DAY 3 – WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 11:
This morning was our first full day here in Greece. Following a great breakfast, we departed the hotel shortly after 8 am. The day’s weather would be spectacular, with lots of sun and highs in the mid 70s.
Leaving the hotel, we read from Acts 17:1-9 about Paul’s experience here in Thessalonica (today it is called Thessaloniki). Driving north and then east a little over 100 miles, we followed the ancient Via Egnatia road. We passed by Amphipolis to see the famous funerary.
Lydia of Thyatira
We finally arrived at a river (the Zygakti River) outside of Philippi. Our first stop was here at the traditional place where Paul encountered Lydia of Thyatira. We visited a modern Greek Orthodox Church that celebrates Lydia’s conversion to Christ. Close by we enjoyed a time of reading (Acts 16:13-15) and singing along this small river.
Only a few minute’s drive is the archaeological site of Philippi. We first entered this ancient at the city theater. In Paul’s day, the theater could have held 2,000-3,000 people. Walking further through the ruins, we also the “traditional” prison of Paul and Silas. We read from Acts 16:19-40 about the “midnight” praise service and the salvation of the jailor. The other ruins we saw included the Agora (market place), a Late Roman/Byzantine church, mosaics, and even the remains of a public latrine. Before leaving the site, we enjoyed lunch here at the site.
About 10 miles away is the port city of Kavala (ancient Neopolis, Acts 16:11). This is the port that Paul used when sailing west into Macedonia from Troas in Asia Minor. We enjoyed walking to the church that displays Paul’s Macedonian vision that brought him here. We also saw the ancient aqueduct that was used to bring fresh water into the city.
From here we drove back to Thessaloniki to visit the White Tower (15th century AD), one of the landmarks located on the shoreline. We also stopped again at the Agora (the marketplace during the time of Paul) and the Arch of Galerius (better known as Kamara, 3rd-4th century AD).
We returned to our hotel for dinner, followed by a brief gathering time. It was a great first day here in Greece! Everyone in the group arrived also.