Tuesday, April 14th – 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 15th – Arrive in Istanbul, 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 16th – We start at Istanbul where we glimpse the “imperial church” of the early 4th century under Constantine. We visit the hippodrome, archeological museums, Hagia Sophia, Hagia Irene, and the Topkapi Palace.
Friday, April 17th – Orthodox Good Friday – We depart early for the Greek border, meet our guide for Greece, Voula Kalapoda, and then travel to Philippi. We visit the traditional river site where Paul met Lydia and see the magnificent baptistery built there. At the river we discuss Paul’s letter to Philemon and its patronage subtext. 1st century city life then emerges in the ruins of ancient Philippi. Overnight in Kavala, modern Neapolis; experiencing the Orthodox Epitaphos before turning in.
Saturday, April 18th – We get another glimpse of the Via Egnatia that Paul walked from Neapolis to Philippi, then on to Thessloniki where we see the Roman forum, the arch and mausoleum of Galerius, and the archeological museum. We stop at the tomb of Phillip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, to appreciate the roots of imperial theology. Overnight at Kalambaka/Meteora; at midnight, the church square will fill with people, candles, and pealing bells as the resurrection is announced.
Sunday, April 19th – Orthodox Easter – Visit Varlaam Monastery, built 1541, high atop the rocks of Meteora; reflecting upon the medieval theological worldview of its art. After the Varlaam Monastery visit, we have a traditional Easter meal and discuss Philippians in the afternoon.
Monday, April 20th – We stop at a studio where icons are hand painted and can be purchased, then go Delphi to explore the cult of Apollo. After visiting the archeological museum, we overnight in Delphi; taking a look at 1 Thessalonians and Paul’s understanding of Christ’s return.
Tuesday, April 21st – In Athens, we visit the Areopagus where Paul delivered his sermon about “an unknown God” and then climb the acropolis 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 meal “al fresco”.
Wednesday, April 22nd – We 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 discuss 1st Corinthians. After lunch we head for the port of Athens, say “Goodbye” to Voula Kalapoda, 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, walk a short distance to our hotel, and go back to bed!
Thursday, April 23rd – 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 is 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 meet up again with Cenk Eronat and go to our hotel.
Friday, April 24th – The ancient city of Ephesus gives 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 a “1st century lunch” we will visit a local “cottage industry” store to see how Turkish carpets are made and have an opportunity to purchase carpets!
Saturday, April 25th – Leaving Kusadasi, we will see the magnificent Temple of Apollo at Didyma, Asian counterpart to Delphi – complete with oracle. Then on to Aphrodisias with the Temple of Aphrodite, the Sebasteion (the best example of Roman imperial theology), monumental gateway, stadium, and museum—where “the god fearers” are mentioned. Overnight at a relaxing thermal spa hotel at Pamukkale.
Sunday, April 26th – At Hierapolis we see the tomb of Philip the Apostle and the thermal springs, then journey to Laodicea with its many newly excavated and restored ruins; including a magnificent 4th century church. After a brief stop at Sardis and its restored gymnasium and synagogue, we will arrive at Izmir (ancient Smyrna) and dine on the waterfront.
Monday, April 27th – We head for the acropolis of Pergamum with its great theater and temples to Athena, Zeus, and Trajan; then visit the Asclepion, a center of healing where the great physician Galen practiced. Overnight at the picturesque seaport of Assos.
Tuesday, April 28th – We climb the acropolis of Assos, Turkish coffee available on the climb, that 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 and discuss Galatians before turning in.
Wednesday, April 29th – We cross the Dardanelles by car ferry and drive through the area where the Battle of Gallipoli was fought in WWI. We arrive back in Istanbul, visit the Spice Market and go to the hotel to enjoy our farewell dinner.
Thursday, April 30th – After a leisurely morning and breakfast, we leave for the airport for our flights; chasing the sun back to our home destinations. Welcome home!
While many sites are visited, this is not primarily a “sight-seeing” tour. It is a continuing education immersion in which participants, through reflection and conversation, seek to grow in their understanding of Paul, his theology, and the context of the 1st century “church”; proactive involvement is assumed.
The many archeological sites visited may have uneven footing, ramps, stairs, changes in elevation, and are certainly not ADA compliant. Some days may require 5,000-10,000 footsteps. Almost 100 people of diverse ages (see pictures) have participated, but please inquire if you have concerns, questions, or mobility issues.
We will travel over 1,500 scenic miles by bus, ferry, and water taxi.
Minor changes to the itinerary may occur due to unforeseen circumstances.