DAY 4 – THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12:
This morning we left our hotel in Thessaloniki shortly after 7:30. Our ultimate destination would be Athens. It was another beautiful and sunny day, with highs in the mid 70s once again. We have been blessed with gorgeous weather so far!
Driving south on the main highway, our morning devotion was from Philippians 4 (”Rejoice in the Lord always…”) and Acts 16 (about the church at Berea established by Paul on his second missionary journey). The scenery of mainland Greece is actually quite mountainous. On our way to Meteora, we passed by Mt. Olympus, Greece’s highest mountain (with a peak of about 9,500 feet).
By late morning, we arrived at Meteora, the location of unique Greek Orthodox monasteries that go back to the 14th century AD. These monasteries, originally built as simple wooden shelters, are perched high on the summits of rock peaks about 1,000 feet high. We went into the St. Stephen’s monastery. Fontini shared with us about the detailed religious reliefs inside the chapel here. The view from the top outside courtyard was spectacular! After we boarded back on to the bus, we also enjoyed a few other views of the other five active monasteries in this area.
Kalambaka & Thermopolae
Following an enjoyable lunch at a local restaurant in Kalambaka (tasting some of the traditional Greek dishes) and some free time to roam the streets on our own, we continued our drive south. Again, the scenery was quite impressive. Along the way, we enjoy a brief stop at Thermopylae, the location where the “300 Spartans” (led by King Leonidas) battled the ancient Persians. The battle took place in 480 BC.
About 7. p.m. we finally made our arrival into Athens. We checked into the hotel and enjoyed dinner together. Following dinner a few ventured out on an optional walk to Constitution Square & Greece’s Parliamentary building to see the changing of the guards. Also, from the rooftop of our hotel we could see the Acropolis (& Parthenon) all lit up in the distance!