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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

February 11, 2011

TAKE THE LAST TRAIN FROM ROMA

The essence of a journey such as this, or any journey is that we appear and then disappear and never return. Along the way we are noticed by few; slide through the day without a trace and on to the next place.

When we travel, we want the big, grand and unforgettable so that years from now we can say “I saw (insert your specific destination)” and everyone will nod and understand. It’s true, I hope to see the grand stuff….Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Acropolis in Athens and Coliseum in Rome and other places. But, there is more out there. I suppose it has to do with getting the most bang for your buck too. May I suggest a simple destination which encompasses a small portion of Europe and is guaranteed not to amaze your friends, but delight you personally.

Fly to Rome and take the train to Bari, Italy on the coast SE of Rome. Bari is probably not a main tourist destination for most Americans and I suppose if we are here, we are only here to board the ferry to Greece. And, few spoke English, though it is a city of 300,000. But it has its charms. The walk along the seaside is quite pleasant. I imagine in Summer this place totally rocks with people sitting in the cafes along the water and in the piazzas along the streets.

We managed to stumble into the Historic District with its labyrinth of streets which guaranteed that even the locals who did not live in the Historic District would get lost. The District has countless churches and small sacred sites tucked within the ancient city. We found the Church of Saint Nicholas and walked down to the grotto under the altar area and discovered the crypt where the bones of St. Nicholas were kept. It seemed quite mysterious and was also very beautiful. The story of why the bones of St. Nicholas reside in Bari is interesting and can be found on my Blog for Bari, Italy.

Take the ferry from Bari, Italy across the water and find yourself in Patra, Greece. Apparently this is where many tourists first experience Greece and it is not indicative of Athens and Thessaloniki because it is not nearly so crowded. But, it has snow capped peaks just behind it and blue Mediterranean waters at its doorstep. Check out the Orthodox Church dedicated to Saint Andrew…..or the Roman Catholic Church dedicated to Saint Andrew also. I have a great little hotel to recommend too, but to get a wonderful rate, you need to come in the winter as we did.

The only thing better than arriving in Patra by ferry boat is leaving Patra by bus. No, I am not saying it’s good to leave Patra because it is a fine city. But the water and mountains which you can see on the bus journey are so great that you’ll be delighted all the way to Athens. (Once again, check out my Blog on Patra, Greece.)

Athens is madness. Rather fun, though. The Acropolis and Parthenon, the Temple of Zeus and main shopping district are marvelous; all for different reasons. Come on Sunday and wander the Flea Market, which encompasses the entire city from what I could tell. I imagine if you flew to Rome, then trained to Bari, then ferried to Patra and then bussed to Athens you could spend 10 delightful days in two countries; seeing some sights that dazzle your friends back home and experiencing things that no one back home would quite understand why you bothered. But then, that is precisely why you journeyed here in the first place.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing

To follow Bob's journey via his blog, check in daily at:   www.revbobsjourney.blogspot.com

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