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Greece & Turkey

February 24, 2010

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February 24, 2010

SSU Greece and Turkey 2010

Hello fellow travellers!

Here are some repeats of info and lots of new stuff. Read on….

Our group consists of 34 people; 4 leaders, 18 master’s students (9 in     the worship module, 9 in the ministry module) and 12 joining us just for the experience.

I am mailing an information packet from the tour company out to everyone tomorrow. (Sorry Aussies, you will need to wait until I see you in Istanbul for your packets, no time for the mail service) These contain flight info, if you are flying with the group, hotel contact info and other assorted little tidbits. Anything you need to know now is included in this letter.

Remember that you will need to obtain an entry visa when you arrive at the Istanbul airport. This needs to be paid for in cash. See below for the accepted currencies.

Turkey Entry Visa Fees If you apply at the consulate, the fees are higher than if you buy the visa directly at the point of entry. Here are some fees applicable at the point of entry:

US: US$20

Australia: US$20

Canada: US$45

Note: visa fees can be paid only in foreign currency. The accepted currencies are US Dollars (US$), Euros (€) and Pound Sterling (£).

Baggage Restrictions

We do have a restriction on baggage because of our domestic flight in Turkey. You may want to hold off on your gift purchases or choose to send a package home before that flight!

The Turkish Air flight allows for 1 checked bag at 20 kg (44 lb) with no dimension restrictions.

The carryon bag allowance is 7.7 kg (17 lb) with the maximum dimensions of 23 x 40 x 55 cm (9 x16 x 22 in)

There is a luggage tag included in your packet. You will fix this to your bag after clearing customs in Istanbul or when you meet up with the group at the hotel.

Generally when we arrive at a hotel, we will enter and be given room keys. Our bags will be taken off the bus and delivered to our rooms. In the morning, when we are leaving, you will place your bag outside your door at the appointed time and it will be picked up and put on the bus.

Trip Trivia

Both Greece and Turkey are 6 hours ahead of AST (SSU time) and 2 hours ahead of GMT.

The average temperature in the areas we will be travelling in during March range from about 7-18C (45-65F). It is colder in the north of Turkey and warmer on the Greek Islands and the Pelonponnese. There may be a bit of rain, not a lot usually. I find that a good hooded wind/rain jacket layered with a fleece or sweater is the best way to handle all the differing climates.

Footwear for the days should be comfortable and good for walking. You might want a second option for the evenings in the hotels.

A bathing suit is a must so you don’t miss out on the wonderful hot spa pool experience in Pamuukkle!

Casual clothes are all that is needed. I pack comfy pants and layers of tops. It’s all about layering!

European hotel rooms supply little toiletry items but don’t usually have washcloths. If you are used to having one, best to bring it along with you.

I bring laundry soap, scrub brush and flat sink plugs to deal with dirty clothes. Hotels and the cruise ship offer a laundering service but it is pricey.

My purse is always stocked with a bunch of ziplock plastic bags, so useful! I also carry small packs of tissue (multiple uses here too!), travel packs of moist towels (Wet Ones/ Baby Wipes), Tide-to-Go, and hand sanitizer.

Cruising!

The cruise is like our vacation/down time after a busy week of travel.

We will be on the cruise ship for 2 nights. You will all be very happy to have outside cabins. This means you will have a window! The inside rooms have no windows and feel like closets. Since our first trip, I have requested this upgrade for the entire group. If you have any concerns about seasickness, I would recommend picking up some of the pressure point wrist bands.  We have never had a problem with people suffering on this cruise. Ask us about the 2008 SSU crossing of the English Channel!  Ah… travel tales!

When we board the ship, you will hand over your passport. It will be returned when we arrive in Athens. You will use a ship card for all transactions and be required to settle this bill before disembarking. All meals on board are covered but you may choose to order some drinks, use the spa or do some shopping. You would use the ship card for these things. No cash transactions on board. Onboard currency is euro’s.

