We docked in Athens at 7 am and after we had breakfast and gathered all our belongings, we said farewell to the cruise ship, boarded our bus and began our journey to the Acropolis and Mars Hill. Knowing that my son Brandon had been here a year ago and stood on this same hill was exciting to me. :) He came to this place before I did! The view from the top of this place is amazing and you can see the whole city from every single angle, no wonder the Devil wanted these gods and goddess temples so high up here. He always wanted to get as high as God Himself, but of course we all know that he never will. It is quite something how these temples were built in a day where they didn't have cranes and large equipment to put up these pillars, they used pulleys and oxen and human labor. Wow! It is overwhelming to see all the statues of emperors who wanted to be worshiped as a god, all the nude and sexually immoral statues, all the gods and goddess statues and to know the reasons why they were all worshiped. This area was so full of sexual immorality and it was all glorified. No wonder the Apostle Paul was overwhelmed and overcome by all the idol worship and temples. These people were so scared of offending any god that they had a monument erected to the Unknown God and that is who Paul wanted to tell them about. In Acts 17:16-34 is where the Scriptures tell us what he said with much boldness "Men of Athens..." He knew exactly how to get their attention by complimenting them about how religious they were and his speech aroused their curiosity. Having one of the pastors in our group read this whole passage loudly for all to hear right here on this place was extremely moving and spoke volumes to us, and it speaks directly to the people around here today too...if only they would listen. I am thankful to come away from this place with so much more insight and understanding of it all. But it saddens me that all the souvenirs and books focus more on the Greek mythology part of it all rather than the Christian side of it all, but then that's also the work of the Devil in our world still today, isn't it.
We spent quite a bit of time at the Acropolis and on Mars Hill, which is at the same place and we also drove by many places like the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, and the Parliament buildings, the great Library, and other old buildings still used today and of course with many statues erected on them...and of nude guys, what's up with all the nude dudes! Yeesh!! It was really cool to stop at the stadium that held the very first modern Olympic stadium that was built in 1896. When we read the passage of Paul talking about winning the race in 1 Corinthians 9, it brings new light to this place as well. Running races for awards is not a new concept and it was already done in the Bible. But hearing it all from a Greek perspective that our Christian guide was giving us was quite incredible. I'm very thankful for our guide and super thankful for how she gave me a hug very early at the beginning of our tour to let me know that she was a believer. She is only 10 years older than I am, but we've been married for about the same amount of years and our children are also the same age, Pretty cool!! :) I am thankful for Voula, our Greek tour guide, she's doing a great job!!
Because our day began so early and our guide knew we would all be tired coming off the cruise ship, we were dropped off at our hotel at 1 pm to have free time for the rest of the day. Our hotel was downtown and we choose to do whatever we wanted...all the places we passed were within walking distance if people wanted to go tour them on their own with passes we were given, but some people slept, some walked around the city, some went to a movie, and some....ok, maybe one.... :) sat at a lovely coffee shop down the street from the hotel and blogged and posted pictures :) I loved it...loved getting caught up on writing and loved hearing everyone around me talking in Greek, others stopped to chat cause I must have looked Canadian or something :) and a few stopped by me to ask for money. A sweet lady with a small girl in her arms broke my heart and I did give her my change, but some of it was in Turkish Lira, she motioned to me give it all to her so I did. Later, she came by my table 3 times, quite angry that I gave her other money. I held up my hands motioning I had no other change but she was just angrily waving the wrong change that I had given her in my face. 3 times the coffee shop staff came to lead her away. One of the waiters even stood around by my table watching for the street people coming to my table to ask me for money, I felt so protected. :) Another elderly man came by and serenaded us at the tables with his accordion. It was quite enjoyable sitting here writing and posting. :) I brought some friends along with me the next day :) The waiters also enjoyed practicing their English, and the one waiter told us that Athens was no good, that we needed to get out of the city to see some great parts of Greece...he even treated us to a dish of frozen yogurt which was sooo good!! But I understood what he meant, being in Athens was not my favorite part of the trip and it was very loud, dirty, full of grafitti everywhere and I didn't like a lot of the stuff that I saw. I was glad we were only there for a day really, even though we stayed for two nights, but one of the days we're spending in Corinth....can't wait :)