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Day 1 – Departure: Toronto / Montreal – Greece
Departure from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport via Montreal to Greece
Day 2 – Arrival to Greece, Athens, Larissa
We arrive in Athens, and after meeting with the guide and the driver, we will head north towards the Thessaloniki. The first night will be along the way, overnight on the Greece mainland about 4 hours drive from Athens to Larissa. After checking to the hotel, we will relax and rest a little bit before dinner and our first night in Greece.
Day 3 – Thessaloniki, Kavala
Today we will continue our journey to Thessaloniki. After a couple hours driving, we will be in Salonica, a town with the clear evidence of the long history, from the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman-era. The churches and sites which we visit today will tell us the story of the presence of the first Christians in Europe. “Acheiropoietos” from the 5th century, “Hagia Sophia” from the 7th century, Church of Saint Demetrius, or “Hagios Demetrios”, just to name some, are the most inspirational ones. We will spend the entire afternoon exploring Salonica when the readings from the Acts 17:1-9 and “Letter to the Thessalonians” will become more alive. We will drive for two more hours to Kavala. Dinner and overnight at our hotel in Kaval.
Day 4 – Kavala – Krinides – Kalambaka (Meteora)
Today, you will leave Salonica, on our program is the Kavala, which occupies the site of ancient Neapolis and Philippi (Acts 16:12-40, Phil.), that today lies as a major archaeological site near Krinides where St. Paul and St. Silas were imprisoned after St. Paul’s first sermon in what we today call Europe. Here we are introduced to a woman named Lydia from Thyatira (Rev.2: 18-29 and Acts.16: 14 -15) who became the first convert. After visiting the ruins of the magnificent Acropolis, the Market Place, Theatre and Forum, in the afternoon we will head towards Berea (Veira). Quick visit of a site before we continue to Kalambaka, dinner and overnight here near the famous Meteora Monasteries
Day 5 – Kalambaka – Meteora – Athens
After an early morning breakfast, we will visit Meteora, the most beautiful Byzantine monasteries. The word Meteora means literally ‘hovering in the air’ as all the monasteries were built on top of the high rocks. The first monks lived in the caves as early as the 11th century. The Church of the Transfiguration is the best known of the Monasteries and is built upon the highest rock, founded by Athanasios the Meteorite, well-known figures in Orthodox monasticism. Construction of this monastery started in 1382, and it has priceless religious treasures as Byzantine murals, icons etc. After the visit we are moving closer to the south for dinner and overnight in Athens.
Day 6 – Athens – Corinth
Today after the breakfast we will be heading for Corinth. Corinth, one of the oldest towns of Greece, where St. Paul came after he left Athens. After a stop at the ancient Corinth (18: 1-18; Cori.), we again meet with St. Paul, who remained here for one and a half years. We will be visiting marketplace where the Apostle preached to the Corinthians, the Temple of Apollo and the Corinth Museum. On the way back to Athens we will be passing by a port of Cenchreae from where St. Paul sailed to Ephesus, nowadays Turkey. In the afternoon we will be exploring the city of Athens (Acts 17: 16-34). Acropolis with Parthenon the most magnificent monument of antiquity, dedicated to the goddess Athena, from here one can see Areopagus (Hill of Ares) visited by St. John Paul ll, the same hill where St. Paul gave his famous sermon of “Unknown God.” Athens, Plaka, dinner before we pack for next morning cruise!
Day 7 – 4 DAY CRUISE
Today we’ll leave Athens early in the morning for Piraeus, embark the cruise ship and sail into the Aegean Sea. Our first island is one of the islands belonging to the Cyclades group of islands. This mountainous island of Mykonos has about 400 churches. City of picturesque white houses, and island’s trademark the charming windmills. The place has a unique architecture of Byzantine and Western characteristics. We will visit the Church of the Virgin Paraportiani, on the main square Cathedral and an old Catholic Church and many boutiques and taverns along tiny paved streets. Return on board of the ship.
Day 8 – Ephesus, Turkey, and Patmos, Greece
In the morning we will arrive in the Turkish port city of Kusadasi. From here we will travel to Ephesus, where the Blessed Virgin Mary lived with St. John in a small house on the hill behind the city. Here we might have Mass before traveling down to the ancient city where we can walk the marble roads rutted by wheels of countless chariots and pass the ruins of architectural masterpieces. It is here that St. Paul preached to the Ephesians, and where he was arrested and cast out of the city. In the afternoon we will visit the island of Patmos, where St. John wrote the apocalyptic Book of Revelations. On our excursion we will visit the cave where he lived, now the site of a monastery housing priceless icons and manuscripts.
Day 9 – Rhodes
Today after disembarking we will tour to Lindos which is situated 55 km (40 miles) from the city of Rhodes and “bears” above it the Acropolis of Lindos, with the ancient Temple of Athena, built in 300 B.C. Here and there we will come across the captains’ mansions, built between the 16th. And 18th. Century. In the center of the village lives and breathes the Church of the Virgin Mary (Panagia) of Lindos, with frescoes from the 15th. Century. Ascend to the Acropolis of Lindos. Here lies the Temple of Athena, of Doric order, which was erected on the location of an older monument. The ancient city-state of Lindos was for many centuries the most important on the island. It reached its heyday in the 6th. Century B.C. At the old city of Rhodes we will go through D’Amboise Gate to walk on the Street of the Knights. Along this street you will find the residences of the Knights, separated according to Order, which bear until today, their corresponding crests. Return to our ship for lunch. Free afternoon in Rhodes for our own activities
Day 10 – Crete – Santorini
Today on the last day of the cruise, we will enjoy on our own, visiting Heraklion on the island of Crete and Fira town on the island of Santorini – (optional excursion on Crete to Knossos Palace “at your own cost”, is offered for those interested in more activities on the last cruise day.)
Day 11 Athens. Flight back home
In the morning, after breakfast transfer to the Athens Intl. Airport, flight back home to Canada.