Mediterranean & Israel
Day 1 - Rome (Civitavecchia) Your gateway to the Eternal City, Civitavecchia has served as Rome's seaport since the 13th century. The port has a long and venerable history. The emperor Trajan built a pleasure villa near the modern city, while Bernini and Michelangelo designed the harbor fortifications. Yet the Eternal City eternally beckons. The ancient capital of the Western World and the center of Christianity for nearly 2,000 years, Rome provides an inexhaustible feast. Visit the ruins of the Forum, view the splendors of the Sistine Chapel, or climb the Spanish Steps, once the heart of Rome's Bohemian Quarter. Rome has been a magnet luring the world's greatest artists, architects, and philosophers since the days of the Caesars.
Day 2 - At Sea
Day 3 - Katakolon (Olympia) Perched on the west coast of the Peloponnesus, Greece's largest peninsula, this sleepy fishing village of some 300 souls is your gateway to Olympia, site of the original Olympic Games. Held every four years between 776 B.C. and 393 A.D., when the Emperor Theodosius banned pagan festivals, the Olympic Games celebrated the ideal harmony of mind and body. Every four years, the sacred flame of Altis is rekindled to light the torch for the Modern Games. Olympia's temples were destroyed after the games were banned. An earthquake in the 6th century compounded the destruction, and floods buried the site. Excavation of the ruins began in 1875, and Olympia was declared a National Park in 1976.
Day 4 - Athens (Piraeus) The past maintains a vibrant presence in the cradle of Western civilization. Atop the Acropolis, the serene Parthenon sails above the commotion of the modern city. The tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides were performed in the Theater of Dionysus at the foot of the Acropolis. On Pnyx Hill, citizens of a fledgling democracy gathered to cast their votes on Athens' destiny. Then there is the hustle and bustle of the modern city, a metropolis of 4.5 million that spreads out from the foot of Mt. Lycabettus and across the plain. Packed with busy shops and lively tavernas, modern Athens is a colorful counterpoint to classical Greece. Piraeus is the port city for Athens and has been Athens' port of entry for over two millennia.
Day 5 - Kusadasi (Ephesus) From the port of Kusadasi on Turkey's Anatolian Coast, one travels into the past. Nearby stand the ruins of ancient Ephesus, a major site of archeological excavation. The city was once a Roman provincial capital and trading center. Ephesus is also home to several of Christendom's holiest sites. St. Paul preached at the Great Theater and the ruins of Ephesus' Basilica cover the tomb of Christ's most beloved disciple, St. John the Apostle. In Kusadasi, whitewashed stone houses rise in tiers behind the market district. The palm-lined esplanade is the center of town life, with thousands of merchants offering wares to rival the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
Day 6 - At Sea
Day 7 - Jerusalem/Bethlehem (Ashdod) Ashdod produces textiles, cosmetics, and half the electrical power generated in Israel. Yet it is best known as the portal to the Holy Land. According to Scripture, Ashdod was once home to giants. It was here that the Philistines brought the captured Ark, celebrating their victory over the Israelites. Today, the city itself is a giant of industry, surpassing Haifa as the largest port in Israel. More importantly, Ashdod is your gateway to Jerusalem. This city in the hills of Judea is sacred to three of the world's great faiths. For Jews, the Western Wall - the sole surviving remnant of the Second Temple - embodies their cultural and religious identity. Christians walk the Via Dolorosa and observe the Stations of the Cross, renewing Christ's sacrifice. For Moslems, the city is home to the third holiest shrine in all Islam. From a spot near the El-Aqsa Mosque, Muhammad ascended into Heaven to receive the teaching of Allah.
Day 8 - Haifa Haifa is your gateway to the Galilee region and Nazareth. It was in the Galilee that Christ first performed miracles, turning water into wine at the marriage feast of Cana. Mount of the Beatitudes is the scene of the Sermon on the Mount and present-day Capernaum is the location of Jesus' ministry in the Galilee. In Acre, the World Heritage site of St. John and the crusaders is preserved. From its waterfront, Haifa ascends the steep slopes of Mt. Carmel, drawing comparisons with San Francisco.
