Air & Land
Sep 17, 2024
|From $4,398||From $2,998|
Gulf Pine Catholic - 9 Day St. Paul and St. John Pilgrimage to Malta & Turkey
(September 17, 2024)
Trip Overview & Highlight
Gulf Pine Catholic and Spiritual Director, Father Adam Urbaniak, invite you to follow in the footsteps of Saint Paul and Saint Peter on this 9-day journey through the rich Catholic history of Malta and Turkey where the early Christian Byzantine Empire sat.
See Valletta and Malta’s famed Three Cities, Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea, attending mass at the island nation’s important churches, exploring fishing villages, and witnessing Malta’s long and storied history first hand.
- Tour Valletta, Malta’s 16th Century capital city.
- Visit to The Malta Experience, providing a multi-vision presentation depicting 7,000 years of Maltese history.
- Visit the magnificent baroque St. John´s Cathedral.
- Stroll the narrow streets of Vittoriosa with its many historic buildings and churches.
- Enjoy sightseeing of Rabat and the silent city of Mdina.
- Visit a typical fishing village, Marsaxlokk.
- Drive along the coast of Mellieha, admiring the sandy beaches and stop at the beautiful Mosta Dome.
- Istanbul, the former capital of the Byzantine Empire, and the stronghold of Early Christianity.
- Sightseeing to include the Church of St. Saviour, the impressive St. Sophia Church, and the Grand Bazaar.
- Visit the Ancient Greco-Roman city of Miletus and learn of its important harbour and trade.
- In Ephesus, visit the Basilica of St. John, the last House of the Virgin Mary,and other famous remains.
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- Round-trip Airfare from New Orleans
- 7 Nights Accommodations in 3 & 4 Star Hotels
- Breakfast & Dinner Daily
- Ground & Air Transportation
- Sightseeing & Entrance fees
- Professional English Speaking Tour Director throughout
- Private motorcoach & driver
- Porterage of 1 piece of luggage per person
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Prices & Dates
Prices are based on double occupancy: all other room configurations are on request and cannot be guaranteed. We will accommodate triples/quads whenever possible. Please call for further details.
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DAY 1: USA / Malta
Today we gather at the New Orleans airport for our flight to Malta. Dinner and breakfast will be served on board..
DAY 2: Malta
We will be met at the Malta International Airport by our guide. If time permits, we will have a panoramic tour on the way to the hotel. Time to check in and rest before dinner and overnight. (D)
DAY 3: Malta / Valletta and The Three Cities
After breakfast, we depart for a tour of Valletta, Malta’s Sixteenth Century capital city. Visit to The Malta Experience provides a multi-vision presentation depicting 7,000 years of Maltese history. We continue to the Barraca Gardens, with their panoramic views of the Grand Harbor and the Three Cities. A highlight is our visit to the magnificent baroque St. John´s Cathedral whose precious works of art include Caravaggio’s Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. We celebrate Mass here, before continuing to The Grand Masters Palace, the residence of the President of Malta and the seat of Parliament. (Note: The state rooms can be visited if Parliament is not in session). After lunch on our own, we will drive to the Three Cities: Vittoriosa, Cospicua & Senglea. A walk through the narrow streets of Vittoriosa with its many historic buildings and churches, leads us to the church of St Lawrence. Next, we tour the famous harbor (weather permitting) in a typical small Maltese boat called fregatina. Return to the hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,D)
DAY 4: Mdina / Rabat / Marsaxlokk / Izmir
After breakfast, we depart for Rabat, home for centuries of religious orders including Franciscans, Dominicans and Augustinians. We will attend Mass at the Church of St. Paul (1572) and visit St. Paul’s Grotto beneath the church. According to tradition, St. Paul lived here during his stay in Malta, following his shipwreck in 60 AD (Acts 28). Rich in ancient and modern history, the nearby St. Paul’s Catacombs will also be visited. Our next stop is the silent city of Mdina, whose quiet, narrow cobblestone streets are mostly free from vehicular traffic. After Rosary prayers at the Cathedral of Mdina, on your own, we will have free time for lunch, shopping and individual sightseeing. On our way back to the hotel, we admire the impressive views from the Dingli Cliffs. (B,D)
DAY 5: Marsaxlokk and Prehistoric Temples
