Athens:From Panic To Peace

Guest Post by: Bridget Staroscik O’Reilly

On the afternoon of my first day in Athens, we visited the Acropolis. Up there above the city, the warm wind whips around you and Athens is laid at your feet like a present from the ancients. On the ruins themselves a park employee sat eating her lunch; staring into space with a bored expression. For a moment I tried to imagine I had her life: one so filled with excitement that sitting on the ruins of the Acropolis bored me, but I couldn’t imagine it.

Athens, GreeceI had been blown away by Athens since the wild taxi ride that gave me my first glimpse of the city around 4a.m. that morning. Red lights had no meaning to our driver. Red, Yellow, Green, no matter… He would just lay on the horn and the gas simultaneously and keep on going.

This is a different airport experience than someone headed to Athens today would likely have since my first trip to Athens was before the most recent Olympics, so their clean and shiny new airport and simple public transportation system was in the future. Instead our plane arrived on the dark deserted tarmac and had a set of stairs rolled up to us, just like in some movie from the fifties.

When we did enter the airport itself, it was completely empty except for the passengers of our flight. No restaurant was open; no postcard shop. I was definitely starting to get a bit nervous that we may have to stay there until morning when I saw the line of cars painted taxi yellow through the Baggage Claim doors.

We went out to the 1st car in the line and told him the name of our hotel but not much else and like taxi drivers everywhere he assured us he knew exactly where we were going- then! It wasn’t until we started hurtling down streets like one of us was in labor and the hospital was on the other side of town, that he mentioned he actually hadn’t heard of the place, but at that point wouldn’t stop to let us get the paperwork out of our luggage.

Still in a short time we and way too much luggage showed up at our hotel. After a brief argument with the desk clerk we were able to convince him that we were willing to pay for the whole night even though we arrived at 4:45am. It took a few trips in the tiny elevator to get us and all our bags upstairs to a room that looked nothing like the pictures online had.

Ancient Temple Of Zeus, Athens, GreeceI knew I was near a panic. I had been traveling for at 38 hours and I was in a hotel in a country I knew nothing about, as far away from the world I knew as I had ever been. I walked across the room, opened the bamboo doors and stepped out onto the balcony. The view took my breath away. There in front of me lit only by moonlight was the Temple of Zeus. All the panic slid away and I felt a sense of peace, I had arrived. I took a few moments every night to examine that view no matter how late I came in and it always gave me that same sense of wonder. And this was only minor ruins. So how I could I ever be bored by the Acropolis?

Guest Post by: Bridget Staroscik O’Reilly



Dreaming of A Life In Santorini, Greece

Santorini Island, GreeceGuest Post by: Bridget Staroscik O’Reilly

I spent less than 12 hours on Santorini and yet it still feels as though it is a place burned into my soul. From the moment I stepped off the launch I thought to myself ‘I could live here’. There was some sense of coming home as though it was where I was supposed to be. Of course, that may have had something to do with the fact I didn’t have to take a mule up or walk the 580 steps from the harbor where the ships usually drop visitors. Since I was going to Akrotiri the archeological site some say might be the mythical Atlantis.  I was dropped off elsewhere on the island and was whisked onto an air conditioned bus.

Santorini and all the Greek Islands are home to some of the most beautiful architecture I’ve ever seen. The bright blue domes on the white churches and other buildings make them appear at once stark while still exuding a sense of calm. I’ve tried to find out how many churches there are on Santorini, but the closest I can come is that it’s been said there are more churches on Santorini than there are days of the year. I also read somewhere that some of the churches are only opened on the Saint’s feast day.

It’s possible my original desire to visit Santorini was based on nothing more than the Disney movie the Moonspinners and later the book of the same name by Mary Stewart although of course the book came first, just not to me.  The stories made Santorini   seem like a place of mystery to me. A place where excitement happened and dreams could come true even if, like me, you had no idea what your dream was

Church in Oia Santorini, GreeceBack then and I must admit age hasn’t made me any more realistic; I longed to live on the island. Just to set up a home and to see what life is like there. Maybe that’s just the dreamer talking, but I like and admirer the dreamer in me who believes in what she wants rather than finding a million reasons why it wouldn’t work. Oh to give the dreamer free rein and hold back the worrier for once.
To go back to beautiful Santorini and get a home for six months. Something cheap but hopefully still with a view of the caldera and spend my days traipsing back and forth across the island counting and taking pictures of all those churches.  Finding out why and when they were built, what was their history, how could such a small island support so many churches?    When did they stop being needed these churches what about the Saint were they named to honor?

I promise myself this one day. I will take that journey. Of course the worrier insists that would be a huge mistake. Still what would life be like if the dreamer ruled and the worrier only handled things like online banking? I think it may be just about time for me to find out.

Guest Post by: Bridget Staroscik O’Reilly


Patmos, Greece,Poor Setting For The Apocalypse

Guest Post by: Bridget Staroscik O’Reilly

When I arrived on the island of Patmos in October it was quiet. I had missed the biggest part of the tourist season, and we landed rather early in the day but it just seemed to me like a calm and peaceful place. The ship docked in the Greek city of Skala which is known as “the city of Patmos” because it offers the most private and public services of any area on the island. The morning I was there I saw only a small ‘everything’ sort of store where one could buy water or postcards open most everything else was closed. Just a note: buy water there before the hike.

View of Sakala from Monastery of St. John, Patmos, GreeceThe main thing to see on Patmos from a historical prospective is the Cavern of the Apocalypse where St. John wrote the book of Revelations.  Given the importance of John’s work, later citizens of Patmos had built a Byzantine monastery of Saint John above the cavern where John lived while writing the Book of Revelations.

Once we arrived at the monastery, (Quite a hike up a very tall hill) I understood that one of the reasons the town was so quiet was because most of the citizens where there celebrating conveyance of St Thomas’ relics which is celebrated at the Monastery in the Cavern of the Apocalypse ( October 6.

Bell Tower Monastery of St. John, Patmos, GreeceSeeing the views from the Monastery up on the hill where beauty seemed to flow evenly in each direction. I couldn’t help but feel confused by the choice of place. Patmos is a beautiful and very peaceful Island. When we were there, the weather
was nice with just a touch of a breeze.  Patmos seemed like perfect place to retire and run a B& B or move into a light airy building with lots of light and perhaps paint or try your hand at writing poetry of a lighter sort.

John the Apostle did none of these things. Instead when John landed on this peaceful quiet island located in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, he found himself a quiet cave and wrote the Book of Revelations.  Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that he had been exiled here for his beliefs and even a beautiful prison is still a prison. Or maybe it was just that God wasn’t finished with him yet and so he sat in his dark cave a most fitting setting and wrote what he had foreseen.

Still it’s almost hard to comprehend how there in his cave on this peaceful island with its bright sunshine and casual breezes. John sat down and wrote couplets about the end of days:

“The seals are opened and God’s judgments begin falling on the earth. Jesus Christ rides out at the head of the armies of heaven to do battle with the earth.  Trumpet after trumpet will sound, vial after vial will be poured out upon the inhabitants of the earth.
A large earthquake demolishes many of the world’s cities and a great hailstorm wreaks additional havoc.”

Guest Post by: Bridget Staroscik O’Reilly

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