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02/09/2015: 14 Days Pilgrimage in Greece & Turkey ``Following the steps of Paul``


``FOLLOWING THE STEPS OF PAUL`` in Greece & Turkey

   14 Days Pilgrimage Tour Programm


1st Day, Thessaloniki: Arrive at Thessaloniki. Meet with our Guide, transfer to the centre and continue with a tour of Thessaloniki.  Visit the Roman Market, Odeion and baths, Arch of Galerius, the City Walls, the Citadel, the area around the White Tower (Symbol of the city) and a couple of the most well known Byzantine churches: St.Demetrious and St.Sophiaone of several monuments in Thessaloniki included as a World Heritage Site on the Unesco list.  The Monastery of Vlatadon, which is located at Ano Poli (North City), is still in use and it offers the visitor a spectacular view of Thermaikos bay and Thessaloniki.Visitthe Museum of Byzantine Culture which aims in presenting various aspects of life during the byzantine and post-byzantine periods. Walk aroundAristotle’s Square and afternoon transfer to the hotel. Check-in rooms. Dinner and overnight. 

2nd Day, Philippi – Kavala – Thessaloniki: Breakfast at the hotel. Following, we will visit the ancient Philippi. One of themost importantarchaeological sites of Eastern Macedonia, with characteristic monuments of the Hellenistic, Roman and Early Christian periods. A landmark in the history of Philippi was the year A.D 49 or 50, when Apostole Paul visited the city and established there the first Christian Church of Europe. This made Philippi a metropolis of Christianity. During the Byzantine period (A.D. 963-969) the walls of the city were reconstructed and at the same time the towers and the wall of the acropolis were built.Tradition has it that in this place Apostole Paul was imprisoned. The structure is actually a Roman water cistern which was later converted into a cult place.Nearby, Saint Paul converted Lydia to Christianity, thus making her the first Christian in Europe. Afterwards we drive to the attractive seaside city of Kavala. It has been built on the ruins of ancient Neapolis which occupies the same site. The apostle Paul passed through the town which is the reason why it has also acquired the name of Christoupolis. Late afternoon return to Thessaloniki. Dinner at the hotel and overnight.

3rd Day, Veria – Meteora/Kalambaka: After breakfast at the hotel, check-out and depart with our guide to Veria where the Christian congregations were devoted to Paul’s works. Visit the Bema of St. Paul and the Byzantine Church of Christ - 14th century - painted by Georgios Kalliergis the famous church painter. Following Veroia we continue to Kalambaka and visit the famous Meteora monasteries, perched atop soaring cliffs, gigantic rocks have been etched by time into a variety of shapes rooted deeply in the ground yet completely isolated from the world around them.   The gigantic stalagmites towering toward the sky, provide the perfect setting from God, for those who chose monasticism solely for their worship and prayerful commitment.Meteora is a truly inspiring and sensational setting of overwhelming rock formations, but one must also be prepared to expect that this trip is much more than merely visiting an exquisite landscape. It is a pilgrimage to a holy place for all Christians around the world. We will visit The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoro (Transfiguration of Jesus) which is the biggest and oldest one of all, dating back to the 14th century. It was called the monastery that was "suspended in the air” (meteoro), because of the formation of the gigantic rock on top of which it was built. Another unique monastery that we will visit is St.Stephen's Monastery, where instead of steps you simply cross a small bridge to reach the entrance. It is ideal for visitors who cannot use the steps and yet they wish to have a real experience of a Meteora monastery. Late afternoon check in at the Hotel in Kalambaka dinner and overnight.

4th day, Kalambaka – Delphi - Athens:  After breakfast at the hotel, CHeck-out and depart from Kalambaka to Delphi where we will visit the Archaeological site and museum. We ascend Delphi’s Sacred Way to the Treasury of the Athenians which has been splendidly restored. Next we visit the Temple of Apollo, home of the infallible oracle.  We then proceed to the Delphi museum to view its impressive collection of sculptures, where one of the chief exhibits is the celebrated 2,400 year old bronze "Charioteer”. Late afternoon arrive Athens – Check-in at the Hotel, Dinner and overnight.