Day 9 - Limassol Limassol, the second-largest city in Cyprus and the biggest port in the Mediterranean transit trade, is an important tourist and commercial hub. Flanking Akrotiri Bay on the island’s southern coast, the town sprawls between two ancient cities, Amathus and Kourion.
Day 10 - Rhodes The largest and arguably the most beautiful of the 12 islands forming the Dodecanese, Rhodes has long played a major role in history. Lying just 12 miles off the coast of Turkey, the island straddles the sea-lanes linking Egypt, Southern Europe and the Holy Land. Rhodes Town bears witness to that long history. The ancient city features a classical stadium and the ruins of the Temple of Apollo. The "old" city is a walled town with medieval buildings and streets harking back to the days of the Crusades. The new town is a Mecca of luxury resorts lining the island's picturesque Mandaraki Harbor. The Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is reputed to have once stood guard over the harbor. Today, the bronze statues of a stag and doe top the two columns marking the harbor entrance.
Day 11 - Mykonos Thanks to its proximity to the mainland, Mykonos was one of the first Greek islands to become an international travel destination. During the late '60s and early '70s, Mykonos was famed as a haunt for the rich. The island's nightlife - then and now - was a glittering whirl of colored lights, music, and parties. But there's another side to Mykonos - the neighboring island of Delos. In classical mythology, Delos was the birthplace of Apollo and his twin sister Artemis. Travelers to Delos can stroll among the island's vast ruins, which include three temples consecrated to the Sun God and the famed Lions Walk. Mykonos town features hip boutiques, restaurants, jewelry stores, souvenirs, taverns and cafés. The island's famed windmills are found just south of the waterfront.
Day 12 - At Sea
Day 13 - Messina Messina has played a major role in European history since its founding as a Greek colony in the 8th century B.C. During the Roman Empire, the city was a major port and commercial center, during the Middle Ages, Messina was the major port of departure for Crusaders. History has also left its scars: a massive earthquake leveled much of the city in 1908 and the World War II campaign for Sicily devastated Messina. Yet Messina emerged from that devastation with some of its historic treasures intact, including the 12th-century Annunziata dei Catalani Church. Messina is also your gateway to the rugged beauty of southeast Sicily, from the seaside resort of Taormina to Mt. Etna. Between the fall of Rome and the 1861 unification of Italy, the Arabs, the Normans, the Germans, the Spanish and the French ruled Sicily.
Day 14 - Salerno Inhabited since antiquity, Salerno found its place as a Roman colony in 197 B.C. After the fall of Rome, a who's who of European kingdoms conquered the city including the Goths, the Byzantines and the Lombards. It's easy to see why. The warm Mediterranean sun and rolling hillsides beckon with new adventures and pinch-me-I must-be-dreaming experiences. Hike the jaw-dropping Mount Vesuvius, feel the centuries unfold as on a guided walk through the amazing cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, or soak up the scenery with a cruise along the dazzling Amalfi Coast. Whatever you choose, Salerno offers precious memories that will last a lifetime.
Day 15 - Rome (Civitavecchia) Your gateway to the Eternal City, Civitavecchia has served as Rome's seaport since the 13th century. The port has a long and venerable history. The emperor Trajan built a pleasure villa near the modern city, while Bernini and Michelangelo designed the harbor fortifications. Yet the Eternal City eternally beckons. The ancient capital of the Western World and the center of Christianity for nearly 2,000 years, Rome provides an inexhaustible feast. Visit the ruins of the Forum, view the splendors of the Sistine Chapel, or climb the Spanish Steps, once the heart of Rome's Bohemian Quarter. Rome has been a magnet luring the world's greatest artists, architects, and philosophers since the days of the Caesars.
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