Arrive Thessaloniki, Greece
Upon arrival you will be greeted by your private tour manager and transferred to the hotel. Group will check in at the hotel, have time to refresh and this evening we will meet for our welcome dinner. Dinner and overnight in Thessaloniki.
After breakfast we depart for Philippi, it was here that Paul delivered his first sermon in Europe, sowing the seeds of Christianity (Acts 16:12-18) and where he baptized Lydia, the first Christian convert in Europe. We will visit the Roman forum, completely excavated and the location on the rocky ledge above the town’s main road is the prison where Paul and Silas were held in captivity. Next, we visit the port city of Kavala, ancient Neapolis, where Paul accompanied by Silas, Luke and Timothy, first set foot in Europe. Dinner and overnight in Thessaloniki.
Today we begin our city tour of Thessaloniki with our guide who will share with us more about Paul’s preaching in Thessaloniki of 49-50 AD and where he wrote two epistles to the ancient Thessalonians. We view the ramparts of this ancient city, the triumphal Arch of Galerius, the White Tower; Basilica of St. Demetrius, the Rotunda (also known as the Church of St. George) and the Basilica of St. Sophia. Next, we board the coach for a drive to Veria (ancient Berea) where Paul preached in the synagogue, before being forced to leave for Athens, and we see the Bema of St. Paul in the area. The Bereans received “the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Afterwards, we make our way to Kalabaka and have time to refresh before dinner. Dinner and overnight in Kalabaka.
After breakfast we see the Meteora Monasteries located among striking scenery, perched on top of the huge rocks where you can see exquisite specimens of Byzantine art of the 11th century. Those monasteries are in the list of UNESCO world heritage and are protected. Afterwards we continue to Delphi, the center of the ancient world and location of the Temple of Apollo. On the slopes of Mount Parnassus, in a landscape of unparalleled beauty and majesty, lie the ruins of this ancient temple. We will visit the archeological site and if time permits, visit the museum. Afterwards, we drive on to Athens, one of the most glorious cities in the world and the cradle of western civilization as we know it today. Dinner and overnight in Athens.
This day our guide will lead us through Athens including a visit to the Acropolis Hill to see the ruins of the Parthenon, ascend Mars Hill where Paul spoke to the ancient Athenians about “the one and only God”. From here we have an excellent view of the ancient agora- former center of the Athenian public life. We board the coach for a drive through the city to see the House of Parliament, Presidential Palace and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A stop to visit the Panathenaic Stadium where the first Olympics of the modern era were held, the temple of the Olympian Zeus and Adrian’s Arch. Afterwards we drive westward over the famous Corinthian Canal to the ancient city of Corinth first inhabited in the Neolithic period (5000-3000 BC). We learn more about the time Paul spent in Corinth establishing the church and teaching the word of God among the Corinthians. Dinner and overnight in Athens.
Athens-Mykonos (On Cruise)
After breakfast we transfer to the port of Piraeus to board the ship for our 4-night Greek Island and Turkey Cruise. This afternoon we arrive at the mountainous island of Mykonos. You may disembark the ship to explore the island on your own and get a taste of this cosmopolitan place, along with a walk at the Little Venice and the windmills. Return to the ship for dinner and the evening entertainment.
Kusadasi, Turkey-Patmos, Greece
Today we visit the Turkish port of Kusadasi, and enjoy the tour to the ancient ruins of Ephesus, whose inhabitants were the recipients of Apostle Paul’s famous epistle (Acts 18:19-26) and where the Virgin Mary is said to have spent her last days. You will see the Odeon (concert hall), the Fountain of Trajan, the steam-heated Baths of Scolastika, the Temple of Hadrian and the Latrians, the Library of Celsus and The Great Theatre, where St. Paul preached, which is the largest theatre in antiquity having a capacity of 24,000 people. Return to the ship to sail to the Greek island of Patmos where we will visit the Monastery of St. John and the Cave of the Apocalypse, where John the Evangelist wrote the Book of the Revelation during his exile (Rev. 1:9-11). Return to our boat for dinner.
We will spend the day in the island of Rhodes. We will drive along the picturesque south-eastern coastline, dotted with white-washed villages, to Lindos, one of the most important of the three great cities of ancient times. See how this entire city is guarded by medieval walls which were constructed by the knights of St. John in the 13th century. Within them stands the ancient Acropolis of Lindos, on the brink of a precipice 400 feet above the sea. From the Acropolis, we will see St. Paul bay, where the apostle cast anchor during his historic voyage to Ephesus. Proceed on foot uphill, to the Acropolis and Temple of Athena. Return to the old city of Rhodes to see the Gate d’Amboise where we will have a walking tour through the medieval city of Rhodes to view the Palace of the Knights and continue walking down the Street of the Knights. Lunch is served on board and there is some free time to explore the city of Rhodes on your own.
Our ship arrives to the island of Crete where Paul arrived as a prisoner on his way to Rome and the final chapter of his life. Paul revisited the island of Crete before his death, placing Titus in charge of the church he founded. We will visit Knossos Palace, center of the Minoan Civilization and return to the city for a short walking tour. Sail to the famous volcanic island of Santorini. You may take part in the tour to Oia village, perched high on top of a cliff, to watch a Santorini sunset which some consider the most beautiful anywhere on the planet! OR to take the cable car to reach the capital of the island, Fira, and see its unique beauty. We return to the ship for another delicious dinner on board before sailing to Athens.
After your breakfast on ship, we disembark and transfer to the Athens airport to fly back home.