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Steps of Paul Cruise, Land & trip to Egypt

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An once in a life time, 15-day cultural and Christian experience in the most enchanting way! An inspiring land and cruise tour to Greece, Turkey and Egypt.

 

Day 1 (Wed) Arrival in Greece - Thessaloniki

Arrival Thessaloniki, the city where Paul was received by Jason. Paul was preaching the Word of God here, until he was rushed out of the city. Our representative will meet you at the airport of Thessaloniki and transfer you to your hotel for dinner and overnight.


Day 2 (Thu) Thessaloniki

In the morning, drive through Thessaloniki to see the landmarks of the city, the White Tower, the Walls of the Byzantine Acropolis, the Roman Arch of Galerius and the Rotonda. Visit two of the city’s oldest and most admired Christian churches, the Basilicas of St. Demetrius and St. Sophia (Divine Wisdom), the House of Jason where Paul lived and the Agora where he preached. Continue to Veria – ancient Beroea – to the monument commemorating Paul’s preaching to the local Jews in 54 AD. You continue then on to Vergina (ancient Aiges), first capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia. Here you will see the tombs of Vergina and the breathtaking collection of golden artifacts, which were found inside these two un-plundered tombs of Philip of Macedon and the Young Prince. You will return to Thessaloniki for dinner and overnight.


Day 3 (Fri) Philippi & Kavala

Follow the route of the Via Egnatia and visit as Paul and his companion did the area of Amphipolis, to see the famous funerary Lion of Amphipolis, and the site of Philippi. There, you also visit the Baptistery of Lydia near the river, where Paul baptized her. Lydia was the first convert of Paul on European soil and the conversion of the jailer followed. Also, visit the ruins of the Forum of Philippi, the Christian Basilicas, the “Prison of Paul” as well as the Theatre. Drive then to Kavala (Neapolis), a picturesque port and view the Byzantine Castle and the Roman Aqueduct. Dinner and overnight will be in Kavala.


Day 4 (Sat) Greek borders – Istanbul – Embarkation on the cruise ship

Depart from Kavala and drive through the Greek part of Thrace, passing by the towns of Xanthi, Komotini and Alexandroupolis. Arrive at the border between Greece and Turkey and cross over to the Turkish part of Thrace. Your final destination is Istanbul (Constantinople), the city which straddles two continents. This city was the capital of the Byzantine Empire for more than one thousand years and of the Ottoman Empire for more than five hundred years. Istanbul is famous for many beautiful places and museums, which you will have the opportunity to explore the next day. You embark on your “home” for the next 6 nights, the CRISTAL of “Louis Hellenic Cruises”.


Day 5 (Sun) Istanbul

Begin the excursion with a sightseeing drive through the business centre of the modern city, across the Galata Bridge, along the banks of the Golden Horn and under the Byzantine Aqueduct of Valens. On the way, you can see the Süleimaniye Mosque, dedicated to Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Continue around the mighty city walls, which once protected Constantinople from the many invasions and attacks that it suffered through the centuries. In the Old City, you will first visit the Byzantine Hippodrome, which was one of the largest chariot race arenas in the Byzantine Empire. Visit the Sultanahmet Mosque, from where large groups of pilgrims start their pilgrimage to Mecca. It is decorated with 21,000 blue Iznik tiles from where it gets its name, the “Blue Mosque”. Walk to the world famous monument of Hagia Sophia, the Byzantine Church dedicated to the Divine Wisdom of God, where you can see the superb mosaics and the marble decorations. Return to the ship for lunch on board. After lunch continue the tour with a visit to the Topkapi Palace, the official residence of the Ottoman Sultans. See the famous treasury and the famous “Spoon maker’s Diamond”, the 7th biggest diamond in the world. Visit the kitchen buildings, displaying the third richest collection in the world of Chinese and Japanese porcelain. Evening sailing for the island of Mykonos.


Day 6 (Mon) Morning at Sea – Afternoon in Mykonos

You spend your morning sailing and in the afternoon you arrive at the world-famous island of Mykonos. The town which is a small architectural miracle, with its gleaming white-washed buildings, with the hundreds of churches and windmills, is considered one of the most cosmopolitan places in the world.


