DAY 01 Wed . Apr . 20
Today we depart Atlanta for our overnight flight to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, with a connection in Paris.
DAY 02 Thu . Apr . 21
ARRIVE ISRAEL / TEL AVIV
After clearing customs, we will be met by our guide who will take us on a scenic drive through Jaffa, the oldest port in the world. Jonah set sail for Tarshish from Jaffa but was swallowed by a whale. Jaffa was also the home of Tabitha, who was raised from the dead by Peter. Peter had his vision here while lodging in the home of Simon the Tanner. We then drive north to the city of Tel Aviv for dinner and overnight at our hotel overlooking the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.
DAY 03 Fri . Apr . 22
THE SHARON PLAIN AND GALILEE
We begin where the baptism of Gentiles began: at Caesarea Maritima (Acts 10). We include the sunken harbor, the hippodrome, the theatre and the Roman aqueduct. Then we drive to Muhraka (“burnt offering”) on Mt. Carmel, with a panorama of the Plain of Jezreel (Esdraelon). Continue to Megiddo for the background to Ar-mageddon. After surveying the Plain of Jezreel, we proceed to Nazareth, visiting part of the ancient village and enjoying a view of Mt. Tabor. We go on to Cana, commemorating Jesus’ transformation of water into wine. We end the day at the Arbel cliff, which affords a view over the Lake of Galilee and the main sites of Jesus’ ministry. We have dinner and overnight on the Sea of Galilee.
DAY 04 Sat . Apr . 23
A DAY ON THE SEA OF GALILEE AND UPPER GALILEE
We drive along the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum, where we visit the synagogue and the place where early Christians remembered Peter’s house. We continue to Tabgha (short for Heptapagon, “seven springs”) to view the mosaics in the Church of the Loaves and Fishes. Ascending the Mt. of Beatitudes, we listen to Jesus’ teachings. On an ancient trade route, we pass Hazor and then go on to Dan. Here we do a nature walk and visit the high place where Jeroboam son of Nebat set up a golden calf. We continue to Caesarea Philippi (Banias), where Peter answered Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” Our route then takes us over the Golan Heights, skirting Mt. Hermon, with a view toward Damascus. We end the day with a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.
DAY 05 Sun . Apr . 24
THE LOWER GALILEE AND THE JORDAN VALLEY
Today we visit three major sites: Beth Shean, Ein Harod and Jericho. We drive down into the Jordan Valley to the strategic crossing point between the Jordan Valley and the Jezreel which is located in the city of Beth Shean (aka Scythopolis). Here, we will climb the Tel to view the setting of Saul’s death. We then survey the magnificent Roman and Byzantine ruins: theatre, bathhouses, ancient rest rooms, market areas, colonnaded streets. Then (conditions permitting) we drive through the Dotan Valley, where Joseph’s brothers threw him into a cistern. At Nablus (Shechem), we visit the mound of the ancient city where Joshua renewed the covenant. We stop at nearby Jacob’s Well, site of Jesus’ conversation with a Samaritan woman. We’ll have lunch at the Samaria Restaurant in Sebastia. We then drive through the lovely valley of Bidan and down Wadi Fariah. We continue east back to the Jordan Valley and then south to Jericho where we visit the Tel of this oldest city and view the traditional mountain of Jesus’ temptation. Ascending the Roman road along Wadi Qilt, we stop for a look at St. George’s Monastery. Finally, atop Mt. Scopus, we behold majestic Jerusalem where we will have dinner and spend the next four nights.
DAY 06 Mon . Apr . 25
Today we will start on the Mt. of Olives with the Old City tilted toward us. After an orientation, we descend the traditional Palm Sunday road to Dominus Flevit (“The Lord weeps”), remembering Jesus’ entry. We continue down to Gethsemane with a visit to the garden and the church where we will have some quiet time. We then drive to the church grounds called Peter in Gallicantu, which affords the best view of early Jerusalem from the west. Here, the Assumptionist Fathers propose, was the house where the High Priest Caiaphas interrogated Jesus. Driving south to the Bethlehem region passing Rachel’s Tomb on the outskirts of Bethlehem, we go to Shepherds’ Fields. We then visit Bethlehem, where we will walk through its alleys and markets to the Church of the Nativity. We drive back to West Jerusalem passing by the Knesset the Israeli Parliament on our way to the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Israel Museum including the outdoor model of Jerusalem as the city may have looked in 66 AD.
