Monday, May 31, 2010


On Saturday evening, ours friends Kalliopi and Justin invited us to their nephew's baptism. It was at their local parish in Harilaou, and I was honored to serve along with Fr. Asterios, our spiritual grandfather, as it were (our spiritual father's spiritual father).

The babies enjoyed playing in the church's big courtyard, which is part of a larger complex that used to house an orphanage. In the photo above, you can see the friend that Phoebe made. He was a very sweet young boy who seemed like he may have been with the orphanage or with a Roma family. Anyway, he really took a liking to Phoebe and even gave her a little toy he had when we left.

After the baptism, we were invited to a dinner in a village area outside Thessaloniki, near the Monastery of St. Anastasia the Deliverer from Potions. Pelagia kindly offered to put the babies to bed by herself so that I could go with Justin and Kalliopi. We had a very nice meal outside. It was thundering a bit, so we moved to some tables underneath cover, but the weather held out and we had a nice time. In the photo above, you can see us moving tables. (It's not really a very good photo, but I didn't have any others.)

On Sunday afternoon, our friend Marianna invited us to attend a fundraising lunch for Asylo tou Paidiou, a non-profit organization dedicated to child care and development. In the photo above, you can see Pelagia and Phoebe dancing to the music that the kids were performing dances to in the background, while Paul and Benjamin serve as the audience.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The White Tower

Yesterday (Thursday), my Greek class went for a visit to Thessaloniki's landmark White Tower. It was actually the first time I had been inside, because the first 2 or 3 years we were here it was closed for renovation.

It was worth the wait, though, because they've done a very nice job turning it into a museum of the history of Thessaloniki.

The photo above is of my class congregating outside the Tower as we waited to begin our tour.

Inside, there are many very modern multimedia displays as well as some actual pieces of history, as, for example, here with pieces of pottery throughout the ages of Thessaloniki.

Here are some views from the top of the tower.

Here in the distance (photos both above and below) you can see the OTE Tower (looking kind of like Seattle's Space Needle), which I mentioned in a recent post.

The Greek flag flying atop the White Tower.

After our class ended, Pelagia and the babies came down to the university to pick me up. We stopped and played in the grass at the university for awhile and the babies had a snack. Above, Phoebe is enjoying a piece of banana.

Afterwards, we went to run an errand at Praktiker. This time, Phoebe got to drive the baby bus.

For more photos from the day, click here.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Holy Spirit Day

On Monday morning, Holy Spirit Day, we had Liturgy in our parish's little church in the cemetery (see above), and then the priests stayed for a couple hours to read Trisagion prayers at grave sites (see below), as I mentioned in the previous post.

Late in the afternoon, we took the babies downtown to meet our friends Justin and Kalliopi and their son Michael at the famous White Tower, one of Thessaloniki's landmarks. From there, we walked over a nice, shady green park and found a mini-train for kids that runs inside the park. We each took a baby and went on the ride with them, which they seemed to enjoy.

Here I am with Paul on the train just before we entered a small tunnel.

After the park, I suggested we go over to the OTE Tower for a coffee. I went there the previous week for the first time with my Greek class and I was very impressed. The tower looks a bit like a spaceship, and the top of it rotates giving those inside a panoramic view of the city. The coffees are, of course, outrageously expensive, but it's a nice treat.

Pelagia and Kalliopi talking as the tower spins. It makes a full rotation about once every hour.

In the center of the photo here, in the building with some red trim, is the Theological School of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Pelagia, Kalliopi, and all the babies in front of the White Tower.

For a few more photos, click here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Babies This Week

On Wednesday, Pelagia blew up some balloons for the babies, and they loved them. Paul loved his so much, in fact, that he insisted on taking it with him for his nap -- and then sleeping on it!

When Pelagia moved him off the balloon, he still wanted to at least keep his hand on it.

It was a very busy weekend for me, with Soul Saturday, Pentecost, and then the Day of the Holy Spirit today. In Greece, Holy Spirit Day is a national holiday, and the Pontian Greeks (who have a strong presence in Panorama and northern Greece in general) in particular have the custom of visiting the graves of their loved ones and commemorating them. Our parish has a small church in the town's cemetery dedicated to the Holy Trinity and we celebrated Liturgy there on Saturday morning and this morning, followed by several hours each day of reading Trisagion prayers for people.

