Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Greece, Day Seven

(Jenese's words are still in blue, and Rick's are still in black.)

The complimentary breakfast at the Hotel Apollo was a step down from the buffet we enjoyed at the Hotel Princess Flora, but was still quite satisfying.  It consisted of scrambled eggs, (processed) ham slices, cheese slices, yogurt, honey, tea, and coffee -- all enjoyed with the ambiance that comes from 80's rock music pumped through the recessed speakers in the ceiling.  I also noticed there were no persnickety waiters.

This was our most typical tourist day.  Although the Acropolis was within eyesight of the hotel, we took the metro to the Acropolis stop, knowing that our day would be filled with walking.  (Don't worry, blog fans.  We're gonna make up for that indulgence on Day Eight.  Trust me.)  We emerged from the metro on the southeast end of the Acropolis hill.  We walked westward along a wide, cobblestone pedestrian avenue, not knowing the location of the entrance and ticket booth.  From somewhere on our left, we could hear chanting from a Sunday morning Greek Orthodox service.

Nearing the west end of the foot of the Acropolis, we followed a trickle of tourists heading up some steps into a wooded park.  At the top of the steps, the trickle became a throng.  Our blind wandering had taken us to the ticket booth.

We purchased all-inclusive tickets, which provide admittance to a number of the archaeological sites in Athens, and proceeded to the entrance.  People were streaming in, but we had arrived early enough so that there was no line.

We had with us a borrowed iPhone on which I had uploaded free audio guides by Rick Steves.  I started the one for the Acropolis.  I had also brought my Sony MP3 player, thinking one of us could listen to it while the other listened to the iPhone, but it turned out that my MP3 player is so ancient that it would not play the audio format of the podcast.  So, we relied solely on the iPhone with the speaker on and the volume maxed out.  This garnered a lot of looks from other tourists, but Rick Steves wasn't as loud as all the tour guides who were scattered about.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Before reaching the Parthenon, you first pass above the Odeon of Herodes Atticus.  Built in 161 AD by the Athenian magnate Herodes Atticus, it served as a venue for musical performances, seating an audience of 5,000.  It was restored in the 1950's and remains in regular use today.

Bottom of the steps at the Propylaea
After passing by the Odeon, you turn left and continue further up the slope until you reach the original ancient entrance to the Acropolis, which is a massive monumental gateway called the Propylaea.  It was built under the general direction of the Athenian leader Pericles with construction beginning in 437 BC.  It consists of a central building with two adjoining wings.  The central building contains the gate wall, and running through it is the central passageway, which was not paved and lay along the natural level of the ground. The central passageway was the culmination of the Sacred Way, which led to the Acropolis from Eleusis.  The Propylaea served as the grand entryway to the Acropolis, but also served a security function.  People who were not ritually clean had to be kept away from the sanctuary; runaway slaves could not be permitted into the sanctuary where they could claim the protection of the gods. The state treasury was also kept on the Acropolis and had to be protected, just in case the gods became distracted while thieves were about.

What impressed me about the Propylaea was that not only are the massive columns still standing (with some help), but the roof over the central passageway is also extant, which aids the imagination in returning to ancient Greece to commence the Panathenaea festival.

Beyond the Propylaea, inside the walls of the Acropolis, is an assortment of temples, sanctuaries, and statues, all in varying degrees of ruin and restoration.  There are straight pedestrian paths that interconnect the structures, but they are clogged with clumps of tour groups, causing us free-thinking individualists to leave the paths.  This means walking over uneven, slick, gray rock.  One of the most surprising things I learned from Rick Steves was that during the 3rd century BC, all of this area was level and covered over with topsoil and grass.  Now, the Acropolis is almost totally devoid of vegetation, except for a couple of large trees near the restrooms and a few small olive trees.  The gray rock under our feet, combined with the weathered limestone and marble of the ancient structures all around us, gave an appearance in monochrome, but for the vibrant blue sky overhead.

This helped to accentuate the large Greek flag that flaps in the breeze at the far east end of the Acropolis.  It commemorates Manolis Glezos and Apostolis Santas, the two eighteen-year-old Greek heroes who tore down the Nazi flag flying from the Acropolis on the night of May 30th, 1941.

