“In the Footsteps of St. Paul—Greece”

with Dr. Bill Creasy

 May 14-23, 2018

 

Preparing for Your Pilgrimage

 
 The Parthenon, Athens, Greece.

The Parthenon, Athens, Greece.

 

Introduction

We’re about to begin a remarkable journey, a pilgrimage to Greece where we will walk “in the footsteps of St. Paul.”  For many, this will be the trip of a lifetime and a wonderful spiritual experience.  It will also be a whole lot of fun!  We’ll be following St. Paul through Neapolis, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens and Corinth.  Along our journey, we’ll also be visiting Delphi with its famous Temple of Apollo and Meteora with its monasteries perched high atop towering, gray-rock pinnacles.  St. Paul spent quite a bit of time aboard ship, and so will we!  For four days, we’ll be sailing the Aegean Sea, visiting Ephesus, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini and Patmos (where the Apostle John wrote the book of Revelation).  This will be an extraordinary adventure!

Many of you are my current or former Logos Bible Study students, and some are among my many listeners on Audible.com.  What we all have in common is a love of Scripture; an intimate, personal relationship with Christ; and a desire to know St. Paul and to understand his extraordinary journey from the greatest of sinners to a most remarkable Saint.

Several of our pilgrims have asked me what they might read to be better prepared for our adventure together.  The more you learn before and during our tour, the deeper will be your experience, both intellectually and spiritually.  Here are a few suggestions, along with links to click:

I recently taught a full course on The Acts of the Apostles and on St. Paul’s Corinthian CorrespondenceActs tells the story of St. Paul from his beginnings as a persecutor of the Church, through his dramatic conversion of the road to Damascus, his three great missionary journeys, his voyage to Rome in A.D. 59—and his shipwreck on the way there!  St. Paul’s Corinthian Correspondence examines St. Paul’s relationship with the Corinthian community. 

If you haven’t taken these courses yet, they available to you now at a 50% discount! Just use the coupon code "Greece2018" at checkout. 

In my opinion, the single best book on St. Paul is F. F. Bruce’s Paul, Apostle of the Heart Set Free.  It’s rather scholarly, but it’s well worth the effort.  Bruce was one of the 20th-century’s greatest New Testament scholars.

For a somewhat lighter read, you might enjoy Paul:  a Biography by another major Scripture scholar, N. T. Wright, which is also available as an audio book (you can listen to it as we wing our way to Athens!).

And since we will have an extended visit to Corinth, I’m sure you’d enjoy the short novel by Ben Witherington III, A Week in the Life of Corinth.  It’s a story about a fictional former slave, Nicanor, who finds himself in a real pickle regarding loyalty, religion and social class, illustrating what daily life was like in Corinth at the time of St. Paul.  It’s available in both paperback and digital format.  Witherington is another first-rate New Testament scholar.

 

Weather and What to Bring

The weather in Greece and the Aegean is much like the weather in Los Angeles or San Diego at this time of the year.  As I write this email (on April 25th), the highs are in the mid-70s to mid-80s and the lows are in the low to mid-50s.  There is perhaps a 10-20% chance of rain on any given day during our tour.  So, dress for the weather! 

 
 Dr. C. and his intrepid Logos adventurers at Delphi, dressed for success! 

Dr. C. and his intrepid Logos adventurers at Delphi, dressed for success! 

 

Ordinary, comfortable clothing is best:  jeans or slacks, with a shirt, are best for men; the same for women; bring a hat, too.  When we’re at sea, it might be a bit windy and chilly (especially at night), so bring a warm jacket or sweater.  I also recommend bringing a light Gortex jacket, just in case it rains.   We won’t be having any formal affairs, so you don’t need to “dress up.”

Above all, wear comfortable walking shoes and cushioned socks.  We’ll be walking a lot on archaeological sites, trails and busy urban streets with lots of stairs.  As I noted on the tour brochure, to be comfortable you should be able to walk a mile briskly and climb 100 stairs with ease.  The places we’ll be visiting in Greece and the Aegean are not, for the most part, handicapped accessible; consequently, our tour cannot accommodate wheelchairs, walkers or serious walking disabilities.

 
 Climbing to the top of Mars Hill in Athens, where St. Paul spoke at the Areopagus.

Climbing to the top of Mars Hill in Athens, where St. Paul spoke at the Areopagus.

 

Airline and Baggage

Group Turkish Airlines (TK) Schedule

14MAY  Turkish Airlines #10        Los Angeles/ Istanbul     6:30PM/ 5:40PM  (+1-day 15MAY)         

15MAY  Turkish Airlines #1893    Istanbul/ Thessaloniki    7:10PM/ 8:30PM                  

23MAY  Turkish Airlines #1846    Athens/ Istanbul              10:10AM/ 11:35AM                  

23MAY  Turkish Airlines #9          Istanbul/ Los Angeles      1:00PM/ 4:50PM  

Flight schedule and equipment subject to change by airlines

Our group is flying on Turkish Air flight #10, leaving from the Bradley International terminal in Los Angeles at 6:30 PM on Monday, May 14th.  We’ll be flying non-stop to Istanbul, and then transferring to Turkish Air flight #1843 from Istanbul to Thessaloniki.  Since we’re on an international flight, you should arrive at the airport three hours in advance, by 3:30 PM.  DON’T FORGET YOUR PASSPORT!  Once you arrive at LAX, check in at the Turkish Air counter, and MAKE SURE YOU CHECK YOUR BAGGAGE THROUGH TO THESSALONIKI.  You need not wait for the group, just check in, proceed through security, and we will meet at the gate. 

