Tour Experiences for our 11 Day Biblical Israel Tour (with a 4 Day Greece Trip)
May 7-21, 2022
Day-to-Day Trip Experiences
Days 1 & 2 – Saturday/Sunday, May 7-8: Depart U.S.A. / Arrival in Israel
Our day of departure finally came. For many in our group of 27, we’ve waited since the postponed trip during COVID last year for this day! Following the completion of our Entry Form and getting our Covid tests a few days ago, we boarded our flight(s) to Israel. Most flew out of either Newark for our night flight to Tel Aviv. Dr. John barely made his connecting flight, but as he entered the plane in Newark, they closed the doors behind him. He was the last one to board!
The flight we well. We landed at the Ben Gurion Airport where we went through the Passport procedures, picked up our luggage, and then got yet another Covid test before leaving the airport. Katy, a representative form Amiel Tours (our Israeli agent) was a big help.
Shlomo (our guide) and David (our driver) were waiting for us in the bus parking lot. Leaving the airport we drove along the canal of the Aijalon (Joshua 10) to Netanya, located north of Tel Aviv. Traffic wasn’t too bad through “rush-hour” traffic. Arriving at the hotel we unloaded the bus and checked in. An excellent dinner was served in our rooms while we “quarantine” until the morning. Some also enjoyed a stroll on the beach. We all are looking forward to our first full day tomorrow!
Day 3 – Monday, May 9: Caesarea, Carmel, Megiddo, Precipice of Nazareth, Tiberias
Today was our first full day in Israel. The weather was perfect, with full sun and highs in the upper 70s. We left the hotel at 7:35, reading from Psalm 44 as we started our day.
We drove north in the Sharon Plain to get to our first site, Caesarea Maritima. It was a city built between 22-10 BC by Herod the Great.We started the the theater where we read from Acts 10, 12, 21, and 26. Peter, Phillip, and Paul were all here sharing their faith in Christ. Among the ruins the praetorium (palace), hippodrome, and the area of the harbor. We left by walking through the Crusader part of the city.
Our next site was the Carmel Range (or Mt. Carmel). This range separates the Sharon Plain with the Jezreel Valley. We drove to Muhraha, a Carmelite chapel located at the highest peak. In the chapel we read from Amos 1 and 9, Isaiah 35, Song of Songs 7 and 1 Kings 18 (the story of Elijah). After a time of singing in the chapel we ascended to the rooftop of the chapel for a wonderful view of the Jezreel Valley below. Nearby we ate lunch at a Druze restaurant.
We descended to the edge of the Jezreel Valley to Megiddo, an archaeological site that has about 25 levels of occupation that span 2,500 years! After seeing a model of the tel (ancient mound), we walked to the top of this Canaanite/Israelite site. We saw two Canaanite gate complexes, the gate, stables and palace area of Solomon (1 Kings 9:15), a sacrificial altar (Canaanite), and a grain silo. The also enjoyed a great view of the surrounding hills from here and the valley itself (Revelation 16:16). We left the site through the impressive water system.
Jezreel & Mtl Gilboa
We added an extra two stops, the first of which was the site of Jezreel. While we enjoyed a great view of the Hill of Moreh (Judges 6-7) and Shunem (2 Kings 4), we also read a few passages that mention Jezreel (1 Kings 18, 21; 2 Kings 8). Jezebel did not have a good end to her life her either (2 Kings 9). Close by was the road that took us to the top of Mt. Gilboa, the second additional site we added to the program. Looking east, we had a great view of the Hills of Gilead (in Jordan today across the Jordan Valley), and Beth Shan. We read from 1 Samuel 28-31 about Saul’s death here.
Precipice of Nazareth
We drove across the Jezreel Valley to the area of Nazareth. We ascended towards the top of the Precipice. A short walk took us to a panoramic view of the Jezreel Valley. We read from Luke 4 about Jesus’ synagogue teaching. While Nathaniel asked, “What good can come out of Nazareth?” It was Philip who replied, “Come and see!” (John 1). We celebrated Jesus as Messiah here!
Sea of Galilee
It took about 50 minutes (past Cana, John 2 and 4) to arrive at our hotel (Nof Ginnosar) along the western coastline of the Sea of Galilee. We enjoyed dinner here and a free evening.