The lack of clouds and shade made the sun exceptionally harsh.  It made us thankful we were there in October, rather than the high tourist month of August when it must seem like Helios is cooking mortals beneath a magnifying glass for his amusement.  Still, I just knew our sunscreen was receiving more than it could handle, considering that Jenese and I arrived in Greece as white as Pentelic marble.  We survived, though -- sweaty, but pale.

I won't attempt to describe in detail all the structures on the Acropolis and their history.  After all, that's what Wikipedia is for.   But I will confess that much of what I saw came as a pleasant surprise, due to my ignorance.  Prior to reading our Athens guidebook, I thought the only thing to see on top of the Acropolis was the Parthenon.  There are actually several structures deserving of some gawking.  A roller coaster or maybe a tilt-a-whirl would would have helped to round things out, but I'm not complaining.

It's just as amazing as you hope it is.  The crowds actually did little to detract from the feeling that I was in a strange dream, wandering in two eras, at the same time.

The Parthenon alone lived up to the hype.  It was covered in scaffolding, which I'm guessing is pretty much a permanent condition, but there is still plenty of it that is visible.  We lingered for quite a while, walking around all sides and taking the expected bucket list photos.

East End of the Parthenon
The Moon above the Parthenon
Of course, Rick Steves had a lot to say about the Parthenon.  Completed in 438 BC, it is the most important surviving building of Classical Greece . . . containing decorative sculptures that are considered some of the high points of Greek art. . . an enduring symbol of Ancient Greece and of ancient democracy . . . one of the world's greatest cultural monuments. . . blah, blah, blah.

I learned some interesting history, though.  The Parthenon replaced an older temple of Athena that was destroyed in the Persian invasion of 480 BC.  According to Wikipedia, in the 5th century AD, the Parthenon was converted into a Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. After the Ottoman conquest, it was turned into a mosque in the early 1460s, and it had a minaret built in it. On 26 September 1687, an Ottoman ammunition dump inside the building was ignited by Venetian bombardment. The resulting explosion severely damaged the Parthenon and its sculptures.  The current restoration project has already cost $100 million and is far from being completed, so I guess Greece should thank the Venetians for this "stimulus project" that just keeps on giving.

By the time we had squeezed all the juice we could out of the Acropolis, the influx of tourists was really starting to swell.  The central passageway through the Propylea was the only way in or out, and when we had passed through it earlier, it looked like this:

Taken from within the Acropolis looking back out.
See how lonely that shadow looks?  Now, both sides of the passageway were a solid mass of people.  Pausing to take a photo like this one would have provoked grumbles, if not a full beat-down.  At the bottom of the steps below the Propylea, the mass thinned enough so that we were able to pause to look for Mars Hill (the Areopagus), which is at the base of the northwest slope of the Acropolis.  That was our next stop.

Mars Hill as seen from the Acropolis
There was a sprinkling of tourists on it, but it wasn't receiving the attention we thought it deserved.  There was one small sign at the base and another on top, but otherwise it did not seem to be getting much promotion.  For us, it was a major attraction, and we had been talking about it from the moment we began planning the trip to Greece.

It wasn't quite what I had envisioned.  Instead of a hillside, it looks like a large rock.  To reach the top, you can use a metal staircase or steps that have been cut out of the rock.  On top, there is almost no vegetation and walking is difficult because the surface is uneven and slick.  I made my best guess as to where Paul would have stood when he addressed the Athenians, and I stood there while Jenese took my photo from below.

Mars Hill
Jenese joined me on top and we sat beneath the only shade tree while we read from Acts 17, using the Kindle that we brought with us.  I loved it.  The words definitely held deeper meaning, reading them at that spot.  We could clearly see the Doric columns atop the Acropolis from where we were and we could imagine those same columns in Paul's view when he stood in the meeting of the Areopagus and said:
The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. . . Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 
Reading the information sign on top of the Areopagus, I was also fascinated to learn that in classical times, the Areopagus served as the meeting place for the Court of Appeals for criminal cases.  This is where murderers would be sentenced to death.  I wondered whether Paul was aware of this history when he was speaking of the one raised from the dead who would judge the world with justice.

