Well, we're here! After spending the night in JFK, we took the subway into Manhattan on Saturday morning and visited the World Trade Center site. I was very surprised at how underplayed the whole area was. I had to ask a police officer if it was the site, and they seemed very reluctant to even talk that much about it. It was very interesting.
Anyway, we went back to the airport and hit the ticket counter when it opened at noon and -- by your prayers -- got seats on the next flight to Athens. Thanks be to God!
We arrived at 8 AM on Sunday morning (local time). Sister Agni from the monastery in Goldendale was kind enough to have her family pick us up from the airport. We have been drowned in hospitality since then!! Truly!
Sr. Agni's sister, Stavroula, took us to her home. We had a much needed shower and then headed to church to catch the end of the Divine Liturgy. After church, the priest held a two-hour informal discussion with about 25 parishioners. They discussed faith and theology over coffee and pastries. Someone even translated for us.
On that note, I've been shocked how many people here know English. We've had no trouble communicating, and they are more than happy to help us with learn Greek.
After church, we decided on a whim to take the hydrofoil boat to the island of Aegina, to visit the relics of St. Nektarios, one of the most beloved saints of modern times. It was an incredible blessing. Gerontissa Efpraxia, the abbess of the monastery in Goldendale, and Sr. Parthenia, were on Aegina (which was the othe reason we decided to visit), so they met us at the port to say hello. We even had dinner in an open-air cafe next to the ocean.
After a MUCH-needed night's sleep, we visited Athens today. We tried to visit the office of the man in charge of awarding foreign student scholarships (to kiss up a little), but -- like 90% of Greece -- he was on vacation. We then visited a wonderful museum, had long, delicious lunch in an open-air cafe again, and then went to the Acropolis and Agora. (I have those pictures of the Parthenon now!) Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until I have more time and am more organized to get all our pictures posted.
Enough for now -- I must go and continue our wonderful visit with our hosts. They have (more) Greek sweets for us!
Tomorrow we will take the train to Thessaloniki. We'll arrive around 4 PM and Gerontissa Efpraxia has arranged for someone to pick us up and take us to our apartment. She and Sr. Parthenia are in Thessaloniki now. We will visit with them there on Wednesday.
Everything is WONDERFUL here so far. Thanks be to God!