The weekend of Thanksgiving, Jed and a bunch of other students from Bible school went down to Greece because there was a long weekend, not only because of Thanksgiving, but also because of an Albanian holiday (an independence day) that was on the same weekend (more or less).
One of the staff here at the school arranged the bus details for us, and we met the bus on the road right outside the school at 7 in the morning, shivering in the cold morning air, and probably shivering a little from anticipation (at least on Jed’s part, hehe) He was particularly excited because today was the day he was going to add yet another country to his rather rapidly growing list of countries. 🙂
The bus arrived a little after seven, we were pleasantly surprised to see that it was a full size bus, like a Greyhound. Most of the trips we take by bus here in Albania are in something call a fugun, basically a large Dodge Sprinter van. You can cram an amazing amount of people into those things. 🙂 On our trip to Sarande several weeks ago, we rode in one of those large vans, and had 23 or 24 people in that thing. 🙂
Anyway, so we thought this was pretty luxurious, riding in a big comfortable tour bus. We all climbed inside, confirming with them that this bus really was going to Athens, Greece, and not Athens, Georgia, and settled down for the long ride.
After a couple hours we arrived at the border of Greece and Albania. Now, when I arrived in Albania a few months ago, I was sorely disappointed to not receive a stamp in my nearly new passport. I mean, here I had traveled all the way to their country, the least they could do was stamp my passport! 🙂 As a result, I was unduly excited to finally get a stamp in my previously un-stamped passport when we crossed into Greece. There were two border checks…one for Albania (in which they STILL didn’t stamp our passports) and one for Greece, when lo and behold my passport finally received a stamp! 🙂 I know for those of you who have traveled abroad many times before, a stamp in one’s passport is merely a boring routine; however, I am a late bloomer, and it was high time that I finally did stuff like this. So now I am an official world traveler, with the passport stamps to prove it. 🙂
It was interesting to note how the countryside changed as we traveled into Greece. The one big thing that changed was the quality of the roads, they were pretty much on the level of US roads….which was such a change after the lovely roughness of the Albanian back country, winding lanes. It was also so neat for me to think about that here I was traveling through the country that Paul had traversed many many years ago. And here I was viewing the same mountains, the same valleys, all that. I love experiencing things like this.
I can’t possibly upload all the pictures I took while in Athens, it would take too long; so I’m just going to upload a few and insert some explanations in between and I hope you enjoy it! I really really enjoyed seeing and being in Athens, such an ancient place!
The girls in the group stayed in one Airbnb and the guys (there were only two of us) stayed in another Airbnb; they were both right in the heart of Athens and although it was a good experience, it really confirmed for me that I am totally a country guy. Cities are fun to visit but I really don’t have any desire to live in one. 🙂
So it took a day to get down there (there are lots of adventures we had over the course of the weekend but I won’t go into them now as I really want to get this published before too much more time passes), we had three full days down there, and then headed back on the fifth day. Most of the time we just walked around seeing the sights and eating food and buying random things in tourist shops and tried to avoid getting caught by over-eager street vendors thrusting roses in our faces. 🙂 It was truly a fantastic experience.
Here I am as we are going up the Acropolis, there were some big pillars and stuff before you actually get up into the Acropolis area and see the Parthenon and all the other stuff.
I tried to get my picture taken right next to the pillar, but almost as soon as I hopped over the railing and stood on the stone, a woman with a whistle used it, and I hopped right back over. Haha
Here I am in front of the Parthenon, on the east side of it. On the west side there is some scaffolding and stuff and a crane where they are doing some remodeling work and stuff. Guess they wanted a new kitchen in there or something….
Yup. There it is in real life! 🙂
Near the Acropolis area there were lots of little shops and vendors and street musicians and such. This guy was my favorite, I managed to go by him several times because I really enjoyed listening to him. It was like a giant autoharp/hammered dulcimer…there were two damper pedals, and he had two little hammers in his hands, but on the actual instrument there were four or five bridges under the strings, creating different keys and chords and octaves and all that marvelous stuff, it was really beautiful. I took a short video of it too. The neat thing about this is that shortly before I left, I was talking to the guy at the music store in town, and I told him I was going to Albania, and he told me to be sure to see this instrument. He told me the name of it, but I don’t remember it. However, when I get back I can show him the video of it. Although I haven’t actually seen one of these in Albania yet, this was in Greece. But I am glad I got to see it and now I want to play one myself. 🙂
This is me in front of some columns, other neat ruins in Athens.
And here I am again, looking out over Athens and the Mediterranean sea is the direction I am looking toward. Off to my right you can see the Parthenon on top of a hill there.
One of the neatest things we experienced while in Athens was getting to be on Mars Hill. This is the hill mentioned in Acts 17:22, where Paul stands up and preaches. It is basically a big slab of rock in the shadow of the Acropolis, and there’s actually a plaque just below the rock that has Paul’s sermon there written out, although of course it is in Greek, so I couldn’t read it.
We gathered around and read that passage when we were on top of it, so that was very very special. It really makes the Bible come alive to actually be at these places where the apostles were and know, in a different kind of way than I did before, that all these things actually happened.
We had a great trip, and headed back in the early afternoon of the 5th day we were there. We went to the right bus stop, but there was some confusion with the bus company, and so we were a little worried for a bit that we might miss the bus, and ended up running here and there asking random bus drivers if they were the bus to Albania, haha. But it turned out fine and we got onto our bus and rode all the way back and got back here to Bible school a little after 11 that night.
Now in about a week and a half, it will be a three week Christmas break and I am looking forward to a trip up to Germany through several other countries!!