Day 4 – Tuesday, May 10: Boat Ride/Ancient Boat, Dan, Caesarea Philippi, Bental, Katzrin, Hippos/Sussita
Today was another ideal sunny day, with temps in the 70s. Many more biblical connections were made from both the Old and New Testaments.
Boat Ride/Ancient Boat
Following breakfast, we walked to the dock where our boat was waiting for us. The morning was quiet on the lake (the Sea of Galilee). We enjoyed a brief time of worship and reflection. We read from Mark 4 and Matthew 14 about the two storm narratives.
We drove north along the Huleh Valley to get to our first site of the day, Tel Dan. We walked through the nature preserve and the largest tributary of the Jordan River. We enjoyed Shlomo playing his recorder along the waters of the Dan Spring. We also read and sang Psalm 42. Walking to the archaeological site, on the steps of the High Place we read from Judges 18 and 1 Kings 12. Leaving the site we saw the Middle Bronze mud-brick gate and the ruins of the walls and gates of the 9th century BC city.
On the slopes of the Golan Heights is Caesarea Philippi. During the Roman Period, this pagan city had a temples dedicated to Augustus, Pan, Zeus, and Nemesis. We read Matthew 16 by the impressive waters that flowed from the Banias Spring here. The question, “Who do you say I am?” served as a “final exam” for Jesus’ disciples.
Driving to the NE corner of Israel, we ascended to the top of Bental, an old military outpost. The very clear visibility allowed us to see the entire Sea of Galilee to the south. We also were able to see far across the border into Syria. Mt. Hermon towered to the north (Psalm 133).
From here we drove south on the plateau of the Golan Heights to Katzrin, a Talmudic Village (3rd-7th centuries AD). Among the ruins we saw the synagogue and other house structures. Sitting together in a completely restored stone house, we read from Luke 11 and Mark 2 (the paralytic). These were events in Jesus’ ministry that we could picture happening!
Our last stop of the day was to one of the Decapolis cities, Hippos (Sussita). On our way to this site we made a brief stop to the one and only cliff area on the eastern side where the Mark 5 story took place. As we arrived at Hippos, we walked through this impressive Roman city. About five Byzantine churches have been excavated here. With a great view of the Sea of Galilee, we read from Mark 5. The demonic man was delivered by Jesus and transformed to be a proclaimer of the kingdom!
We returned to Nof Ginnosar for dinner and a free evening. It was a great second full day!
Day 5 – Wednesday, May 11: Arbel, Yardenit, Magdala, Capernaum, Mt. of Beatitudes, Upper Galilee Overlook
Today was another sunny day, with warmer temps in the low 80s. There were many biblical connections today, specifically with the life and ministry of Jesus. We left our hotel at 7:30, reading the first part of Matthew 13 on the way to our first site.
We began the day by visiting Mt. Arbel, a mountain on the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee. Eight in the group choose to hike the trail to the top, while the others drove around the back side and walked to the top from the visitor center. The view of the lake was spectacular. Even Mt. Hermon was visible far to the north 35-40 miles! It could have been the top of this cliff where Jesus met His disciples after His resurrection (Matthew 28).
We drove to the southern end of the lake where the Lower Jordan begins. Here about 20 in the group reaffirmed their faith in baptism in the Jordan River at a place called Yardenit. Jesus Himself was baptized at Bethany Beyond the Jordan further south across from Jericho (John 1). The experience was special for all of us!
Near by is the Kinneret Cemetery. Many Jews who were pioneers to the land in the late 19th and early 20th century are buried here. This includes Rachel Bluwstone, an Ukrainian who wrote many poems. Shlomo read, sang, and played some of her poems now put to tunes. She died in 1931. Her picture appears on Israel’s 20 shekel bill today!
We drove back through Tiberias to the northwest side of the lake where we visited Magdala. Here, we saw an impressive but simple 1st century synagogue. There are only seven synagogues that date to the time of Jesus in the country. Magdala is only mentioned once in the Gospels (Matthew 16). We also saw a few ritual baths (mikveh or mikvot, plural).
After a great St. Peter’s Fish lunch in Magdala, we visited Capernaum. This Jewish town served as Jesus’ “home base” for His Galilean ministry. In the 5th century synagogue, we read from Mark 1, 2; Luke 7, 8; and John 4, 6. We also saw the Byzantine church, octagonal in shape, that dates to about the same time period. This ancient church surrounds a 1st century house structure suggested, by tradition and archaeology, to be Peter’s house. Down on the lakeshore, we read from Mark 9. Serving in Christ’s kingdom requires a heart of humility and servanthood.
