Retired Austin Travelers
Robirds in Greece and Turkey... October, 2009

The name of the trip was “Following the Footsteps of St Paul and St John”. It was advertised as 15 days but 3 of those were travel days.

We started off in Thessaloniki Greece. Our first stop was to view the port of Neaoplis (modern Kavala) where Paul and Silas landed. You can still see part of the old Roman road they walked on to get to Philippi.

The site of Philippi (built by and named for King Philip the father of Alexander the Great) is amazing! First of all, its not some little village; this is a city. It is easy to see the roads, shops, market place, and Roman Public latrine. There is also a Coliseum and the remains of a Byzantine Basilica.
Our next stop was the place where Lydia and her family were baptized to become the first Christians in Europe. We returned to Thessaloniki and visited the old medieval wall, St. Demetrius Basilica, and the Agora (old civic center and market place) before returning to our hotel.

Next morning we went to Berea (Veria) near Vergina, the ancient center of Macedonia. We went to a synagogue were Paul & Silas might have Preached (Act 17:10-11). We continued on to Vergina to see King Philip’s tomb and museum.

That afternoon we went to Meteora to see the monasteries perched on pinnacles of rock. We visited one that has been converted into a nunnery. We spent the night in Meteora.
The next morning was rainy and cold. We were on the bus at 7:30 on our way to Corinth. We had a rest stop and photo opportunity at the Corinth Canal.

At the Corinth site we visited the museum, the Agora, Bema, and Temple of Zeus. The temple of Venus is on top of the acropolis but it was shrouded in clouds.

We ate lunch at a Greek restaurant where Jackie O, George Bush Sr., Dan Quail, and other famous Americans had eaten. After lunch we went to Mycenae (2000 BC) to see the remains of the ancient bronze age city, to see the Lion Gate (1250 BC) and the tomb of Agamemnon in the shape of Beehive. We returned for a second night in Athens, said goodbye to our driver and guide and met our new guide for the cruise portion of our trip.
Next morning we sailed for the island of Mykonos and its white washed buildings and wind mills. We arrived at dusk with just enough sun to get some pictures. We strolled among the water front shops and cafes and bought some souvenirs; then back to the ship for dinner.

The next day we were at the island of Rhodes. We took an optional tour to the town of Lindos. We climbed up 300 steps to view the ancient acropolis of the temple of Athena. We also saw the bay where St Paul dropped anchor on his way from Greece to Ephesus in Turkey. We returned to the town of Rhodes to walk through the medieval fortress of the Knights of St John.

Next morning we left the ship at 6:30 AM (in the dark) and went on a tour of the island of Patmos where St. John was exiled and where he wrote the book of Revelations. The Grotto that was his home is now incorporated into an Orthodox Church. We were visiting on Sunday and there was a church service in progress so we were not allowed to take any pictures. We did see the “notch” in the wall that served as his pillow and we saw the rock that was split by the voice of God honoring the Holy Trinity.
That same afternoon, we sailed to Turkey where we left our Greek guide and met our Turkish guide Saba.

We boarded a bus, luggage and all, and went directly to the ancient city of Ephesus which is one of the Seven Churches of Revelations and where St. Paul spent many months. At its peek, Ephesus was a major seaport with a population of 250,000 (not counting slaves) but the harbor silted up and Ephesus ceased being a trading center… it’s now seven miles from the sea. We spent 2 1/2 hours in Ephesus - you really need a couple of days to see it all - before going to our hotel in Kusadasi.

We started day ten with a visit to a Rug Cooperative to see how Turkish rugs are made…all by hand, one at a time, no two alike. Next we visited the ruins of Hierapolis and Laodicea —referred to by Paul in Colossians 4:13. Unfortunately, nothing remains of Colossae but a mound, which has yet to be excavated. Hierapolis and Laodicea have been excavated and each covers several acres and would require days to fully explore. We overnight in a Spa Hotel in Pamukkale.
Philadelphia was referred to as the “New Jerusalem” in the Book of Revelation (Rev 3:7-13). Unfortunately, the modern city of Alasehir has been build on top of the ruins of the ancient city and all that remains are the four columns of a Byzantine basilica.

The church at Sardis was berated by John for acting strong when in reality it was weak (Rev 3:1-6).

We visited the gymnasium (above) which has been partially reconstructed by Archaeologists and a Synagogue with a mosaic floor. We stopped at another of the Seven Churches in Thyatira but there are only a few columns and part of the old roadway. We spent the night in Izmir, the third largest city in Turkey and which was known in Paul’s time as Smyrna. This is the site of another of the seven churches of Revelations.
The church of Pergamum was praised for its forbearance (Rev 2:12-17) and had a library of over 200,000 volumes. We visited the Acropolis and viewed the foundation of the Temple of Zeus. The Temple is now in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin Germany.

We next went to ancient Troy. We viewed the ruins from the 3rd and 4th century BC that have been excavated and had our picture taken by the “Trojan Horse”. This is where Paul received the “call” to take his message to Macedonia.
We took a ferry across the Dardanelles on our way to Istanbul where we spent the next two nights. We eat lunch at a restaurant called the Pudding Shop---Bill Clinton has eaten here too.

We visited the Blue Mosque, St. Sophia Church, The Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market. Istanbul is a huge city with a mix of Greek Orthodox, Roman, Ottoman Turk, and modern
Islamic sites. Two days is just enough time to see the major sites. The day we departed we were up at 2:30AM! The return trip to the U.S. was an adventure in itself.
The Blue Mosque Istanbul, Turkey
St Sophia