After breakfast, we visit the typical fishing village of Marsaxlokk, and continue on to the Neolithic temples of Hagar Qim and Mnjadra, UNESCO World Heritage Sites. After lunch on our own, we will drive to the Shrine of the Redemer in Senglea for Mass. We continue with a guided tour through the cave of Ghar Dalam before returning to our hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,D)
DAY 6: Villages and Shrines / Istanbul
After breakfast, we will visit the Sanctuary of the Nativity of Our Lady of Mellieha for Mass. According to tradition, St. Paul blessed this highly venerated sanctuary. The icon of our Lady, painted on the rock face, is said to be the work of St Luke the Evangelist. We drive around the coast of Mellieha and admire the sandy beaches and typical Maltese scenery, stopping at the beautiful Mosta Dome, the third largest church dome in Europe. We continue to the airport for our flight to Istanbul. We arrive in Istanbul and are transferred to our hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,D)
DAY 7: Istanbul / Izmir
Istanbul is the former capital of the Byzantine Empire, the stronghold of Early Christianity. After breakfast, we spend an unforgettable day of sightseeing featuring the Church of St. Saviour, one of the earliest and most important Christian churches, famous for its mosaics. Also we will see the impressive St. Sophia Church, and the Grand Bazaar. Time permitting, Mass can be arranged in one of the Churches. In the early afternoon we transfer to the airport for our fight to Izmir. Arrive in Izmir and transfer to the hotel for dinner and overnight. (B,D)
DAY 8: Izmir / Ephesus / Izmir
In the morning after breakfast, we transfer and visit of Ancient Greco-Roman city of Miletus, which rests adjacent to the opening of the River Meander. We learn about its four important coastal harbors that powered trade and how the city dissolved after the river filled with silt. Admire monuments such as Delphinium temple and the imposing Theater of Miletus that hosted 25,000 people during exciting gladiator matches. Mass to be celebrated here. In the afternoon, after the tour, we can set some free time for shopping. We next drive to Ephesus. In Ephesus (Acts 19 and Rev. 2:1) visit the Basilica of St. John, the last House of the Virgin Mary, the site of the Temple of Diana, and other famous remains. We continue to Miletus, where St. Paul said farewell to the Ephesian elders on his Third Missionary Journey (Acts 20:16-38). Return to Izmir for dinner and overnight. (B,D)
DAY 9: Izmir / Istanbul / USA
After breakfast, we drive to the airport for our flight to Istanbul and connecting flight to the USA. Arrive the same day.
* (B,L,D) = Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
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Essential Information & Weather
In terms of the weather, Malta is a classic Mediterranean destination, similar to what you would experience in southern Italy or southern Greece. There are four distinct seasons to enjoy, each with its own advantages for travel.
Summer starts in early June, warms up until August and cools down in October. The humidity can get overbearing, and with highs reaching 95ºF, finding time for the beach can fast become a daily goal.
Wintertime in Malta is mild, sunny, and welcoming. Daytime temperatures can usually reach 65ºF, while night-time winter temperatures never get below 0ºC (32ºF). You certainly won’t find snow in Malta, but you may get periods of strong winds blowing either from the north west or from the north east, and the occaisonal torrential shower. Packing your raingear is certainly advised. The weather usually shows signs of warming up in April, heralding in a long spell of hot, dry weather.
There is no straightforward answer to that question. The Turkish climate is as diverse as the country with significant differences between the regions, earning the country its nickname ‘the land of four seasons’ (In Turkish: dort mevsim).
As a rule of thumb, count on dry and hot summers, almost all over Turkey, except maybe along the northeast coast. Other than that, Turkey has a continental climate inland, so expect snow and cold in winter and relatively cool nights, even in the height of summer. Along the coast, the climate is mild, with slightly higher temperatures on the Mediterranean. For a bit more detail on regional climates:
Marmara, Aegean, and Mediterranean coasts:
These coastal regions have a typical Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. The swimming season becomes shorter the further north one goes: South Aegean and Mediterranean April to October.
Black Sea Coast:
Temperate climate with warm summers, mild winters, and relatively high rainfall.
These areas have a steppe climate with hot, dry summers, cold winters.
Long snowy, cold winters with mild summers.
These areas have a hot summer with mild, rainy winters.
