Following in the Footsteps of the Apostle Paul
MAY 19 - 30, 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 – Thessaloniki
Today begins with an orientation to Greek culture and our first day of touring. 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 4 – Philippi and Neapolis (modern day Kavala)
Today we continue our journey in the footsteps of Paul and his companions, Silas, Timothy, and Luke. On our way to Philippi we will pass through Apollonia and Amphipolis. In Philippi, we make our way to the riverside and spend a few moments recalling Paul’s words to Lydia 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 shrine.
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 – 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. 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 Philippi 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 head to our hotel at the foot of the Acropolis in legendary Athens. (B,L,D)
Day 6 – Athens
The architectural splendors of this ancient city are magnificent. We make our way to the world-renown Acropolis with its Propylaea entrance. As we stand before the Parthenon we can still hear the hammers striking stones of marble as reconstruction continues to maintain the wonder of this monument to man’s achievement. We also visit the Acropolis Museum and the Erectheum before descending to the Areopagus (Mar's Hill) and read the sermon that Paul addressed to the Athenians of his day. From there we stroll through the Agora (ancient market place and center of Athenian public life). (B,L,D)
Day 7 – 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)
Day 8 – 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 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)
3 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; 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 9 – 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 10 – 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.
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 11 – Heraklion (Crete) and Santorini
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.
The island of Santorini is perhaps 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 12 – Piraeus, Athens or Extended Stay in Santorini
Board our bus for transfer to airport and return trip to USA. Return with wonderful memories! (B)
Or opt to stay in Santorini and begin a three day extension on this stunning island.
OPTIONAL SANTORINI EXTENSION Enjoy three splendid nights at your five star hotel perched high on the rim of an ancient volcano with breathtaking views of the picturesque whitewashed chapels and the crystal clear waters of the Aegean Sea. (Price to be published in October 2015)
Day 11 - Santorini Extension Day 1
Instead of boarding the cruise ship with the group, check in to our select hotel in the strikingly beautiful town of Oia. The evening is at leisure to wander the meandering streets or to enjoy a glass of Santorini wine and marvel at the spectacular setting.
Day 12 - Santorini Extension Day 2
Enjoy a day at leisure to shop in the cosmopolitan Oia, relax poolside, or take a swim on a black sand beach.
Day 13 - Santorini Extension Day 3
Today you'll embark on a catamaran cruise through the blue waters of the island caldera. Take a swim in the hot springs and enjoy a Greek feast on board while watching the sun set over the Aegean. (B,D)
Day 14 - Santorini Extension Day 4
Take the morning to wander the streets and take in your last views of the gorgeous setting. After lunch you'll depart for Athens to prepare for your transatlantic flight home. Overnight in the five star Sofitel at the Athens airport. (B)
Day 15 - Departure
Depart Athens for USA.