DAY 4 – THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 16:
Today was another beautiful and sunny day, with highs in the 50s. We checked out of our hotel in Thessaloniki after breakfast and began our drive towards the south.
Leaving the hotel we read from 2 Thessalonians 3, hearing Paul’s words of encouragement to the early church he founded here. Our first stop was Berea, about an hour away. Although there was no archaeology to see here, we read from Acts 17 about how the believers “searched the Scriptures daily…” There is a monument here in memory of Paul’s ministry here during his second missionary journey. Walking through the town, we also saw the Jewish synagogue. During WWII, about 4,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis here, leaving only about a 100 or so. Here we also met an evangelical pastor named Nicolas. It was a delight to hear about his ministry. Even though he spoke no English, we felt a kindred spirit with him. We sang a few songs with him in his small chapel.
Driving about 20 minutes, Vergina was our next stop. This was once the ancient capital of the Macedonians. This was where the famous Philip II, the father of Alexandria the Great, was buried. His tomb, as well as a few others, were discovered in 1977. We walked through the museum here, seeing not only the tomb but the very impressive items found in the tombs. This included mass amount of gold, armor, and other personal items. This discovery truly rivals the finds of some of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs!
Leaving Macedonia, we drove south to Kalambaka. This is the area of the snow-capped Pendos mountain range, the heart of Greece’s inland area. Along the way we made a brief stop for a bite to eat. Arriving at Meteora, we saw the six famous Byzantine – Greek Orthodox monasteries located here. Their history goes back to the 14th century when the monks sought refuge in the cliff-side caves. Then they fled higher to build the original wooden shelters, which were later transformed into monasteries. There are all perched high on “stand-alone” unique rock formations. We visited one of them, the St. Stephen’s Monastery/convent. The view from the top was spectacular! We learned about the Greek Orthodox religion. Leaving St. Stephen’s, we made several other stops for different “panoramic” views of this amazing and unique place here in the central part of Greece!
Nearby was our hotel in Kalambaka. After checking in, we enjoyed dinner together followed by a brief time of devotion and singing.
DAY 5 – FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17: THERMOPYLAE, DELPHI