Mt. of Beatitudes
Further up the hill from Capernaum is the traditional location of the Mt. of Beatitudes. We gathered on the hillside where we heard Matthew 5:1-9 read in both Hebrew and English. The kingdom proclamation of Jesus was His “go-to” message throughout His ministry!
Upper Galilean Outlook
We completed our day by driving to the Upper Galilee (specifically to “Hill 713” according to Dr. John’s old professor Jim Monson). The hike to the overlook took about 30 minutes. What a incredible view from here! We literally could see the entire width of Israel, from the the Golan Heights and the Sea of Galilee to the east, to the Carmel Range and the Med Sea to the west. The view from here could very well be the very best view in all of Israel!
We returned to our hotel about 6:45 for dinner! It’s been a great time up here in the north! Tomorrow we head south to the Dead Sea!
Day 6 – Thursday, May 12: Beth Shean, Shiloh, Jericho, Judean Desert, Ein Bokek, Dead Sea
Today we left the Galilee and drove south. Our final destination of the day was Ein Bokek and the Dead Sea. The sun was hazy today, with warmer temps around 90 in the south.
We loaded the bus after breakfast and drove south, reading portions of Matthew 5-7 on the way. South of the Sea of Galilee we drove along the Jordan Valley to Beth Shean, the only city of the Decapolis on the west side of the Jordan. This is a massive archaeological site, primarily Roman. Here we saw the bathhouse, walked the colonnaded street, sat in the public latrenes, and sang in the impressive theater. Some in the group hiked up 190 steps to the top of the Old Testament site where Saul’s body was hung on the walls of the town square (1 Samuel 31, 1 Chronicles 10).
We continued south along the Jordan Valley about 20 minutes before ascending into the Hill Country of Samaria. We saw shepherds with the flocks, a few gazelles, and even one boar on our way to Shiloh (located about 20 miles north of Jerusalem). This was the location of Tabernacle for over 300 years until it was destroyed by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4). At the site we saw an impressive video presentation. By the ruins we read from 1 Samuel 3 (“Hineni” – “Here I am” was said here by young Samuel!), and Jeremiah 13.
Judean Desert & Parath
We continued our drive south towards Jericho. To get there we took a unique windy road down through the Judean Desert and specifically to the area of the Pareth (Parat in Hebrew) where Jeremiah once hid a linen belt (Jeremiah 13). The views were incredible. We spotted a few more gazelles.
We arrived at Jericho at the southern end of the Jordan Valley in time for a late lunch. We then climbed the site of ancient Jericho. We saw an old stone tower that predates even Abraham and a small portion of the city wall on the southern end. Mud-bricks and a burn level could also be seen in a few places. We recalled the Joshua 6 story how the city was defeated (and burned) by the Israelites.
Ein Bokek/Dead Sea
In the late afternoon we made our way along the western shoreline of the Dead Sea to Ein Bokek. We past Qumran, Ein Gedi, and Masada along the way (we’ll see these sties tomorrow). Once we arrived at our hotel, most in the group changed into our swimming suits and enjoyed a pre-dinner “float” in this unique body of water. What a wild experience this was!
Day 7 – Friday, May 13: Masada, Ein Gedi, Qumran, Wilderness of Judah, Jerusalem
Today was a hot day here in the area of the Dead Sea, though it would be a bit cooler when we arrived in Jerusalem late this afternoon. Today was “desert day” in this unique part of the land.
Following breakfast, we loaded the bus and drove to Masada (metzada, in Hebrew, Psalm 18:1-2). This was built in the 30s BC as a palace-fortress by Herod the Great. We took the cable car to the top and began seeing thew ruins from the 1st century. We saw huge cisterns, the western and northern palaces, the Roman Ramp, the synagogue, and the bathhouse. In 70 AD, this was the location where 967 Jews found refuge from the Romans following the destruction of the Temple. The holdout lasted about three years until all by five of these Jews (a few women and children) took their own lives. It is a story of bravery and courage! Most of us took the cable car back down, while some in the group walked down the Snake Path.
