DAY 1: DEPART USA
We depart USA en route to Athens, with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.
DAY 2: ARRIVE ATHENS
We arrive in Athens and are greeted by our Catholic Travel Centre representative. We board our motor coach and transfer to our hotel for dinner and the evening. (D)
DAY 3: ATHENS: VISIT OF THE CITY
Today we start with Mass at the Catholic Cathedral and then enjoy a tour of the city of Athens, including the Agora where Paul addressed the Athenians (Acts 17; 15-34). We will also visit the famed Acropolis, Parthenon, Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Zeus. Then for a quiet reflective repose, we make our way just minutes outside the city to the Monastery of Kaisariani, founded in the 11th century A.D. and consecrated to the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple. We have a brief tour of the grounds by our guide, then some time for reflection. We finish our tour with a panoramic visit to the Parliament, National Library, and the Royal Palace. Dinner is at our hotel tonight. (B, D)
DAY 4: ATHENS / PIRAEUS / CRUISE: MYKONOS
We begin with Mass at the Cathedral then transfer to the seaport of Piraeus, where we board our cruise ship for our three-day cruise to the Greek Islands and Turkey. This afternoon we arrive at the Island of Mykonos, with its whitewashed houses and winding streets. We are free to explore this picturesque island, startling white against the multi-hued sunset. Our dinner and overnight are aboard our ship. (B, L, D)
DAY 5: CRUISE: KUSADASI / PATMOS
This morning, we will dock at Kusadasi where our included excursion takes us to Ephesus. This is where Paul spent two years during his ministry. During our excursion, we will visit the site of St. John’s Basilica, where tradition tells us the “disciple whom Jesus loved” is still buried. We will celebrate our Mass on this site. Next we visit the site of the Temple of Diana, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Some of the most spectacular ruins of the ancient world are found in Ephesus, the city to whom St. Paul wrote his famous epistle. Early Christian tradition also believes that Mary, the Mother of Our Lord lived here with St. John. We visit the House of Mary. We return to our ship for lunch as we continue our journey.
This afternoon our ship will dock in Patmos, which was considered sacred and is often referred to as the “Jerusalem of the Aegean”. It was here that the Evangelist St. John received the inspiration for the Apocalypse. Our included excursion will visit the Monastery of St. John, a huge fortress-like building dating from the 11th century. We will also visit the grotto, where tradition says that St. John wrote the Book of Revelations. Dinner and overnight are aboard our ship. (B, L, D)
DAY 6: CRUISE: HERAKLION (CRETE) / SANTORINI
This morning we dock at the Venetian, lion-guarded port of Heraklion on the island of Crete. You may explore the island on your own or take an optional half-day excursion to Knossos, once the capital city of the prehistoric Minoan civilization, and thought to be the basis for the original Labyrinth housing the mythological Minotaur.
This afternoon we visit the magical island of Santorini. Santorini’s wild majesty was created out of the apocalyptic event associated with mythical Atlantis. The island is a crescent shape surrounding the black volcanic islands lying in the bay. Optional excursions to some of the villages are available. (B, L, D)
DAY 7: PIRAEUS / ATHENS: CORINTH & ARGOLIS EXCURSION
We arrive in port early this morning to find our motor coach waiting for us. We will drive along the coastal highway to Corinth, with a splendid view of the Aegean Sea. After a short stop at the Corinth Canal, which connects the Aegean and Ionian Seas, we will arrive in Ancient Corinth. We will visit the ruins of Corinth, where St. Paul worked with Aquila and Priscilla. Included are the first century shops, the Agora, Temple of Apollo and the Berma Seat. Conditions permitting, we will celebrate Mass on the very site where St. Paul preached. We continue onto Mycenae’s ancient ruins, where 19th century excavations reveal the sites vividly described by Homer. Returning to Athens this afternoon, we will have some time free for relaxing or personal adventure. Dinner tonight is at the hotel. (D)
DAY 8: ATHENS / ROME
Today we board our flight from Athens en route to Rome. Upon arrival in Rome, we meet our Catholic Travel Centre representative and stop at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls for a visit and Mass. We then proceed to our hotel and the rest of the day is at leisure. Dinner will be served at our hotel. (B, D)
DAY 9: ROME: PAPAL AUDIENCE & LEISURE ROME
This morning we begin with Mass at a local church in the Vatican area. Then we continue to Vatican City for the Papal Audience with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI (subject to Holy Father’s schedule). We take some time on our own for lunch and the rest of our day is at our leisure. Dinner is served at our hotel. (B, D)
DAY 10: ROME: ST. JOHN LATERAN, ANCIENT ROME & ST. PETER’S IN CHAINS
This morning we begin with a visit to the Basilica of St. John Lateran and the nearby Scala Santa, the legendary stairs which Christ climbed prior to His condemnation before Pontius Pilate. For centuries, pilgrims have made this penitential climb on their knees. Then we proceed to the sites of Ancient Rome, viewing the Forum, the Coliseum and the Church of St. Peter’s in Chains. The balance of the afternoon is at leisure. Tonight we gather for a festive dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)
DAY 11: ROME: SCAVI TOUR, VATICAN MUSEUM, ST. PETER’S BASILICA & LEISURE
We begin with Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica and then we have a visit of the Scavi excavations beneath the Basilica of St. Peter’s. Then we make our way to the Vatican Museum to view Michelangelo’s masterworks, including the Last Judgment and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. After visiting the Museum, our guide will take us to visit St. Peter’s Basilica. Here we will view Michelangelo’s famous statue of Mary holding her crucified Son. The balance of the afternoon is at leisure. Perhaps you would like to visit the Trevi Fountain and the famous shopping area near the Spanish Steps. Dinner is at our hotel tonight. (B, D)
DAY 12: RETURN TO USA
We transfer to the Rome airport for our return flight to the USA. (B)
NOTE: While no changes are anticipated, there might be occasions when certain alterations become necessary to this itinerary due to changes in airline schedules or for other reasons. All Masses are subject to final church schedules.