Greece and the Greek Isles Cruise
Upon arrival at Makedonia Thessaloniki Airport in Greece, make your way to the baggage claim area and collect your luggage. Proceed to the Arrival Hall, where your tour guide and driver will greet you. Transfer to your hotel in Thessaloniki to check in. Enjoy dinner at the hotel and overnight.
Day 1: Arrive in Thessaloniki
After breakfast, start your journey in Greece with the first stop of the day in Philippi. Philippi was the city where Saint Paul the Apostle delivered his first sermon and established the 1st church in Europe. "And from there (He went) to Philippi, the leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman Colony. We remained in this city some days". (Acts 16:12-18). It is also where Saint Paul baptized a woman named Lydia, the first convert to Christianity in Europe. Visit the Roman Forum, where Saint Paul cast a spirit out of a fortune-telling woman. View the prison (now in ruins) where the owners of the fortune-tellers threw into Saint Paul and Silas. Continue to the modern port city of Kavala, once the ancient Neapolis. Saint Paul, Silas, Luke, and Timothy landed in this port when they sailed into Europe. After enjoying this city by the sea, return to Thessaloniki for a delicious meal and restful overnight.
Day 2: Philippi | Kavala | Thessaloniki
Start your day with breakfast at the hotel. In the winter of 49-50 A.D., Saint Paul wrote two epistles to the Thessalonians. These letters urged Christians to "live blamelessly" and to refrain from living idly while waiting for Christ's second coming. While in Thessaloniki, you will witness several ancient artifacts, such as the triumphal Arch of Galerius found at the start of Via Egnatia. Due to its convenient location, this arch was once a strategic artery of the Roman Empire. It was constructed to honor the Roman Emperor Galerius following the Roman victory over the Persians. Following the city tour, transfer to Kalambaka. You will have a wonderful meal and a relaxing overnight in Kalambaka this evening.
Day 3: Thessaloniki City Tour | Kalambaka
After breakfast, board the motorcoach for a short drive to the Meteora Monasteries. In the eleventh century, some monks settled in caves. However, as the Turkish occupation increased, the monks were forced to move their settlements higher upon the rocks until they were unreachable by any opposing enemy. These settlements became Monasteries by bringing building and lifting materials by ladders and baskets. They were notorious for preserving the Hellenic religion and their academics and arts. During your visit, you will be able to view stunning Byzantine art and the breathtaking scenery surrounding the monastery. Continue to Delphi for dinner and overnight.
Day 4: Meteora | Delphi
Today, visit the center of the earth's ancient world (navel), Delphi. Its prestige extended far beyond the boundaries of the Hellenic world. On the slopes of Mount Parnassus, in a landscape of unparalleled beauty and majesty, lie the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo Pythios. Visit the site and the museum and continue to Athens. "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are religious. As I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription "to an unknown God." What, therefore, you worship as unknown, I proclaim to you:" Athens is one of the most glorious cities in the world and the cradle of Western civilization as we know it today. Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Athens.
Day 5: Delphi | Athens
After breakfast at the hotel, start with a tour of the oldest city in the world, Athens! Visit the rock that has dominated the panorama of Athens for twenty-five centuries, the Acropolis. At the Acropolis, you will see the ruins of the Parthenon, Erectheum, and Propylene. Afterward, you will ascend to Mars Hill, where Saint Paul spoke to the Athenians about the one and only God (Acts 17:22). In this city, view the ancient Agora, the former public center of Athenian life. It held the focus of a political, commercial, social, religious, and cultural center. As you are in the former political center, proceed with a drive through the city to view the House of Parliament on Syntagma Square. Also, have the opportunity to view the University of Athens, the oldest higher education institute in Greece, and the National Library of Greece, which holds 4,500 Greek manuscripts. Visit Panathenaic Stadium, the beautifully marbled multi-purpose stadium. It is home to the Olympian Zeus and the site of the first modern-era Olympics (1896). Following your visit to Athens, you will proceed to ancient Corinth. Under the shadow of the towering Acropolis, Saint Paul lived in Corinth for two years. While here, Saint Paul felt great grief over what the Gentile Church in Corinth had become. As a result, he wrote four letters, all with the overarching theme of love. In Corinth, you can view the remains of the first-century shops, the site of the Saint Paul trial by Gallio, the Fountain of Peirene, and the Temple of Apollo. Following your visit to Corinth, return to Athens for a delicious meal and overnight.
