Sunday, August 13, 2006

Back from Serbia!

Well, we did make it to Serbia, by the grace of God! We left our apartment Wednesday morning at 7 AM and took the bus down to the train station. There we caught the 8 AM train to Belgrade. We were due to arrive in Belgrade at 8:45 PM (a mere 12 hour trip), but we actually arrived at 1:30 AM the next morning!


It actually wasn't that bad, though. We met some interesting people. We talked to an American ex-patriate philosophical anarchist for about 10 hours. Sean was from San Francisco but, for some reason, absolutely loved the Balkans. He explained to us the tenets of philosophical anarchism and also the history of the Balkans (remember, we did talk for about 10 hours).


Anyway, it was an adventure! Pelagia's brother, Darko, and his dad, Nebusha, were patiently waiting at the train station for us at 1:30 AM. (Some friends had warned them that our train was ALWAYS at least 3-4 hours late, so they had called before coming down.) Now, those of you from the US may ask: "If the train is ALWAYS 3-4 hours late, why don't they just change the arrival time?" Well, if you're asking this question (as I did), you apparently haven't lived in the Balkans.


Anyway, we had a WONDERFUL time in Belgrade! On Thursday, we saw Kamemegdan, the old city fortress at the confluence of the Rivers Danube and Sava. There, we went into the Church of St. Paraskeve and saw (and drank from) her wonderworking spring of water. On Friday, we explored downtown Belgrade and saw the Patriarchal Cathedral and offices (and bookstore!). Unfortunately, we did not see Patriarch Pavle, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church. On Saturday morning, we went to the ENORMOUS Church of St. Sava, which is still under construction. The exterior is essentially finished and it stands behind only Hagia Sophia in size. It's the 10th largest religious building of any kind in the world. It is built on the site where the Ottomans burnt the relics of St. Sava, the patron saint of Serbia.


In between all this, we visited with Darko, Michelle, and the children, as well as Darko's parents, Nebusha and Lepa, and his sister Natasha. All I remember is Lepa saying "EAT, EAT." We were overwhelmed by the hospitality! (We also had to drink the "roki," the Serbian version of rubbing alcohol -- just kidding, but it was powerful!)


We caught the train back on Saturday at 6 PM and were supposed to arrive at 8 AM in Thessaloniki. We arrived at 10:30 (which I guess, considering, isn't that bad.) We're back at home now. I've figured out how to get dial-up internet here at home, and tomorrow I'm assured that we will have our DSL turned on! I will post lots of pictures then (I hope -- now I'm having problems downloading photos from the camera. Everything here takes 10 times longer than you expect.) Thank you all for your prayers!

5 comments:

Barbara Schaefer said...

Dearest Gregory and Pele~
Thank you SOOO much for taking the time to share with all of us! What a blessing it is to walk w/ you thru this exciting time! We are praying for you and will continue to check back to read of your adventures!
Much love from all of us!
The Schaefer Family

Barbara Schaefer said...

Dearest Gregory and Pele~
Thank you SOOO much for taking the time to share with all of us! What a blessing it is to walk w/ you thru this exciting time! We are praying for you and will continue to check back to read of your adventures!
Much love from all of us!
The Schaefer Family

Barbara Schaefer said...

Sorry for posting twice -- kids talking to me, frazzled mind -- sorry. :-)

anagnosti said...

I demand more pictures of the parthenon!

Richelle said...

Beloveds,

Wow, what a treat to see you walking exactly where I walked a mere two summers ago...the church in Belgrade, walking along the fortress by the river, inside the city...drinking Roki (and your description is terrifyingly accurate...like rubbing alcohol :)
Your apartment looks so great...a visit is looking more and more enticing....
You're in my prayers, dear friends.
Peace,
Richelle