Turkish Air allows one check-on bag (under 44 lbs.) and one carry-on bag (under 17 lbs., one that fits in the overhead); you may also have a purse, briefcase, camera bag, small backpack or another small item.  You will receive two luggage tags per person from Executours, our travel company.  Please fill these out and attach one to your check-on bag and one to your carry-on bag.  When we check in and out of our hotels, these tags will identify you so that the porters can deliver your bags to the correct room and ensure that all bags are on the bus when we check out of a hotel.  If you take medication—especially “keep me alive” medication—bring it in your carry-on bag.  It is very difficult—if not impossible—to get prescriptions refilled in Greece.

 

Security

In Greece—as in any other place you may travel—it is important to take prudent personal security measures.  Do not bring expensive jewelry or other items that you don’t want to lose or misplace.  Our hotels have room safes where you can store your passports, money and valuables.  Use them.

Greece has no more violent crime than any other place in Europe, but—as in most other tourist locations—pickpockets are plentiful. When we’re in crowds in Athens (especially on the Acropolis or in the Plaka), men should carry their wallets in their front pocket, with their hand in their pocket; women should carry their purses across their shoulder, not hanging from one shoulder.  Don’t use fanny packs:  they are really easily to pickpocket!  And in crowds, hang your backpacks on your chest, not on your back.

In short, be aware of your surroundings in Greece . . . or anywhere else, for that matter.

 

FAQs

Question: Do I need to bring a converter to plug in my electronic equipment?

Answer: No.  Although electrical current is 220 volts in Greece, not 110 as in the USA, nearly all modern electrical equipment (phones, cameras, electric shavers, etc.) can utilize either.  You will need an adapter, though, for the actual outlets are different (round, not flat).  You can get these adapters at Target, 3 for $7.99:

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Question: Do they take American dollars in Greece, or will I need to get Euros before I leave home?

Answer: Very few places take American dollars, so it is better to bring euros with you.  You can exchange dollars for euros at most banks in the US, but you may need to give the bank a few days advanced notice if they don’t have them on hand. At the current exchange rate (April 2018), 1 Euro = $1.22 dollars.  If you exchange dollars for euros in Greece—especially at a hotel—you will not get a good exchange rate.

Your tour is paid for, so the only thing you’ll need cash for in Greece is lunch “on the road,” munchies, and minor gifts you may buy from vendors on the street.  I typically take 500 euros for my miscellaneous expenses.

Question: Do I need to leave tips at hotels, restaurants, etc.?

Answer: Tips are included in the cost of your tour.  At the end of our tour, however, I will collect a “bonus” tip for our guide and our driver.  This is your opportunity to show your appreciation for their work and any special service they may have provided for you.  I recommend $20.00/person for our primary guide and $10.00/person for our primary driver; you may give more or less, as you see fit.

Our guide and driver will know I do this, so it provides an incentive for them to go “above and beyond” what is necessary in serving you.

Question: Do they take credit cards in Greece?

Answer: Hotels, shops and larger gift stores all take MasterCard and Visa; a few take American Express and Discovery.  If you plan on using credit cards while on our tour be sure to call the credit card company (their customer service number is on the back of the card) and tell them where and when you’ll be traveling.  Otherwise, trying to use the card overseas may trigger a “security hold” on your card (thinking someone may have hacked or stolen it), in which case you won’t be able to use it.

Question: Can I use my mobile phone in Greece?

Answer: Yes, but you need to call your provider and arrange for overseas phone and texting service.         

Importantly:  when you get on the airplane to leave the USA, go to the settings on your phone and turn OFF data; turn it back on when you get home.  Data, such as Internet, emails, surfing the web, etc. if VERY expensive.  You can easily run up $500-$1,000 in data charges, if you don’t turn your data off!  Our hotels should have Wi Fi, so use that to check your emails, etc.

Question: Where do I sit on the bus?

Answer: We spend a fair amount of time on the bus in Greece.  Typically, each morning we will have a wake-up call at 6:00 AM, breakfast at 7:00 AM and we will be on the bus at 8:00 AM to start our day.

You must be on the bus by 8:00 AM, for we are “wheels rolling” at 8: 01 AM.  If you are not on the bus, have a nice day at the hotel!

On the bus, Ana (my wife and our tour photographer) and I will be in the front row behind the driver, so we can consult with the guide and driver; the guide (and his/her equipment) will in the front row on the right, with access to the bus microphone.  Apart from that, you can sit anywhere you like (unless the Holy Spirit has taken your seat, as below!).