Day 1, Saturday, Departure Date – Departure Airport to London, England. M
Day 2, Sun. – Arrive at London Heathrow Airport, meet our guide and continue to our waiting coach. We transfer to central London for a short orientation sightseeing tour and then arrive at our hotel. The afternoon we are free to explore on our own in small groups with chaperones. Dinner and overnight London. D
Day 3, Mon. – After breakfast we depart for a full-day sightseeing tour of London. Enjoying a panoramic tour featuring iconic London sites such as Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and Trafalgar Square. Experience a trip on the London Eye, offering a bird's-eye view of the city. We drive past a few locations that have been featured in the Harry Potter movies, such as St Pancras International Station, Piccadilly Circus, the Millennium Bridge and make a stop at Leadenhall Market in the City of London (Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone). We conclude with a visit to the Tower of London. This evening we transfer to Kings Cross Station (of Hogwarts Express fame) for the train to Edinburgh. Overnight Edinburgh. B
Day 4, Tues. – Today we explore Edinburgh and visit St. Giles Cathedral, the historic city church of Edinburgh located on the Royal Mile. Also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, the church is sometimes regarded as the Mother Church of Presbyterianism and is historically linked with the Scottish Protestant leader John Knox. Explore Edinburgh Castle, see St Margaret's Chapel, Queen Mary's Apartments and the Crown Room. We visit the John Knox House, an original medieval building on the Royal Mile where Knox lived for a short time in 1572. Time permitting this afternoon we are free to explore on our own in small groups with chaperones. Dinner and overnight Edinburgh. BD
Day 5, Wed. – Morning departure to the historic coastal town of St. Andrews, home of the third-oldest university in the English-speaking world. We tour the town including the Cathedral and Castle, learning the historical connections to John Knox and the Protestant thinker and preacher George Wishart who were martyred here. Our journey continues to Oban on Scotland’s west coast. Dinner and overnight Oban. BD
Day 6, Thurs. – This morning we take the ferry to the Isle of Mull. Once we have crossed Mull, we take a short ferry ride to the Isle of Iona. Iona is the preeminent Holy site in Scotland. A monastery was established by St Columba in the 6th century and he died here in 597. The island is a true 'thin space' where pilgrims have sensed the nearness of the Holy throughout the ages. Upon arrival, we visit the Heritage Centre, walk to Columba's Bay, a pebble beach on the southern coast of the island. This charming bay is said to be where St. Columba landed on Iona in AD 563. This afternoon we will take the return ferry. Dinner and overnight Oban. BD
Day 7, Fri. – Our journey continues to Glasgow. We will enjoy views towards the Trossachs National Park and we will stop for a short cruise on lovely Loch Lomond, considered by many to be Scotland's most beautiful loch. Upon arrival in Glasgow, we will enjoy a panoramic tour featuring George Square, Glasgow City Chambers, Glasgow Cathedral, Glasgow Green and other sights. This evening we will enjoy a “farewell to Scotland” dinner. Overnight Glasgow. BD
Day 8, Saturday, Return Date – Morning transfer to Glasgow airport for our return flights to Return Airport.
