Friday, November 16, 2018


Greece in the Footsteps of St Paul
Feta Heaven!
One of the good things about the timing of this trip was missing the bombardment of election day news.  Snow is also in the weather forecast. I also missed Veterans Day freebies.  But that can be a stressful time too with running around between all the ceremonies.
Here's our departure of our local group from Chatham.  Others joined us at Ohare Airport from Rockford, St Louis, Kansas City and even California.  Please see links for further explanations of the sites we saw.  I use this to save repetition.
Here is the group photo in Athens with those that joined from other places.

Here's the view from my balcony at Polis Grand Hotel.  The end of the street has the Acropolis hill.  No building is allowed to be higher than the Acropolis.  At night it's beautifully lit with lights but a photo will not do justice.   There are electric buses running under cables below.
Breakfast was included in the hotel and this was the Greek coffee maker with sand.  I'd never seen this before but Fr John made me a cup and I liked it.  We also had other types of coffee from the push button machine which I normally used but had to try this once.
Here he demonstrates.  It's a slow process but stirring the sugar to froth point and watching the heat form and eye lets you know when it's done.

This is Wanda, my roommate for the trip.  She claimed to be the oldest person on the trip and had a great time.  She was supposed to be my roommate on the Poland trip but day before her doctor insisted on replacing the trip with gal bladder surgery.  We kept an eye out so we wouldn't miss a bus.

This is Vicki, our Golden Frontier tour guide that met us at the airport.  She went to Athens University 38 years ago.  It's a free college but you have to compete to qualify.

Vicki told us that people walk most places and are apartment dwellers.  She could not understand an American that would drive a car to get a burger.

We had a full day on our first day.  Mass at St Denis Cathedral which was on foot.
Also known as "Agios Dionysios Areopagitis Catholic Cathedral".   Our saint of the day in our homily was Franciscan St John Duns Scotus.
The Baptismal font was large and had a nice photo of John the Baptist.

Of course there are better photos on Trip Advisor:

This is Bob Margruter who joined us in Chicago.  His voice sounds like someone with dental cotton rolls.  He was sick most of the time.
This is Hector.
He was fun to be around.  He loved to laugh so I asked him if he ever saw the laughing scene in Mary Poppins.  He didn't.  His laugh was contagious.

After Mass we went to the Acropolis.  Some rooms had no photos allowed.  Here's my selfie at the Acropolis museum which was build in 2009.  That's Carol and Cliff Shehorn in the background getting their photo taken.  These are replicas of the women holding the roof up on Athena's temple.  Women would carry baskets on their heads but these gals carried a roof instead.

Here's my selfie from the Acropolis over the amphitheater
That's Vicki our Greek tour guide behind me gesturing.  She pointed out the hill where Athenian Democracy was born.  She also pointed out “Areos Pagos” or Mars-Hill where St Paul had preached to the leaders and intellectuals in their own terms and pointed out their weakness.   They liked what he had to say.  Some converted to Christianity.  The Holy Spirit is what moved Paul to preach to the Greeks. Paul traveled approximately 10,000 miles spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the evening we had dinner at New Rigas dinner and folk lore entertainment.  Musicians started off but you can tell with that stage in front of them that there's more to come.

 Solo player (I don't know what kind of instrument he's playing)

 Jamie got jiggity with the belly dancer
 so did Hector

Paula danced with a man in a skirt and tights.

And Ron
Our table was right up to the stage and the dancer stood on a glass right in front of me.

Friday we went to the south coast of Greece called Peloponnese.  Our first stop was at the Corinth.  On the way stopped to see the Canal that connects the Agean and Adriadic Seas which was dedicated in 1893.
The were dredging that cave in on the side.  Very steep indeed.

 Then we stopped at the ancient port of Corinth from which St Paul traveled.
In the footsteps of St Paul where he arrived by boat.
You can still see some pillars from the ancient port.
group at the ancient port.
We were only there for 8 1/2 minutes and then went on to the ancient city of Corinth.

We came back to our hotel about 2PM. Paula, Wanda and I wanted to go shopping in the Plaka (old district) so we caught a cab.  Wanda was interested in getting sandals.  I needed new earrings since the cheapies I wore over were broke.  I also needed some flip sunglasses.  I found them but didn't like them as much as I do my fit-over sunglasses that I left at home.  In fact they let in more sun on the sides and just added another layer of glare despite the store showing me how the UV protection looked through at a picture.  I ended up buying a rim cap.

Saturday was a busy day.  Our group joined a commercial cruise and visited three Islands. It was an optional trip.  As I got on the boat, we had our pictures taken.
As soon as I boarded the boat, I went to look over the edge at the others still boarding and getting pictures taken. Fr John took this one. I should have spread my arms like Rose.

Everyone's favorite was the Island of of Hydra because it was so quaint.  The only transportation was by donkey with the exception of the hospital.  There were a number of movies filmed there.