Our first night on the ship will be Greek Night! Passengers are invited to dress as Greek as possible or wear blue and white, the colours of Greece.

There are excursions that you may sign up for when we dock at the various islands. Usually we have an information night before the cruise and you may sign up then or you may be able to so on the ship. We are going to new islands this time so I’m sorry that I have no info to give you on what those excursions will be and less expensive ways to do them. I have found that it is generally cheaper to fill a cab and head to a site then to pay for the excursion but I don’t know what these new places will offer.

If you aren’t concerned about spending money you may want to consider signing up for the Patmos tour. This would get you off the ship first and guarantee a good length of time in the grotto. Another option is to disembark as quickly as you are able and grab a cab. This is a cheaper alternative but with a slight element of risk. We have done this with no problems.

Money!

I recommend travelling with 2 cards, in case one gets lost or damaged. I use a debit and a credit card. Make sure you know your pin numbers! There are ATMs everywhere. I would visit a machine at the airport in Rome (for those travelling with the group) and get some euro. In Istanbul, you can pick up some Turkish lira. Try to withdraw larger amounts as you will be charged a fee each time from your bank.  Most places do take credit cards.

It is always a good idea to call your bank or credit card company and let them know the dates and places you will be travelling so their computer doesn’t freeze your card. From experience, I can tell you that even calling them doesn’t guarantee that your card won’t still be stopped. This is another reason to have more than one way of getting money!

Tipping:

It’s also handy to have some US currency. A $1/ day tip, left in your room, is suggested for the hotel cleaning staff. I carry a bunch of US $1 bills and euro change for this purpose. There is no need to tip for any meal service in the hotels as this is already covered. Usually, if eating out there is a service charge added to the bill. If not, 10-15% is customary. Tip taxi drivers at least 10-15% of the fare.

You will be asked/required to tip the cruise staff the equivalent of $10 USD/day – 8 euro/day before leaving the ship. You will be able to use a credit card to clear your ship account.

The tips for the guides and drivers have already been paid in your main tour cost. We will have a short goodbye time with each guide and I will give them a card with their money and some gifts. If anyone wants to bring a gift from your area or something that you would like to pass on to the guides please do.

I have just learned that the guide we have used in Turkey on the last two trips is unable to be with our group this time. We are still trying to sort this out but it is not looking good. At the moment our guide will be Sabahattin Canliel. He comes highly recommended and I’m sure will be wonderful. It is disappointing though as not every guide fits into the style of our groups.

We have had 3 different guides in Greece and are trying a new one this trip. His name is James Nikolopoulos and he also comes highly recommended.

Shopping!

We will sometimes stop as a group to shop. We have stopped at carpet places and learned about handmade carpets, leather shops and been treated to a fashion show, pottery/ceramic/icon shops and watched the crafts people working, textile warehouses…. We also will get to spend some time in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Please remember the weight restriction we need to follow for the flight in Turkey. Lots of places will ship your items directly home for you. Peter and I finally bought a carpet on the last trip and had it sent home. Very easy!

Turkey is a great place to look for leather, rugs, scarves, apple tea and tea sets, Turkish coffee, Turkish Delight, spices and hookah supplies.

In Greece be looking for icons, pottery, ceramics, jewellery, pewter, art, olive oil and soap.

You will need coins for using the bathroom facilities at most stops. You will also probably want to purchase bottled water.

Important Papers

It’s always a good idea to leave a photocopy of your passport, any other important travel documents and contact information with someone at home.

Attachments

I am attaching an info sheet on electrical adapters. You will need a common 2 – pin European adapter for any electrical devices that are rated 110 – 240v. If you have an electrical device that is just 110v you will need a converter as well to use it. Also attached is the hotel list, rooming list and the student reading list….again.

Connecting:

If anyone has any questions please email me:  [email protected]

or phone me at home: 1-506-466-5725.