DAY 1, Friday, Departure Date – Depart from Departure Airport for our non-stop flight to San Jose, Costa Rica. Upon arrival in San Jose we meet our escort, board our coach and transfer to our hotel. We enjoy a late night dinner at Dennis Restaurant on our own. Overnight Best Western Irazu, San Jose. F
DAY 2, Sat. – After breakfast at our hotel, we travel the Pan-American Highway south, as we begin ascending the breathtaking summit of the Irazú Volcano. The winding road travels through fertile lands cultivated with many kinds of vegetables. At the top we observe the massive crater, and on a clear day, both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans can be seen. This volcano last erupted in 1963 and the landscape here is often described as looking like the moon. As we descend to the historical city of Cartago,we stop at the mysterious ruins of the old parish and view the beautiful Basílica de Los Angeles that, according to religious custom, is a peregrination site for many believers. We visit Lankester Gardens, a tropical paradise featuring over 800 varieties of exotic orchids, various tropical flowers and plant life. We continue on through the Orosi Valley which the is noted for its rich soil abundant plant life and outstanding coffee plantations before returning to San Jose. Dinner and overnight Best Western Irazu, San Jose. BLD
DAY 3, Sun. – Today we transfer to the Limon area of Costa Rica. Just offshore from Limon, Christopher Columbus is said to have anchored in 1502 on his fourth and final voyage to the New World. Thinking that this was potentially a land full of riches, he christened it Costa Rica meaning “Rich Coast”. We drive to the Sarapiqui area through the extraordinary rainforest of Braulio Carrillo National Park, one of the most important rainforest reserves of Costa Rica. Upon arrival at Sarapiqui, a beautiful area known for its impressive natural richness, we board a boat for a relaxing ride on the Sarapiqui River where we feel in close contact with nature and admire the inspiring surroundings. We continue with a walk on Selva Verde Eco Lodge’s private trails which are a heaven for nature enthusiasts, hikers and bird and wildlife watchers. After lunch we visit the famous Rainforest Aerial Tram for a ride on a gondola through the tree canopy in the company of a naturalist guide that will talk to us about the rainforest. Here you might see quetzals, toucans, trogons and eagles plus jaguars, ocelots and maybe even a gorilla. There are many reptiles here including the bushmaster snake (“Matabuey”) and the feared fer-de-lance snake (“Terciopelo”). Overnight Cariblue Hotel, Limon. BLD
DAY 4, Mon. – After breakfast in our hotel in Limon, we will travel to Cahuita National Park, known for its miles of pristine beaches. This small lazy village traces its roots to Afro-Caribbean fishermen and laborers who settled here in the 1800’s. Most of the inhabitants of Cahuita are English speaking blacks and their language and culture set them apart from the rest of Costa Rica. Here we will take a snorkeling tour where we may be able to see one of the few coral reefs off the shores of Costa Rica and many varieties of colorful tropical fish. We will return to Limon for overnight at Cariblue Hotel, Limon. BL
DAY 5, Tues. – We board our motor coach and travel to the Arenal area of Costa Rica. Arenal Volcano is one of the most active in the world and here we will see the hot red lava cascading down the mountain and hear the deep rumbles from within the cone of the volcano. We will visit the Hot Springs of Tabacon Resort and Spa. Dinner and overnight in the Arenal Volcano Inn, Fortuna. BD
DAY 6, Wed. – Today we enjoy a horseback ride to the Fortuna Waterfall, a beautiful and peaceful ride into the lush tropical forest. We will walk five hundred meters into the forest to the waterfall which is 70 meters high. At the base of the waterfall there is a “natural pool” where we will swim in the fresh water of La Fortuna River. We will return to Arenal Volcano Inn, Fortuna for dinner and overnight. BD
DAY 7, Thurs. – Travel from Arenal to Manuel Antonio on the central Pacific coast. The afternoon we will be free to explore on our own in small groups with a chaperone. Dinner and overnight Parador Hotel, Manuel Antonio. BD
DAY 8, Fri. – Today we explore Manuel Antonio National Park with a morning guided tour and an afternoon canopy tour. Manuel Antonio, established in 1972 is Costa Rica’s smallest national park, containing a charming combination of rain forest, beaches and coral reefs. The beaches, the most beautiful in the country, are lined with lush forest and are excellent for snorkeling. This afternoon we will have an exciting adventure as we fly for a mile over the jungle canopy suspended on solid steel cables attached to a personal, high-tech, lightweight harness. During our journey we will stop and rest at sixteen strategically located platforms where we observe a great variety of animals in their natural habitat. In the primary forest we can see Congo monkeys, coatis, sloths, anteaters and more. In the secondary forest, we may see titi monkeys, iguanas, and a large variety of beautiful tropical birds. Our expert guides will help us identify the wildlife. Overnight Parador Hotel, Manuel Antonio. BL
DAY 9, Sat. – After breakfast this morning, we will travel by coach back to San Jose. We visit La Paz Waterfall Gardens where we will have lunch. The gardens are along the La Paz River and meander through primary and secondary forests. In the gardens, we will see many waterfalls and the main attraction, the great La Paz Waterfall. We visit a coffee plantation before we check into our hotel. Dinner and overnight Best Western Irazu, San Jose. BLD
DAY 10, Sunday, Return Date – We will have breakfast in our hotel and then transfer to the airport for our return flight to the United States. BF
DAY 1, Wednesday, Departure Date –Depart for Anchorage. Upon arrival in Anchorage we will be met by our guide. Overnight Howard Johnson Hotel, Anchorage. P
DAY 2, Thurs. – Today we travel north on the Glenn and Parks Highways through vast wilderness to Denali National Park, home to Mt. McKinley. On board the coach, our local Alaskan tour director will provide a tour orientation including introductions, tour highlights and answer questions that might arise. As we travel into the Matanuska-Susitna Valley we will hear tales of how the virtual 24-hours of daylight during summer enrich the soil and assist in the growth of vegetables and flowers. This afternoon we will hike in the park. Overnight Denali River Cabins.
