After Liturgy on Sunday, my German friend Raif--who lives here in Portaria--and I took our kids for a visit to the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner in Anatoli, Ayia, a women's monastery with nuns from all over the world, which we visited as a parish back in December. With the weather warmer this time, we had a chance to visit the monastery's playground, which lies outside its entrance, near the parking area. Unlike the government-run parks in Greece, this one was clean and well-maintained, since it was run by the monastery. We learned later that it had been designed by a German nun's father (the monastery has 6 German nuns), and construction had been done by a team of volunteers from England. As you can see from the photos, the kids really enjoyed the zip line. At first, they were a bit hesitant, but finally Benny volunteered to give it a try. You can see him above with Raif as they prepared for the first run.
Benny loved it, and that convinced Paul to give it a go.
Raif's two girls tried it, too, but Phoebe wasn't so sure. She played in the rest of the playground.
Here's Benny flying down toward the end.
And here's a good shot. You can see the joy on his face.
Finally, we managed to pull the kids away and walk down to the monastery, where we noticed this funny sign.
The immediate reason for our trip was to pick up an American priest and friend of Pres. Pelagia's family, Fr. David Sommer, who was visiting the monastery. A former parishioner of Fr. David's, an American convert, was tonsured a nun at the monastery earlier this year. After venerating inside the church, the nuns took us to have lunch.
After lunch, the new American nun, Sister Theokliti, took the kids to see all the monastery's animals. The monastery has an active organic farming program and sells a wide variety of cheeses and other products to support itself. In the background of the photos above and below, you can see the ruins of one of the walls of the original men's monastery, which dates to about 1550.
The kids really enjoyed all the animals, especially when Sr. Theokliti ran after the horses to get them to run.
Here they are with one of the cows.
And here we are looking at the baby calves, the youngest of which was only 2 weeks old.
After a stop at the store to stock up on their yogurt and cheeses, and then another stop at the playground, we headed over to the nearby village of Anatoli, where Fr. David treated the kids to an ice cream in the village square. Above you can see the kids playing in the old plane tree in the square, with the church in the background.
We then headed back to Portaria, nearly 2 hours, and dropped Fr. David off at the Monastery of Panagia Odigitria.
For more photos from the day, click here.