Day 7 (Tue) Morning Patmos –Afternoon Izmir– Ephesus

In the morning you will arive at the island of Patmos, where you will visit the Monastery of St. John, crowning the island. You will depart from the port of Scala and enjoy a short drive to the village of Chora, where the Monastery of St. John is built within the walls of a strong fortification. As you walk uphill towards the entrance of the monastery marvel at this magnificent structure, which was built 900 years ago. Once inside the monastery see the courtyard, the monks’ dining room and the old bakery before you visit the main church noted for its outstanding interior decoration and frescoes. Next, visit the small museum where priceless ecclesiastical treasures, books, manuscripts, mosaics, icons, splendid medieval textiles, vestments and jewellery are housed. Return to your motor coach and continue to the nearby Grotto of the Apocalypse and the Monastery of the Apocalypse above it. Walk down the steps to the Grotto of the Apocalypse. Here you 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 and the crack in the rock made by the voice of God honouring the Holy Trinity. Afterwards, drive back to the port of Scala and enjoy some free time in this quaint and picturesque town. Return back to the ship for lunch and in the afternoon the ship will arrive in Izmir, Turkey. The excursion will drive you through the colourful countryside to reach Ephesus, famous in antiquity for its Temple of Artemis- one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World - and later the home of St. John. During the years of the Roman Empire, the Greek port of Ephesus became the greatest city in Asia Minor. Upon arrival at Ephesus follow your guide to enter the ancient site through the Magnesian Gate. Discover numerous monuments including the Forum, the Odeon, the Library of Celsius, the Thermal Baths of Scolastika and the Great Theatre built in the Greek era and reconstructed in the Roman period, which is still noted for its remarkable acoustics, the very place where Paul preached. View the symbols all around and marvel at the fact that most of the inscriptions in ancient Greek language can still be read. On your way out walk along the Arcadian Way, where once Mark Anthony and Cleopatra rode in procession. Then back to your coach and as you drive back to Izmir, view on a hill above Selcuk, just outside Ephesus, the Basilica of St. John, which was erected over his grave in the 6th century A.D. by Emperor Justinian. Later you return to the ship for dinner and sailing towards Rhodes.


Day 8 (Wed) Lindos – Rhodes

Today you arrive at the beautiful island of Rhodes. Your tour starts with a scenic 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 very steep cliff 400 feet above the sea. Proceed on foot uphill, to the great staircase leading from the Hellenistic Portico to the Acropolis and Temple of Athena.  From the top of 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. Should you wish to make your way up by donkey, a fee must be paid to the local donkey owner. After the guided tour of the Acropolis, enjoy some free time on your own in the village of Lindos, before meeting up with your motor coach. Return to Rhodes city and enjoy a panoramic drive through the new part of the city before continuing to Mount Smith to see the ruins of ancient Rhodes, the Temple of Apollo and Diagoras Stadium. Afterwards your motor coach will drop you off at Gate d’Amboise, the start of the walking tour through the medieval city of Rhodes, awarded by UNESCO 1988, follow your guide through the northern part where once lived the knights and their attendants. View the Grand Masters Palace, continue your walk down Chevaliers Road by the Knights’ Hospital, to the Marine Gate and return back to the ship. A short visit to a ceramic factory is included.


Day 9 (Thu) Crete – Santorini

In the morning arrive at the town of Heraklion, Crete, from where you can enjoy a unique excursion to Knossos. Crete is the largest and the most rugged of the Greek islands. It is also the home of the great Minoan Civilization and the birthplace of the mythological god Zeus. A short ride will take us to the site of the Knossos excavations. Here, Sir Arthur Evan’s archaeological discoveries revealed a civilization dating back to 4000 B.C., when the great Minoan empire flourished on this island. Based on the wealth of artefacts that were found, Evans theorized that this was the site of the ancient Minoan Kingdom. These findings will be viewed in detail, as your guide will lead you on a journey of discovery to learn about the sophisticated culture that flourished thousands of years ago on this island.  The Palace, decorated with frescoes and shields, houses the Hall of the Royal Guard, the Hall of the Double Axes, the King's Chamber with a throne made of alabaster, the Queen's Apartment as well as beautiful courtyards and shrines. After the visit to Knossos Palace, the tour will continue back to Heraklion, where you will have a little free time to browse this beautiful town before you re-embark your ship to continue the trip in Aegean Sea.  Then, you sail north towards the island of Santorini, the most popular and breathtaking of all the Greek islands, due to the unique shape that the massive eruption of the volcano has given to this island The exquisite whitewashed villages, including the town of Fira, very impressively cling to volcanic cliffs and are accessible by cable-car, or mule.


Day 10 (Fri) Athens

Today you disembark from the cruise ship and you continue from the port to the city of Athens in order to admire the architectural miracles of ancient Athens and the beautiful modern city.  You will follow your guide to the world famous Acropolis, to see the Propylea, the Erechtheum and the Parthenon. You will also visit Mars Hill, where Paul delivered his ingenious speech on the “Unknown God”. View the Agora, the ancient centre of the economic and public life of the city, where Paul preached to the sceptical Athenians. During the bus tour that will follow, you see Constitution Square with the House of Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Temple of Zeus, the Old Olympic Stadium and the Neoclassical Buildings of Athens. The afternoon will be at your leisure before dinner and overnight in the hotel in Athens.


