Last week, our friend Michael Tishel had some visitors from Holy Dormition Bulgarian Orthodox Church in Santa Rosa, CA. While he took the men to Mt. Athos, we took the two women for the boat tour around Mt. Athos. This was also the first time for Pelagia, after five years, and of course the first time for the babies. In fact, it was probably the babies' biggest trip yet, with a 2-hour car ride each way and a 3-hour boat ride. The highlight for the babies was probably the fact that dolphins came and swam right alongside the boat. I didn't get a very good photo of them close-up, but here you can one splashing in the water as Pelagia and Phoebe look on. The babies love dolphins and whales right now.
The boat tour around Mt. Athos must stay 500 meters off the shore of the autonomous monastic republic. But you can still see 8 of the 20 ruling monasteries in only a 3-hour boat ride. The main company runs this tour twice daily. We took the first one, leaving at 10:30 AM, which is probably a bit cooler than the afternoon one. Above, Pelagia and Benjamin look at Grigoriou Monastery.
Above, Paul and Phoebe look at Simonopetra Monastery perched up on the hill.
Here's Paul hanging out at the aft of the ship. The babies spent a lot of time just walking around the boat with their backpacks on, which was handy since the backpacks have little leashes on them. They also liked throwing bread and pretzels to the birds that fly after the ships.
Our guests from California were staying at Fr. Symeon's women's monastery in Panorama, and the nuns there had graciously packed us a lunch. So when we got back, we sat on the beach in Ouranoupolis (which, besides being the main port for Mt. Athos, is also a popular beach resort town) and at lunch. The babies, of course, also got a chance to play in the water. Above, Popadija Christina walks with Paul and Phoebe on the beach.
Here, she's walking down to the water with Benjamin (on his little bike) from the shady spot we found.
Here are the three playing with the rocks in the water.
Here, I managed to snap a photo with the rock in mid-air. Paul especially liked making big splashes.
It wasn't long before the babies got naked, their favorite state. Above, Paul is climbing along the rocks. Below, Phoebe doing the same.
Finally, we got them dressed and ready to go. Paul discovered the pockets in his new shorts and seemed to like them.
On the way home, we stopped at the Monastery of St. Anastasia the Deliverer from Potions, which dates to 888 AD. We caught a bit of Vespers before the babies wandered just outside the entrance and found where the monks keep their animals--two deer and a goat. We spent a long time feeding them.
The babies freshened up in the mountain spring fountain outside the monastery before we headed home.
For more photos from the outing, click here.