The base price of the trip is $4,500. There is generous scholarship support in several forms: the IEFS scholarship ($400 to $1,000), the Lerner Family Scholarship ($500), and the Lerner Family Study Abroad Financial Aid ($500 to $2,500). See my 9/13/2017 post below for more details.
Registration for the trip is now open, and spots will be allocated first-come, first-served. Registration is open to UH undergraduates and invited guests of the Honors College. You can submit a form at goo.gl/forms/z5KFBU8DF0uv4Uww2.
Check in at the airport 3.5 hours before departure for security and check-in procedures.
DAY 2 Fri May 18 ARRIVE ATHENS
Arrive at Athens this evening. Meet your guide and driver and transfer to your hotel for dinner and lodging.
DAY 3 Sat May 19 ATHENS, SOUNIO
Today visit Athens and see the most famous sites of this ancient city and capital of democracy. See the ruins of the Parthenon, Erectheum and Propylae. Continue to Mars Hill, where Paul spoke to the Athenians about the one God, and the Acropolis from which you will view the Ancient Agora; the former center of Athenian public life. Depart on a panoramic tour of the city for views of the University, the Parliament House, the Panathenaic Stadium, Adrian’s Arch and the temple of the Olympian Zeus. Proceed on the coastal road to Sounio, which was fortified to guard the maritime interests of the Athenians. Archaeological evidence indicates that Sounio was a sacred area as far back as the Bronze Age, but the temple visible in our day was built in the middle of the 5th century BCE (between 444 and 440 BCE). Return to Athens for dinner and lodging.
DAY 4 Sun May 20 EPIDAURUS, MYCENAE, ATHENS
Depart for the Corinth Canal, which connects the Aegean sea with the Ionian sea through the Corinthian Gulf. Continue to Epidaurus to see the Asklepion, the most celebrated healing center of the classical world. Visit the Theatre of Epidaurus (15,000 spectators), designed in the 4th century B.C. and famous for its acoustics. Depart for Mycenae, where 19th-century excavations reveal impressions of the splendors so vividly described by Homer. Admire the Beehive Tombs, the Treasury of Atreus, Lion Gate -- Europe's oldest known monument, remains of Agamemnon's Royal Palace, and the impressive fortifications of the Citadel. Return to Athens for dinner and overnight.
DAY 5 Mon May 21 FLY TO TLV, TO HAIFA AND ACCO
Transfer to the Athens Airport for the early flight to Israel. Arrive Tel Aviv, meet your guide and driver and motor 1.5 hours north to Acco (aka Acre, Akko), following the highway from the First Testament period (today a modern toll road), with a restroom break en route. Take in views from Acco's city wall, built after the repulsion of Napoleon. Then explore the Crusader Halls. Walk through the Old City to the site of the Crusaders' last battle. Lunch beside the lighthouse. Drive south to Haifa, ascending through the old German Colony to the top of Mount Carmel, where we'll take in a panoramic view of the city. Overnight at Kibbutz Nachsholim on the Mediterranean coast.
Day 6 Tue May 22 MEGIDDO, CAESAREA MARITIMA
After a swim outside our rooms at Nachsholim, we drive to Megiddo, the Armageddon of Revelation 16. Explore the archaeology – and the historical background leading to the concept of Armageddon. After lunch nearby, drive through the Megiddo pass to the coast, where we visit Caesarea Maritima, a port city built by Herod the Great: its ancient harbor, the hippodrome, the palace (of Herod and later of Pontius Pilate), and (time permitting) the theater. We return to our lodging at Kibbutz Nachsholim.