DAY 07 Tue . Apr . 26
THE RIFT VALLEY / MASADA
First this this morning we visit Yad VaShem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, dedicated to the six million Jews who lost their lives before and during the World War II. Next, we drive to Bethany the home of Martha and Lazarus. From there we drive through the Judean desert to Qumran. Here we view Cave #4, which contained the greatest quantity of Dead Sea scrolls. We continue south to Masada where we take the cable car to the top, visiting Herod’s mountain bunker and the last stronghold of the Jewish revolt against Rome (66-73 AD). After floating in the Dead Sea (at minus 1390 feet, as low as you’re ever likely to get), we enter the nature reserve of Ein Gedi, rich in flora and fauna, and walk to a lovely waterfall. Next, we’ll stop at Bethabara where John baptized those who came to him. This is also known as “Bethany beyond the Jordan” and is near the area where the children of Israel crossed into the Promised Land. We return to our hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and overnight.
DAY 8 Wed . Apr . 27
THE OLD CITY
We transfer to Dung Gate where just inside, we take the time to examine the ruins near the south side of the Temple complex, which includes steps where we may be certain that Jesus taught, and He and his disciples walked. We then walk up to the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. We view the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site of Islam, located on the traditional site of the ancient Temple Mount. Just to the north we find the Pools of Bethesda and St. Anne’s Church, which has remarkable acoustics, and which has been perfectly preserved from the Crusader period. We then follow the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) back as far as the Holy Sepulcher. From there we walk through the Arab Souks, past the Armenian Quarter and exit the Old City through the Mt Zion Gate to visit the Upper Room and King David’s Tomb on the grounds of Mt. Zion. From there we take the bus to the Garden Tomb where we end our tour with a special visit and the possibility of having a private communion on its grounds. This evening we’ll enjoy a Middle Eastern farewell dinner at our hotel in Jerusalem for our final night.
DAY 9 Thu . Apr . 28
TEL AVIV / ROME / ANCIENT ROME
Early this morning we transfer to the airport for our flight to Rome. Buon Giorno! Welcome to magnificent Italia. Today’s tour is a combination of the most interesting sites which are linked with the life of the Apostle Paul in Rome. You will have a walking tour through the real core of Ancient Rome, showing you the great “power” of Rome and Emperors who demanded divinity for themselves. This was mainly what Paul preached against in Romans. From the Trajan’s Column, jewel of architecture and sculpture made by Apollodorus of Damascus, our guide will show you along the Via dei Fori Imperiali (street of the Imperial Fora), the ruins of the fori that the great emperors built as lasting memory of their power. The tour ends at the Colosseum, the everlasting symbol of the greatness of Rome and the stage for the historical fights of the gladiators.
DAY 10 Fri . Apr . 29
ST. PAUL OUTSIDE THE WALLS / VATICAN
With yesterday’s sketch of the Roman world and its imperial center in mind, we continue following the steps of St. Paul, recalling both his first and second visits to the city, as well as setting the execution in both geography and history. We will begin our visit the Abbey of the Three Fountains, The place of Paul’s martyrdom, where tradition has it that three different springs gushed at each spot touched when Paul’s head fell down. Next, the Catacombs of San Sebastian, located on the Ancient Appian Way, this is the place where the bodies of Apostle Paul and Apostle Peter were kept during the Christian persecution of Valeriano and then St. Paul Outside the Walls, a Benedictine Abbey which shares its name, origins and centuries of history with the adjoining basilica. Visit the Basilica where the bones of Paul have recently been found and you will leave Rome with the real spirit of first Christians in your mind and in your Heart. In the afternoon we will visit the Vatican, Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica, which is the largest church in the world. If you can make the ascent to the top of the dome, the views of the Vatican grounds are stupendous. This evening we’ll walk to a local restaurant near our hotel for dinner. Return for our final overnight.
DAY 11 Sat . Apr . 30
RETURN TO THE USA
Early morning airport transfer for our flight home from Rome, arriving the same day.