  Streets did not have names but were referred to by their nature such as the candy store.  This is the little memorial inside the candy store.  We got to meet the the 100 year old grandmother whose grand children run the business.
There is a monastery and museum on the Island.  Some did not go up because of the steps.

 donkeys carrying loads of supplies.

Then we stopped at the Island of Poros.  Bla!

On the Island Aegina I went by bus to see the ancient temple of Aphaia .

The we stopped a Byzantine monastery.  One of the most visited sites on Aegina is the church of Agios Nektarios. Agios Nektarios of Aegina (1846-1920), is one of the most widely known Greek Orthodox Saints. He was officially recognized as a saint by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1961. Each month, thousands of people visit the tomb of Agios Nektarios, to pray to him, or ask for his blessings, which always seem to be answered
It was under construction.

There was no graffiti on the walls on the islands like there was all over Athens.

Sunday we went to Mass at St Dennis Cathedral.  The only English was when Fr John repeated the Gospel.  Father John told us to take home a bulletin (which was in English) to prove we went to Mass.
Then we went to see the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown on Veterans Day at the 11AM but there were too many people I couldn't see anything.  Fr John referred to this as the changing of the pigeons.   He had been whitened by pigeons in the past and ducked when they approached. 
The crowd was partly because of the Athens marathon. Many streets were blocked off for the marathon which had many people from all over the world participating.  I figure I can see it on YouTube.

This is Nassos, our guide, in the middle of them translating.  Fr John met Fr George from the church of the Holy Sepulcher.  Both are former military chaplains.  He was one of our guides and was kind to take us around the old district of Placka.  I stayed close to him because of my hearing and wanted to learn from him about the real Greece.  Others fell away as they passed shops.  Me and the sisters stuck with our personal guide. and later lunch.
  He bought us Greek coffee

 Showed us ruins of an ancient cistern.  All the buildings have some sort of archeological find beneath.
 He showed us a little church that was basically hidden behind street side resturant's fence.
 He took us to an antique market.  Sorry I took a picture of this man bending over.
then he bought us lunch which was very rich on my stomach later on.

I also saw those foot baths with the little fish that eat the dry skin off your feet.  I didn't try it though.

Temple of Posien at Cape Sounion during sunset.
 It was windy at the top. 
 There was a flock of grouse that passed on the walking path. 
Then we came back and had dinner at a restaurant on the Agean Rivera.  I had swordfish for the first time and it was good.

Monday we had an all day trip to Delphi.  I saw a lot of their farming along the way.  It was interesting to see even cotton fields.  Our bus stopped at an overlook of Delphi.
Here's the group taking pictures at the scenic overlook.
At the sanctuary of Apollo 5th and 7th Century BC.
Panorama view of the temple

I went up the steps to see the amphitheater
This is the opposite view of me facing the above amphitheater. The tour sign seemed to show a 1930 performance there but I don't see how this fit what I saw before me.
this is what you see from the opposite view .. a cliff.

In the evening after dinner, our guide took 3 of us that can walk a bit out on an "excursion".  We went to a little out of the way, hole in the wall place with a name that translates to "box".  There we had wine and music in a small hall where musicians and songwriters cut their teeth.

Our last day we had Mass and free time.  I did the reading from an iPad which kept shifting the paragraphs.  We had a couple on the trip that renewed their vows  for their 50th wedding anniversary.  They were married at St Francis Zavier's parish and that happened to be our saint of the day as well.

Then our group of 25 split up for a final day of shopping.  I followed Nassos to the Hill.

We had a lot of walking but a partial ride on the Lycabettus Funicular.  One of the ladies backed away when she saw the rail because she was claustrophobic.  She wanted to wait at the bottom.  However, when we got to the top, she had walked it and I was so proud of her and that she didn't miss the spectacular view.

 St George's chapel at the top of the hill founded in 1834.

 Here is the furnicular.  Don't get me wrong, there were a lot of steps before getting a ride.

Then Paula and I caught a cab to the Plaka for shopping.  I stopped by the Hard Rock Cafe.  We had gyro and wine in the Plaka.  This is a Gyro machine used to cook pork and chicken.  The machine automatically rotates and after a timer it mechanically rotates and slices.
 my chicken yero.

Wow, wasn't that good that Alan brought the dogs over while I was on that long bus ride from the airport. I was going to get the girls this morning. What a life saver he is since we had 5+ inches of snow falling.  I woke up in the middle of the night with cramps in both calves. Probably from sitting so long. I had to set the mouse trap.

"Oppa" as a cheer during a song.
"Ya Mas" for a toast

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Maiden name is Kapp.
I have spent 22 years in the USAF.
I belong to the American Legion, VFW, Womens Overseas Services League, Air Force Sergeants Association, WIMSA, AmVets, Catholic War Veterans.