While travelling my cell number is  1-506-466-8478 / same email.

In Europe dial + or 00 then 506-466-8478 to talk or text.

Students should contact Peter   [email protected]

or phone 1-506-466-5725 with any questions about assignments.

Here is a link to our itinerary:

http://www.pilgrimtours.com/groups/ssugreece.htm

Meeting in Istanbul

For those arriving in Istanbul on March 12 at 1:35pm with the main group or shortly before or after that, we will be gathering just beyond the exit door to the custom zone. Our guide will be there around 2 – 2:30 and will be holding a Pilgrim tours sign.

For everyone else, we will gather for dinner at the hotel and a short meeting in the evening. I will try to have this info posted in the lobby.

Well, hope that is enough information for you! We can plan out every detail and then things happen and you need to get a new plan. Remember to stay flexible (our travel ‘f’ word) and content. We will have a wonderful learning adventure together.

Group Flights from Boston:

March 11 …  Departing Boston at 5:55 PM on Alitalia Flight #615

March 12  …  Arriving in Rome at 7:45 AM

Departing Rome at 10:05 AM on Alitalia Flight #704

Arriving in Istanbul at 1:35 PM

March 27 …   Departing Thessalonica at 6:35 AM on

Alitalia Flight# 733

Arriving in Rome at 7:25 AM

Departing Rome at 10:15 AM on Alitalia Flight # 614

Arriving in Boston at 2:35 PM

See you in Boston or Istanbul!

Blessings, Mary Ellen

SSU Turkey/Greece Trip 2010

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Hello all, the dates for the next SSU Ministry trip to Turkey and Greece have been set and spaces are filling up quickly. You can review the itinerary by clicking here.

The SSU Ministry Program’s travel/study tour to Turkey and Greece  is set for March 11 – 27, 2010. It’s important that we establish a firm list of those who are committed to being on the trip. To facilitate that please contact Lorna Jones at [email protected] or call her at 1-506-466-1781. As I’m sure you know, spouses of Ministry students are encouraged to participate! This trip is also open to any friends of SSU. To secure your place we request an immediate deposit of $100 CAD.

The flights are now the following:

March 11 …  Departing Boston at 5:55 PM on Alitalia Flight #615

March 12  …  Arriving in Rome at 7:45 AM

Departing Rome at 10:05 AM on Alitalia Flight #704

Arriving in Istanbul at 1:35 PM

March 27 …  Departing Thessalonica at 6:35 AM on Alitalia Flight# 733

Arriving in Rome at 7:25 AM

Departing Rome at 10:15 AM on Alitalia Flight # 614

Arriving in Boston at 2:35 PM

The travel company that we are using, Pilgrim Tours, will help with any connections to and from Boston, if you wish. You would contact them directly for this assistance and pay them for that portion of your trip. For this service email Tim Nyce at [email protected] . Please confirm your place on the trip with us first.

The estimated cost of this program is $4500 CAD. This includes:

  • round trip air from Boston, Mass
  • domestic flight in Turkey
  • 13 nights lodging at 1st class hotels
  • 2 nights standard outside cabins on Mediterranean cruise
  • breakfast and dinner daily, all meals on cruise
  • full time English speaking tour guides in Greece and Turkey
  • services of long distance deluxe motorcoach
  • all guides, entrances and transportation as appear on itinerary
  • Turkey visa (for US and CDN participants)***
  • tips to drivers and guides
  • SSU admin fee (no extra tuition charge)

If you are meeting us in Turkey and arranging all your own flights, then the estimated cost of your program will be $3500 CDN.

The costs are higher for this trip than previous ones because the cost of everything has risen and we have added 2 extra days, to explore the Cappadocia region, plus a domestic flight in Turkey.

***If you are not a Canadian or American citizen, you will need to obtain and pay for your own entry visa into Turkey, if one is required. This may need to be done ahead of time or upon entry.