DAY 3, Fri. – Today we will enjoy the Denali Wildlife Tour. We will pack our lunches prior to catching our 9:30 AM shuttle. Overnight Denali River Cabins.
DAY 4, Sat. – Today we will participate in a Service Project with the Denali Foundation arranged by the church. The Denali Foundation was founded in 1989 in order to develop and implement research, education and communication programs that benefit the Denali Park bioregion, the state of Alaska, and our planet. They believe that wilderness provides an educational opportunity to teach and to share values common to all of us. Overnight Denali River Cabins.
DAY 5, Sun. – This morning we will board our motorcoach for our journey south to the port community of Seward. We stop at Iditarod Headquarters to learn more about The Last Great Race. We stop in Anchorage where we will have time for lunch on our own. After lunch we continue along the Turnagain Arm, home to one of the most scenic stretches of highway in Alaska. We will look for moose, dall sheep, eagles and other wildlife. Overnight Seward Windsong Lodge.
DAY 6, Mon. – Today we will be free to explore Seward on our own in small groups. Overnight Seward Windsong Lodge.
DAY 7, Tues. – Today we board our motorcoach heading north along the Seward Highway. Upon arrival we will enjoy a two hour float trip down the Kenai River. We will watch for wildlife as our guide navigates us through the snow-capped mountain scenery of the Kenai National Wildlife Refugee. At the conclusion of our raft trip, we will board our motorcoach and continue on to Soldotna. Overnight Aspen Hotel Soldotna.
DAY 8, Wed. – We travel north stopping in the port community of Whittier where we will travel through the one way Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, which services both vehicles and trains. We will board our high speed catamaran to cruise the pristine waters of Prince William Sound. While onboard we will have lunch and observe the abundant wildlife, glaciers and beauty that is around us. We will enjoy lunch on board. We continue on to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center to see Alaska’s critters up close. This evening we meet with a local priest along with a youth group from California learning about Alaskan culture and spirituality. Overnight Howard Johnson Hotel, Anchorage. L
DAY 9, Thurs. – We enjoy a city tour of Anchorage including the historic downtown district and Earthquake Park. We continue on to the Alaska Native Heritage Center where we will learn about Native Alaska history, art and culture. This afternoon we travel to Eklutna to enjoy the state park on our own. We return to Anchorage for our “farewell to Alaska ”dinner and then transfer to the airport for our 9:50 PM departure. D
DAY 10, Friday, Return Date – Today we will arrive home, taking with us memories that will last a lifetime.
