From HUGer Joe:
After four days of exploring Northern Greece, the whole group is now back at the Artemis. The past couple of days have been amazing and the things we saw left me speechless. I had been looking forward to this trip from day one in Greece because I knew at the end I would get to climb Mount Olympus, but I learned there is much more to Northern Greece than one cool Mountain.
We began our adventures on Monday stopping first at Delphi. Delphi was one of the most unique sites we have visited yet because of its history and its unorthodox location on the side of a Mountain. Delphi was once the home of the most famous oracle of the ancient world who would give “prophecies”. We learned that the reason that the pythians were able to give these predictions and speak in other languages was because Delphi was over a fault line that released the gas ethaline. Inside the Delphi museum I was in awe when James, our tour guide, explained that one of the most commonly missed pieces in the museum was the stone that had a letter from Emperor Claudius to the proconsul of Achaia (Gallio). This stone is crucial in dating and proving the events of the life of Paul.
After a quick stop in Thermopylae to see the memorial in honor of the battle of the three hundred Spartans, we spent the night near our next destination. The next morning we started early to try to beat the crowds to the Monasteries at Meteora. The location was unreal! The Monasteries were built on the top of some very unique rock formations that from a distance look artificial.
Our next stop on Tuesday was the tomb of Phillip II of Macedonia. The tomb, along with a few others, was discovered relatively recently in the town of Vergina. I say recently because the tombs were untouched for 2,300 years. Because the tombs were covered with a mound of dirt to hide them from grave robbers, everything inside the museum was preserved so well it seemed like we were there when it was built. I had become so used to seeing white statues and brownish pillars that I forgot how much detail and color we missed because of years of weather damage. This site gave me a chance to actually see what something would have looked like 2,300 years ago rather than looking at an interpretation in a book.
We ended our day by seeing the sites of Thessaloniki and settled into our beach front hotel. The next morning, we made our way north to visit ancient Philippi. The sites of Philippi included the possible spot of Lydia’s baptism, the possible site of Paul’s prison, and the oldest church building. My favorite part of the site was the oldest discovered church because it allowed me to see how the church progressed and changed over the first 500 years of Christianity.
To put an end to a truly great trip, some of us decided to hike the legendary Mount Olympus. This was probably one the most challenging things I have ever done. On Thursday, we climbed for about three hours to get to our stop for the night. I was thrilled because it was just cold enough for me to need three thick blankets. We started for the peak early Friday morning and we were greeted with one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen. The higher we climbed the rockier it got. Soon the clouds rolled in and I could see about 30 yards around me. It looked like something from another world to be honest. The hike seemed like it was never going to end. Fortunately, we found the peak and it was an amazing feeling to look out over the mountain range and see how far we had come. Climbing down was just as difficult as going up, so you can imagine that when I reached the bottom of the trail I felt extremely accomplished and physically drained. I think the whole group will agree that we do not regret climbing one bit. This verse was on my mind at the end of the hike, 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
I will remember this trip for the rest of my life.
Shout out to my parents and siblings (Josh, Jill, and Julie) for being so supportive of me and encouraging me to do this trip! I miss you guys a ton! Don’t you worry guys I’ve got a suitcase full of goodies for y’all.