You will be responsible for buying your lunches every day except for the 2 days on the cruise ship. We usually stop at interesting local places to eat during the day’s activities. You will also be responsible for any tipping apart from the guides and drivers. It is recommended to leave about 1 Euro a night in each hotel room for the cleaning staff, and you will be expected to tip the cruise staff about 10 – 15 euro. At present the Euro is about $1.38 USD / $1.58 CAD.

We will not have the exact charge for the trip until we know the number of participants.   The payment schedule is as follows:

Now: $100 CDN

November 6, 2009:  $ 600

December 14, 2009:  balance due

You may wish to purchase travel insurance through Pilgrim Tours.  The cost would be about $275 CDN (to be paid with November payment) and would include trip cancellation, trip interruption and travel medical.

***We require that everyone have some form of travel medical insurance. You can purchase this from your local insurance agent if needed.

For those who are travelling as SSU students, you will already have received your readings and assignments. Please direct any questions to Peter at [email protected] . For those not going for credit but interested in some extra reading, email Peter for this information.

Please feel free to email me, Mary Ellen Fitch ([email protected] ) with any questions about the travel.

We have a limited number of seats available. Students have top priority and then spaces will be filled as deposits are made.

This trip is sure to be a great adventure, learning experience, and time of connecting and fun with an amazing group of people.

Blessings, Mary Ellen

Greece & Turkey 08 – Overview

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The Ministry Program at SSU includes a two-week study abroad trip to either Turkey and Greece or Israel, depending on its political situation. This trip is designed to give a greater appreciation for the environment in which Christianity was born by providing historical and biblical explanations of the sites visited.  Students and faculty travel on a chartered coach with a tour guide, and visit sites such as the Acropolis, the ancient cities of Ephesus, Corinthians, and Philippi, Jerusalem, Masada, and the Red Sea. Follow along with our current group of SSU students as they post updates on their adventures.

This is the travel itinerary for SSU’s 2008 Greece and Turkey Study Abroad term:

Day 1: Departure (March 7, friday)
Today we embark on our Journey to the lands of ancient treasures and Christian history with an overnight flight to Thessalonica. Prepare yourself for a life-changing experience. Get some rest on the flight…Tomorrow you will be walking where the apostles walked!

Day 2: Arrival Thessalonica (March 8, Saturday)
We transfer to our hotel in Thessalonica, Macedonia for the next two evenings. The New Testament books of I & II Thessalonians will come alive to us today. En route to the hotel we will view the old city ramparts; the newly excavated Forum, St. George Church, an ancient Roman monument which was transformed into a church and the Galerius Arch which rises over the famous Via Egnatia. The remainder of the day is free to relax and explore on your own.

Day 3: Thessalonica/Philippi/Kavala (March 9, Sunday)
We begin the day by following the massive battlement Byzantine wall to the citadel for a panoramic view of the city. Next, we will visit Philippi and Kavala. Kavala is Greece’s prettiest mainland port with a most elegant harbor. Paul landed here with his disciples, Timothy and Silas. Luke, the Evangelist, also came here from Troas. This ancient city of Neapolis was later renamed Christoupolis because it was the first European city to accept Christianity. Imagine walking on the same sod as these men of the Bible! We will see the Roman Aqueduct and the ruins of the Acropolis in this beautifully located city, known since the 5th century as Kavala. Continue on to Philippi where Paul preached his first evangelical sermon and baptized the first Christians on European soil. We will view the baptismal site where Lydia surrendered her life to Christ and visit a crypt dating from the Roman period that is thought to have served as a prison for Paul. See the famous Acropolis, the Market Place, Basilica, and the Theatre. We return to Thessalonica and visit St. Demetrius basilica, dedicated to a distinguished member of the Roman army and a martyred Christian convert before returning to the hotel for the night.

