**Optional Post Tour to TURKEY (Septemeber 3 - 7, 2012 @ $1,145 per person)**
Dear Friends, During my first pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2008, I experienced a profound calling to the “vocation of pilgrimage.” I had no idea how it would materialize or even what it really meant at the time; all I knew was that the Lord wanted me to minister to the community in this way. As my understanding deepened and the Lord’s timing became clear, I discerned a ministry called “Pilgrim’s Place, “ which is aimed at facilitating a deepening communion with Christ on the journey of discipleship as described by the Incarnation: “If anyone wishes to follow me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
Pilgrimage allows us to discover in new and profound ways an encounter with Jesus Christ; to seek a loving relationship with Him and with one another in the fellowship of the Body of Christ; to participate in on-going and ever-deepening conversion. Every Christian desires to find the light of Christ; our mission is to bring pilgrims on an “itinerary of conversion” to places that have been illuminated by the light of Christ throughout history.
According to St. Paul, pilgrimage is the calling of every Christian. We all become “strangers and sojourners” the moment we realize it is the Kingdom of God that we are seeking; not an earthly homeland but a “heavenly country.” (Hebrews 11: 13-16). On pilgrimage, we have the chance to participate in sacred liturgies unique to each pilgrimage site. We are given the task to practice detachment, patience, and self-abandonment; to leave fear behind and journey towards the unknown; and to grow in self-knowledge, humility and virtue.
In the words of Pope Benedict during his visit to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in 2010, “To go on pilgrimage is not simply to visit a place to admire its treasures of nature, art, or history. To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where He has revealed Himself, where His grace has shone with particular splendor and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe.”
This Fall, Pilgrim’s Place will be traveling on a journey of “Italian Splendor.” It is in partnership with 206 Tours that makes this beautiful itinerary possible and will enable us to experience the trip of a lifetime! Whether you are coming from Memphis or will be joining us from another city of origin, we are already a family because of our communion in Christ through the Eucharist (1 Corinthians 10:17).
Feel free to contact me directly with any questions. It is through faith that we journey together!
"If you wish to be sure of the road you are traveling, close your eyes and walk in the dark."
-Saint John of the Cross-
Father Bruce Nieli, C.S.P.
currently based in Memphis, TN, works with parish missions, retreats, and diocesan/regional conferences (in English and Spanish) on “Responding to the Spirit in the Soul, in the Church and in the World.” He offers the spirituality of St. Paul the Apostle with a focus on connecting Catholic faith and American culture, which is the particular mission of Paulist founder Father Isaac Thomas Hecker.
Your Trip Includes: Round-trip air from USA to Greece (special Add-on Airfares from most US airports)
Airport Taxes & Airline Fuel Surcharges
9 nights at centrally located, first-class hotels and 3 nights cruise as follows: (or similar)
Aug 25 - Aug 27 | 2 nights: Hotel Capsis, Thessaloniki, Greece
Aug 27 - Aug 28 | 1 night: Hotel Divani, Meteora, Greece
Aug 28 - Aug 29 | 1 night: Hotel Olympic, Delphi, Greece
Aug 29 - Aug 31 | 2 nights: Hotel Divani Palace, Athens, Greece
Aug 31 - Sep 03 | 3 nights: Cruise on Louis Hellenic Cruise Lines (outside cabin)
Transfers as per itinerary
Breakfast and Dinner daily
Wine with dinners
Transportation by air-conditioned motor coach
Catholic Priest, Mass Daily and Spiritual Activities
Assistance of a professional local Catholic guide(s)
Sightseeing and admissions fees as per itinerary
Luggage handling (1 piece per person)
Port taxes & fees
Shore excursions while on ship include:
Mykonos – Walking tour
Kusadasi – Ephesus & the house of the Virgin Mary
Patmos - Monastery of St. John & Grotto of Apocalypse
Santorini – Thira & Oia Village Flight bag & portfolio of all travel document
August 24, 2012: Depart USA to Greece
Evening departure from New York for the overnight flight to Greece. Dinner and breakfast will be served on board.
August 25, 2012: Arrive Thessaloniki, Greece
Connect flight to Thessaloniki. You will be met and transferred to your hotel. Time to relax, meet your fellow pilgrims, dinner and overnight in Thessaloniki.
August 26, 2012: Phillippi - Kavala - Thessaloniki
Visit Philippi where Paul delivered his first sermon in Europe, sowing the seeds of Christianity. Here Paul baptized a woman named Lydia, the first Christian convert in Europe. The Roman forum, completely excavated, is from after Paul's time. Among the ruins, located on the rocky ledge above the town's main road is the prison where Paul and Silas were thrown. Continue into the modern port city of Kavala, ancient Neapolis, where Paul accompanied by Silas, Luke and Timothy, first set foot in Europe. Dinner and overnight in Thessaloniki.