Day 11 (Sat) Ancient Corinth

Today, you will go on a trip to Ancient Corinth which was once the glorious city near the Isthmus, where Paul met Aquila and Priscilla and spent a year and a half preaching the Word of God. You will visit the Archaeological Museum, the Forum, the Temples and the famous Bema, where Paul stood before Gallio, accused by the Jews of Corinth. Then, you drive to Cenchreae, the little harbour from where Paul sailed back to Asia, thus ending his second missionary journey. You then travel back to Athens for your farewell dinner in a Greek taverna in Plaka. Overnight will be at the hotel in Athens.


Day 12 (Sun) Flight to Cairo

This morning you will be transferred to Athens International airport to join your flight to Cairo, Egypt. Arrive at the land of the Pharaohs, Jacob, Joseph and Israel!  Upon arrival at the airport you will meet your guide and you will be transferred to Cairo, the capital of Egypt. Check in at your hotel. You can start soaking up the atmosphere of this exciting city. You will have dinner and overnight at the hotel.


Day 13 (Mon) Cairo

Today we travel back to ancient Egypt with a full day of touring to the wonders of the ancient world, some of which date back to 1000+ years prior to Abraham. We spend time at one of the seven wonders of the world- the pyramids of Cheops, with an original height of 496 feet, is the most colossal pyramid ever built. Today, we will also see the Sphinx. We enjoy a short ride to Memphis.  Founded around 3,100 BC, Memphis is the legendary city of Menes, the King who united Upper and Lower Egypt.  From a Biblical perspective, Memphis is most likely where Abraham lied to Pharaoh about his wife Sarah being his sister and where Joseph served as second in command.  While in Memphis we will view a very large and well preserved statue of Ramses II.  Next is Sakkara, which is one of the most extensive archaeological sites in Egypt!  Sakkara is dominated by the Step Pyramid of King Zoser, dating back to 2700 BC. It is one of the oldest stone structures in the world!  Enjoy a stop to see how local Egyptian carpets are made before a short drive to the south finds us in Faiyum, the region created by the divinely inspired wisdom of Joseph. Here you will find ancient storehouses and a man-made lake created by a canal, whose construction was ordered by Joseph.  It was this lake that provided irrigation for a desert land and supplied the food needed to survive his prophesied seven year famine. You will have dinner and overnight the hotel.


Day 14 (Tue) Cairo

After breakfast we will start our tour with a visit to the Egyptian Museum. The Egyptian Museum is one of the most important places in Cairo. Packed to the point of overflowing with more than 100,000 relics and antiquities, it is a feast for the eyes and brain. The Museum is a fantastic collection of rooms that are packed with hundreds and thousands of big and small statues, figurines, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, rings, coffins and sarcophagi, boats, weapons, glassware objects, wood and metal tools, masks, coins, seals, mummies, cloth, papyrus drawings, stone and clay tablets with hieroglyphics, jugs, amulets, models, photographs and many more to see. We then continue to - perhaps - the most spectacular part of Islamic Cairo. This is the Citadel! a medieval fortress perched on a hill overlooking the entire Nile valley and Cairo. The Citadel looks west towards Cairo and the pyramids at Giza and dominates the entire area. Islamic Cairo is characterized by a large number of medieval mosques that seem to tower over the area. While there are 150 sites of historical interest in Islamic Cairo, you will have to see one of the best and most important. Though certainly not one of the most ancient mosques in Cairo, nor even one of the most historic, because of its grandeur and its location in the Citadel, the Mosque of Muhammad Ali is the most popular Islamic mosque among tourists. This mosque is also sometimes referred to as the Alabaster Mosque due to its extensive use of that stone on some of the exterior walls and other surfaces. Sometimes it is popularly known as al-qal'a, meaning citadel, and thus confused with the fortress in which it is located. The mosque, the largest such structure built during the first half of the 19th century, is more impressive at a distance than close up. Though there its artistic merit is questionable, it is an unparalleled contribution to the skyline of Cairo, visible high atop the Citadel grounds. Indeed, its great dome and towering minarets give the Citadel a romantic, oriental quality that makes up for any shortcomings in its detail. It is almost certainly the first feature that catches ones eyes at the fortress. We return back to the hotel for dinner and overnight.


Day 15 (Wed) Departure

 

After breakfast transfer from your hotel to Cairo’s airport for your return flight home, arriving the same day. Fly back home full of wonderful memories from your trip and a new insight into Paul’s life and teachings.

 

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