Friday, May 30, 2008

Greece Day 5

This morning we had a wonderful buffet breakfast at the hotel before getting on the bus for a 30 minute ride to Piraeus which is the port for Athens. There were so many people disembarking and embarking on the cruise ships that it was mind boggling. After about a 45 minute wait, we were able to begin going through security and getting on the boat. A very friendly gentleman showed us to our outside superior stateroom (per our ticket). After we left port a little after 11:00 a.m., we had a life preserver demonstration at our lifeboat station and then we had a group meeting before having lunch. Most of us chose to eat on the sun deck where they had a nice variety of salads, pizzas, hamburgers, fries, hotdogs, and pasta. The fresh fruit and desserts finished off a great lunch.

The rest of the 5 hour cruise to the island of Mykonos was spent seeing what all was available on the ship, reading outside (out of the wind), and getting some Dramamine…it’s a little rocky at times. The initial reaction to cruising is fine.

This is being sent to you from an internet café on Mykonos. WEewill not post again until we are at least back in Athens and maybe not until we return home. The internet connection cost is $1.60 per minute on the boat and $32.00 for 24 hours at our hotel in Athens. Mike enjoys helping me with the blog, but draws the line at those prices (and I do too.)

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Happy Anniversary to Jon and Kelly. Enjoy many more.

Greece Day 4

Again I want to apologize about another later post . From the website of the hotel where we were staying last night, there was supposed to be Wi-Fi but there was none to be had!

Last night we had we stayed at a beautiful hotel with a wonderful swimming pool, gorgeous roses...a great setting. But we had problems with our room air conditioner---it couldn't keep up with the heat loadgthat came from a record hot day and a full hotel, so the room was hot all night. That added to the fact that Mike's feet hung off the bed meant a long night. After dinner, we sat around outside and visited. Breakfast this morning was sparce...bread, cheese, pressed ham, jams, hard boiled eggs, and Corn Flakes.

We boarded our bus and drove up the mountains to one of 6 monasteries (out of an original 24)that are situated on giant rocks that towered some 1100 feet above the valley below. They were built in the 1400's. We went inside only to learn that the women had to wear skirts...the proved wraparound skirts with elastic waists...and the men in shorts were not allowed to go in. There were some disappointed men in the group. The monestery tour concentrated on artifacts of the Greek Orthodox Church collected mostly around the time Turkey conquered Greece. One disappointing aspect of the tour was that we really didn't get to see how the monks and nuns actually lived. After the tour we boarded the bus and drove by the other monasteries so we could get pictures.

Then we drove back down the mountain to the village below and had lunch. Mike and I joined some of our bus buddies and ate lunch in an open air restaurant in the center of the village. Mike and I shared a Greek salad. We also sampled our table mate's chicken soulvika. I had water to drink and Mike had some iced tea(believe it or not).

A few things about The Greek Orth0dox Church. It split from the Catholic Church in the middle ages over the infallibility of the pope. The Greek Orthodox Church is very ritualistic. They light candles upon entering their church and kiss icons of people like Jesus, Mary, apostles, and make the sign of the cross while they are in the church. All Churches are identical in design. The priests are empltable mate's chicken souvlikayees of the national government and paid by it. Also, they have different rules about how life should be lived. For instance, they embrace the sanctay fo marriage, but make divorce quite easy.(A husband and wife must only live apart for 4 years to obtain a automatic divorce). Also, a person can be married 3 times and still enjoy the blessing of the church.

After lunch, we had a five hour bus ride down to Athens. Our tour guide shared Greek music with us as well as information about Greek politics, the Onassis family, the laziness of the Greek men…she is treasure-trove of information.

Our hotel in Athens, the Titania, is a lovely hotel with a working air conditioner and a delicious buffet for supper. They served a full salad bar along with quiche, pasta, steamed vegetables, beef and rice, beets, fish, potatoes as well as 3 wonderful desserts. One was flan with caramel sauce, another was a rolled pastry and the final one was an apple baklava type.
We’re hoping to get a good night’s sleep tonight before we have to have our luggage out in the hall at 7:00a.m.