August 27, 2012: Thessaloniki - Meteora
Paul preached in Thessaloniki during the winters of 49-50 AD and wrote two epistles to the ancient Thessalonians. See the ramparts of the city, the triumphal Arch of Galerius starting at the Via Egnatia, once a strategic artery of the Roman Empire. Depart for Kalambaka, Meteora Monasteries. Dinner and overnight in Kalambaka.
August 28, 2012: Kalambaka - Delphi
Visit Meteora Monasteries. Among striking scenery, perched on top of huge rocks, that seem to be suspended in midair, stand ageless monasteries where you can see exquisite specimens of Byzantine art. Continue to Delphi.
August 29, 2012: Delphi - Athens
Visit Delphi, the center of the ancient world (navel) of the earth, whose prestige extended far beyond the boundaries of the Hellenic world. On the slopes of Mount Parnassus, in a landscape of unparalleled beauty and majesty, lie the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo Phthios. Visit the site and the museum and continue to Athens. "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription to an unknown God. What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you..." Athens, is one of the most glorious cities in the world and the cradle of western civilization as we know it today. Dinner and overnight at our hotel.
August 30, 2012: Athens - Excursion to Corinth
We will visit the Acropolis to see the ruins of the Parthenon, Erectheum and Propylae. For 25-centuries, the panorama of this city is dominated by the rock of the Acropolis; we see the ruins of the Parthenon, the Erectheum and the Propylae. Afterwards, we will ascend Mars Hill where Paul spoke to the ancient Athenians about the one and only God. From here we have an excellent view of the ancient agora, former center of the Athenian public life. We continue for a drive through the city to see the House of Parliament on Syntagma Square, the evzones in their picturesque uniforms guarding the Presidential Palace and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We also see the Library, the University, the Panathenaic Stadium where the first Olympics of the modern era were held, the temple of the Olympian Zeus and Adrianfs Arch. This afternoon we continue our tour to Ancient Corinth. Here, under the shadow of the towering Acropolis, St. Paul preached and lived for two years. The vigorous and mostly Gentile Church he founded here in 50 AD caused him much grief and prompted him to write, at least, four letters to them. Visit the ruins of the ancient city where Paul worked with Aquila and Priscilla. See the remains of the first century shops, the agora where Paul's trial by Gallio took place, the Fountain of Peirene, Temple of Apollo and the Bema. Return to Athens for dinner and overnight.
August 31, 2012: Athens - Start 3-day Cruise - Mykonos
Our first port-of-call is Mykonos. It is the most cosmopolitan of all Greek islands and attracts many visitors from all over the globe, including large numbers of artists and intellectuals. Your coaches will take you to Hora the island's capital where you'll enjoy a walking tour in the narrow cobbled streets of the town, passing by chic boutiques, elegant nightclubs and white washed houses till reaching Alefkandra. Alefkandra is a charming corner of Hora, known also as the "Venice" of Mykonos. The houses are built on the sea, with wooden balconies that evoke Venice. These were built from the mid 18th-century onward and were homes of wealthy merchants and captains. At one of the famous restaurants of Alefkandra you'll enjoy the sunset on Mykonos island while drinking your refreshment accompanied by Greek meze. You'll return then to Mykonos Town (Hora) from where you'll take the ship's shuttle service back to the port to meet your ship!
September 1, 2012: Kusadasi - Ephesus (Mary's House) - Patmos
We begin our day arriving at Kusadasi, a lively Turkish port. Drive through the colorful town of Kusadasi to reach Mt. Koressos. Situated in a small valley, it is here we visit the humble chapel that lies on the site of the little house where The Virgin Mary is believed to have spent her last days. Despite many controversies, the Christian World still favors this belief and the site has been officially sanctioned by the Vatican for pilgrimage. Continue on to Ancient Ephesus and walk through the Magnesian Gate, the entrance to the ancient city of Ephesus. Your guided walking tour will take you through one of the most magnificent excavations in the world. See the Odeon (concert hall), the Fountain of Trajan, the steam-heated Baths of Scolastika, the Temple of Hadrian and the Latrians, the Library of Celsus and The Great Theatre, where St. Paul preached, which is the largest theatre in antiquity having a capacity of 24,000 people. Walk back to your motor coach along the Arcadian Way, where Mark Anthony and Cleopatra once rode in procession. While driving back to Kusadasi and just outside Ephesus, view the Basilica of St. John, which was erected over his grave in the 6th-century AD by the Emperor Justinian. Before returning to the ship, enjoy free time in Kusadasi.
