19 May Turkey – Greece – Italy (15 Days / 14 Nights)
ISTANBUL – CAPPADOCIA – ISTANBUL – ALEXANDRIA TROAS – ASSOS – PERGAMON – THIATERA – IZMIR – SARDIS – PHILADELPHIA – PAMUKKALE – HIERAPOLIS – LAODIKEIA – KUSADASI – EPHESOS – 4 DAYS ICONIC AEGEAN SEA CRUISE – PATMOS – RHODES – CRETE (HERAKLION) – SANTORINI – ATHENS – CORINTH – ATHENS – ROME – ASSISI – ROME
DAY 1 MONDAY – ISTANBUL ARRIVAL: Upon arrival at Istanbul Ataturk Airport early in the morning, meet at the airport and drive to the “old City”. We will visit the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, famous for its delicate blue ceramic tiles and Saint Sophia. This church – turned mosque – turned museum takes the breath away with the sheer architectural size of its interior and magnificent dome. After lunch we will visit the spectacular Topkapi Palace. It was the seat of government for the Ottoman Empire for many centuries (1453-1852) and we will see the extravagant Treasury and the priceless Chinese porcelain. Last stop will be Grand Bazaar. Then we return to the hotel for overnight.
DAY 2 TUESDAY – ISTANBUL: Departure from the hotel for a visit to the Spice Bazaar where we will experience the smells of cinnamon, cloves and thyme rising from every store, the same smells that filled the air over 400 years ago. We then embark on a scenic tour of the Bosphorus, the natural waterway that divides Asia from Europe, passing palaces, castles, palatial homes, and the two magnificent suspension bridges. Lunch at a fish restaurant. Afternoon visit Dolmabahce Palace, The last residence for Ottoman Sultans with 365 rooms and 22 saloons. Famous with the great collection of European antiquity, furniture and 4,5 tons chandelier. Than we will cross the Bosphorus Bridge. Unique chance to step from one continent (ASIA) to another (EUROPE) in 2 minutes. Camlica Hill, exposing a panoramic view of Istanbul and Bosphorus from the best point of view. Return to hotel for overnight.
DAY 3 WEDNESDAY – ISTANBUL – CAPPADOCIA (flight): After breakfast transfer to the domestic airport for flight to Kayseri. Upon arrival drive to Cappadocia. On the way stop is Derinkuyu, an underground city carved into soft rocks resembling a huge labyrinth of tunnels, rooms, kitchens, wine cellars and passageways. A huge chimney ventilates this 8-level dwelling, which was used by Christians hiding from their Roman and Byzantine persecutors. Their colourful frescoes remain as vibrant as when they were first made. Further on, we come to Cappadocia, which reminds the visitor of a village out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Overnight in Cappadocia.
DAY 4 THURSDAY – CAPPADOCIA – ISTANBUL (flight): After breakfast transfer to the domestic airport for flight to Istanbul. Balance of the day at own leisure. Overnight in Istanbul hotel.
DAY 3 FRIDAY – ISTANBUL – ALEXANDRIA TROAS – ASSOS (376 km – 60 km): Departure from hotel early in the morning for Troas and Assos. Troas was a busy port situated on the north-west coast of Asia Minor. During his stay in Troas, St. Paul had a dream in which he saw a vision of a man asking him to “come over to Macedonia and help us” after which he decided to go to Europe. Assos perched high on a cliff overlooking the Aegean and the Island of Lesbos is breathtaking. Its Acropolis carries the impressive Temple of Athena. Arriving at Assos on foot from Troas, St. Paul preached here and climbed down to the little port on the shore to board the boat on his return journey to Jerusalem. Dinner and overnight.
DAY 4 SATURDAY – ASSOS – PERGAMON – THIATERA – IZMIR (160 km – 83 km – 90 km): In the morning, drive to the hauntingly beautiful Pergamon. Among the impressive structures of this city, dating from 399 B.C., we will see the Altar of Zeus, Temple of Dionysus and the 200,000 volume library which was surpassed only by that found in Alexandria at the time. Next, we will stop by Thyteria to see the remains of the church. This was one of the principle towns where Christianity spread quickly. Drive to Izmir for overnight.
DAY 5 SUNDAY – IZMIR – SARDIS – PHILADELPHIA – PAMUKKALE (85 km – 50 km – 89 km): After an early breakfast, check-out from the hotel, drive to Sardis which holds a prominent place in mythology. Sardis felt the influence of the Seven Churches of Revelation and highlights include the 3rd century A.D. Synagogue, Gymnasium, House of Bronzes, Temple of Artemis, and of course the Church. Next on our itinerary is Philadelphia which was an important Christian centre during Byzantine times. Overnight at Pamukkale.