We drove a bout 15 minutes north of Masada to get to Ein Gedi, one of only a few oasis here in the edge of the Judean Desert. We walked back to the first water falls. We read from Song of Songs 1, 2 Chronicles 20 (the “Ascent of Ziz”) and 1 Samuel 24 (David hid from Saul here). A few in the group hiked back to the water falls at the end of the canyon. It was amazing to see so much water here in the desert!
Continuing about 30 minutes north we arrived at Qumran. We enjoyed lunch here before seeing this most important site. Others in the group chose to hike to the cliff area during lunch time. It was here at Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found! The discovery began in 1947, while the excavation took place through 1956. We saw the ruins where a small community of Essenes lived (or retreated to from Jerusalem). To date, over 900 scrolls and fragments of texts scrolls have been discovered in 12 caves. The scrolls/texts date primarily from the 3rd century BC – 1st century AD. At the small archaeological site we saw cisterns, ritual baths (mikvot), and the scriptorium. In front of “Cave 4” (where the majority of texts were found), we read from “Psalm 151,” and Psalm 19. We celebrated the perseverance of God’s Word!
En route to Jerusalem, we made a brief stop overlooking the Wadi Qelt. This is the heart of the Judean Desert! We heard “Isaiah, the prophet” proclaim the words, “Prepare the way for the Lord…” (Isaiah 40), and Psalm 23 sung by Shlomo. The view was breathtaking! We also enjoyed the “surprise visit” overlook further east of the St. George Greek monastery built into the side of the cliff.
We continued ascending to Jerusalem, passing Bethany and Bethpage on the way! We checked in to our hotel, enjoyed a wonderful “Shabbat” dinner, and an optional walk to the Western Wall to end the evening! We are looking forward to our first full day in Jerusalem tomorrow!
Day 8 – Saturday, May 14: Mt. of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, Garden Tomb, Pool of Bethesda, Holy Sepulcher Church, Herodium, Bethlehem
Today was a hot day, even here in Jerusalem. Temps reached the mid 90s (a bit unusual for Jerusalem this early), with a hazy sun. We read Psalm 125:1-2 as we left the hotel at 7:20 a.m.
Mt. of Olives
Our first full panoramic view of the Old City and the Temple Mount came from the top of the Mt. of Olives. We read from Luke 19 and Ezekiel 44 (about the Eastern Gate) before we walked down the slope to Dominus Flavet. This was a chapel built to remember Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. Further down the slope we gathered in a small olive orchard where we read from Luke 22. Somewhere in this area was the Garden of Gethsemane.
Our bus picked us up and took us to the Garden Tomb located north of the Old City today. This is an alternative location for the crucifixion and tomb of Jesus. We enjoyed a time of worship and Communion here.
We entered the Old City through Herod’s Gate, walking first to the Pools of Bethesda. We first enjoyed singing in St. Anne’s, a Crusader Church. The church has an eight-second echo, making us sound angelic! By the Pools, we read from John 5. From here we walked to the Holy Sepulcher Church, the most-likely location (from an archaeological perspective) for Christ’s death and resurrection. We spent some time in the church before enjoying lunch in the Christian Quarter.
Walking out the Jaffa Gate, we boarded the bus and drove southeast to Herodium. Herod the Great built this as a palace-fortress. He was buried here in 4 BC. We saw the grand receiving room above the small theater built here. Following an excellent video presentation, some walked up the Royal Arch steps to the top of the site. We then returned through the cistern system.
Driving to Beit Sahour (an eastern suburb of Bethlehem), we visited the Shepherds’ Fields. We descended into a small cave, much like used by shepherds in Jesus’ day. Here we read from Luke 2, Micah 2, 4, and 5 about the birth of Jesus. The shepherds were the first ones who witnessed thee Lamb of God, the Passover Lamb born humbly in Bethlehem. We sang carols in the cave and in the small chapel. Before we ended the day, we also stopped at an olive wood factory and store.
We drove back to our hotel in Jerusalem. We stopped for a brief overlook of the Old City from the south before arriving at the hotel for dinner. Some enjoyed an optional walk to the King David hotel nearby.
Day 9 – Sunday, May 15: Yad Vashem, Israel Museum, the Shephelah (Lowlands) of Judah
Today was once again sunny but much cooler than yesterday. Highs in the afternoon reached the low 80s, while we had a cool start in Jerusalem.
