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Paul woz here

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Corinth, Greece


That the Bible is merely a myth or a collection of stories is a fallacy dispelled when you walk the streets of Ancient Corinth. Here the writings, given the due they deserve, are accepted as historical fact along with other ancient manuscripts.

Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew called Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.”

The exile is a readily accepted fact, documented in places other than the Bile that so often is viewed with suspicion. It is also known that the Roman Corinth, rebuilt under Julius Caesar in 44BC (having been destroyed by the Romans a century earlier) was mainly filled with Jews and freed slaves. The Biblical account stacks up.

Despite being here after the heat of high summer, the temperature is still in excess of thirty degrees. You can see how tentmakers could eek out a living here; even today you could support yourself sewing canvas. Outside the cafes are expansive umbrellas. Hanging above every shopfront is shade-providing awning. It is not difficult to imagine awnings protruding from the rows of shops in the excavated archaeological site. You can almost hear the sheep and goats bleating, chickens squawking. You can almost smell the fresh catch from the sea brought up the hill to be sold. You can visualise urn-carrying women taking shelter under the trees as they chat on their way to the fountain.


Why would we doubt the Scriptures when it is so easy to see their reality?

We stand right at the spot where Paul was brought before Gallio.


We read:

While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews of Corinth made a united attack on Paul.”

We imagine Gallio at the top of the steps, Paul perhaps at the bottom, surrounded by the crowd. We wonder if anyone looked up to the Acrocorinth. We wonder how much of Aphrodite’s temple remained back then.

Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio [spoke to the crowd] and drove them off.”

Did they go up towards the Temple of Apollo? Built in 550BC, it was still functioning when Paul was there around the AD50s, but was later destroyed by earthquake – only seven of the Doric columns remain, the sole reminder of one of the oldest temples in Greece.

Or did they head north past what is now known as Temple E, The Temple to Octavio?

Or did they storm down the main street past the Fount of Peirene?

Here’s where historical fact blends into legend. Was the fountain made when Pegasos stomped his hoof upon being bridled by Bolerothon? Or did it appear when, distraught at her son’s death, Peirene dissolved into tears?
Contemplating the options along with the four large reservoirs that stored the water, the columned colonnade, the chapel and cemetery that stood atop the spring in later centuries, we leave the blazing sun and take refuge in the cool of the museum. Artefacts discovered in the course of excavation are on display, the oldest we find dating back to 900BC. It’s a pot, intricate, well made, finely painted and incredibly well preserved. We ooh and aah and are wowed, but the hordes of tourists who have arrived prevent us from getting a good long look in the cabinets. Because we’ve allowed ourselves a whole day at this site, we can retreat to the vans for lunch and reading before returning to the site, journals in hand, later on when the crowds have been zapped away in flash busses to Athens.

wandering around the town away from the tourist spots,
we find a four-language inscription of part of the letter Paul wrote to the church here


tolls, tunnels and tzatziki

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Corinth, Greece

Well you couldn’t come to Greece and not buy tzatziki, could you? So we did.
We also did tunnels – six of them in a row through one stretch of hillside (and then back again a few days later), and another one under the sea. Then we went *over* the sea on a magnificent bridge. All of which attracted hefty tolls. “Ah well, it’s only money,” we heard Grandpa’s oft-repeated words echoing in our minds!
5euros, 7euros, 11euros70. All times two vans. And times another two to get NZ$$! We stop before the final calculation. 

At least the diesel is cheap here.
And the roads reasonable to drive on. Mostly. 
And the other motorhome drivers, friendly (in Italy they didn’t wave, which left you with a less than welcoming feel)….most of the Womos here are “fellow” Germans, and they perform the steering-wheel-clasping-raised-finger-salute, and then greet us auf deutsch when we all disembark in a mutual carpark. Come to think of it, we didn’t see many Germans in Italy, just a lot of locals. Maybe Italians are not in the waving club.

