Friday, September 28, 2007

Visit to Athens

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On Tuesday, we headed off to Athens on the train. It’s about a 5 hour ride, so we got to our hotel around 6 PM on Tuesday. That night, we walked around and found a nice little place where locals eat. They had delicious lamb chops!

On Wednesday, we headed out to do some sightseeing. Of course, the first stop had to be the Acropolis – that’s the one must-see in Athens. On the way, we walked through meat and fish market. It was quite a feast of sights and smells. (See the first photo.)

Then we stopped at Mars Hill (or, the Areopagus), where St Paul debated with the philosophers. (See Acts 17:16-34.)

The second photo shows my dad on top of Mars Hill, with the Acropolis behind him.

Finally, we made the climb up to the Acropolis. Unfortunately, the late morning is not the best time to visit these big sites. The cruise ships seem to invade about that time, and they come in droves. We sort of waited out the initial wave, however, and we were then able to move again. See all the photos from Athens here to see pictures from inside the Acropolis.

Afterwards, we made our way to another nice place for lunch, which was tucked in a shade-covered alley (see the third photo).

After lunch, we took the subway to the National Archaeological Museum, which was amazing (see bottom photo). We spent two hours there, and then headed back to the hotel to regroup.

That night, we took the subway over to Syntagma, and walked by the old palace (now the parliament building), the National Gardens, an old Roman baths complex, and the Arch of Hadrian, which once marked the edge of the city and was built around 132 AD.

Finally, we made it to yet another great restaurant for more Greek food.

Afterwards, we slowly made our way back to the hotel to prepare for our 3:30 AM trip to the airport. All went smoothly and my parents started the long journey back to the US.

As for me, I met up with our friend Costa around 10:30. He and his family hosted us when we first arrived in Greece just over a year ago. We strolled around Athens a bit, and he showed me a couple lovely small churches. We walked into one dedicated to a wonderworking icon of the Mother of God, where they were in the middle of a Paraklesis. Then we stopped at another small church where St Nicholas Planas (1851-1932) had served. We venerated his relics at the front of the church.

Finally, I took the train back to Thessaloniki around 1 PM. Of course, there was an adventure – they told me all the seats were sold and then finally a kindly cashier sold me a ticket at the last minute and I ran on.

Anyway, now it’s back to the old routine…at least for about a week. Next Friday, we are driving to Belgrade, Serbia for a week to meet with our bishop, Bishop Maxim.

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