As we started at 7:30, we read from Psalm 137 about how special Jerusalem was to those in Exile in Babylon. Our first stop of the day was Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum and Memorial. It is named after Isaiah 56:5 (“To them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name…”). We first entered the Valley of the Communities, marking all the towns and cities where Jews were killed throughout Europe. We then heard Shlomo’s testimony about how he lost 12 family members in Vilna, Poland. We also walked through the Children’s Memorial. 1.5 million children were killed. On our own, we walked through the Museum. It was a somber experience.
Also located in West Jerusalem, we visited the Israel Museum. We saw three things here: A 1:50-scaled model of 2nd Temple Period Jerusalem, the Shrine of the Book, and the archaeological wing of the museum itself. In the museum we saw highlights of artifacts, such as the Dan Inscription, the silver amulet from a Hinnom tombs, the Arad Holy of Holies, the Pilate Inscription, Herod’s bathhouse and sarcophagus, and many more. We ended with seeing a 1,900 year old “pie plate.” 🙂
In the afternoon we descended west to the Shephelah (Lowlands) of Judah to see a few Old Testament sites. We grabbed a snack on the way (at the “Elvis” gas station for great hamburgers) to our first site, Tel Gezer. It is located in the Aijalon Valley. Dr. John excavated here in 2017. This was a Canaanite and Israelite/Judean city. We saw city walls and gates, including one built by Solomon (1 Kings 9). We descended the impressive water system. Leaving the site we saw the standing stones most likely from the Canaanite Period.
Further south is the Sorek Valley where the city of Beth Shemesh is located. We climbed the tel (ancient mound) to see the view of the valley. The stories of Samson (Judges 13-16) and the return of the Ark of the Covenant (1 Samuel 6) unfolded before our very eyes!
Socoh was last next site of the day. Located along the Elah Valley, we climbed this unexcavated site to see where David and Goliath battled. David was armed only with five stones but he found his confidence in the Lord. We read the story from 1 Samuel 17.
We returned to the Hill Country of Judah and our hotel in Jerusalem for later dinner and a free evening.
Day 10 – Monday, May 16: City of David, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, Southern Wall Excavations, Western Wall, a Few Free Hours
Today was our last full day here in Israel. It was another sunny day, with perfect temps around 80. We read from Psalm 48 as we left the hotel at 7:35.
We began our day by driving to a Covid Test facility in West Jerusalem. Those going back home tomorrow are required to get this test. We hope this ridiculous requirement ends soon. 🙂
City of David
We drove back to the area of the Old City and to the City of David excavations just south of the Old City. We saw the excavations where Dr. John dug for over four weeks in 1982 (and Jill Simmons in 1984). We saw remnants of city walls and houses in “Area G.” We then walked through Warren’s Shaft all the way down to the Gihon Spring. Here, some walked through the “wet” Hezekiah’s Tunnel (1,710 feet long) while others took the “dry” Canaanite tunnel. Both groups converged at the Pool of Siloam where we read John 9 in dramatic fashion. 🙂
Southern Wall Excavations/Western Wall
From here some in the group climbed up through the Drainage Channel to the SW corner of the Temple Mount (Robinson’s Arch) while others bussed to this spot. Here we saw Herodian pavement and massive stones. Jesus walked on this pavement! On the southern end of the Temple, we sat on the very steps used by Jesus and others. We considered that we now are the temple empowered by God’s Spirit (2 Corinthians 3).
Leaving this area we walked to the Western Wall. This is the most holy place for Jews today. The wall served as a retaining wall that supported the expanded Temple platform on top.
We walked to the Jewish Quarter for lunch on our own. We then enjoyed meeting and listening to Moshe, an Orthodox Jew who owns (with his brother Dov) a biblical shop called Shorashim. We then had two hours on our own to explore the Old City.
Most in the group bussed back to the hotel while others walked back. We enjoyed a final Farwell Dinner at the hotel. Today was a great ending to a wonderful trip with a wonderful group!
Day 11 – Tuesday, May 17: Extension to Greece or Flight Back Home
The day started early (2 am) for those of us who flew to Athens today. Others in the group flew directly back to the U.S. at noon. The weather in Greece was sunny and warm, with highs in the mid 80s.