This morning we had breakfast at the hotel before we walked a block or so to the city market where we saw the flower stalls, fish mongers, bakeries, meat markets and spice dealers. There were many things we were used to seeing and more things that were new and unusual to us. Two of the most interesting things were the guy who was grinding up lamb, which was OK until you could hear the small bones crunching as it went through the grinder. The other was a stall that had fresh chickens and the guy was searing the fine feathers that were remaining over a Bunsen burner. We then stopped at a kiosk to buy a couple of postcards and stamps before we went to a bank to get some Euros.

We then boarded the bus and drove a couple of hours to Berea where we saw the 3 steps of the synagogue where Paul preached. There was a monument with beautiful Byzantine mosaic work showing the Macedonian call and another showing Paul preaching in the synagogue. The middle was a mosaic of Paul standing. We left there and drove to lunch in the town of Veginia where it was a type of cafeteria. Mike and I shared a Greek Salad and a hamburger steak and rice. It was OK, not great.

We then went to a manufacturing facility that was making “icons.” Icons are painted representations of important people in the Greek Orthodox Church, mostly from the time of the Bible. We were able to see it from the beginning of the choice of wood to the finishing touches of putting on 22 carat gold leaf around the edges of the portrait. Our hotel was very nearby so we checked into our warm hot rooms. (The hotels we have stayed in so far have required us to put a keycard in a slot in the room for the electricity to come on.) The air conditioner in this hotel is cooled with chilled water and it will take a while to get it down some. We’re hoping by bedtime to have it down to 85 degrees!
Dinner was served in the dining room on white table cloths and cloth backed chairs. We had a first course of cheese in Phyllo dough, followed by a small Greek salad, a main course of beef chunks, very tender, peas and carrots, and rice. We also had sliced bread and water to drink. Our dessert was vanilla custard with chocolate sauce. A very good meal.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Want to wish Becky a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY on this important milestone. Enjoy your Greek experience as well.

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!

Greece Day 1

We left the parking lot of First Baptist Church on Sunday around 11:00 a.m. and drove to Atlanta via bus, waited two hours for our 8 hour KLM flight to Amsterdam to leave. After a 2 hour layover there, we flew KLM to Athens , for we had another 2 hour layover before we flew Agean Air to Thessaloniki, arriving at on time at 6:00 p.m. Monday evening. Our tour guide, Nando—a petite Greek lady—met us in Athens and flew with us. Our bags were placed on the tour bus and we started out for a driving tour of the city. Thessaloniki, currently the second largest city in Greece (behind Athens), has a wonderful history that dates back to about 315 BC. It was named for the wife of a Macedonian king, Thessalonica (a step sister to Alexander the Great). At various times, the city came under the rule of a number of dynasties, the fore mentioned Macedonians, the Romans, the Turks, the Greeks, and the Nazi’s to name a few. It was an early colony for Jews, and a center of early Christianity. Most important for this trip, it was one of the locations where Paul established Churches. Although he found resistance from the Jews and was eventually run out of the city. Paul mentions in his visit to Thessalonica that he found a walled city of about 65,000. Portions of the wall are still standing and we visited it at the spot that is thought to be where Paul would have preached. From trhe base of the wall we had a wonderful view of the city and the waterfront We drove through the wining, narrow streets back down to the waterfront before we came to our hotel that will be home for 2 nights. Our buffet supper consisted of salad fixings---really only lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and olives---sliced pork, spinach pie, mashed potatoes, rice, mousaka, some beef chunks, and rolls. Dessert was a square of cake that was good ---like a pound cake with apricot jam on it.
Every one was tired and ready for bed. We have been up for more than 30 hours. Some people were able to get some sleep on one of the plane rides. We slept some of the last 2 legs of our flight. It’s now the middle of the afternoon in TN while it’s 10:15 p.m. here…7 hour difference.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Trial posting

We're trying to post some information as well as a picture to see that we can do it before we leave tomorrow.

This is a picture of the Whatleys from last Tuesday when we were there for baseball games for Payne and Jackson.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


We want to welcome you to our blog! We hope to use this means of communication to let you know what we're doing. Beginning Sunday, May 25th we will be leaving for Greece and Turkey where we will be touring the area focusing on cities where Paul established churches or significant events occured. We'll let you check back at your conveniece to see how and where we are at the time.