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