Greece

Best of Israel & Steps of Paul in Turkey 19 Day Inspirational Tour

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Price Per person double occupancy

Dates
2016 - 2017
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Price Includes: 4 star lodging, expert Biblical guides, admissions, sightseeing, buffet breakfast and dinner daily, 1 lunch.


Not Included: Flight departures (low cost fares available nationwide), most lunches, gratuities, Turkey visa fee (U.S. $30.00 / Canada $60.00 USD) *See information below.


Please Note: Israel gratuities will be paid in advance ($77 per person will be added to your final invoice for gratuities to be paid to driver, guide, and hotel staff while in Israel). Turkey Entry Visas* must be secured in advance prior to arrival. Visas can be obtained in advance online at the link below.

*Turkey “E-Visa” online purchase - Click Here


Airport transfers are included only when airfare is purchased from Pilgrim Tours. Taxi service is available for those purchasing their airfare elsewhere.

Day 1: Departure

Today we embark on our Journey to the Holy Land. Prepare yourself for a life-changing experience. Get some rest on the flight…Tomorrow you will be walking where Jesus walked!


Day 2: Arrive Israel

Arrive in Israel and travel northward to our hotel for one night in the coastal area near Tel Aviv. The remainder of the day is free to walk along the Mediterranean, relax, and have dinner. The time is right for a personal devotional with the sunset over the “Great Sea.” Meet your Israeli guide, enjoy a time of prayer of thanks for safety and the special blessings ahead, a prayer for the people of the "Promised Land," and a good night’s rest.


Day 3: Caesarea, Megiddo & Nazareth

After breakfast, we travel by private motor coach along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea to Caesarea, where Gentiles first heard the Good News from Peter and were baptized. We’ll see the Roman Amphitheatre and aqueduct, and then journey on to Mt. Carmel, where Elijah challenged King Ahab and the prophets of Baal. Next we travel through the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo, the Armageddon Battlefield, where archaeologists have unearthed 20 levels of civilization. We drive through the area of Cana and Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus, where we visit the Nazareth Village - a wonderful recreation of Biblical times with costumed guides. We will have dinner and overnight lodging for the next two nights in the Tiberias area on the Sea of Galilee.


Day 4: Capernaum, Dan, Caesarea Philippi & Mt. of Beatitudes

Following breakfast, our morning travels take us to two valuable northern sites. Dan is where the children of Israel fell to the depths of pagan worship and Caesarea Philippi, the site of Peter’s Confession. In Capernaum we will visit the ruins of an ancient synagogue and Peter’s home. Then we travel on to the site of the possible multiplication of loaves and fishes in Bethsaida and the Mount of the Beatitudes overlooking the Sea. After viewing the ancient Fisherman Boat at an operating Kibbutz, we enjoy a relaxing cruise on the Sea of Galilee. A brief scripture reading and devotional on board brings to life the experiences of Jesus and the fishermen disciples concluding a wonderful day.


Day 5: Jordan River Baptism Sites, Beth Shean

We begin our day with an opportunity to be baptized at the Jordan River Baptismal site. Next we travel southward to Beit-Shean/Scythopolis, the most magnificent archeological site in Israel, located at the strategic juncture of the Jezreel and Jordan valleys. Like Jericho, it has been almost continuously occupied throughout history. After defeating Saul and his sons on Mt. Gilboa, the Philistines hanged their bodies on the walls of Beit-Shean. During the time of Jesus, Scythopolis was one of the chief cities of the Decapolis - a league of ten cities sharing Greek culture and government. Following the fertile Jordan Valley southward, your guide will point out the agricultural restoration of the “Land of Milk and Honey” and Israel’s intricate irrigation development. We pass ancient Jericho, view from a distance this city famed as the oldest in the world, before coming to the Jordan River (Queser El Yehud) the Israeli side of Bethany Beyond the Jordan, the place where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, where Elijah and Elisha crossed the Jordan as well as the area where the children of Israel led by Joshua entered the Promised land. Our lodging for the evening is at the Dead Sea – the lowest place on earth. Spend time in the special spa and enjoy a dip in the Dead Sea for a relaxing float before dinner.


Day 6: Masada, Ein Gedi, Dead Sea Scrolls, Abraham's Tent

Our day begins with a cable car ride to the mountain top fortress of Masada. Here our guide will treat us to the history of the famous zealot stand. Afterwards we proceed to Ein Gedi, "Spring of the Goat," an oasis on the western shore of the Dead Sea. Because of its warm climate and abundant supply of water, the site developed a reputation for its fragrant plants and date palm groves. This is where King David hid from Saul, and where God defeated the enemies of the Israelites by praise and worship led by King Jehoshaphat. Next, we visit Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. This afternoon we will take part in the Genesis Land/Dinner in Abraham's Tent, where we enjoy a trip back in time: a reliving of life in the time of the Patriarchs, complete with costume, dramatic presentation, and authentic food. Our lodging for the next three nights will be in Jerusalem.


