Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Greece, Day 2

About yesterday’s blog that was posted today! We lost the internet connection last night after we had written the post but before we were able to add pictures. Today when we returned to the hotel around 6:00p.m., we finally were able to get on and Mike was going to add the pictures and somehow it got sent and posted. Hopefully, we can do better tonight.

We began the morning with breakfast at 7:00 a.m. and then the bus left at 8:00. The breakfast was a normal European one of soft scrambled eggs and half-raw bacon, fresh breads and jams, and assorted juices. We had a 3 hour bus ride where the guide gave us lots of information on the culture of Greece, Thessaloniki, and region of northern Greece that we were visiting today. As far back as Alexander the Great, this area has been known as Macedonia. We drove through farm lands, seaside resorts and mountain ranges. The trip was to Phillipi, the first place that the gospel was preached in Europe. First the history of Phillipi: It is named for King Phillip who conquered the region about 356 BC. He was the father of Alexander the Great. The city was in a region that grew crops well and was a stop on a major Roman road that linked Rome to Istanbul, Turkey. Since it was strategically located, it was the site of at least one notable battle between factions within the Roman Empire. Today, it is a modern city near the Agean Sea.
The site of the Roman Era city is just outside the existing city and is the site of an extensive international archeology dig. We visited the site and spent time walking through the ruins of the forum (dated to about 160AD). The forum was built on the area where an earlier forum was located that dated to Paul’s travel there (50 AD). The interesting thing about the Basilica is that it never had a roof. The technology did not exist to build a roof over such a large area at the time so it was open air. We also saw the acknowledged site of Paul’s imprisonment in Phillpi. After lunch we visited the known site of Paul’s first sermon and first conversion in Europe. The sermon occurred just outside the walls of the ancient city along a steam where townspeople gathered to collect water. A business woman, Lydia, heard Paul and became his first convert. She was baptized in the stream. Needless to say, it is one of the most important sites in the history of Christianity.

Paul went to the Macedonian region after receiving a vision that he was needed. He sailed from Asia Minor (land East of the Agean sea) to a seaport just South of Phillipi and walked the Roman Road into the City of Phillipi, began preaching and converting people to Christianity. While he was there, he cast a demon out of a slave girl, and was cast into prison because it upset her master. While imprisoned, there was an earthquake that opened the prison doors. Instead of escaping, he stayed in his cell, which led to the salvation of the prison guard and his entire family. Subsequently, Paul was released from prison because he was a Roman citizen. Paul soon left the region, but kept in contact with the Christians there throughout his ministry and actually visited the city on at least two other occasions.

A word about our lunch…our table of 4 ordered four different dishes and we shared them. We had a Greek salad (tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and olives), lamb meatballs with fries, dolmades, which are grapes leaves stuffed with rice, meat and onions and served with a delicious yogurt, cucumber and garlic sauce, and fried cheese pies. Each of the dishes was delicious. When the waiter brought our bill, he charged us for the bread that was brought to the table and the water!

We ended the day with the 3 hour bus ride back to Thessaloniki and supper at the hotel. The buffet consisted of stuffed peppers and tomatoes, a pasta dish, French fries, Greek salad, beef, and lamb. There were several desserts, but we had the Tiramisu-like dessert and a Phyllo pastry that had powdered sugar on it. They were both great. We then walked with friends around the downtown area near the hotel and went to the waterfront and to the White Tower. There were so many young adults out in the shops and eating places. We definitely above the average age!


Caribbean Cindy said...

You are doing such a good job with this. I love reading the history and seeing the pictures. I feel I am there with you and I am for sure praying for you! Love! Cindy

Lynda said...

THANK YOU for doing a blog. I agree with all Cindy said and I really appreciate her telling me about this.
I will look forward to daily up dates!
Library Lynda

Heidi said...

Tell my mom and dad that I am keeping up with their daily travels thoough your blog! I love it! Wish I was there with you-it looks so beautiful!!

Anonymous said...

Your food commentary always whets my appetite! I love dolmades! You and Mike missed your callings. You definitely should be travel guides and write about your excursions - you'd compete with Rick Steves on any day!