5th Day, Athens sightseeing: After breakfast meet with our guide at the Hotel's lobby and depart for a guided tour of Athens by bus. Athens Sightseeing Tour will give you the opportunity to observe the striking contrasts that make Athens such as a fascinating city. Our guide will take you to the centre: Constitution Square, the House of Parliament, the Memorial to the Unknown Soldier. Driving down Herod Atticus street we will see the Evzones in their picturesque costume and the Presidential Palace.  On our way we will see the Panathenaic stadium (where the first Olympic Games of the modern era were held in 1896) and the temple of Olympian Zeus and the Adrian’s Arch. We will start with a visit to the Acropolis Hill (where we will see the Parthenon, thePropylaia, theErechtheion). Continuing our tour we will pass by the Mars Hill (Areopagus) where Saint Paul preached Christ to the Athenians. Continue with "Ancient Agora" and walking through the "old city" of Plaka after a short break for lunch, in the afternoon visit the New Acropolis museum for a 2hour guided tour and then return to hotel Dinner and overnight.

6th Day, Athens – Ancient Corinth visit:  Early breakfast and depart from Athens, drive down the coastal road along the Saronic Gulf to Ancient Corinth. Here Saint Paul spent some 18 months preaching to the Jews and the Gentiles. In Corinth Paul worked with Aquilla and Priscilla. Paul’s trial by Gallio took place in the Agora. The community he founded here caused him much grief and prompted from him at least 4 letters.  It is from Corinth that he wrote to the Thessalonians. Overlooking the site is the Acropolis housing the remains of the temple of Aphrodite.  On the return, passing the Corinth Canal (Isthmos) we could have short stop for quick lunch (not included in price) at a local Taverna (optional). Return to Athens, Dinner at the hotel, overnight.

7th Day, Athens – Ferry to Patmos Island (overnight on board): After breakfast, check-out and store luggage at the hotel. Depart with our guide for a walking tour in the centre of Athens. Visit the unique Metro Syntagma & Monastiraki stations with amazing treasures on display.While excavations were going on to build the city’s sleek transit system, the procedure was slowed to a halt many times while archaeologists were called in to examine and excavate pieces of history. Most of the findings were left in site so people could see them as they were found allowing an insight into the way life used to be in this great city. All the evidence found was recorded as it provided a history of the past from ancient streets, houses, cemeteries, religious sanctuaries, workshops, aqueducts and cisterns. Walking through Plaka we will visit the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Annunciation (Orthodox) a major landmark in the centre of Athens on Mitropoleos street. Free time for lunch at a nearby Taverna and shopping, return to the Hotel get our luggage in the bus and transfer to Piraeus Port for embarkation on ferry to the island of Patmos.

8th Day, Patmos Island:  Arrive on the island of Patmos, transfer to the hotel, check-in rooms. Depart for a guided Half Day tour to the Cave of the Apocalypse and the Monastery of St. John. The Monastery of St. John is situated amongst gleaming white houses forming a startling contrast to its dark mass. The Blessed Christodoulos, Servant of Christ, built the Monastery in 1088. It has thick, high walls crowned all around with battlements and a total of eight chapels. The courtyard is laid with pebbles and decorated with arches through which one can see the intricately designed frescoes adorning the chapel entrance. TheCave of the Apocalypseis situated about halfway up the mountain. This grotto is believed to mark the spot whereSt. John received his visions that he recorded in theBook of Apocalypse (Revelation). Inside one can see the stone which he is said to have used as a pillow. We will visit the museum houses a magnificent collection of jewelled chalices, crowns and crosses. In addition, there are old writings dating back as far as 1073, icons and religious paintings including an original El Greco. After this memorable tour, the bus will take us back to the hotel. Dinner at a near-by Taverna with local delicacies return to hotel for overnight. 