Anyway, on Sunday, we had a nice break by going to Fr. Alexi's house for lunch. Afterwards, as you can see in the photo above, Paris and Paul took on Fr. Alexi's son Nektarios in a game of soccer. Then, as you can see below, the babies played soccer. They love kicking the ball around (with a little help, of course).

After lunch, Pelagia and I took them to the park at the dam.

The ducks came out of the pond and over into the park area looking for food, so the babies go to see them up close and chase them.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The American Farm School

On Sunday afternoon, we went down to the American Farm School in nearby Thermi for a fair that was organized by a group of international women living in Thessaloniki. The school has a lot of green space and a nice church in the middle, and the women had set up things for kids like face-painting, tug-of-war, etc. It was a nice break for me, because Sundays are particularly busy lately -- it's a popular time of year for baptisms and weddings. This past Sunday we had baptisms for two sets of twins after the Liturgy.

Above you can see Paul with his godfather Paris at the Farm School, which produces fresh milk, eggs, turkeys, etc. The church is in the background.

Playing around the olive trees.

The whole family.

The babies think it's fun to hang upside down.

Something is wrong with the mechanism I have for posting the rest of the photos on Facebook, so they're here again.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Visit to the Village

On Wednesday, we were invited out to the village of Kato Scholari (about 30 minutes east of Thessaloniki) by our friends Athanasios and Sophia, the brother and sister-in-law of Gerontissa Efpraxia of St. John the Forerunner Greek Orthodox Monastery in Goldendale, WA.

The weather was beautiful, and the babies enjoyed playing around in their back yard. Above, you can see them checking out the rocks with Pelagia and Sophia.

This is a classic Phoebe face.

All together.

The boys had fun riding around the garden on a truck. Here's Benjamin.

Sophia helping Paul walk.

Paul's turn on the truck.

For a few more photos, click here.

In the evening, we went up to the little church in the woods above our house for Vespers for the Ascension, the feast to which the little church is dedicated (and for which our street is named).

The next morning we again had beautiful weather to celebrate the Liturgy outside in the front of the small church. This is an annual tradition in the parish, and we had over 200 people join us for the feast (that's why it's the one time per year we celebrate outside, because the church only fits about 15 people).

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

St. George Redux: At Hilandar's Metochion

Last Thursday, I was invited to celebrate the Divine Liturgy for St. George [OS] at Hilandar Monastery's dependency (metochion), St. Sava's, in Thessaloniki.

I've been taking a part-time advanced Greek language class, and a Serbian classmate of mine was celebrating her Slava that day, so it was an opportunity for her to celebrate and meet some fellow Serbs in Thessaloniki.

Here are some photos my Bosnian Serb friend Milenko took during the Liturgy.

After the Liturgy, a few of us went upstairs (the church is on the bottom floor of an apartment building right in the heart of Thessaloniki) to an apartment owned by the monastery (a konaki) and had some refreshments and fellowship.

Below is a short video taken during the Liturgy. It was truly an international affair, with English, Greek, Serbian, and Slavonic.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Pelagia's Birthday

On Saturday, we celebrated Pres. Pelagia's birthday with Divine Liturgy in the morning followed by a coffee with the babies and a few of our friends.

In the afternoon, we went downtown to meet our friends Justin and Kalliopi (and their 15-month-old son Michael) at a new Indian restaurant that I recently discovered in a hidden alley.

The babies had their first taste of Indian food (even some stuff with a little spice like tandoori chicken) and seemed to like it.

In the photo above, Pelagia and Kalliopi are letting the babies try a little plain Indian bread called chapati.

The two waitresses at the restaurant were wonderful with the babies, letting them crawl all over the place. The woman above is from Bangladesh.

Michael is trying to get Paul to give him a high five.

After Indian food, we walked over to Ble, Pelagia's favorite sweet shop, for some ice cream. In the photo above, we're trying to decide what to get.

Then we went next door to the courtyard of a little 1000-year-old church to eat our ice cream and let the babies crawl around. The church is sunk about 10 feet below the city's current street level, so it acts as sort of a contained area in which to corral the babies.

Kalliopi and Michael.

Phoebe and Benjamin playing around the side of the church.

Kalliopi and Phoebe walk around the back of the church.


Here's Benjamin getting strapped on to Pelagia's back for the walk back to the car.

For more photos, click here.