Day 6: Athens | Corinth
Following breakfast, proceed to the Piraeus port, where you will board your 3-day Cruise. Your first stop will be the Island of Mykonos, the most cosmopolitan of the Greek islands that attract visitors worldwide. After docking, transfer to Hora, the capital of the island. Enjoy a walking tour that will take you to the city's narrow, cobbled streets. Pass by chic boutiques, elegant nightclubs, and white-washed houses to arrive in Alefkandra. This part of Mykonos is known as the "Venice of Mykonos," as homes have wooden balconies and are built on the sea. Historically, these homes were of wealthy merchants and captains. Return to the cruise ship for dinner and overnight.
Day 7: Athens | Start 3-day Cruise
Enjoy breakfast on board in the lively Turkish port of Kusadasi. We then transfer to the small village of Mt. Koressos. Visit the stone chapel on the site, where the Virgin Mary spent her last days following the crucifixion of Christ. Following this visit, walk through the Magnesian Gate to the ancient Ephesus. Enjoy a walking tour that will take you through the most magnificent excavations in the world. Some sites include the Odeon (concert hall), the Fountain of Trajan, the Scholastica, the Temple of Hadrian and the Latrians, and the Library of Celsus. The last stop on the walking tour is the Great Theatre. It is the largest ancient theater with a capacity of 25,000 people and is where Saint Paul preached. Follow the exact route that Mark Anthony and Cleopatra once rode in procession via the Arcadian Way. This main street runs from the Great Theatre to the city harbor. On your transfer back to Kusadasi, have the opportunity to view the Basilica of Saint John. In the sixth century, Emperor Justinian erected this structure over the grave of the evangelist John. Upon arrival in Kusadasi, enjoy free time to explore on your own before returning to the ship. The cruise journey continues to Patmos, where you will transfer to the village of Chora. While in this capital, visit the monastery of Saint John the Theologian. This marvelous structure built nine hundred years ago continues to be supported by the strong fortification walls. In addition to the stunning main church with outstanding frescoes, you can view the beautiful courtyard, dining room, and bakery. Visit the small museum to view priceless ecclesiastical treasures such as books, manuscripts, mosaics, icons, textiles, vestments, and jewelry.
Board the bus and transfer to the monastery. Visit the Grotto of the Apocalypse, believed to mark the spot where John of Patmos received the visions he recorded in the Book of Revelation. The author used the silver niches on the wall to mark the pillow and ledge as a desk. View the three-fold crack made by the voice of God, who emphasized the importance of honoring the Holy Trinity. Your day will culminate with a transfer to the port of Scala. While in this quaint and picturesque harbor, enjoy free time before returning to the ship.
Day 8: Kusadasi | Ephesus (Mary's House) | Patmos
This morning, awaken and transfer to the largest city on the island of Crete, Heraklion. While in this administrative capital, visit the 1899 discovered ancient ruins of the Palace of Knossos. The palace is currently partially reconstructed and believed to have been the mythical Labyrinth of King Minos and the seat of ancient Minoan culture. Here is where Saint Paul met the owner and captain of the ship and was warned by him to continue his journey to spread Christianity in Rome. Following this historical visit, embark by ship to the idyllic island of Santorini. Santorini is definitively the most breathtaking island of all of the Greek Islands. Upon arrival in Santorini, visit Thira with its iconic white-washed houses, narrow streets, open-air cafes, and glittering boutiques that cling to cliffs. This evening, enjoy your last dinner and overnight on the cruise ship.
Day 9: Heraklion | Santorini
Early morning departure to the Airport for our return home - the end of a most enjoyable journey.
Day 10: Return Flights
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