The clock is clicking down as we finish our time in Greece. On Thursday we stopped in the village of Kalamata (home of the olive by that name) and I shopped for a bit after breakfast and a few visits of historic churches. After a drive, we stopped and hiked back to the Polylimnio water falls. The hike was demanding as the rocks were rough and slippery. We made it and the falls and cold, crisp water were refreshing. Lunch was more fish with heads on in Coroni, home of the Mediterranean Diet. We spent a quiet evening the fishing village of Voufrades.
Friday began with a tour of the castle of Nestor (a wise and powerful King). When we visited the Greek Archeological Museum in Athens, we saw Nestor’s golden drinking chalice. His castle was an ornate two story complex with amazing architectural advancements. From there we traveled on to Olympia, home of the ancient games. After a tour of the ancient ruins, including the stadium, temples dedicated to Zeus and to Hera, and baths, Jody and I visited with Heidi Pollard (Helen Pyfer’s sister) who lives and works in Olympia. We chatted with her at her store again on Saturday before we left (and met one of her daughters).
The fact is: museums, archeological sites and castles are plentiful in Greece. This made me very excited. The fact is also true that Greece has many beaches and this made Jody very happy. We toured the ancient Olympic museum on Saturday which was very informative on the development of the games (it began as a one day, one running event game in 776 BC. The ancient games were sadly stopped by a Christian Emperor: Theodosius in AD 394.
The remainder of Saturday was traveling north and spending good amount of Jody time at two beaches. This was a time both to relax and to journal about our time in the Peloponnese. God has been working on me enabling some changes to happen in my heart.
Sunday was our last day of the Peloponnese Tour. We started with a rack rail (Cog Rail) ride to Diakofto (a small Greek village where the Nazi’s killed all the males in the village in 1943 (1200 men and boys). A very sobering history for this village.
We continued to a monastery which suffered under the Nazi’s as well. Roughly 12 monks were thrown off the cliff and died. The mountainside built monastery was beautiful. Then it was on to Athens. We checked into the Acropolis House and felt like we had returned “home.” We enjoyed another great Greek meal in the restaurant area near the hotel.
Monday we shopped, walked to the Olympic stadium in Athens (where the Olympics were restarted in 1896 in Athens. We walked to the Archeological museum and toured the artifacts of the area. So much history for our brains to take in.
Our last day in Athens found us touring the Parthenon on the Acropolis, and the Areopagus where Paul preached to the people of Athens (Acts 17). From here Paul traveled south to Corinth where we visited on our first day of our tour to the Peloponnesus.
At the end of our time in Greece, we have seen God at work in the hospitality, faith-filled conversations with lay people, priests and monks, and in the deep experiences of prayer in various churches. The creativity of God is evident in the beauty and diversity of this land. Not only that, the Bible tells us that God sent Paul a vision to come to Macedonia and Greece from Asia Minor (Turkey). The people of Greece were an important part of the mission of Paul and of God. Jody and I were blessed to be able to experience this part of the land of the Bible.
Only one stop remains before our sabbatical is complete and we return home to our family and to Grace Lutheran Church! It has been so great but returning home will be equally great as well!