Flights from Tel Aviv
For those going on the Greece extension, we left the hotel around 3 a.m. for the Ben Gurion Airport. Our 7:15 a.m. flight took us directly to Athens. For those ending the trip, David and Shlomo drove 10 in the group to the airport at 8 a.m. for their noon flight back to the U.S.
We arrived at about 9:20 a.m.in Athens where we met Thassos, our agent, and our driver (Stephenos). We landed the bus and drove to the area of the Acropolis where we met Aliki, our Greek guide.
The Acropolis is the archaeological and ancient cultural highlight of Athens. We walked slowly up the steps of the Propylaea (gateway/entrance) to the top. Here we saw the Erechtheion. This was a most important temple dedicated to Athena, Poseidon and Erechtos. The Parthenon is the most identifiable structure on top. It was built with 17 pillars on the long side and 8 on the short side (based on the classic ratio). The columns are of the Doric order. It was finished in 10 years (447-438 BC). Another 5-6 years was spent in decoration. In 432 BC it was finally completed. The architects were the best Greece could offer. Phidias was one of the supervisors. 4000 people worked on the Parthenon. It was not built by slaves but rather the best of Greeks. The Athena statue stood inside the temple. It was 40 feet tall. 5000 pieces of marble taken in early 19th century by Englishmen. This collection is now displayed in the British museum.
Rock of Aeropagus/Mars Hill
We met at the bottom of the Acropolis and walked together up to the Rock of Aeropagus (Mars Hill). This is where Paul spoke of his faith to the philosophers of the day. With the Acropolis above us and the agora (marketplace), Stoa, and other temples below us, we could almost hear Paul’s words as he spoke His word in reference to the “Unknown God” of Athens. We read his words shared precisely at this location from Acts 17. Dionysius and Damaris and “a number of others” (v.34) who listened to Paul came to faith in Christ!
City Bus Tour of Athens
After enjoying a “gyro” for lunch at the base of the Acropolis, we boarded the bus for a brief city tour of Athens. We saw The Temple of Zeus, the Arch of Hadrian, the Olympic Stadium (restored and used in the 1896 Olympics), and Constitution Square. We also saw impressive neo-classical buildings of the 19th century (e.g. Science & Art, Education, and National Library buildings).
Constitution Square & Botanical Gardens
We checked into our hotel around 3 p.m. After a much-needed rest/nap, most in the group met at 4:30 to walk to Constitution Square. We saw the changing of the guards at 5 p.m. Close by is the Botanical Gardens. Some enjoyed walking through and admiring the trees and plants.
We walked back to the hotel for dinner at 7 p.m. It’s exciting to be here in Greece and we look forward to seeing some of the country tomorrow on our drive north to the classic site of Delphi.
Day 12 – Wednesday, May 18: Delphi, Athens, Mt. Lycabetus Hike
Today was another beautiful day here in Greece, with sunny skies and temps around 80. A few puffy clouds showed up this afternoon in the Parnassos mountains in the area of Delphi.
We left from our hotel shortly after 8 a.m. following breakfast on the rooftop of our hotel. The drive was scenic, with wide open country. We turned off the national highway to head towards the high Parnassos Mountain range. After a short rest stop, we arrived in Delphi to see the archaeological site and museum.
We first visited the archaeological site. We ascended throughputs the Agora (marketplace) and the Treasury to the famous Temple of Apollo. Higher up the site was the theater and an intact well-preserved stadium. Paul captured the culture by exhorting Christ followers to “run the race well…” (1 Corinthians 9). The Pythian Games were held here in Delphi every four years in honor of Apollo. Below on the other side was where the gymnasium was located.
Delphi was known in this classical period of Greece as the place of oracles. The women who shared oracles were call Pythia. Acts 16:16 uses the same word. Paul and Silas preached that accepting Christ as spoken in the very Word (e.g. oracle) of God and trusting in God’s Spirit is what gives purpose and direction for our lives! God also accepts us as as redeemed by Christ by virtue of His sacrifice. We are encouraged to live as a “living sacrifice to God, holy and acceptable to God (Romans 12:1-2).
