Tuesday, April 3rd – Fly out of Bush International in Houston at 8:35 PM via Turkish Airlines Flight #34; direct 12-hour flight to Istanbul. Tutku Tours can arrange departures from other locations upon request. This may effect trip cost.
Wednesday, April 4th – Arrive in Istanbul at 4:30 PM, and meet our guide, Cenk Eronat. Dinner together in our hotel in the “old city” of Istanbul.
Thursday, April 5th – Full day in Istanbul where we begin to glimpse the origins of the “imperial church” under Constantine. We will tour Hippodrome Square, the archeological museums, and receive an orientation to the sweeping history of the areas we will be visiting. In the afternoon, we will tour the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. We will overnight at Tekirdag, on the way to the Greek border!
Friday, April 6th – We drive to the Greek border, meet our guide for Greece, Voula Kalapoda, have lunch at a restaurant in Alexandropoulos, and then travel to Philippi. We will start at the traditional river site where Paul met Lydia and visit the magnificent baptistery built there. At the river we will discuss Paul’s letter to the Philippians and then begin to understand 1st century city life by moving through the ruins of ancient Philippi. Overnight in Kalava, modern Neapolis.
Saturday, April 7th – Leaving Kavala, we will get another glimpse of the Via Egnatia that Paul walked from Neapolis to Philippi, then on to Thessaloniki. At Thessaloniki w will only view the forum of the ancient city, since modern Thessaloniki is built upon the 1st century city. We will also visit the arch and mausoleum of Galerius, the city walls, and the excellent archeological museum, then drive to Kalambaka/Meteora.
Sunday, April 8th – OK, Meteora has nothing to do with Paul, but the rocks and monasteries are simply too breathtaking to miss. After visiting the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, we can participate in the celebration of the Orthodox Easter. In the afternoon, we will discuss Philemon.
Monday, April 9th – After stopping at a studio where icons are hand painted and can be purchased, we head for Delphi to explore the cult of Apollo. After visiting the archeological museum, we will overnight near Delphi, looking at 1 Thessalonians before we turn in.
Tuesday, April 10th – Driving to Athens, we visit Mars Hill (the Areopagus) where Paul delivered his sermon about “an unknown God” and then climb the acropolis of Athens to see the temples of Athena, Nike, Poseidon, and Augustus. There will then be free time to visit the new archeological museum or to have a leisurely lunch “al fresco”.
Wednesday, April 11th – Traveling south, we will visit the site of ancient Corinth with its excellent ruins and museum. While on the grounds, seated in view of the Temple of Apollo and the ancient meat market (1 Cor. 8), we will discuss 1st Corinthians. After lunch, we visit the ruins of the ancient eastern port of Corinth, Cenchreae, from which Paul sailed. Then on to the port of Athens, say “Goodbye” to Voula, and board our 7:00 PM ferry to Patmos. Good dining aboard and cabins with clean linens and bath. Arrive in Patmos about 3:00 AM, go to our hotel, and go back to bed!
Thursday, April 12th – Still in Greece, we will visit the traditional “Cave of St. John”, reflect upon the imperial context of Revelation, and then visit the Monastery of St. John. Lunch will be by the seaport and then we take a 4-hour boat ride to the Turkish port of Kusadasi – discussing Romans on the way. At Kusadasi we will meet up again with Cenk Eronat and go to our hotel which has a magnificent view of the harbor.
Friday, April 13th – Ephesus gives us the most impressive glimpse of 1st century urban life. The Library of Celsus, Temple of Artemis (one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world) Temple of Hadrian, Temple of Domitian, and the “terrace houses” are but a few of the restorations. After lunch, we will visit a local “cottage industry” where we will see how Turkish carpets are made. Of course, there will be opportunity to purchase carpets!
Saturday, April 14th – Leaving Kusadasi, we will see the magnificent Temple of Apollo at Didyma, Asian counterpart to Delphi. Then on to the great theater at Miletus with its inscription to “the god fearers”, and finally to the ruins at Aphrodisias with the Temple of Aphrodite, the Sebasteion, monumental gateway, stadium, and museum. Overnight at a relaxing thermal spa hotel at Pamukkale.
Sunday, April 15th – We visit Hierapolis and see the tomb of Philip the Apostle and the thermal springs. Journey on to Laodicea with its many newly excavated and restored ruins including a temple to Artemis. After a brief stop at Sardis and its restored gymnasium and synagogue, we will arrive at Izmir (ancient Smyrna) and have dinner on the waterfront before going to our hotel.
Monday, April 16th – We will visit the agora of ancient Smyrna and then go to the acropolis of Pergamum with its great theater and temples to Athena, Zeus, and Trajan. We will visit the Asclepion, a center of healing where the great physician Galen practiced, before overnighting at the old seaport of Assos.
Tuesday, April 17th – After climbing the acropolis of Assos that overlooks the Aegean Sea and has a temple to Athena dating from 530 BCE, we head north to Alexander-Troas and Troy. We overnight in Canakkale, discussing Galatians before turning in.
Wednesday, April 18th – We cross the Dardanelles by car ferry and drive through the area where the Battle of Gallipoli was fought in WWI. Arriving back in Istanbul we will visit the Spice Market before going to the hotel where we spent our first night.
Thursday, April 19th – After a leisurely morning and breakfast, we leave for the airport for a 1:20 PM direct flight back to Houston aboard Turkish Airlines Flight #33 arriving in Houston about 6:30 PM the same day – or arriving back from wherever you flew. Welcome home!