Continue our journey to Patmos, where we will enjoy a short journey to the village of Chora, where the monastery of St. John is built within the walls of a strong fortification. As you walk uphill towards the entrance of the monastery, marvel at this magnificent structure built 900 years ago, exceptional in its architecture. View the courtyard, the monk's dining room and the old bakery before you visit the main church noting its outstanding frescoes and interior decoration. See the priceless ecclesiastical treasures housed in the beautiful, but small museum- books and manuscripts, mosaics, Icons, splendid medieval textiles and vestments as well as jewelry. Continue on to the nearby Grotto of the Apocalypse, where above stands the Monastery of the Apocalypse, a subunit of the main monastery. Here you will see the silver niches in the wall that mark the pillow and ledge used as a desk by the author of the Book of the Revelation as well as the threefold crack made by the voice of God emphasizing the honor of the Holy Trinity. Afterwards, drive back to the port of Scala and enjoy some free time in this quaint and picturesque harbor.
September 2, 2012: Santorini
Today we will cruise on to the idyllic island of Santorini. Santorin is perhaps the most breathtaking of all the Greek Islands. In the town of Thira white-washed houses, narrow streets, open-air cafes and glittering boutiques cling to steep cliffs, accessible by cable-car or mule. Return back to the ship.
September 3, 2012: Piraeus - Athens - USA(OR Optional Post Tour to Turkey!)
Today marks the end of our cruise. After disembarkation you will be transferred to Athens airport for return flights back to the United States.
Optional Post Tour to Turkey
Your Post Trip to Turkey Includes:
• Flight from Athens to Istanbul
• Hotel accommodations proposed as above or similar
~ 4 nights - Istanbul: Crown Plaza Harbiye Hotel
• Breakfast daily
• Transportation by air-conditioned & non-smoking mini van
• Entrance fees
• Touring with licensed tour guide throughout (English speaking)
• Local taxes VAT and service charges
• Baggage handling (2 normal size bags)
• Service and handling fees
• Arrival and departure group transfers
Tips to guide & driver. Lunch & dinner.
Sample Day by Day Itinerary :
Day 1, September 3 - Arrive Istanbul
Upon arrival you will met at the airport and transfer you to your hotel where you will be introduced to your guide and fellow travelers. Afternoon is at leisure.
Day 2, September 4 - Bosphorus Cruise with Chora Tour
Departure from your hotel. Visit the exotic Egyptian Spice Market on the Golden Horn, and then board for your cruise of the Bosphorus. Visit Rumeli Fortress, built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452 to prepare for his conquest of Istanbul. After lunch cross over the Bosphorus Bridge to Asia and up to Camlica Hill, for a magnificent view of Istanbul. Return over the bridge back to Europe and old Istanbul. We will view the old Theodosian city walls and visit Kariye Church (Chora museum) with its 14th c mosaics and frescoes, depicting scenes from the Bible then on to Eyup Imperial Mosque and Tomb of the standard bearer of Mohammed. Cruise is done by public boat unless other arrangements are made.
Day 3, September 5 – Istanbul Old City Tour
Departure from your hotel. Today we will visit the Saint Sophia (Haghia Sofia) which was built by the emperor Justinian in the 6th century A.D and stands over much older remains of a church. See beautiful mosaics of biblical scenes and the Byzantine emperors and empresses. We continue to the Blue Mosque, which was built in the 17th century and is the only imperial mosque with 6 minarets, then the Hippodrome, a stadium and meeting place in Byzantine times, the Serpent Pillar from Delphi and the Egyptian Obelisk, with the Fountain of Wilhelm. We will then explore the Topkapi Palace. It was the home of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th-19th century A.D. (Harem section is optional and due an extra entry fee). The tour ends in the Grand Bazaar, which has over 4000 shops full of treasures Return to your hotel around 17:30. This tour may be done completely as a walking tour. **Note that on Sunday the Grand Bazaar is closed. Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 4, September 6 – Christian Heritage Tour
Visit the famous Mosque of Fatih Mehmet, who conquered Istanbul. See the tomb of the Christian Princess and Islamic school. See the Column of Marcian and a wonderful Byzantine church and monastery complex, Fenari Isa, which is now converted to a mosque but retains its charm. Visit the old neighborhood of Zeyrek and Church of the Pantocrator, which is a composite building made of two churches and a chapel between them, then the forgotten Byzantine church of St. Savior Pantepoptes, which is now a Koran school. We visit the old neighborhood of Fener and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate church. Continue along the scenic Golden horn past the Bulgarian Church, which is made entirely of cast iron.
Day 5, September 7 - Istanbul - USA
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your return flights home.