SUMMARY OF OUR DAILY ACTIVITIES
Today we begin our spiritual journey as we depart US on our scheduled flight to Istanbul, Turkey. Full service on board.
Upon arrival in Istanbul we transfer to our hotel. Balance of the day at leisure. Dinner and overnight. (D)
We set off on a full day of sightseeing in Istanbul. We will start off with a visit to the renewed Sultanahmet Mosque, known popularly as the Blue Mosque, this exquisite mosque built in the name of Sultan Ahmet is famous for its blue Iznik (Nicean) tiles and is unique for having six minarets. It was built from 1609 to 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice. We continue on to the Hippodrome, once the vast arena that functioned as the heart of sporting (chariots races and athletics) events and political activities of the old city. Continue our tour with a visit of Hagia Sophia (St. Sophia) – the church of the divine wisdom, one of the greatest marvels of architecture constructed as a basilica in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian. After lunch we continue our tour with a visit to the Topkapi Palace. This visit to the imperial palace of the Ottoman Sultans will include tours of the imperial treasury, the Chinese porcelain section, the calligraphy section and many more.The tour will end with the visit to the Grand Bazaar, the vast and legendary covered market that is the biggest souk in the world with nearly 4000 shops of antiques, jewelry and carpets. Dinner and overnight at our hotel. (B,L,D)
After early breakfast we take a fast ferry to Bandirma leaving at 07:00. Arrival in Bandirma port at around 09:00 and continue our drive to hauntingly beautiful Pergamon to visit the Asklepion and the Acropolis, the Theatre, The Temple of Athena and the Altar of Zeus, St. John denounced it as thone of Satan in his reference to Pergamon church members. After lunch continue to Thyatira where the members of this church were commended for their steadfastness against libertarianism, a constant threat to Christian church. Lunch. Drive to Izmir for dinner and overnight. (B,L,D)
After breakfast a short city tour of Izmir, the ancient Smyrna and one of the oldest continued inhabited church of the revelation ,visiting Mount Pagus where Polycarp was martyred. And then Sardis, the capital of ancient Lydia, visit the Temple of Cybele and Diana (which later became a church) the Synagogue and the Gymnasium. The position of Sardis as one of the Seven Churches identify its varied religious significance. Then continue to Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love founded during the reign of Attalus II. After Lunch, drive to Laodecia, visiting the Odeon, the Theatre and the Gymnasium. Continue to Hierapolis. Dinner and overnight in Hierapolis (Pamukkale). (B,L,D)
In the morning, a visit to Hierapolis with its Necropolis, Baths, Theatre, and the St. Phillips’s Martyrium. We then drive to Ephesus, lunch and visits its well preserved ruins including the Theatre where St. Paul preached to the Ephesians, the Library, the Odeon, the Double Church where the Third Ecumenical Council was held in 431 and St. John Basilica. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi Hotel. (B,L,D)
After breakfast drive to Kusadasi to embark on 3 Nights cruise of the Aegean Islands. Our first stop in the cruise will be Patmos. Here we visit the Monastery of John which is built within the walls of a strong fortification. We visit a small museum where priceless ecclesiastical treasures, books, manuscripts, icons, splendid medieval textiles, vestments and jewelry are housed. From here we continue to a nearby Grotto of the Apocalypse. Here we will see the niches in the wall that mark the Pillow and ledge used as a desk by the author of the Book of the Revelation. We return back to the ship and sail for Rhodes. (B,L,D)
Drive along the picturesque southeastern coastline, dotted with whitewashed villages, to Lindos, one of the most important of the great cities of ancient times. See how this entire city is guarded by medieval walls constructed by the knights of St. John in the 13th century. From the Acropolis, marvel at the breathtaking views covering the great expanse of the Aegean Sea and St. Paul’s Bay, where the apostle cast anchor during his historic voyage to Ephesus. After the guided tour of Lindos we return to the city of Rhodes where we enjoy a panoramic drive through the new part of the city before we continue to Mount Smith to see the ruins of ancient Rhodes, the Temple of Apollo and Diagoras Stadium. We continue with the walking tour through the medieval city of Rhodes, view the Palace of the Knights before we return back to our ship. Sail for Heraklion. (B,L,D)
Crete is the largest and most rugged of the Greek Islands. It is also the home of the great Minoan Civilization and the mythological home of Zeus. After a short drive through the town of Heraklion the tour will arrive at the Knossos excavations. Here, Sir Arthur Evan’s archaeological discoveries revealed a civilization dating to 4000 BC, when a great empire flourished on the island of Crete. The tour will continue to the Museum of Heraklion which houses the treasures from the findings of Knossos. Return to the ship and sail for Santorini. Santorini, considered by many to be the most visually striking Greek Isles, with scenery of jagged coastline and steep cliffs. Years ago, a cataclysmic volcanic eruption tore this picturesque island apart. Archaeologists speculate that this possibly gave rise to the legend of the lost city of Atlantis. Evening sail for Piraeus. (B,L,D)
After breakfast we disembark meet our guide and driver along the coastal road of the Saronic Gulf to Ancient Corinth, passing the Corinthian Canal. It was in Corinth where the Apostle Paul lived and preached for a year and a half. We see all of the Greek and Roman sites associated with his ministry; the Agora, the Temple of Apollo, the Roman Odeon and Gallio’s Seat. Then we proceed to Epidaurus; the sanctuary of Asclepeios, ancient god of healing. We see the best-preserved ancient theater in all of Greece. We
return to Athens for dinner and overnight. (B,D)
This morning our sightseeing will include visit of the Acropolis with its famous Parthenon and the Erechteum. We ascend to nearby Mars’Hill where Apostle Paul delivered his well-known sermon. Our tour will continue with an orientation tour of the city of Athens, pass by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Parliament House, Presidential Palace and Temple of Olympian Zeus. Afternoon at leisure. Lunch and dinner on our own. Overnight Athens. (B,D)
Early in the morning transfer to Athens airport for our return flight to US where we arrive the in the afternoon of the same date.
(B) Breakfast (L) Lunch (D) Dinner