The following suggested packing list is for a general week to ten-day trip in Malta. Please consider the season of travel and specific destinations visited to adjust, as temperatures can fluctuate quite a bit.
• 7-9 x underwear, socks
• 2-3 x loose, lightweight trousers or skirts– one full length and one cropped pair would be ideal!
• 2-3 x shorts (in summer)
• 2 x long, loose shirts
• 4-5 x t-shirts or tops
• 2-3 evening tops
• 1-2 x sandals or flip flops for warmer-weather walking
• 1-2 pairs of comfortable walking/running shoes
• 1 x pair of more formal shoes
• 1 rain/wind-proof jacket
• 1 x umbrella and raingear
• 2-3 sweaters or other colder-weather gear
• sun hat
• 1 x day bag
• European adapter
• Phone, camera and any other electronics needed
• passport and travel docs
Specific packing notes for religious sites:
• Cover shoulders: avoid strapless tops, spaghetti straps tops and vests (both men and women)
• Avoid above the knee skirts and shorts (men and women)
• Avoid exposing excessive cleavage, a waist/belly or back
• Do not wear slogans or prints that may be perceived as offensive
Though Turkey is a Muslim country, it is a fairly liberal travel destination, particularly along its coasts. Proper packing certainly depends on the time of year you will be traveling, so make sure to do your research first. Spring and autumn are generally temperate and pleasant all-around. The summers do get as hot as you’d expect of a destination along the Mediterranean. And winter can get brutal when the winds began picking up.
Sample packing list:
– Hat or cap
– 7-10 pairs of socks
– 1-2 pairs of comfortable shoes
– 1 pair of more formal shoes for cultural outings
– Sandals or flip-flops for summer travels
– 2-3 pairs of shorts
– 3-4 long pants/skirts
– 5-7 comfortable tops
– 1-2 more formal tops
– A light rain/wind-proof jacket
– Bathing suits for the beach and the hammam
– Shawl/scarf for colder evenings and religious sites
– Warmer clothes for colder seasons
– Day-bag for sightseeing adventures
– Your travel documents
– Camera and additional electronics
The CDC offers this helpful packing list for medicine and health documents you want to consider as you pack for safety: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/turkey/traveler/packing-list
Please make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months following your return from the Schengen area, and that you have at least one blank page available for the entry stamp.
Please make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months following your return from the destination.
Visas are not required for stays less than 90 days.
As per the U.S Department of State:
– You need a visa to travel to Turkey. For tourism or commercial travel of up to 90 days within a 180 day period, obtain a Turkish visa from Turkish missions abroad or from the e-Visa application system prior to arrival.
– Get entry and exit stamps. You must have a Turkish entry stamp to fly domestically. Get an exit stamp in your passport when leaving the country or you may face difficulties re-entering Turkey in the future and a fine.
Currency & Exchange
The currency of Malta is the Euro, which breaks into 100 cents. You will be able to exchange dollars for Euros in most hotels, as well as at banks and registered money exchanges. ATMs can be found throughout the country, and most major credit/debit cards can be used to withdraw cash. Just make sure you have your pin number handy. Also, do find out what fees your bank might be charging for withdrawals and plan accordingly.
Most major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express to certain extent) are accepted, though do note that When making payments, some merchants may have a spending minimum — 10 euros for example. However, if you’re making a contactless payment, you can get away with purchases of just a couple of euros using your card.
Tipping is not obligatory, but is appreciated, usually at 10% gratuity. If you are, or look like a tourist, you’ll be expected to gratuity, but feel free to use your judgement of the quality in services provided.
The currency of Turkey is the Lira, whose currency code is Try and currency symbol TL. 100 Kurus make up one Lira. Turkish lira banknotes come in denominations of 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, and 5. The kurus are in denominations of 5, 10, 25, and 50.
Dollars and Euros are accepted in many tourist-heavy locations, but expect better prices when using the local currency.
Using your card in Turkey
In popular tourist destinations like Istanbul, Marmaris, Antalya and Bodrum, you’ll have little difficulty using your credit or debit card in shops, restaurants, hotels, nightlife venues and major tourist attractions. Many of these establishments will have swipe and pin number cash machines, but bear in mind you may be charged a fee to use your card.
