Tuesday, April 23rd – Fly out of Houston or other Turkish Airlines hub; direct flight to Istanbul. Tutku Tours can arrange departures by other carriers. This may nominally effect trip cost.
Wednesday, April 24th – Arrive in Istanbul at 4:30 PM, meet our guide for Turkey, Cenk Eronat, and travel to our hotel. Dinner together in the hotel dining room overlooking the “old city” of Istanbul.
Thursday, April 25th – Full day in Istanbul where we begin to appreciate 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, the Blue Mosque, and the gardens of the Topkapi Palace.
Friday, April 26th – Orthodox Good Friday – We depart early and drive to the Greek border, meet our guide for Greece, Voula Kalapoda, and then travel to Philippi. We will visit 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 Philemon and then begin to understand 1st century city life by moving through the ruins of ancient Philippi. Overnight in Kalava, modern Neapolis; experiencing the Orthodox Epitaph before turning in.
Saturday, April 27th – Leaving Kavala, we will get another glimpse of the Via Egnatia that Paul walked from Neapolis to Philippi, then on to Thessloniki where we will view the Roman forum, visit the arch and mausoleum of Galerius, the city walls, and the archeological museum, then drivie to Kalambaka/Meteora. At midnight, the church square will come alive with villagers, candles, and pealing bells as Christ’s resurrection is announced.
Sunday, April 28th – Orthodox Easter – OK, Meteora has nothing to do with Paul, but the rocks and monasteries are simply too breathtaking to miss. After visiting Varlaam Monastery, we have a traditional Easter meal; discussing Philippians in the afternoon.
Monday, April 29th – 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 in Delphi, taking a look at 1 Thessalonians before we turn in.
Tuesday, April 30th – Driving to Athens from Delphi, we will 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, May 1st – Traveling south from Athens, 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, saying “Goodbye” to Voula Kalapoda, and boarding our 7:00 PM ferry to Patmos. Good dining aboard and cabins with clean linens and bath. Arrive in Patmos about 3:00 AM, walk a short distance to our hotel, and go back to bed!
Thursday, May 2nd – 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, May 3rd – The most impressive glimpse of 1st century urban life will be at the ancient port of Ephesus, now a distance from the sea. 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 a “1st century lunch” we will visit a local “cottage industry” store where we will see how Turkish carpets are made. Of course, there will be an opportunity to purchase carpets!
Saturday, May 4th – Leaving Kusadasi, we will see the magnificent Temple of Apollo at Didyma, Asian counterpart to Delphi – complete with oracle. Then on to the great theater at Miletus with its insciption to “the god fearers”, and finally to the ruins at Aphrodisias with the Temple of Aphrodite, the Sebasteion, monumental gateway, stadium, and museum—where again “the god fearers” are mentioned. Overnight at a relaxing thermal spa hotel at Pamukkale.
Sunday, May 5th – 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, May 6th – We head for the acropolis of Pergamum with its great theater and temples to Athena, Zeus, and Trajan. Below the acropolis we will visit the Asclepion, a center of healing where the great physician Galen practiced, before overnighting at the picturesque old seaport of Assos.
Tuesday, May 7th – After climbing the acropolis of Assos that overlooks the Aegean Sea – Turkish coffee on the climb – and has a temple to Athena dating from 530 BCE, we head north to Alexander-Troas (Acts 20). Then on to Troy; founded 3000-2600 BCE. We overnight in Canakkale, discussing Galatians before turning in.
Wednesday, May 8th – 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 to enjoy our farewell dinner.
Thursday, May 9th – After a leisurely morning and breakfast, we leave for the airport for our fights; chasing the sun back to our home destinations. Welcome home!