Day 4: Berea/Meteora Monastery (March 10, Monday)
A stop will be made in Berea to view the Bema surrounded by newly placed mosaics of Paul and the plaque of scripture regarding the “more noble” church. We also visit King Phillip’s (Alexander’s father) tomb in Vergina, one of the most outstanding finds in all of Greece. This afternoon we see the world famous Byzantine monasteries that are perched precariously on summits of gray rock pinnacles of varied and beautiful shapes. Their history goes back to the 14th century when the monks sought refuge in the cliff side caves then fled higher to build the original wooden shelters, later transformed into monasteries. Our lodging this evening will be in Meteora.

Day 5: Delphi  (March 11, Tuesday)
After breakfast at our hotel, we travel south west to the to lovely mountain region of Delphi-the ancient sanctuary of Apollo. Here you will gain a greater understanding of the Greek religious heritage and their influence on the early Christian church.  After our time in Delphi we will travel south to Athens where we will enjoy a leisurely dinner and overnight.

Day 6: Athens & Plaka  (March 12, Wednesday)
From the mountains, our tour travels southward past Thermopylae and on to the city of Athens, the birth place of democracy. Visit the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and Erectheum before viewing Athens atop Mars Hill where Paul stood and preached the truth to the Gentile nation. Additional sites include the Agora (ancient market place and center of Athenian public life), the House of Parliament, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Olympic Stadium, and Presidential Palace.  A short walk from your hotel is the famous Plaka with a multitude of shops and cafes.

Day 7: Corinth – Mycenae  (March 13, Thursday)
This morning we leave Athens by motor coach, stop for a rest stop and photos at the Corinth Canal and then travel to the ancient city of Corinth, another treat for the New Testament scholar. Corinth is the city that inspired many of Paul’s most familiar letters. See the Archaeological Museum, the Market Place, the Bema, and the Temples. To enjoy a devotional in the midst of the ruins of the church of Corinth and see the pillars, steps, and public worship place where Paul preached will enhance your understanding and love of I & II Corinthians. The ruins of this important cultural center are fascinating as we walk along the stone path that the Apostle Paul walked.  The engineering skill and intellect of these people are evident in the water systems that still flow from ancient to modern day. Our guide will be sure to show you the room dedicated to the medical care of that period. After the visit to ancient Corinth we travel to Mycenae where the remains of the ancient city date back to the Bronze Age to see the famous Lionesse Gate, the Tomb of Agamennon in the shape of a Beehive, and many other sites before returning to Athens for the evening.

Day 8: Cruising Mykonos (March 14, Friday)
We sail this afternoon from Athens to the quaint isle of Mykonos, called the island of windmills. This evening we experience the waterfront lined with shops and cafes and then stroll the charming walkways through a maze of whitewashed buildings before returning to the ship for dinner and evening activities.  Cruise Ship Info

Day 9: Rhodes  (March 15, Saturday)
After breakfast we will visit Rhodes. This ancient fortified city was built by the knights of St. John and is rich in Roman and Greek culture. You are free to stroll down the Street of the Knights to the market area for shopping and a wonderful Greek lunch or you may enjoy an optional tour to the ancient city of Lindos. Magnificently situated between two bays with sandy beaches, an ancient acropolis and medieval castle, Lindos is famous as a most striking and impressive city. Again we return to the ship for dinner.

Day 10: Patmos & Kusadasi, Turkey (March 16, Sunday)
This morning we visit the Isle of Patmos, under statutory protection as a historic monument. You may choose to take an optional tour to see the fortified monastery of St. John and the cave claimed to be where John received the Revelation. Docking in Turkey, we tour Ephesus, the city of the Bible and one of the largest restorations still in progress with miles of ancient treasures. Ephesus was once a thriving port town of 250,000 people. Today you can still see the spectacular excavations of the major streets in this ancient city where we view the Library, Agora, Temple of Artemis, theatre, colorful mosaics, a panoramic view of the surrounding ancient port area including a wealth of church history and cultural insight. The day will not be complete without a visit to a local Turkish Rug cooperative. Our lodging this evening will be in Kusadasi.