Day 7: Around Jerusalem, Bible Times

On our way into the city we will visit the Wailing Wall and then the fascinating Rabbinical Tunnels leading us through the Second Temple era. The tunnel and exhibit give a clear understanding of the amazing construction of the Temple Mount, giant stones, water supply and Roman street where our Lord was led to judgment. Before exiting the tunnel we see the immense cornerstone rejected by the builders. We move on to the Judgment Hall of Pilate, hear of those who conspired against Him and are reminded of His brutal beating and humiliation. From here we will also be able to see the Pool of Bethesda, Stephen's Gate and St. Ann’s Church. This afternoon we visit the Southern Wall Excavations. This southern side of The Temple was the main entrance for the common folk, whereas the Priests and Levites had their own entrance from the higher eastern side. Parts of the giant stairs, which led to the Temple Mount from the courtyard have been unearthed along with the purification pools. From here Jesus entered the Temple Mount and drove out the vendors and money exchangers who were exploiting the people. It is also likely that this is the place that Peter stood and preached and where thousands were saved and baptized on the Day of Pentecost. Those who wish may stay in the city marketplace for shopping, while others may choose to spend the remainder of the day surrounding the birth of Christ with a visit to Bethlehem.


Day 8: Jesus' Steps, Last Days, Way of Suffering, Garden Tomb

Today we walk where Jesus walked; beginning the day with a panoramic view of the city, Mount Moriah and the Dome of the Rock from atop the Mount of Olives and then the Garden of Gethsemane. How many have wished to be whisked back in time to get a glimpse of our Lord or hear His voice if only for a moment? To walk between the ancient olive trees, read the scriptures of Jesus' prayer and take time for personal reflection is important here. Passing by the Protestant Cemetery, we visit the "Upper Room" just outside the Zion Gate where the disciple whom Jesus loved laid his head on His breast and where later Thomas cried, "my Lord & my God." While walking along the Via Dolorosa, we are reminded of His way of suffering along with a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Our guide will explain the differing opinions on the route that Christ was led and the actual place of crucifixion and burial is a very interesting study. The climax of the day is the area of Golgotha (place of the skull) and the Garden Tomb, where we celebrate the resurrection with communion and a time of praise.


Day 9: Arrive Turkey, Cappadocia

We depart this morning for our flight to Turkey. Arriving in Kayseri, we transfer to our lodging for the next two evenings, where the remainder of the day is free for you to relax and enjoy a leisurely dinner.


Day 10: Cappadocia

We spend all day exploring the history and scenery of Cappadocia. First off, we’ll visit the gently folding volcanic rock formations and “fairy chimneys” of Goreme Open Air Museum. These rock formations are not only beautiful, but functional as well. Many early Christian communities lived and worshipped deep in the rocks and crags, leaving their frescoes and paintings to be marveled at centuries later. Other communities lived underground, and we’ll visit these dwellings too. To protect themselves from Roman persecution and marauding bandits, local people began to live in underground caves forming “cities” that reach a depth of up to 7 stories below the surface. Other sites include the Natural Citadel of Uchisar and the small, picturesque village of Avanos – famous for their red clay pottery. In Avanos we’ll visit “The Potter’s Place: Gift Shoppe and Cultural Center” and have time for visiting local potter for a demonstration and maybe try your own hand at the potter’s wheel.


Day 11: Cappadocia / Caravanserai/ Lystra / Konya

Travelling westward, we stop at the Sultanhani Caravanserai just like travelers from Turkey’s bygone era. Founded for military and trade purposes, the Caravanserai’s Inn was built along the east-west trade route. We will have lunch near Konya, followed by an afternoon visit to Lystra, where Paul preached on his first missionary journey (Acts 14: 6-22). Our lodging this evening will be in Konya (ancient Iconium) included in Paul's first missionary journey. Nearly two thousand years ago, Paul and Barnabas visited Iconium during Paul’s first missionary journey. As he preached to the city, God used Paul to bring many Jews and Gentiles to Christ (Acts 14: 1-6). We will also visit the excavations of Catalhoyuk before transferring to our lodging for the evening in Konya.


Day 12: Pisidian Antioch / Mevlana Mausoleum

Konya is also the home of the Mystic sect of the spectral Whirling Dervishes. We’ll have an opportunity to learn more about this mysterious order when we visit the museum of its founder, Mevlana, who is also known as the poet Rumi. We will continue to Pisidian Antioch – one of important stops on Paul’s missionary journeys. Although only 10% of Pisidian Antioch has been excavated, the ruins from the Roman period are noteworthy. We’ll see Septimus Severus’ triumphal gate, Augustus’ Temple, the Roman baths, a theater and a church dedicated to Paul. We transfer to the airport for our flight to Istanbul and our lodging for the next two evenings.


