the many museums of Athens. Relax and soak up the sites and sounds. Remember that today is the only day you need to buy your own lunch and dinner. (B)
4 DAY CRUISE
Day 10 – Corinth and Canal
On our way to Corinth, we visit the isthmus that boasted two major ports and controlled the flow of goods in ancient times, one reason that Corinth became the leading commercial city of the Greek mainland. Paul spent a year and half in this community (Acts 18) and later wrote letters to them, the first of which contains his chapter on love. We visit the Archaeological Museum, the Market Place, the Bema and Temples. We celebrate communion among the ruins of this great city. In the evening, we return to Athens for a celebratory dinner of our last night on the mainland. (B,L,D)
4 DAY CRUISE This cruise provides a perfect introduction to the Aegean. In the days following the land tour, we cruise through the most beautiful waters in the world to enchanting destinations. Stroll along the marble streets of Ephesus; walk the path of the Crusaders in Rhodes; visit the grotto of St. John on the isle of Patmos where he wrote his apocalyptic "Revelations"; wander the whitewashed alleyways of Mykonos; explore the Venetian city of Heraklion of Crete; and marvel at the breathtaking view of Santorini. The history of each of our ports-of-call is rivaled only by their natural beauty.
Day 11 – Mykonos
On Mykonos we find beautiful beaches, chic boutiques, and elegant nightclubs. Beneath its sophisticated surface lies a quite essential Greek island. Hundreds of tiny chapels dot this blue and white-washed island with its beautiful windmills. Find a table on the waterfront and bask in the serenity of sunset over its picturesque harbor. (B,L,D)
Day 12 – Ephesus, Turkey and Patmos, Greece
A tour to nearby Ephesus should not be missed for here history truly comes to life. Walking towards the ancient harbor, down a marble road rutted by the wheels of countless chariots, we pass architectural masterpieces such as the Library of Celsus before arriving at the Great Amphitheater where the Ephesians shouted their praises to Artemis in reaction to the Gospel proclamation of Paul (Acts 19).
This island is known as the site of the apocalyptic Revelation of John written here during his exile from the Roman Empire. The cave where he lived is now an Orthodox chapel that captures a glimpse of the vision of the heavens. We sing songs of worship as we remember the great words of the heavenly chorus, "Hallelujah!" (B,L,D)
Day 13 – Rhodes
The beautiful "Island of Roses" has a rich and varied history. On a hill above the charming town of Lindos rises an ancient acropolis dedicated to the goddess Athena. Below lies the bay of St. Paul, where the apostle landed during his voyages. The crusading Knights of St. John left the medieval city of Rhodes behind when they were defeated by Sultan. Stroll through the Palace of the Grand Masters and recall the days of the Crusades. (B,L,D)
Day 14 – Heraklion, Crete and Santorini
In the morning we visit the city of Heraklion on the island of Crete. Paul ministered on this island with his traveling companion, Titus, who became the first overseer of the Christian community founded here. We will visit the Church of Titus as we begin to wrap up our journey in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul. Also available is an optional shore excursion to the ancient Minoan ruins of the Palace of Knossos.
Our cruise then concludes at the beautiful island of Santorini, the most breathtaking of all the Greek Islands. The town of Fira boasts beautiful white-washed houses, narrow streets, open-air cafes and glittering boutiques clinging to steep cliffs. Lying on the upper rim of a dormant volcano, Fira is only accessible by either cable-car or mule ride. (B,L,D)
Day 15 – Piraeus (Athens)
Board our bus for transfer to airport and return trip to USA. Return with wonderful memories! (B)