DAY 6 MONDAY – PAMUKKALE – HIERAPOLIS – LAODIKEIA – KUSADASI (5 km – 17 km – 185 km): In the morning, we visit Hierapolis which was founded by Pergamon king Telephos and named after his wife Hiera. During the Byzantine period the city became the seat of diocese with a large Christian Church dedicated to St. Philip, martyred here in 80 A.D. Highlights include the Roman Baths, the Temple of Apollo and the Theater. Then we stop on to Laodicea Ad Lycum where the remains are found on a flat-topped hill. Christianity came to the area during the time of St. Paul, brought by Epaphras of Colossae. Laodicea became the seat of Bishopric and hosted an important Ecumenical Council in the fourth century A.D., it was named in the Revelations as one of the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse. Highlights will be the Water Tower, Stadium and the Council Chamber. Overnight in Kusadasi.
DAY 7 TUESDAY – KUSADASI – EPHESOS – EMBARKATION 4 DAYS ICONIC AEGEAN SEA CRUISE – PATMOS (GREECE) (21 km – 4 Days Cruise): Following breakfast, transfer to Kusadasi Port for embark on your 4 days Iconic Aegean Sea Cruise.
Patmos: The Holy island where St. John wrote The Revelation, known as Jerusalem of the Aegean Sea. At leisure or take an optional tour to visit the Monastery and Grotto of St. John. In the evening, enjoy the live on board entertainment. Overnight on board.
Day 9 WEDNESDAY – RHODES: Rhodes, known as the island of the Sun. At leisure or take an optional tour to visit the Acropolis of Lindos or the Palace of the Knights. In the evening, enjoy the live on board entertainment or try your luck in the casino. Overnight on board.
Day 10 THURSDAY – CRETE (HERAKLION) – SANTORINI: Heraklion, the capital of Crete. At leisure or take an optional tour to visit the fantastic ruins of the Palace of Knossos. The elaborate palace is believed to be the mythical Labyrinth of King Minos (Minotaur legend) and the seat of the Minoan civilization. At leisure on the amazing island of Santorini (formed by the eruption of the volcano 1600 BC). The sight is the most breathtaking of all Greek islands and perhaps of the world. In the evening, enjoy the live on board entertainment or try your luck in the casino. Overnight on board.
Day 11 FRIDAY – CRUISE ARRIVAL ATHENS – CORINTH – ATHENS (100 km – 100 km): Breakfast on board. Disembark. Meet at the Athens port of Piraeus and with an official English speaking guide depart for your half day Corinth Tour. Drive west, along the coastal highway, the Apollo coast and stop to see the Corinth Canal, which connects the Aegean and the Ionian Seas. Continue to and visit Ancient Corinth. See the Bema, the Temple of Apollo, the remains of the Agora, and Pyrene Fountain. Transfer for lunch to a local restaurant. After lunch, drive back to Athens and proceed on your half day Athens Sightseeing Tour. See Syntagma Square, the House of Parliament and the Tomb to the Unknown Soldier, guarded by the Evzones in their traditional costume. See the Athens Academy, the University and the National Library. Stop at the Pan Athenaic Olympic stadium, (where the first Olympic Games of the modern era were held in 1896). See the archaeological site of the Temple of the Olympian Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch. On the Acropolis visit the architectural masterpieces of the Golden Age of Athens: the Propylaea, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion and finally “the harmony between material and spirit”, the Parthenon. Completing the tour, transfer to a local restaurant for dinner. After dinner, transfer to the hotel and check in. Overnight in Athens.
DAY 12 SATURDAY – ATHENS – ROME (ITALY) (flight): Breakfast. Transfer to Athens airport in order to take the flight to Rome. Arrival and transfer to the centre of Rome where we’ll discover the Vatican Museum, home to many of the world’s masterpieces. Enter the Sistine Chapel and view Michelangelo’s frescoes, which have been restored to their full, colorful glory. Tour St. Peter’s Basilica where Michelangelo’s “Pieta” – the only work signed by the master – will be just one of many highlights. Travel along the famous Apian Way. Walk through the Catacombs of San Sebastiano. Visit Tre Fontane, where Apostle Paul was beheaded. Walk through Via Del Corso, Piazza de Spagnia, and enjoy the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and Piazza Navona. Dinner and overnight at hotel in Rome.
DAY 13 SUNDAY – ROME – ASSISI – ROME (175 km – 175 km): Breakfast. Depart for Assisi. Explore this beautiful medieval city, including the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli (where “Portiuncola” is located), and the Basilicas of St. Clare and St. Francis (with the Tomb of the Saint). Return to Rome and overnight.
DAY 14 MONDAY – ROME DEPARTURE: Breakfast at the hotel. This morning you will discover Imperial Rome. Paul wrote to the Christians of Rome and he eventually went there where his ministry continued, although he was technically a prisoner. You will experience the glory of Imperial Rome when you visit the Coliseum, famous as a place of spectacle and death. Gladiators died here as thousands looked on. See the Circus Maximus, built during the reign of Nero. This huge stadium was able to seat 250,000 spectators for chariot races and other spectacles. See the Roman Forum, an ancient meeting place, market place, religious and political centre. View the Arch of Titus that commemorates Titus’ conquest of Judea. You’ll visit the Mamertina Prison, where it is believed that both Peter and Paul were imprisoned. After tour, transfer to the airport for your flight back home.