Pilgrimage to Greece In the Footsteps of St Paul
From Thessaloniki to Athens. Led by Fr Michael Johnston. 24th Sept - 1 Oct 2019
DAY ONE: Gatwick - Thessaloniki
We shall fly by British Airways scheduled service from Gatwick to Thessaloniki and, on arrival, transfer to Capsis Hotel (4-star), for a four-night stay. Thessaloniki is the second city of Greece a thriving, modern metropolis which is rich in history. The Christian community here was among the very first which St Paul established in Europe in the late 40s AD and it was to that community that he wrote the two letters that are part of the New Testament. Dinner will be in our hotel this evening.
DAY TWO: Thessaloniki
This morning we hope to celebrate Mass in the Church of the Immaculate Conception. Afterwards we have a guided tour of Thessaloniki which will include the Basilica of St Demetrius and the city walls built by Theodosius in the 4th century AD, the museum and remains of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. Dinner will be in our hotel this evening.
DAY THREE: Philippi - Kavala
Today we shall drive to Philippi, where Paul was imprisoned. We shall visit the site of the prison where his jailer was converted, and the Roman Forum where Paul was arrested for his Christian faith, and also the river where Lydia was baptised (possibly the first baptism in Europe) and the Orthodox Church dedicated to her. We shall then drive south to Kavala (Neapolis), the seaport where Paul landed in Macedonia. After lunch there will be some time free to explore this picturesque town, and we plan to celebrate Mass, Kavala before returning to Thessaloniki. Paul preached in the synagogue of Thessaloniki for three Sabbaths and Acts 16 recounts that he and Silas were joined by some Jews and also by a great many God-fearing Greeks. However, others were full of resentment and stirred up a crowd, hoping to bring Paul and Silas before the People's Assembly. But Paul and Silas escaped and went to Veria (Berea in Acts 17). Return to Thessaloniki in the late afternoon. Dinner will be in our hotel this evening.
DAY FOUR: Boat trip in Athos
After breakfast we depart for Ouranoupoli, an ancient city founded in the late 4th century BC. Here we embark on a cruise ship for Mount Athos towards the southside of the Athos peninsula. We come across several monasteries during our cruise. Lunch can be purchased on board. We return to Thessaloniki in the late afternoon. Mass will be celebrated upon our return to Thessaloniki. Dinner will be in our hotel this evening.
DAY FIVE: Thessaloniki - Athens
We fly to Athens where we settle in at the Cypria Hotel (3-star) which is centrally situated just behind the Syndigma (Constitution Square), close to the Acropolis and Plaka areas and a short walk from the magnificent neo-classical Cathedral of St Dionysius, which was built by the Bavarian Prince Otto when he became King of Greece following the Greek War of Independence. Meals in Athens: During our three nights here, two evening meals are included in the price and on our other evening in Athens, we are free to experience Greek gastronomy in the many restaurants near the hotel or in the Plaka area. When Paul arrived in Athens, whilst waiting for Silas and Timothy, he went to the synagogue where he debated with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks. He also went to the market place (Agora) where he debated with anyone whom he met. These included a few Epicurean and Stoic philosophers who invited him to accompany them to the Areopagus (Supreme Court), which was sited on a rock adjacent to the Acropolis and was named Mars Hill by the Romans. His address, as reported in Acts 17, is inscribed at the foot of the rock. Few found his preaching of the Resurrection convincing but there were some who attached themselves and became believers, among them one of the judges, Dionysios the Aeropagite, who became a bishop of Athens. Mass will be celebrated in the Cathedral of St Dionysios. Dinner will be in our hotel this evening.
DAY SIX: Athens
We begin the day with a visit to St Dionysios Cathedral. We then drive to Mars Hill and on to the Acropolis where we have a guided tour of the Parthenon and the other monuments. The Acropolis represents the apotheosis of artistic development in the 5th century BC, the Golden Age of Pericles. From the Acropolis we shall move to the magnificent new Parthenon Museum where we can refresh ourselves in the elegant café overlooking the Acropolis before visiting the exhibits. One floor is dedicated to a reconstruction of the frieze of the Parthenon. The rest of the day will be free. There is much to do and see in Athens. Information will be provided about interesting places to visit, including the National Archaeological Museum and the Benaki Museum a stroll of the area round the hotel has much to offer and includes Syndigma, where the tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded by the Evzones, the shops in Ermou Street and the neo classical buildings on Panepistimiou. In the early evening we plan to meet in the hotel and to take the funicular to the top of Mount Lycavittos, the highest point in Athens, where we can take an aperitif whilst watching the sun set over the Saronic Gulf. We hope to celebrate Mass during the day. A light lunch is included today and dinner will be at choice tonight.
DAY SEVEN: Athens - Corinth - Athens
Today, we shall make an excursion to the ancient site of Corinth where Paul spent eighteen months preaching to the Corinthians, and to whom he later wrote the two letters that are part of the New Testament. During his stay he met with Jewish refugees from Rome. Paul sought out two of them, Aquila and Prisca, because they were tentmakers like him and they became business associates. Aquila and Prisca also became key leaders of the young Christian church. Inevitably he offended some of the Jewish community who brought him before Gallio, the Pro-Consul of the Roman Province of Achaia, who refused to hear the charge. On the way to Corinth we shall stop in the café adjacent to the Corinth Canal for a photo opportunity. We plan to celebrate Mass on the site of the ancient city as there is no Catholic Church in Corinth. We visit the Temple of Apollo, the Agora and the Bema (Tribunal) where Paul was accused. Return to Athens in the late afternoon. Dinner will be in our hotel this evening.
DAY EIGHT: Athens - Gatwick
On our final morning in Athens, there will be time at leisure and our final Mass, before we transfer to Athens Airport for our return flight to Gatwick by easyJet.
This tour involves a substantial amount of walking, some of which will be over irregular surfaces such as cobblestones and badly-maintained walking areas. If everyday walking is something you find difficult, this tour may be unsuitable for you.
This itinerary is a guide and subject to change.
Photo by: Alun Salt
Single Room Supplement: £219
Scheduled flights on: British Airways; Gatwick - Thessaloniki, Aegean; Thessaloniki - Athens, and easyJet; Athens - Gatwick. Current U.K. and Greece airport departure taxes. 23 kg luggage allowance per person. 7 nights in shared twin or double-bedded rooms with private facilities as follows: 24th - 28th Sept at Capsis Hotel (or similar), Thessaloniki. 28th Sept - 1st Oct at Athens Cypria Hotel (or similar), Athens. Meal plan: 7 breakfasts, 1 light lunch and 6 dinners. All touring and transfers by air-conditioned coach as per the itinerary. Guided tours by fully licensed English-speaking guide as per the itinerary. Entrance fees as per the itinerary. ATOL and ABTA financial protection. Daily Roman Catholic Mass in Latin & English in different churches.
Single room supplement at £219 per person for 7 nights (limited availability). Catering during the flights. Lunches, one dinner, drinks and gratuities. Fuel surcharges if passed on by the airlines. U.K. coach transfers.
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