Day 1 - Mon, Departure Date: We depart from Departure City board our flight(s) to Istanbul. M
Day 2 - Tue, June 9: We arrive at the Thessaloniki Airport and meet our local representative who escorts us to our hotel located in the historical center of the city. We overnight in Thessaloniki. M
Day 3 - Wed, June 10: After breakfast, we depart for a panoramic drive through Thessaloniki. We see the Rotunda, Gallerius’ Arch, the Byzantine Walls of Thessaloniki, and the White Tower. We continue to the city of Beroia and visit the Bema where, according to tradition, St. Paul preached (Acts 17). We visit Verginaand one of the most extraordinary museums: The Tomb of Philipus, King of Macedonia and father of Alexander the Great. We stop at the nearby village for lunch and continue via the beautiful Vale of Tempe and towering Mt Olympus to Kalambaka. On the way, we stop at the icon workshop of the famous painter Monk Pefke. We end our day at our beautifully located hotel in Kastrakiin the outskirts of Kalambaka for dinner and overnight. BLD
Day 4 - Thu, June 11: In the morning, we visit the Meteora monasteries situated atop the famous stone columns of the area. Until early in the 20th century, visitors were pulled up in baskets by ropes and one of the smaller monasteries was the setting for a James Bond film. We stop for a picnic lunch in the atmospheric valley and then drive south to Delphi. On our way, we detour a bit in order to stop at Thermopylae, site of the battle portrayed in the movie “300.” We continue with a scenic drive through the mountains of Central Greeceto Delphi, located on the southern slopes of Mt. Parnassus. We enjoy dinner at a local restaurant and overnight in Delphi. BLD
Day 5 - Fri, June 12: We visit the amazing archaeological site of Delphi, home of the famous oracle and probably the strongest center of Greek paganism, which is located on a mountainside overlooking a sea of olive trees. We visit the informative Museum of Delphi, which is full of ancient artifacts from the site. We have lunch at a local restaurant before beginning our drive to Athens. Along the way, we see Thebes, the place where St. Luke the Evangelist died. We reach Athens, check into our hotel, and proceed to dinner at a local restaurant in the Plaka, the touristy old part of the huge sprawling modern city. We spend the night in Athens. BLD
Day 6 - Sat, June 13: In the morning, we visit the Acropolis, the New Acropolis Museum, the Areopaguswhere Paul preached a famous sermon (Acts 17), and the Agora. We have lunch at a local restaurant and wind up with a tour of the Virgin Gorgoepikoos, its exterior walls built from scavenged classical stone from the nearby ruins. We have brief free time for icon shopping in the neighboring streets and exploring the picturesque district of Anafiotika, a region of tiny island style “sugar cube” houses, which make fabulous photos. We enjoy dinner at a local restaurant in the Plaka and overnight in Athens. BLD
Day 7 - Sun, June 14: After breakfast, we leave Athens and visit the Corinth Canal, which connects the Aegean Seato the Ionian Sea. The emperor Nero started this canal in 67 AD, but it was only completed in the 19thcentury. We continue to the ancient city of Corinth where Paul spent so much time (Acts 18). We visit the ancient Agora, the Temple of Apollo, the Pirini Spring, and end in front of the Bema where St. Paul actually stood. We also see the “Erastus inscription” which mentions one of the figures to whom Paul wrote. After lunch at the nearby village, we drive to Mystras and visit the fascinating remains of this Byzantine “ghost town” with most walls standing and all roofs off except for those of the heavily frescoed churches. This was the medieval city that succeeded Sparta located in the hard-to-defend plains below. We enjoy a dinner at a local restaurant and overnight in Sparta. BLD
Day 8 - Mon, June 15: In the morning, we visit Mycenae, the main city opposing Troy in the Trojan War. We see the Lion Gate, the Acropolis, and the Tomb of Agamemnon. We stop for lunch in the nearby village, and then continue to the ancient theater at Epidaurus (did you know “hypocrite” means one of the actors in a Greek theater, someone who “wears a mask?”). We have dinner at a local restaurant and overnight in Nafplion. BLD
Day 9 - Tues, June 16: We start the day early with a drive to the Athens Airport for our flight to Istanbul. We meet our motor coach and begin the Turkish part of our journey. Our first stop is at the Chora Museum, a Byzantine Greek Orthodox church built in the 3rd century where we see stunning, well-preserved mosaics and paintings. We continue to Sultanahmet, the historic, old part of the city. We enjoy dinner and overnight in Istanbul. BD
Day 10 - Wed, June 17: This morning, we explore the exotic and historic city of Istanbul. We visit the magnificent Hagia Sophia, once a church, then a mosque, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and secular museum. We visit the Blue Mosque and the Hippodrome. We have dinner and overnight in Istanbul. BLD
Day 11 - Thursday, Return Date: We enjoy a leisurely morning before we depart for the Istanbul Airport to catch our flight home. BM
