Footsteps of Paul: A Trip Report, Part 2

The Footsteps of Paul tour was a huge success!

Many, many thanks to Paul at Inspired Voyagers, in Athens for working with me to organize our tour and making all the Greek and cruise arrangements. Our hotels were comfortable and provided more than ample and appetizing buffet breakfasts as well as delicious 3-course dinners or dinner buffets. Our guide, Maria Pyschari was fun and a wealth of knowledge.

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In Greece we were treated royally – 12 of us spread out in this comfortable, full-size motor coach.

To read Part 1 of  Trip Report: In the Footsteps of the Apostle Paul

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We had a wonderful 3-night cruise aboard the Celestyal Nefeli.

Day 8:  Disembarking from the cruise ship in Lavrion, Greece we were met by a new guide who took us to ancient Corinth. Due to its location on a narrow isthmus, there were 2 harbors – one on the west and one on the east. Corinth was a very prosperous city of maybe 800,000 inhabitants when Paul arrived. He lived there eighteen months and became acquainted with Priscilla and Aquila. That afternoon we returned to Athens for one final evening of free time.

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Our group standing in Corinth’s Roman Forum in front of the Bema, the public platform where St. Paul had to plead his case when the Corinthians hauled him up in front of the Roman governor Gallio in 52 AD. Here we read aloud one of the most famous chapters of the New Testament: the beautiful words written by Paul in chapter 13 of his first letter to the Corinthians.

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Towering over ancient Corinth is the Temple of Apollo, Constructed in 540 BC, it is one of the oldest stone temples in Greece. The following scripture makes more sense after viewing ancient pagan temples.  “We know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.” I Corinthians 12:2

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This poor little lady trying to sell her crafts.

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The 4 mile-long Corinth Canal, constructed 1881-1893, cut through the isthmus separating the Peloponnese from the mainland to provide a marine shortcut between two seas.

Day 9:  Transfer to airport. Five of our travelers headed for their homes, but seven of us flew to Rome, Italy. It was so much fun to introduce these travelers to The Eternal City of Rome.

A private driver picked us up at Ciampino Airport for a 4-hour driving tour that included a photo stop at Aqueduct Park, walking the ancient Appian Way, touring the Catacombs of San Sebastiano and a stop at the Basilica St Paul Outside the Walls.

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The 2300-year old Roman aqueducts transported water over a 12-mile distance.

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The Romans constructed the ancient Via Appia in 315 BC in order to quickly move armies across the Empire. The Via Appia spanned 350 miles and connected the capital city of the Roman Empire with the eastern seaport of Brindisi. Crossing the Adriatic Sea to Dyrrachium (modern day Durres, Albania) travel would have continued eastward on the Via Egnatia.

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“This Egyptian-style pyramid was built about 18–12 BC as a tomb for Gaius Cestius outside a southern gate in the Aurelian walls of Rome.  Its original — Latin — name was Porta Ostiensis, since it opened on the way to Ostia. Later, it was renamed the Porta San Paolo, because it was the exit from Rome that led to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.” Wikipedia

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We literally came to the end of the Footsteps of Paul when we entered The Basilica St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, constructed over St. Paul’s tomb. I felt strong emotion, new understanding, and a deeper appreciation for the Apostle Paul’s life, writings and martyrdom.

Reliefs in the church’s main door depict scenes from Paul’s life:  his beheading, his holding the coats of those who stoned Stephen in Jerusalem, and his encounter with the Lord and temporary blindness on the road to Damascus.

Our first evening in Rome we participated in a Roman Street Food Walking Tour and sampled pizza, cheeses and salami, suppli, Jewish-style fried artichokes, pastries and gelato. It was molto bene and fun!

What is suppli? Our guide told us that the word “suppli” comes from the French word for “surprise.”  Suppli is a rice mixed with garlic, herbs, and tomato sauce wrapped around mozzarella cheese, rolled in bread crumbs and fried. The photo on the left has a fried artichoke is in the center and two suppli on the right plus 2 golden pieces of fillete di bacala (fried cod.)  The photo on the right shows the melted “surprise” center.

