Nea Karvali, Greece
Some days are all-round good days. Today was one of them.
Breakfast at the top of a ridge overlooking a lake and hills.
Good morning driving. Easy roads. Fast times.
Pastries and a delicious birthday cake for lunch, eaten underneath a fortuitously-discovered-by-us funerary memorial for one of Alexander the Great’s generals. It had been built in the fourth century BC, fell over (presumably in an earthquake), and was rediscovered by Greek soldiers digging in the 1912-1913 Balkan War.
Lonely afternoon driving around the deserted coast – perhaps half a dozen cars passed in an hour!
Great site to visit in the afternoon. Well signposted. Mostly devoid of tourists.
With playground and dog attacking turtle on the path (huge interest factor for the smaller kids while the rest of us contemplated the historical significance of the place).
Quick stop in the fishing village of Kavala, the place where Paul allegedly arrived on European soil, and which still has a most impressive Roman aqueduct.
Gyros for dinner, ordered from a lady who gave us a very good deal that we still don’t really understand……just after a total stranger had crossed the street and gifted us a soft plaited loaf of sweet bread.
Quiet extra-wide residential street to stop on for the night – last night in Greece, and not one Euro cent spent on accommodation the whole time.
So which site did we visit?
Philippi, the ancient town with a speckled history. As we have been following Paul’s journeys, we focussed our attentions on his adventures here.
In 49 or 50 AD, he visited during his second missionary journey. According to a biblical account, Paul was guided there by a vision of “a man of Macedonia” (Acts 16:9). Accompanied by Silas, Timothy and Luke, Paul preached in Philippi. The Jewish community there seems to have been small, but Paul and his friends found Jewish women gathered at a river to the west of the city on the Sabbath. There Paul baptized Lydia, a purple dye merchant, who invited the travellers to stay at her home (Acts 16:14-15).
Today you can stay at Hotel Lydia – we wondered if the linen is purple.
In another account recorded in Acts, Paul drove out an evil spirit from a slave girl, who worked as a fortune teller. Her owners became angry at their loss of income and dragged Paul and Silas into the marketplace, complaining about them before the magistrates. A crowd joined in the condemnation, and the missionaries were stripped and flogged, then thrown into prison. At midnight, however, a great earthquake came and the prison doors flew open. Expecting the prisoners to have fled, the jailer came close to killing himself, but Paul talked him out of it and converted him. The next morning, the magistrates released Paul and Silas and asked them to leave the city. (Acts 16:16-40)
This structure is traditionally identified as St. Paul’s Prison. However, it is not where a prison would have been located, and it was actually a cistern transformed into a Christian chapel.
On the walls are still some frescoes – quite amazing all the same.
Paul visited the city on two other occasions, in 56 and 57 AD. The letter he wrote to the Philippians dates from around 54-55 and shows the immediate impact of his preaching. The subsequent development of Christianity in Philippi is well-attested, notably by a letter from Polycarp of Smyrna addressed to the community in Philippi around 160, and by funerary inscriptions.
With stories like this, space to run, big structures to hide amongst, beautiful things to look at and time to explore, it’s little wonder we had fun at Philippi.