Monday, July 23, 2012

The Shanbours Visit

Two months late, but better than never, I'm finally posting about the Shanbours' visit. Pres. Pelagia's sister, Kh. Makrina, her husband Fr. Michael, and their son Symeon came to visit back in late May.

One Sunday, we celebrated with our spiritual father, Fr. Spyridon, at Panagia Ahiropoiitos, the 5th century basilica in the center of Thessaloniki. Above, you can see the kids playing on some of the ruins from the church.

Above and below, the kids are playing with their cousin Symeon in the courtyard outside the church.

In the background is the apse of a small side chapel to St. Paraskevi.

We stopped in the pedestrian square nearby to feed the pigeons.

Here are Symeon and Paul playing with a turtle outside St. Nicholas Orphanos, with its famous iconography.

Outside St. Nicholas Orphanos, we encountered one of the wandering Gypsy accordion players, which the kids enjoyed.

The next Sunday we celebrated Liturgy in Lakkia, a village about 20 minutes east of Panorama. Above, the kids are playing afterwards in the playground next to the church.

When we went to explore the Upper City with the Shanbours, I noticed that the park just outside the city walls, with the cave which St. Paul stayed in after being kicked out of Thessaloniki, was open for the first time in our 6 years here. The park is owned by a private Christian brotherhood and they are now doing some upgrades to the site to make it open to the public. They let us come in while the works were undergoing. In the photo above, you can see the small covered area that was erected many years ago around the cave.

The Shanbours walking along the old city walls.

Fr. Michael looking down at the city from near the Trigonion (aka Chain) Tower, the northeast tower of Thessaloniki.

For more photos, click here.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thessaloniki: Up and Down

Here are some photos from Pelagia's birthday back on May 8. First, we went down to Thessaloniki's waterfront, which is a good flat place for the kids to ride their bikes.

Here is Paris helping Paul.

Here are one of the many playgrounds on the waterfront. You can see Benjamin and Phoebe sharing a swing.

In the evening, we went to a great restaurant in the Upper City, along the city's old upper walls. Above, our friend Iakovos, another American studying theology here, walks along the 2300-year old walls with Phoebe.

Here the kids are playing along the walls across from the restaurant.

The Upper City is full of old, narrow, winding alleys, and houses built right into the old walls. (Much of this area was settled by the refugees from Asia Minor in 1922-3 and thus houses were built quickly and everywhere they could find space.) Above, you can see one of the houses built right into the walls.

Above, the kids running down one of the typical alleys.

For more photos, click here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Sunday School Outing to Kilkis

Back on April 28, our parish here in Panorama had an outing for the Sunday School kids and teachers to a park in Kilkis, about an hour north of Thessaloniki.

Since spring had just started, the park service hadn't yet been by to cut the grass, etc., so it was a bit overgrown, but the kids had fun. Above, you can see one of the girls from Sunday School walking around in the woods with the kids.

Here, Phoebe is trailblazing through the tall grass.

Benjamin is making his way through the grass to join a game with the older kids.

As usual in Greece, no space is complete without a reminder of God. Here, Phoebe is coming out of the little shrine after lighting a candle and venerating the icons.

The entrance to the park.

The parish brought a grill and meat. Paul helped his godfather Paris with the grilling.


At one point, the kids lost a ball--and then two--up in a tree, until someone was brave enough to go up and get it.

Fr. Panayiotis and Paris rotating the souvlaki. While the meat cooked, the Sunday School teachers organized a game for the kids in the woods.

Paul played a little volleyball.

After we left the park, we stopped at another park with swings, etc., for a few minutes on the way home.

For a few more photos from the day, click here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Thessaloniki Waterfront

I'm catching up now on my backlog of photos. These are from one day in late April. Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) was visiting our neighbors, the Lillies, and we came by to visit with him. Above, Paul gave him a hug.

In the afternoon, we took the kids down to the waterfront in Thessaloniki, which features a broad pedestrian way and several parks. It was a lovely, clear day, and in the photos you can see the famous snow-peaked Mt. Olympus in the background.

Above and below, you can see part of Thessaloniki in the background.