Day 11: Ephesus, Hierapolis, Colossae & Laodicea  (March 17, Monday)
A wealth of artifacts awaits us at the Museum of Ephesus. Hierapolis, meaning “Sacred City,” was an ancient center for pagan cults until it was transformed into a Christian center in the first century. According to tradition, the Apostle Philip lived and was martyred in Hierapolis. It was likely the hot springs of Hierapolis in contrast to the cold mountain springs near Colossae that combined to bring application to the “luke warm” Laodiceans. (Rev 3:14-22)  This connection between the cities lies behind Paul’s reference to Hierapolis and Laodicea in his epistle to the Colossians (Col 4:13).  Colossae is well-known throughout Christian circles as the receiver of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Today, the town has fallen into obscurity and nothing remains.   Laodicea contains many acres of ruins to visit including a stadium and remnants of a sophisticated water system. Our lodging this evening will be in a lovely spa hotel in Pamukkale.

Day 12: Philadelphia, Sardis, Thyatira, Smyrna (March 18, Tuesday)
Philadelphia was referred to as the “New Jerusalem” (Rev. 3:7-13) in the Book of Revelation, yet today, not much is left of the city except for the ancient wall and the remains of a Byzantine basilica in the modern city of AlasehirSardis was berated by John for its facade of strength when in reality; it was weak (Rev. 3:1-6). Here coins were minted and the dyeing of wood originated. We’ll visit the gymnasium and synagogue. A stop will be made in Thyatira to view the ancient roadway and period columns. Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey and a long time center for Jews and Christians. In Paul’s day, Izmir was known as Smyrna and was another of the Seven Churches (Rev. 2:8-11). Here we’ll see Polycarp’s Church and the ancient agora. Our lodging this evening will be in Izmir.

Day 13:  Pergamum & Ancient Troy (March 19, Wednesday)
Once a busy trading center and famous as a “seller of purple,” the most favored of the Seven Churches, the church of Pergamum was praised for its forbearance (Rev. 2:12-17). It was here that the first Christians were executed by Rome. We’ll visit the fabled Acropolis, pass through the Royal Gates, view the foundations of the Temple of Zeus and visit the ruins of the library, which once held 200,000 volumes. Ancient Troy is well known for its 3rd and 4th Century BC excavations.  Don’t forget to have your picture taken from the top of the Trojan Horse.  We pass by the area known as Troas, where Paul had a vision during his second missionary journey and was called to Macedonia (Acts 16:8-13). Paul later spent a week in Troas preaching here and Eutychus was resurrected (Acts 20:6-12).  Our lodging this evening will be in picturesque Çanakkale.

Day 14: Constantinople (March 20 Thursday)
This morning our bus boards a large ferry for the scenic crossing of the Dardanelles to “Trace,” the European portion of Turkey.  Views of the bunkers on the hillside and the ocean going vessels give clear understanding to the commentary of the British major losses and World War I defeat in the Dardanelles Strait.  Sea of Marmara with thousands of summer homes will provide the scenery as we travel to Istanbul. Upon arrival we will visit the fascinating Topkapi Palace housing the many priceless treasures and colorful stories of Ottoman Sultans.  Our lodging for the next two evenings will be in Istanbul.

Day 15: Bustling Istanbul (March 21, Friday)
The tour today will be an unusual combination of Greek Orthodox, Roman, Ottoman and modern day Islam with a city driving tour and entrance into the famed Blue Mosque and St. Sophia Church.   Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey is a thriving seaport and commerce center with a marvelous Bazaar and Spice Market allowing for a perfect opportunity to pick up those last minute souvenirs and gift items. The entire afternoon is free for you to shop and enjoy the hotel facilities.

Day 16: Homeward (March 22, Saturday)
An early morning flight will bring us home by this afternoon.