Following our visit to the site, we walked through the museum. Many impressive artifacts are displayed here, including the famous bronze charioteer (dating to 476 BC), and the Gallio Inscription. It dates to 52 AD, precisely when Paul was in Corinth. This was written by a scribe named Claudius who mentions “my friend Gallio the proconsul of Achaia.” Luke mentions him as the one who addressed Paul from the Bema in Corinth (Acts 18:14-16).
Lunch/Ride to Athens/Mt. Lycabetus
Just outside the town of Delphi we visited a wonderful Greek restaurant for a late lunch. Many had lamb chops, Greek salad or Moussaka. We drove back to Athens the same way. Eight in the group ventured up to the top of Mt. Lycabetus. What a stunning view of the city of Athens (5.5 million people)!
Day 13 – Thursday, May 19: Corinth, Mycenae, Athens, Plaka
Today we drove south to the Peloponnese of Greece. The weather started overcast and much cooler, with a strong wind today. But sunny skies prevailed by mid-morning! We read from 1 Corinthians 3 as we left the hotel at 8 a.m.
After another great breakfast at the hotel restaurant on the rooftop, we departed about 8 a.m. We drove south to the Peloponnese of Greece. First we stopped at the famous Corinthian Canel. It was built over a 11 year span (1882-1893) and is 3.8 miles long, 85 feet wide, 300 feet deep, with the water level around 26 feet.
We then drove another 15 minutes to the ancient site of ancient Corinth. This huge city (400 – 500,000 at its peak) was the once glorious city near the Isthmus where Paul met Aquila and Priscilla and spent a year and a half preaching the Word of God. Among the ruins we saw the Temple of Apollo (one of 14 total pagan temples), the forum (agora in Greek), and the bema (judgement seat). During Paul’s stay here during his 2nd mission journey, he wrote letters to the Thessalonica church. During his brief stay here at the end of his 3rd mission journey, we wrote Romans. It was delivered by Phoebe (Romans 16). We read from Acts 18 about Gallio and 2 Corinthians 4. We also walked down to the area of the theater where we saw the Erastus Inscription (he donated his own money for the public works, see Romans 16:23). Before leaving Corinth we drove to the Acropolis for a peak of the Temple of Aphrodite and a spectacular view of the plain of Corinth below.
From here we drove to Mycenae. We first enjoyed a late lunch here before visiting the ruins of this ancient city. Much of what we saw dates from 1,350 – 1,200 BC. At the site we saw the famous Lion’s Gate (1,250 BC), the shaft tombs (where over 13 pounds of gold was found in the 1870s excavations), the palace area, and the cistern. We also saw the Bee Hive tomb of King Agamemnon (or the Treasury of Atreus). We enjoyed singing in the tomb. 🙂
Leaving Mycenae at about 5 p.m., we returned back to our hotel in Athens. We past Cenchreae (Acts 18) on the way. Upon returning to the hotel, many walked together to the Plaka for a fun time of browsing, shopping, and eating. We walked back on our own to end the evening!
Day 14 – Friday, May 20, Aegean Sea Day Cruise to Hydra, Poros, Aegina
Our last day here in Greece was a fun one! The weather was cool in the morning but sunny during the day, with highs in the 70s. Perfect for cruising on a small ferry ship on the Aegean Sea!
Hydra, Poros, Aegina
Following breakfast we boarded the bus and drove to Piraeus, Athen’s harbor (Paul probably sailed into this area from the north). Our agent Andreas accompanied us on to the small ferry ship. Throughout the day we visited three islands, Hydra, Poros, and Aegina. These destinations are the classic Greek islands with spectacular beautiful! We got off at each of these These quaint ports and explored on our own. We experienced a close-up taste of Greek culture, food, and shopping.
About 9 p.m. we returned to our hotel in Athens for dinner and overnight. On the way we stopped to get our Covid test required by the US. We ALL tested negative!
Day 15 – Saturday, May 21: Flight Home
We left for the airport at 8:30 this morning for our flight back to the U.S. Upon arrival, we went through through normal passport customs and boarded our connecting flights home. Praise the Lord, we all got back home safely! What a great trip with a great group of people God brought together!
Old City of Jerusalem
The Old City of Jerusalem is a special place. Within her walls built in 1537 AD by the Ottoman Turks, the circumference of the city is 2.8 miles. The city is divided into 4 quarters – Jewish, Christian, Armenian, and Muslim. About 35,000 people live within the city. Many archaeological ruins can be seen everywhere, including the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.