The Journeys of Paul
11 days tour of Greece
1 night Athens, 1 night Kalambaka, 1 night Thessalonica, 2 nights Athens, 4 nights cruise
DAY 1: We leave home for a journey in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul. We will walk, see, feel and touch the roots of our faith, encounter the divine and sense His presence.
Flying over the Atlantic Ocean and over Europe, we reach the white sandy beaches of Greece. Upon our arrival to the airport in Athens we will be met by our guide and begin our journey with a city tour of Athens. We will visit the Acropolis and its Parthenon, the Erechteion, the Acropolis Museum, Temple of Athena Nike and Areopagos (Mars Hill – Acts 17:22). We will spend the rest of the day resting in our hotel.
After a nice breakfast we will leave Athens and drive to Delphi. As we reach Delphi we will come to a landscape that resembles a semicircular amphitheater formed by the huge Phaedriades rocks dominating the valley. On one side we will have the calm olive groves stretching out as far as the gulf of Itea. On the other side, we will have these overpowering Rocky Mountains, a total antithesis. Ancient Greeks believed that Delphi was the navel of the earth, the omphalus as they called it, the point where the earthly touches the divine. We will continue driving towards Kalambaka. Built at the foot of Meteora and over the ruins of the ancient town of Aeginion, this city is considered one of the wonders of the world. A natural monument of incomparable beauty, the mighty rocks of Meteora give the scenery a unique color, far beyond human imagination. It was on the peaks of the rocks that the most significant monastic state of Orthodoxy has developed. Today, only 6 of the 24 monasteries are inhabited, but they remain remarkable monument of Byzantine architecture, housing rare manuscripts and relics of priceless archaeological and historical value.
After visiting a few monasteries, we will drive towards Thessalonica. On the way we will stop at Vergina, a highly important ancient city, certainly to be identified with Aegae, the ancient capital of the kingdom of Lower Macedonia, which spreads over the low hills in the northern slopes of the Pierian range. Vergina is the site of the Royal tombs and Palace of Phillip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. We will also visit Veria (Beria), the place that was visited by Paul and Silas, when Paul ran away in the middle of the night from Thessalonica (Acts 17:10). Paul preached in this town for several days, many were converted and a new church was established before he returned to Athens (Acts 17:14). We will end the day at Thessalonica, the place from which Paul spread the Word of Christianity and the Roman emperor Galerius made his headquarters (Acts 17:1).
We will open the day with a panoramic tour of Thessalonica, the capital of Macedonia and the second largest city of Greece. It was first established in 316 B.C. by Kassandros and named after his wife. We will view the White Tower, Arch of Galerius, St. Demetrios’ church, the Forum, Ramparts and Galerius’ Palace. Following the ancient Via Egnatia we will reach Philippi. It was here that Paul met Lydia from the city of Thyatira, the first convert in European soil. We will visit the remains of an early Christian basilica and the banks of the Gaggitas River, where Lydia was baptized (Acts 16:14). We will also visit the remains of the jail in which Paul and Silas were imprisoned and later released in a miraculous way (Acts 16:25). We will then continue to Neapolis the modern Kavala, the first place reached by the Apostle Paul in the European continent (Acts 16:11). Over the course of time, the region of Kavala suffered a turbulent history of invasions, wars and oppressions before evolving into the important commercial center it is today. In the evening, we will board a plane back to Athens.
We will begin the day with a drive to Corinth, among the most important cities in Paul’s time and a major transportation hub. We will cross over the Corinthian Canal en route to ancient Corinth, where we will see the sacred fountain, the agora, Peirene Fountain, Lechnaion Way and the early Christian church. The Church of the Apostle Paul reminds us of the letters to the Corinthians and his preaching here (Acts 18:1). We will continue to the city of Naftlio, the first capital of modern Greece and one of the most picturesque cities in the country. After a nice walk through the old city section we will drive to Epidaurus, the famous health center in Paul’s time. Here we will visit the best preserved theater in Greece. On the way back to Athens we will drive by the ancient Harbor of Cenchrae, used by Paul on his way back to Syria (Acts 18:18).
Today we will drive to Piraeus and board the ship that will take us to the Greek islands. Forget the elitist image you may have of cruising! Life on a Greek ship is a stylish experience, but the mood is informal and carefree. The friendly Greek staff more than lives up to the national tradition of warm hospitality and they excel in personal service. Meanwhile, the chefs are dedicated to making meal times unforgettable. Each night brings something new and exciting, but you can cap the evening’s entertainment by strolling under the stars. In the late afternoon of our first day of cruise, we will reach our first destination, Mykonos, a gem in the central Aegean, which is often considered as the most idyllic of Greek Islands. It is known for its windmills, hundreds of tiny chapels, whitewashed small houses filled with flowers, chic shops, cafes and a picturesque harbor.
Early in the morning we will arrive to Kusadasi, to visit one of the centers of the ancient world, the magnificent excavated city of Ephesos. It was here that Paul stayed and taught for two years (Acts 19:10) and here, at the great amphitheater, that he confronted the followers of the goddess Diana (Acts 19:24) and eventually was cast out of the city. We will see the marble road rutted by the wheels of countless chariots and the Library of Celsus, an architectural masterpiece. The scriptures will come alive to us as we walk through the residential quarter, the bath houses, the Odeon, the public latrines and the Magnesian Gates of the Amphitheater. After we visit Kusadasi’s big Turkish bazaar, we will board our ship again and continue to Patmos. Here, we will visit the Monastery of the Apocalypse, where John wrote the book of Revelation during his exile from the Roman Empire (Revelation 1:9). We will also get a chance to see the cave where he lived.
We will spend the entire day at the legendary Rhodes, also called the “Island of Roses”. Visited by Paul during his voyages (Acts 21:1), Rhodes is full of ruins from the ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Crusades, the Ottoman Empire and the Italians. You will fall under the spell of its history, as well as by the beauty of its beaches, its cosmopolitan atmosphere and its elegant cafes. We will walk along the city wall and visit the Old City and fortress. You may want to stroll at leisure through the small streets, or take an optional excursion to the majestic rock acropolis of Lindos, a near by town.
Our first stop will be in Heraclion (Crete – Acts 27:7), legendary home of the Minoam civilization of 4.000 years ago. You may want to visit the Archeological Museum, displaying the treasures found during the excavations of the island. Otherwise, we will visit the Palace of Knossos, administrative and religious center of the whole region and the residence of the ruling house. The buildings, a labyrinth complex, covered an area of 22.000sqm. The high standard of the Minoam civilization, its architecture, frescos and a perfect plumbing system, surprise even the modern visitors. In the afternoon we will arrive at the most spectacular and frequently photographed of all Greek islands: Santorini. The whitewashed village of Fira, the capital of the island, sited on high, sheer cliffs that dominate the bay, can be reached either by donkey or by cable car. After you have strolled through the narrow streets of the village or visited Akrotiri, an historic settlement, sit in one of the many cafes and enjoy the marvelous sunset.
DAY 11: Arrival back to Athens and Early departure for home, after fulfilling a lifetime dream of seeing, touching and breathing the very places we have only read about until now. Arriving home our Bible will never be the same, for it will be alive in front of our eyes and in our hearts for ever.
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