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Now that I've finished my doctorate in Thessaloniki, the time has come to move. There don't seem to be any positions available for us in the US, but our bishop here in Greece, Metropolitan Ignatius of Demetrias and Almyros (i.e., Volos) was very enthusiastic about offering us our choice of several parishes in his metropolis, so it looks like we will be staying in Greece, but relocating about 2.5 hours south.
So, on July 31, I was appointed rector of the parish of the Holy Unmercenaries in Portaria. The main church, dedicated to the Holy Unmercenaries Cosmas and Damian, was built in 1791, and features relics of the saints. The parish also includes 8 chapels, as well as a house and small office for the priest.
Portaria is a small mountain village famous as a resort. Only about 20 minutes up Mt. Pelion, it is close to both the sea and ski centers. Above, you can see a photo of the view from our new house. That's Volos in the background.
One interesting note is that Alexandros Papadiamantis, the revered Greek author (as well as chanter for St. Nicholas Planas), actually chanted in our church when he was in Portaria to visit his brother.
On July 31, all of us (including Rebecca, who was visiting from Yakima) went down to Portaria and began "camping" in our new house. The house needs some work (painting, etc.) before we can move in for good.
Mt. Pelion is famous for its crystal clear mountain water, which flows freely through channels along the side of the old, narrow cobblestone streets. The church and priest's house actually can't be reached directly by car because of the streets, but we can get pretty close. Chickens wander around.
Above, you can see the kids on some stairs in the church's courtyard. Alongside the stairs, to the left, you can see a water channel. In the background, the bell tower.
Portaria is just a couple miles from Makrinitsa, another mountain village and favorite tourist destination. One day, we went over there for lunch and to walk around. Above you can see Rebecca and Phoebe, with Volos in the background.
Portaria has a shaded square full of restaurants and cafes. Here's a view from the square (a boy on a horse is riding down the main street).
Here's Presbytera Pelagia walking down the stairs to the church. You can see the water and Volos in the background. Understandably, our church is a popular place for weddings.
The Monastery of Panagia Odigitria, which is under the spiritual direction of Elder Ephraim (of Philotheou and Arizona), is 0.8 miles from our house. Several of the nuns in America came from this monastery. One day we went there to greet the nuns and to show Rebecca the monastery. Above is a photo of Phoebe, with the monastery's small chapel in the background.
We had (and have) a lot of work to do to get the house ready. Here are Pelagia and Rebecca taking a break for a frappe (a Greek cold coffee) on our porch.
The Xenia Palace resort is just down the road from our place. Around it are a public playground and one of our parish's chapel. Here are the kids playing at the playground. In the background, you can see the houses of Makrinitsa along the mountainside.
One day, we took the kids to a gorgeous beach on the Aegean, about 50 minutes from Portaria along windy mountain roads.
For more photos, click here. I'll be following up with more posts explaining all the photos.