For a few more photos, click here.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pella, Loutra (Pozar), and Edessa

We've had two young women from Pres. Pelagia's parish in Yakima, WA staying with us this summer. On July 5, we all went on an outing to points west of Thessaloniki.

The first stop was at the ruins of the ancient Macedonian city of Pella, founded as the Macedonian capital around 400 BC by King Archelaus. It replaced Aigai (modern Vergina), which remained the place of royal burials.

The great Athenian playwright Euripedes spent his final days here, and his famous play The Bacchae debuted here. The city was the birthplace of both King Philip II and his son, Alexander the Great. This is also where Aristotle tutored the young Alexander.

Conquered by the Romans around 168 BC, Pella was a significant point on the Via Egnatia, between Dyrrachium and Thessaloniki. Cicero stayed here in 58 BC, but by then the provincial seat had already been transferred to Thessaloniki.

In the photo above, you can see Phoebe and Benjamin with part of the city's agora in the background.

One of the city's famous mosaic floors.

Pella was our waypoint on route to Loutra (Pozar), just a couple miles from the border with the FYROM. It is famous throughout Greece and the FYROM for its natural hot water springs which bubble up next to the river from the nearby mountains.

You can barely make out the girls sitting in one of the hot springs on the side of the river in this photo.

Here are Paul and Maggie sitting in a large hot spring pool. The locals find the hot springs each season and use rocks to roughly fence off little pools. One can jump back and forth from the warm to the cool water.

Below, you can see a pool fed simultaneously by both the hot and cold springs. The water is so clear and clean, and has no need of chlorine since it is constantly replaced. Above, you can see the water coming out of the pool and back into the river, while Rebecca sits under the fountain.

After Loutra (Pozar), we headed to Edessa for lunch at the top of its famous waterfalls. After a nice lunch of traditional local foods, including lamb and wild boar, we walked down to get a better view of the waterfalls.

The kids really enjoyed a small cave behind the waterfalls.

On the way out, we stopped at the ruins of the ancient city of Edessa, just below the modern city, which comprised the acropolis in ancient times.
"The walls and the agora have been unearthed so far. A colonnade with inscription in Greek dates from Roman times. The city achieved certain prominence in the first centuries AD, being located on the Via Egnatia. From 27 BC to 268 AD it had its own mint. St. Vassa and her three children were put to death here in the 3rd Century AD.
Very little is known about the fate of the city after 500 AD. Its bishop Issidoros participated in the Ecumenical Council of 692. After the Slavic settling in the 6th-7th century, the name of "Edessa" disappears and what remains of the city (a fortress in the acropolis of the ancient city) is named "Vodena" (from Slavic 'Voda', "water"), recalled by 11th century Byzantine historian John Skylitzes. It is mentioned as both Edessa and Vodena by Emperor and historian John VI Kantakouzenos who came to the city with intention of conquering it in 1350 after it was conquered by the Serb Emperor Dushan the Mighty earlier in 1341, 1342 or 1343. In the memoirs of Kantakouzenos, Edessa had a Serbian army of 500+ garrisoned when he approached the city.[4] It fell to the Ottomans along with the rest of Macedonia around 1390.
During the Ottoman rule, the Turkish component of the town steadily increased. From the 1860s onwards, the town was a flashpoint for clashes between Greeks and Bulgarians.
After more than 500 years of Ottoman rule, Edessa passed to Greek rule during the Balkan Wars on 18 October 1912."

Here's Paul, in his knight costume, climbing the walls.

Pres. Pelagia and Phoebe walking down the old main road.

For more photos from the day, click here.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Doctoral Graduation Ceremony at the Theological School

Tuesday morning, the Theological School held a graduation ceremony in which its doctoral candidates were officially proclaimed doctors by the assembled faculty of the Theological School.

There were 11 of us, and afterward we shook hands with all the professors.

Here I am with Prof. Chrysostomos Stamoulis, the chairman of the Theological School.

Here I am talking with Prof. Dimitrios Tselingidis, who also happens to attend our parish in Panorama.

And here I am with my professor, Petros Vassiliadis, who is now retiring.

Finally, here is a shot of the family in the Theological School.