Day 13: Bustling Istanbul

The tour today will be an unusual combination of Greek Orthodox, Roman, Ottoman and modern day Islam including entrance into the famed Blue Mosque and St. Sophia Church. After lunch we visit the fascinating Topkapi Palace housing the many priceless treasures and colorful stories of Ottoman Sultans. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.


Day 14: Archaeological Museum, Sea of Marmara

This morning our guide will walk us through the wonderful exhibits at the Archaeological Museum. Treasures include the sarcophagus of Alexander the Great, mosaic remnants depicting the times of Nebuchadnezzar, tablets of the Treaty of Kadesh known to be between Ramses II and the Hittites during the 13th century BC and many other wonderful items. Departing Istanbul, we travel west across "Trace," the European portion of Turkey. The summer homes along the Sea of Marmara will provide the scenery as we travel. Views of the bunkers on the hillside and the ocean going vessels give clear understanding to the commentary of the British major losses and World War I defeat in the Dardanelles Strait. Our bus boards a large ferry for the scenic crossing of the Dardanelles to our lodging this evening in picturesque Çanakkale.


Day 15: Ancient Troy, Pergamum & Izmir

We pass by the area known as Troas, where Paul had a vision during his second missionary journey and was called to Macedonia (Acts 16:8-13). Paul later spent a week in Troas preaching here and Eutychus was resurrected (Acts 20:6-12). Ancient Troy is well known for its 3rd and 4th Century BC excavations. Don't forget to have your picture taken from the top of the Trojan Horse. Our next visit of the day is Pergamum. Once a busy trading center and famous as a "seller of purple," the most favored of the Seven Churches, the church of Pergamum was praised for its forbearance (Rev. 2:12-17). It was here that the first Christians were executed by Rome. We'll visit the fabled Acropolis, pass through the Royal Gates, view the foundations of the Temple of Zeus and visit the ruins of the library, which once held 200,000 volumes. We continue south to Izmir the third largest city in Turkey and a long time center for Jews and Christians. In Paul's day, Izmir was known as Smyrna and was another of the Seven Churches (Rev. 2:8-11). Here we'll see the church of Polycarp's and the ancient agora. Our lodging this evening will be in Izmir.


Day 16: Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, Pamukkale

A stop will be made in Thyatira to view the ancient roadway and period columns en-route to Sardis. Sardis was berated by John for its facade of strength when in reality, it was weak (Rev. 3:1-6). Here coins were minted and the dyeing of wool originated. We'll visit the gymnasium and synagogue. Our next stop is nearby Philadelphia from where we are challenged to “hold fast” and look forward to the coming of the "new Jerusalem" (Rev. 3:7-13) in the Book of Revelation. Not much is left of the city except for the ancient wall and the remains of a Byzantine basilica in the modern city of Alasehir. Our lodging this evening will be in a lovely spa hotel in Pamukkale.


Day 17: Hierapolis, Laodicea & Colossae

Hierapolis, meaning "Sacred City," was an ancient center for pagan cults until it was transformed into a Christian center in the first century. According to tradition, the Apostle Philip lived and was martyred in Hierapolis. It was likely the hot springs of Hierapolis in contrast to the cold mountain springs near Colossae that combined to bring application to the "lukewarm" Laodiceans. (Rev 3:14-22) This connection between the cities lies behind Paul’s reference to Hierapolis and Laodicea in his epistle to the Colossians (Col 4:13). Laodicea contains many acres of ruins to visit including a stadium and remnants of a sophisticated water system. Nearby Colossae is well-known throughout Christian circles as the receiver of Paul's letter to the Colossians. Today, the town has fallen into obscurity and nothing remains. We spend the remainder of the day traveling through the Turkish countryside arriving in the port city of Kusadasi where we spend two nights. The day will not be complete without a visit to a local Turkish Rug cooperative.


Day 18: Ephesus

We travel to the nearby town of Selcuk for a visit to the Basilica of St. John, housing an immersion baptismal and believed to be resting place of John. From here we have an excellent overview of the Ephesus harbor and the Temple of Artemis, completed in its most famous phase around 550 BC and listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Next, we travel a short distance down the hill to visit the Mosque of Jesus (Jesus is a respected prophet to Muslims). We spend the remainder of our day in Ephesus, the city of the Bible and one of the largest restorations still in progress with miles of ancient treasures. Ephesus was once a thriving port town of 250,000 people. Today you can still see the spectacular excavations of the major streets in this ancient city where we view the Library, Agora, Temple of Artemis, theatre, colorful mosaics, a panoramic view of the surrounding ancient port area including a wealth of church history and cultural insight.


Day 19: Depart for Home

This morning we transfer to the Izmir airport for our flight back to the USA.