The first few days had been a little nerve-racking on the road. Not because of any bad driving behaviour, but because of what we had read; the only rule here is alleged to be “don’t obey the rules or red lights or stop signs”. Greek driving is supposed to be the worst in Europe, and so we were expecting the worst. Have we now got used to the idea that no car is about to come careening out of a side street or have we, perhaps, become immune with our Italian experiences?
The trucks here do not seem quite so eager to climb up your exhaust pipe – although you can still look into your rear view mirror and see the big IVECO logo backwards, with no sign of the cab window, unable to eyeball the truckie into keeping his distance, because they are so close. But other times the view is of the deep blue sea, and that is surely calming.
We’ve witnessed only one new crazy driving technique. I think it’s got something to do with the fact that in a lot of places the roads are one and a half lanes wide. The intention is that slow-moving vehicles (that would be us) retreat to the half lane, allowing the speediegonzaloses (that would be everyone else) to overtake in the full lane. In reality what this means – and we have now seen it three times in two days, so it was not just a one-off madman – is that two cars can overtake one of our vehicles at one time. Yes, a car overtaking us and being overtaken by yet another at the Very Same Time.
Generally speaking, this half lane is a godsend for the likes of me, who do not enjoy big vehicles hurtling down the road towards them in close proximity….you can stay well over and feel very safe. Until you meet a parked car in the half lane, or you meet a lady walking her basket of leafy greens home from market in the half lane, which also acts as a pedestrian precinct in the absence of anything more dedicated to that purpose, or you meet a randomly placed road sign in the half lane….that’s an especially fun one to need to swerve around right when a truck is halfway through overtaking you! They honk. Loudly.
The talk about Greeks not following the rules just does not seem to ring true. Not now that we’ve watched them. No-one has run a stop sign. No-one has run a red light. And they are all very polite on roundabouts. There’s a funny (to us) rule here, and one which we may have occasionally forgotten at first – until we had our Greek Road Code memories prompted by being on the receiving end of the courtesy. Anyone already on a roundabout is required to give way to anyone about to enter it. To us it feels as wrong as driving on the right initially did, but when someone actually stops for you, you feel as if they have tipped their hat and you wish to return the favour with a sweeping bow or curtsey. Adding to the feeling of courtesy, politeness and charm is the fact that sometimes, when a car approaches on a narrow road, they actually slow down or even stop. Drivers seem more cautious than their across-the-water neighbours, whose premise seemed to be “the smaller the gap, the faster you need to attack it”. 
No, the Greeks are by no means the worst drivers we’ve encountered in Europe.

Finally Killini

Monday, September 14th, 2009
Another beach just south of Patra, Greece Well, not Killini. We had a close look at the map. Our initial thoughts of going right around the Peloponnese were brought to an abrupt halt when we decided to walk in The Apostle ... [Continue reading this entry]

living on paper

Sunday, September 13th, 2009
Same beach south of Patra, Greece If we felt like we were in a fairy tale in Germany….and preparing for medieval battles with the kings and queens of England….and swimming round bowls of pasta in Italy with place names that ... [Continue reading this entry]


Saturday, September 12th, 2009
Beach south of Patra, Greece – waves breaking metres away from us (no, we didn’t get to Killini again today either – there are just too many nice beaches!!)


Even before breakfast, which we ate ... [Continue reading this entry]

island hopping in motorhomes? IMPOSSIBLE!

Friday, September 11th, 2009
Lefkada Island, Greece “Not sure you’ll make it to any Greek islands, not in campervans,” people have commented with a degree of un-hide-able remorse-for-us in their voices. Never easily deterred, we made investigations. Over one thousand euros to get us to ... [Continue reading this entry]

it’s all greek to me

Thursday, September 10th, 2009
Beach Number 1, Greece


Being able to recite the Greek alphabet, a feat learned almost three decades ago and for some reason retained ever since, is of little help when your feet touch Greek ... [Continue reading this entry]

on a dead flat sea

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
Igoumenitsa, Greece


There is a blue so deep it goes beyond indigo, so dark you could be forgiven for thinking it was the night sky. But it is neither late nor celestial. It is ... [Continue reading this entry]