Today provided another opportunity to connect to the world of the Bible and the mission trips of Paul. It was a sunny day with temps in the 80s. Most of us got caught up on some much needed sleep as well, not only resting well last night but catching a nap on the road today!
“Today we visited a few more sites that connected us to the ministry of Paul! We saw Thessalonica and Berea. While Paul faced may challenges in these two cities, people still came to faith in Christ! Paul’s boldness and perseverance is seen again!”
Leaving the hotel after breakfast, we packed the bus and enjoyed a city tour of Thessaloniki. The city was established in 317 BC and named after the daughter (and also half-sister of Alexander the Great) of Philip II. Today the city is 1.2 million, the second largest city in Greece (Athens has 5 million).
We first stopped by the water front to see the White Tower. This was initially an Ottoman structure dating to the 15th century AD. Here also was a statute of Alexander the Great.
In the heart of the city was the Roman Forum (agora in Greek). This was the marketplace mentioned in Acts 17 where Paul was. Close by is the Church of St Demetrius. This was an ancient church dedicated after Demetrius, a martyr who died in 303 AD. Some of the early structures can be seen below the level of this modern Greek Orthodox Church today.
Lastly, we drove to the acropolis for a great view of the city and harbor below. We read from Acts 17 (that mentions the role of Jason) and I Thessalonians 4 (about Christ’s Second Coming). We also remembered another certain believers mentioned by name (Aristarchus and Secundus) who were from this city (Acts 20, Romans 16). They served as later companion travelers with Paul.
Driving about an hour south, we came to Berea. While there is no archaeology here to see, we remembered the Acts 17 passage at a very nice monument constructed in the heart of this city. We read about how the believers here searched the Scriptures diligently. Sopiter, a believer from this city (Acts 20) was another one who eventually became a traveling companion with Paul as well. We also saw the modern Jewish synagogue here (probably built over the ancient one) as well as the river nearby.
About 15 minutes away is Vergina. We first enjoyed lunch in this small village (enjoyed traditional Greek dishes like moussaka, bean soup, lamb, and a Greek salad. It was a great lunch! From here we walked to the archaeological ruins of the royal tomb of Philip II and Alexander IV. Discovered in 1977, these tombs were quite impressive! While there are actually four tombs to see here, the tombs of Philip and Alexander IV (or the “Prince”) are amazingly well preserved even after 2,300 years! These two tombs were found intact. In the museum we also saw many of the items found in these tombs, including many incredible gold pieces.
In the mid-afternoon, we continued our scenic drive south to Kalambaka. This is the heart of the country of Greece. We traversed up and over the Pindos mountain range. At about 6 p.m. we arrived at our hotel at the base of Meteora, a complex of Greek Orthodox monasteries that date as far back as the early 1,300s AD (we plan to see them tomorrow morning). Before dinner 15 in the group got a ride by Costos to the downtown area. We enjoyed some exploring on our own before we returned to the hotel for dinner together.
It was another great day of seeing impressive sites and the beauty of the Greek inland.
DAY 5 – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14: METEORA, THERMOPYLAE, DELPHI