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). It was in this stream that Paul baptized her and welcomed her into the Christian community. With its marvelous acoustics, we gather in the baptistery of Lydia and join in singing hymns of praise to the Lord.
Following lunch, we make our way to the ancient city of Philippi, walking through the Roman forum, with its basilicas and Roman theater. We pause at the cell of Paul and Silas and reflect on their prison ministry as they shared the words of salvation with the jailer. We then travel to the port city of Neapolis (Kavala), Greece's most picturesque mainland port. Paul arrived at this harbor when landing in Greece. Here we view a modern mosaic depicting Paul's “Macedonian Vision” and his arrival at Neapolis. We return to Thessaloniki for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 5 – Thessaloniki / Meteora
Paul addressed two New Testament letters to the Thessalonians. In this city, 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 fourth century basilica of St. Demetrius, built over the site of his martyrdom under the persecution of the Roman 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. Then we depart for the town of Kalambaka, nestled under the monasteries of Meteora, for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 6 – Meteora / Granitsa
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 with its Hall of the Martyrs, Independence Museum, Kitchen, and Ossuary. We enjoy lunch and then off to Granitsa for an afternoon reunion, dinner, and overnight. (B,L)
Day 7 – Granitsa / Athens
After a morning of saying our farewells to the mountain village of Granitsa, we travel to the thriving capital of the Hellenistic Republic and home of the magnificent Parthenon. We reunite with the rest of the group at our hotel at the base of the Acropolis. (B,D)
Day 8 – Corinth
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 was 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 famous “love” chapter (I Cor. 13). We visit the Archaeological Museum, the Market Place, Bema and Temples. As did Christians 2,000 years ago, 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
Our cruise introduces to us the shimmering Aegean Sea. 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 "Revelation"; wander the whitewashed alleyways of Mykonos; enjoy a pristine beach in Rhodes; explore the Venetian city of Heraklion; and marvel at the breathtaking view from Santorini. Only their natural beauty rivals the history of each of our ports-of-call.
Day 9 – Mykonos
Mykonos is noted for its 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 lining the hillsides. Find a cafe on the waterfront and bask in the serenity of sunset over its picturesque harbor. (B,L,D)
Day 10 – Ephesus, Turkey
A tour of 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 theater where the Ephesians shouted their praises to Artemis in reaction to the Gospel proclamation of Paul (Acts 19).
This island is where John penned his apocalyptic vision of the heavenly realms while in exile as a result of his witness for Christ during the Roman Empire. The cave where he lived is now an Orthodox chapel that captures a glimpse of John’s dramatic images of the Revelation. In awe we sing songs of worship as we remember the great words of the heavenly chorus, "Hallelujah!" (B,L,D)
Day 11 – Rhodes
The beautiful "Island of Roses" has a rich and varied history. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Colossus of Rhodes, once proudly stood on its summit. Paul landed on this island as he made his way from Ephesus to Jerusalem at the conclusion of his third missionary journey. During the Crusades, the Knights of St. John constructed a medieval city over the ancient remains. Stroll through the Palace of the Grand Masters and recall the days of the Crusades, or venture to a nearby beach for a dip in the sea. (B,L,D)
Day 12 – 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 visit to the Archaeological Museum housing the frescoes of the ancient Minoans from 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. Overnight we sail back to Athens, where we'll disembark and spend our remaining days back on the mainland. (B,L,D)
Day 13 – Athens
We conclude our time in Greece with wonderful memories and a deeper appreciation of the Apostle Paul and the ancestral home of the Granitsas family! (B)