Day 7 Wed May 23 NAZARETH, SINDYANNA IN CANA, THE ARBEL CLIFF, MIGDAL
Drive from the coast to a precipice over Nazareth, viewing the site of the ancient village as well as the Jezreel Valley, aka Esdraelon (Luke 4, Judges 4-5). Continue to Cana for a conversation with local Arab women, followed by lunch, at Sindyanna of Galilee. (Sindyanna is a nonprofit Fair Trade organization with which Steve Langfur, our guide, is affiliated. It combines the marketing of olive oil and handicrafts with social initiatives to promote job opportunities for Arab women, enhancing Arab-Jewish cooperation.) We then drive to the Arbel Cliff, viewing the sites of Jesus' mission on the Lake of Galilee. Those who wish to do so may descend the cliff using cables fixed in the rock (a challenging descent, requiring good bones, good balance, good travel insurance, and good luck). At 5 p.m., regathered, we visit the ruins of a first-century synagogue at Migdal (aka "Magdala").
Day 8 Thu May 24 CHORAZIN, DAN, RAFTING DOWN THE UPPER JORDAN
We drive up the Mount of Beatitudes to Chorazin, a town cursed by Jesus (Matthew 11). Here we shall consider his teachings (esp. Matthew 5). We continue to Tel Dan, walking through the nature reserve along the Jordan River. We view the ancient gates and the High Place. A tributary of the Upper Jordan then carries us downriver in rubber boats. We return by bus to our hotel on the lake.
Day 9 Fri May 25 THE LAKE, CAPERNAUM, GAMLA
We cruise the lake in a wooden boat. We then visit Capernaum, the center for Jesus' Galilean ministry. We follow this with a visit (incl. hiking) to Gamla on the Golan Heights, site of a major battle during the first Jewish revolt against Rome (66-70 CE). We return to our hotel.
Day 10 Sat May 26 BETH-SHEAN, JERUSALEM
Depart the lake for Tel Beth Shean, one of the major archaeological sites from the First Testament as well as the Roman and Byzantine periods. From its top consider the demise of Saul, Israel's first king. View ruins of the Roman-Byzantine city, then known as Scythopolis. Drive down the Jordan River Valley to Jerusalem. Orientation to the city from the Mt. of Olives. Donning modest dress (long pants or such), we descend the traditional Palm Sunday road, visiting the Garden of Gethsemane. Lodging is in Jerusalem for the rest of the Israel/Palestine portion.
Day 11 Sun May 27 JERUSALEM
Fully and opaquely covered, we ascend the erstwhile Temple Mount, revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary (Haram es-Sharif), including exterior views of the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. We then visit the Western Wall, followed by a walk through the Old City (via the Street of the Chain) to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. After lunch near the Jaffa Gate, we drive to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial, for a visit in its Historical Museum.
Day 12 Mon May 28 JERUSALEM
We visit the original Jerusalem, the City of David. Those who wish may walk through Hezekiah’s Tunnel (533 meters in water, mostly ankle deep), using suitable footwear and flashlights; others may prefer an even more ancient "chunnel" that is currently dry; still others may opt to stay above ground. The rest of the day is free, though one ought not to miss the Bar Mitzvahs at the Western Wall (until noon – and modest dress is required for this visit and several others in the Old City). One may also take in the Davidson Archaeological Park (Ophel excavations), just inside the Dung Gate.
Day 13 Tue May 29 SHEPHELAH
Drive to the Shephelah (low hills between Jerusalem and the coast), visiting Khirbet Qeiyafa, the caves of Maresha, and Lachish. Return to Jerusalem to visit the Israel Museum. View the scale model of Jerusalem in 66 CE, visit the Dead Sea Scrolls, and then explore a major gallery or two (Archaeology, Judaica, Israeli Art, World Art). The museum is open late today.
Day 14 Wed May 30 MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN
Region: Dead Sea
Bathing gear in hand, we depart Jerusalem for the Dead Sea. Ascend Masada by cable car. View the ruins of the rebels' last stand against Rome. Backtrack to Ein Gedi for a hike to a waterfall. Briefly visit Qumran to view a cave where many of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Float on the Dead Sea.
Day 15 Thurs May 31 TO THE USA
Transfer to the Tel Aviv airport for the flights to Istanbul and Houston. Arrive IAH this evening.