A cash machine or ATM is known as a bankamatik in Turkey, and is a convenient way to withdraw Liras. Withdrawing cash rather than exchanging your dollars may be your best bet for lowest rates of exchange. Be vigilant whenever you withdraw money from a cash machine, as fraud is common, so don’t allow anyone to see your pin number, and make sure the keypad is not removable. Also, in more remote areas such as the interior, cash machines may not be widely available.
Phone & Internet Connectivity
Internet availability in Malta is widespread, with internet service providers offering multiple connectivity options, while both private and public sectors provide free internet access through several Wi-Fi hotspots.
You’ll find plenty of free pubic wifi hotspots across the islands of Malta and Gozo. Additionally, most cafes, restaurants and hotels offer wifi as well. Internet connectivity on your mobile device is available throughout most of the country, but unless you have unlimited roaming, your bill may leave you a nasty surprise. If your mobile phone allows for it, and you are in need of constant connectivity, you can always purchase a local SIM card and a prepaid plan. This provides you with local phone number and internet access, allowing for your mobile phone to double as a modem through the mobile hotspot function.
Turkey has three major mobile phone companies with excellent coverage throughout the country. You’ll rarely be far from a mobile phone signal, if that’s how you choose to communicate.
If you’re coming for a short visit you should have little problem using your mobile phone in Turkey via international roaming, with a Turkish SIM card, or via a mobile Wifi hotspot. But if you plan to stay in Turkey for an extended period, you’ll have to register your mobile device with the government and pay a fee.
It may seem crazy to buy a new phone for trips abroad, but it may be the cheapest and best alternative, especially if your mobile phone is locked and you are locked into a contract with your home mobile phone company. An inexpensive phone designed for use abroad may make sense. If your mobile phone is unlocked, you can buy an international roaming SIM which may save you money and hassle.
Electricity and Adapters
In Malta the power plugs and sockets are of type G. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.
Turkey operates on 220 volts, 50 Hz, with round-prong European-style plugs that fit into recessed wall sockets /points.
Four- and five-star hotels often provide North American-style 120 volts, 60 Hz flush-mounted sockets (points) for North American flat-prong plugs
Dress & Modesty Norms
Away from the beaches, informal wear is far less than the norm. Locals will dress up to go out, and are generally more fashion-forward. Most monasteries and to a lesser extent churches impose a fairly strict dress code for visitors: no shorts, with women expected to cover their arms and wear skirts; the necessary wraps are sometimes provided on the spot.
Acceptable dress norms depend on which part of the country – or even which part of a city – you are visiting. Overall, though, Turkey is more conservative concerning dress. Beachwear should be confined to the beach. Revealing clothing like miniskirts and skimpy shorts should be avoided away from heavily touristed areas.
If you venture much off the tourist track, accept that being stared at is part of the experience and not considered rude. In some parts of the southeast, you may be mobbed by small children wishing to guide you around the local ruins and/or begging for pens, sweets or money.
Turks employ a variety of not immediately obvious body language. Clicking the tongue against the roof of the mouth and simultaneously raising the eyebrows and chin means “no” or “there isn’t any. Wagging the head rapidly from side to side means “Explain, I don’t understand”, while a single, obliquely inclined nod means “yes”.
Food & Water
Water from the tap in Malta is primarily desalinated – clean and safe once it leaves the treatment plant. However, the quality of the pipes delivering water to the tap is more difficult to gauge. Many locals combine using tap water for showering, cooking and cleaning, with boiled tap water or bottled water for drinking. Often the only threat in drinking the tap water will be the unpalatable taste.
As a general rule the tap water found in Turkey’s major cities such as Istanbul is safe to drink. Locals drink tap water although many foreigners moving in and out on short trips, not used to the taste of the water, prefer to drink bottled water.The tap water which tends to flow from the majority of Turkey’s taps has a rather heavy chlorine taste – which apart from being less favorable, actually indicates safe drinking water as it means the it has been adequately treated to make it safe to drink. Because of the chlorine taste, however, many ex-pats and travelers prefer to drink bottled water, while using tap water for cooking, washing etc. Of course, affordable high quality bottled water can be purchased throughout the country.
Malta is +2 hours UTC. You can find up-to-date time information here: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/malta
Turkey is +3 hours UTC. You can find up-to-date time information here: https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/