On Tuesday we were taken to the beautiful port town of Turkey called Kusadasi, There we boarded our cruise ship "Celestial Olympia" for a three day tour of the Aegean Islands. There are over 900 islands so one certainly has to be selective. Our visits included the islands of Patmos, Rhodes, Crete, and Santorini.
Patmos is one I have always wanted to see, since it was the place the Apostle John was exiled and where he was confronted with the presence of Jesus who told him to write down what He was about to tell him, He then wrote, by dictation, to the seven churches of Asia Minor the last book of the Bible which we call Revelation. Everyone here knows about those facts and have known it for centuries--Muslims as well as Christians. And it is visited by people of both faiths. Since our large cruise ship was unable to dock in the harbor it cast anchor off shore and we were transferred to the island by ship tenders. It's a beautiful small island that attracts worshipers from all over the world, and movie stars and famous politicians because of the solitude and beauty which it possesses. Our bus drove us high up on the mountain to visit the monastery of St. John the Evangelist where we visited the Grotto of the Revelation.
Our next visit the next day took us the island of Rhodes. Here we found heavy fortified walls built by the Crusaders to protect the island from pirates and other unwelcome guests during those turbulent times. We then went to visit the temple of Athena on the majestic rocky Acropolis of Lindos, with the blue Aegean Sea beneath it and the sophisticated whitewashed artists' colony at its foot. In Acts 21:1 it mentions the Apostle Paul briefly visiting this island on his voyage to Rome. There is something else for which Rhodes is famous. It was here that one of the wonders of the ancient world was achieved--the Colossus of Rhodes. You may have heard from your ancient history class that this bronze statue, enormously big, stood at the entrance of the harbor of Rhodes, one foot on one side of the entrance and the other foot on the other side while the ships sailed into the harbor through his legs. Well, the guide we had said that myth was bogus. It was a gigantic statue all right, but it stood on the land. And when it was knocked over because of a big earthquake it was hacked apart for use in other projects.
Next morning, after our ship sailed while we slept, we were taken to the Island of Crete, to its capitol Heraklion. We visited the Minoan palace of Knossos, legendary home of the myth about the Minotaur (half bull and half man). The Apostle Paul also visited this island on his voyage to Rome (look it up!). After lunch on the ship we set sail for our final island invasion. By the way, the residents of each of these islands rely upon one particular happening for their economy--tourism. So while many of them are not at all thrilled by huge cruise ships invading their streets, if that went away, so would their income. Santorini gets its name from St. Irene. This is the place everyone wants to see because of all the travel brochures showing its towns perched on top of the mountainous islands. Actually, there are no mountains here but only craters. In about 1,400 B.C. a huge volcanic eruption occurred on this island that killed every one and every thing. The flourishing Minoan civilization was destroyed as a result. Years later when everything calmed down people began to build on the craters and thus we have entire towns built along the edges overlooking the caldera in the center. Since the island sunk and what remained were craters many think this was the origin of the tale of the lost town of Atlantis.
Our ship finally reached port on Friday where we disembarked and were picked up and transferred to our hotel, for a half day trip to visit Corinth. I'll tell you about that later.
Bud & Kathy
Bud and Kathy Downs are making another trip to the Lands of the Bible-- first Turkey and Greece (from May 11 to 22) and then to Israel (from May 22 to June 8). We invite you to join us through our travel blog. We intend to post regular updates and pictures of Bible sites.