9th Day, Patmos Island: Breakfast at the hotel. Depart and travel along the coastal road to the Convent of Evangelismos which lies in a beautiful setting surrounded by well-kept gardens with a spectacular view over the bay of Kipi. The original chapel of St. Luke dates from 1613 and the Convent itself was founded in 1937. We will have the opportunity to see a wonderful collection of frescoes painted by the nun Olympia who died within the last decade. This large Convent is a wonderful example of ecclesiastical architecture and houses an exhibition where examples of handicrafts made by the nuns can be purchased. We will visit one of the traditional Patmian houses; the house of Simandiris family (Chora). The magnificence of Patmian houses interiors leave one speechless. While entering the thick wooden entrance door is like stepping into another dimension. The Venetian style furniture and handicrafts as well as the ceilings and multi coloured mosaics date back to the 18th century. We will visit the tiny Convent of Zoodoho Pigi (The Spring of Life) built in 1607.  On one side of the cobbled courtyard is the chapel where we discover an array of recently restored 17th century frescoes along with a beautiful carved icon wall. On the other is a small gift shop where one can purchase handicrafts made by the nuns. We make our descending drive to Diakofti stopping off to photograph the view of the mystical rock of Petra and then on to a boatyard. Here we will have the opportunity to photograph the local islanders at work and the streamline shapes of vessels in dry dock. Refreshments can be had at a unique café - built on a boat with a sea view. The tour continues by following the coastal road back to the port via Grikos Bay on way to the North part of the island which is the agricultural area. During the leisurely drive a complete image can form on how the beautiful inlets and tranquil beaches appeal to the many guests that visit Patmos. The last site is the bay of Lambi where the beach with ts colourful stones gives a small souvenir to take home with us. Dinner at a Taverna in Kambos with local delicacies. Return to hotel and overnight.

10thDay, Patmos Island – Kusadasi Turkey: Breakfast at the hotel. Check out and transfer to the port, embark on the charter boat sail to Kusadasi Turkey.    Arrival in Kusadasi where we will be met by our local guide in Turkey and transfer by bus to the hotel, Check-in rooms, time at leisure, relax, dinner at the hotel and overnight. 

11thDay, Ephesus – Izmir: Breakfast at the hotel. Check-out and departure from the hotel. Drive to Ephesus. In Ephesus (Acts: 17 and Rev. 2-1) visit the Basilica of John, the last House of the Virgin Mary, and the site of the Temple of Diana, along with other famous remains. After the tour, continue to Izmir and Check-in the hotel followed by dinner and overnight.

12thDay, Pergamum - Izmir – Istanbul: After breakfast Check out from hotel and drive to Pergamum (one of the Seven Churches of Asia) to see the majestic Acropolis with the Altar of Zeus (Throne of Satan), the Theatre, Temples, Palaces, the Gymnasium, and the Asclepion (the ancient medical centre). Drive to Izmir Airport for the flight to Istanbul. Departure and arrive at Istanbul Airport and transfer to Hotel Check-in rooms, dinner at hotel and overnight. 

13thDay, Istanbul: After breakfast visit the Basilica of St.Anthony of Padua the largest of the Roman Catholic Churches in Istanbul. Afterwards we will spend an unforgettable day of sightseeing; the Church of St. Savior in Chora, representing best examples of the Byzantine mosaic art with scenes from the life of Blessed Virgin, one of the earliest and most important Christian churches; the Byzantine Hippodrome, where once horse and chariot races took place; St. Sophia Church, glory of the Byzantine Empire, built by the Emperor Justinian in the early 6th century AD and designed by Anthemius of Tralles and Isodore of Miletus, the church is one of the marvels of world architecture. It is famed for its mosaics, including glittering portraits of emperors and empresses and a poignant Virgin and Child; the impressive Blue Mosque, which takes its name from the exquisite tiles adorning its interior. Built by Sultan Ahmet I in the early 17th century, and designed by a pupil of Sinan, the greatest of Ottoman architects, it is the only imperial mosque with six minarets; visit the Grand Covered Bazaar, was the commercial heart of the old city and its 4.000 shops are full of treasures including carpets and kilims, silks, jewellery, ceramics, icons, and leather goods. After the tour transfer to the hotel for dinner and overnight. 

14thDay, Istanbul Departure: After breakfast Check out from rooms that do not require extension and store luggage in designated. Then depart for our visit at Topkapi Palace, which from the 15th to the 19th century, was the principal residence of the Ottoman Sultans. Topkapi Palace is not a museum and has unrivalled collections of jewellery, including the Spoonmaker’s Diamond, the 3rd largest in the world, Ottoman court costumes and ceramics, notable one of the world’s finest collections of Chinese celadon ceramics, much of it gifts from other rulers. Time at leisure and continue for an afternoon Bosphorus cruise that will take us along the Bosphorus, pass the European style palaces of the Ottomans, Dolmabahce and Beylerbeyi, as well as beautiful wooden kiosks from 19th century. Also mansions and modern villas which from the elegant section of the city. At the end of the cruise will drop us off only a few meters away from the restaurant reserved for your farewell dinner before the transfer to the Airport for the evening flight back home.

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