DAY 1: Wednesday, Departure Date - Depart the Departure Airport for our flight(s) into Rome. M
DAY 2: Thurs. - We arrive in Rome, Italy, meet our driver and guide, board our private motor coach and transfer into the “Eternal City”. We enjoy a panoramic tour of Rome during which we will see the Pantheon, the Vatican, Castel San Angelo and many more sites. We continue for our guided tour of the Colosseum, considered the symbol of Rome’s eternity, it was completed under Titus in 80 A.D. and is where over 55,000 spectators could watch the gladiatorial games. Dinner and overnight Rome. D
DAY 3: Fri. - This morning we enjoy a tour of the Vatican State, an entire European state comprising only 109 acres, ruled by the Pope, and having its own postage stamps, coinage, anthem and flag. Within the boundaries of the Vatican stands St. Peter's Basilica, built on the site where St. Peter was buried after he had been martyred in Nero's Circus. The first chapel on the right as you enter St. Peter’s contains the Pieta’, the moving and powerful masterpiece carved by Michaelangelo. We tour the Sistine Chapel and marvel at the beauty created by Michelangeo on its ceiling. Time permitting, we will venture out in small groups (transporatation not included) to explore areas on our own such as the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona. Dinner and overnight Rome. BD
DAY 4: Sat. - This morning we visit St. Paul's Inside the Walls, an Anglican church within the walls of ancient Rome. We spend some time with the refugees at the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center, a ministry of St. Paul’s. This afternoon we visit the Catacombs, the burial site of thousands of Roman Christians. (Pending confirmation we celebrate Eucharist in the Catacombs. You must have your own priest). We end the day with a “Pizza making” dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Rome. BD
DAY 5: Sun. - Our journey continues as we travel to Assisi. We travel along the "Highway of the Sun" and stop in Greccio to see the Greccio Monastery. It is here that St. Francis celebrated Christmas in 1223 by placing a manger and live animals before the altar which started the custom of making creches or manger scenes at Christmas. We visit the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli where the young Francis of Assisi understood his vocation and renounced the world in order to live in poverty among the poor and thus started the Franciscan movement. After dinner we meet at the town square where we will discuss Francis' ministry and the significance of the square. Dinner and overnight Assisi. BD
DAY 6: Mon. - This morning we enjoy the half-hour walk to Cannara. Outside the town are the fields of Pian d'Arca which legend identifies as the site of St. Francis' sermon to the birds. We visit the church of Santa Chiara, dedicated to St. Clare, who was one of the earliest and most fervent of Francis' followers. We see the Cappella del Croscifissco, the cross that spoke to St. Francis and led him to a life of piety. We visit San Damiano, a church with a monastery built in the 12th century that was the first monastery of the Order of Saint Clare where Saint Clare built her community. We return to Assisi to visit the Basilica di San Francesco which contains one of the most imposing series of frescoes, 28 scenes from the life of St. Francis, by Giotto, and the crypt where the remains of St. Francis rest. The remainder of the day we will be free to explore Assisi on our own. Dinner and overnight Assisi. BD
DAY 7: Tues. - We have Morning Prayer in Assisi followed by a visit to Isola Maggiore, where Francis went on retreat for 40 days. We enjoy some time on the beach on the island before we continue to La Verna where we visit the site where St. Francis received the stigmata. Dinner and overnight La Verna. BD
DAY 8: Wed. - Today we will walk as the ancient pilgrims did long ago following in the footsteps of St. Francis. Starting from Chiusi della Verna to La Verna hiking up the old paved road which use to be the only road to theSanctuary for a very long time. We see Cappella degli Uccelli, the Birds’ Chapel, built in 1602 in front of a big Turkish oak that legend has it was the one where the birds welcomed St. Francis the first time he climbed up the Mount of La Verna. The rest of the day we will visit the Sanctuary, attend prayers and celebrations of the friars. Dinner and overnight La Verna. BD
DAY 9: Thurs. - After breakfast we depart for Florence. We will have some time to explore Florence in small groups with chaperones before meeting our guide. We visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore with its magnificent dome, Bell Tower and the Baptistery. The Baptistery has golden doors designed by Ghiberti representing scenes from the Life and Passion of Christ. We visit Santa Maria Novella and then the Accademia and see Michelangelo’s famous statue of David. Dinner and overnight Florence. BD
DAY 10, Friday, Return Date - We transfer to the Florence Airport for our return flight home. We board our flight(s) back to the Arrival Airport. We return home with an appreciation of the links between our country and Italy and the important part Italy has played in the movement of Christianity around the world. BM