Today, we hit the road by 7:30 a.m. and it was absolutely packed with cool stuff. We began with a 15 minute drive into the town of Meteora where there are these incredible large rock formations jutting up out of the Greek plains. These formations are from 500 to 800 feet high and here's the significance...in the 4th-6th centuries A.D. a bunch of monks came here to establish monasteries (there were 24 at one time and now only 6 remain). Now, you really have to see this to believe it, but these chapels with surrounding living quarters and gardens, vineyards, etc... are built on the very edge of some incredible precipes. We visited one that reopened again in the 1920's and was turned into a convent. The convent of St. Barbara was formerly a monastery established by Roussenou (spelling is definitely wrong), but I'll bet you could google it and find out the real way to spell it and maybe see some pix). We were able to visit this ancient (and incredibly small chapel with Byzantine frescoes and icon painted on the walls in the 12th-13th centuries) chapel with an incredible view. We packed into this place with ancient church relics (remember Greek Orthodox is an off shoot of Roman Catholic) that depicted pretty much the entire Old and New Testaments through judgement. We learned that the nuns begin every day with a three hour worship service beginning at 4:00 a.m. - standing!
After this cool visit we headed to the town of Vergina and the royal tomb of Philip II (of Macedon). He was the father of Alexander the Great and although there is no biblical history here, we were able to see the stuff buried with his body over 2400 years ago. It was an undisturbed tomb until the 1970's! It was very cool.
We then had lunch and headed to the city of Berea. Now what's incredible about this is that we know that Paul reasoned with them in the synagogue (Acts 17:10-15) and the steps that he preached on are still there in a monument to this day. yes the very steps the apostle preached on I stood on for a picture today. This is incredible stuff for a 21st century preacher to stand where the guy who wrote much of what I preach wrote and spoke 2,000 years ago.
After a short visit we headed to thessoloniki (Bible Thessalonica - where Paul also preached and started a riot in Acts 17:1-9) and went to a chapel from the 6th century. Again very small but there were frescoes of all the twelve apostles still visible, with old candelabras, pulpits, kneeling benches, etc...
We are now in the hotel in downtown Thessalonica and are heading to supper after which we are heading to Starbucks (another religious experience!) and then a walk down the plaza to the Aegean Sea. Tomorrow - Phillipi