 

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We stayed at Cenci Bed & Breakfast just around the corner from the Trevi Fountain.

Day 10:  We started our day at the magnificent Flavius Amphitheater commonly called The Colisseum and then traveled by metro to the Vatican City to visit the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. We came to the end of the Footsteps of Peter’s life when we toured the necropolis where Peter is believed to have been buried, over which St. Peter’s Basilica was constructed. Click here to read MYSTERY IN THE VATICAN about my 2010 visit.

img_9068Day 11:  Rome is such a wonderful city to explore on foot so I set my travelers loose to enjoy the city on their own. Rome entranced them as I knew it would. My mother and I strolled around the Palatine Hill, through the ancient Roman Forum and to the Pantheon.  For lunch, we found our way back to the Jewish Ghetto neighborhood for more of what we had enjoyed on the Roman Street Food tour.

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Romes best places for lunch are in the old Jewish Ghetto.

Brass plaques on the sidewalks in front of homes in the Jewish Ghetto are stark visual reminders of the horrors of the holocaust. From this one home 12 individuals were deported to Auschwitz. Only one survived.

Day 12:  We got an early start and traveled by fast train to Naples.  When we went to get train tickets for the local train to Pompeii we were told that the railway workers were striking! What to do? A local man offered us his shuttle services and drove us to Pompeii. We met our guide Francisco of Mondo Tours for a fun and interesting 2-hour private tour of Pompeii. I had left our final afternoon unplanned so it could unfold according to the group’s wishes. Our driver suggested a drive down the coast to Salento with stops for lunch and some beach time before returning us to Naples. It was a beautiful sunny day so took him up on his offer. Sometimes the unscheduled days become the most memorable!

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Although tragic, the Pompeii excavations give the best view into 1st century life.

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Our driver took us to a restaurant for lunch where there were no other patrons. I wondered if there was a chef in the kitchen and worried about being overcharged. It turned out to be a delicious meal of homemade pasta and fresh seafood for only 11 euros plus gratuity.  Before we finished, local working men arrived for lunch and my thinking changed to “Wow! This was so wonderful. This will be a special day to remember!”

Returning to Naples, there was one more thing I wanted to share with my travelers. Napolitano Pizza! La Antica Pizzeria da Michele is highly recommended by Rick Steves, Samantha Brown AND our new friend the driver as well. There are always huge crowds and long waits. We gave it a chance but, in the end, it was disappointing.

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Noisy Napoli explains why Meet You in the Morning ate pizza at Trianon Pizzeria and enjoyed it so much that in 2016 they returned to Naples just to eat again at Trianon (and did so twice in less than 24 hours) as told here in A Return to Napoli.

Day 13:  Tired, but happy, we depart for home. My flight was several hours late departing Rome causing me to miss my connection in DC.  On the bright side, United Airlines put me up at the Hyatt Regency and gave me $30 in meal vouchers.

Day 14:  I finally get home – 24 hours after originally expected – but well rested.

Studies have shown that travel is good for mental health as well as physical health. After traveling, I always return home curious to learn more about the places and people that piqued my interest. Now as I read the New Testament books, I “see” them with new appreciation and insight.

It was fascinating to learn about Greek and Roman history and mythology, to explore ruins, temples to the gods, and monasteries and churches, both Eastern Orthodox and Catholic. Mostly though, I feel a deep amazement for His-story! And thankfulness.

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Friends,

When will you be ready to travel again?  Do any of the following tours interest you?

  • The Christian Reformation:  Luther in Germany
  • Dubai:  A Desert Delight (paired with a European City perhaps)
  • Suggestions are welcome! Send me an email or leave a comment.

Next time Meet You in the Morning will tell about booking almost-free flights!

Ciao!

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