It was so strange, and nearly impossible to wrap my mind around the fact that, once again, we were standing on the same ground as one of our ancient brothers.  We joined hands and prayed.  Rick spoke softly, yet some nearby tourists hushed their conversation, in a gentle show of respect.

Our next stop was the Ancient Agora, which was one of the sites covered by our all-inclusive ticket.  "Agora" literally means "gathering place."  As described in the brochure we were handed at the entrance:
The Agora was a large square on the northwest slope of the Acropolis, where social and religious activities, commerce, outdoor theatrical performances and athletic contests were held.  In other words, it was the heart of the ancient city.  But above all it was the center of Athenian democracy, since it was there that the most important administrative and judicial functions and political assemblies took place. 
Of course, it was also the hangout for well-known Greek philosopher superstars including Socrates and Plato.  You can imagine them walking the same paths, draped in togas.  Diogenes was also a regular in the Agora, but after learning of his predilection for the public display of his onanistic hobby, I tried NOT to imagine that one.

We started at the lowest point and followed the Panathenaic Way, which transverses the Agora, while listening to the Rick Steves audio guide.  It's mostly foundation stones and chunks of columns, but enough remains to give you a good idea of how it was laid out in the 2nd century AD when it was in its final form.

The main attraction is the reconstructed Stoa of Attalos, a 2nd century BC building that was restored in the 1950s by the American School of Classical Studies to house finds from excavations in the areas.  Its dimensions are 377 by 65 feet wide, and it is made of Pentelic marble and limestone.  It seems to be all columns.

Stoa of Attalos
The gallery on the ground floor is really impressive.  The exhibition is arranged in chronological order starting with vases and figurines dating back to the Neolithic period, the Early and Middle Bronze Age, and the Mycenaean and Geometric period.  But the items that held my attention were those connected with the functions of Athenian democracy and dating to the Classical and Late Classical periods.  They included a marble stele (336 BC) depicting Demos and Democracy with an inscribed decree of the Assembly of the Deme against tyranny.  It essentially provides for the acquittal of anyone who murders a "tyrant."  (I wonder what happens if the voting majority becomes tyrannical . . . )

Stele of Democracy
There was also a juror selection device.  Unlike the American jury system, which relies upon coerced service and an intensive screening process, in Athens, jury service was truly voluntary.  There were so many volunteers, in fact, that this slot machine-like device was utilized to select which individuals would have the privilege of serving.

Here's a description of how the selection process worked:
During the fourth century, an elaborate system of multiply random selection was introduced, using wood or bronze tickets that each juror brought with him, a sort of slot machine  with black and white balls, and wands color-coded to match the painted lintels at the entrances to various courtrooms. The procedure, which we know in great detail from The Constitution of Athens , not only determined which jurors would serve that day, but which cases an individual juror would hear, and even which jurors would perform certain simple, but indispensable, tasks, such as minding the water-clock that timed the speeches and handing jurors a coin in payment for the day’s service. The procedure was probably meant, in the first instance, to prevent litigants from bribing or otherwise corrupting the jurors, but a likely side effect may have been to turn this step into a ceremony that would impress litigants, jurors, and bystanders with the seriousness of the occasion. Drawing lots was regarded as quintessentially democratic, and those Athenians prone to see a divine hand as lying behind a random process might have seen the sortition as providing an arena for the gods to do their work. Given the wide discretion and great power of the jury, this system probably did much to enhance the prestige of the judicial process as a whole.
I was fascinated by this device, too, but also by the interesting household items, such as grills and a kiddie potty, and the busts and statues.  I always want to touch the faces, so well carved that you just know they're about to blink, and whisper to you.

On the other side of the Agora from the Stoa is the Temple of Hephaistos.  Another Doric-columned temple constructed in the 4th century BC, it looks like a miniature Parthenon.  However, it has never required the kind of restoration work given to the Parthenon.  For the most part, it has remained unscathed since it was originally constructed, which certainly sets it apart from anything else in the Agora.  I thought it was odd that I had never heard of it and it gets only a brief mention in the brochures.

Temple of Hephaistos
Our final stop before leaving the Agora was the Church of St. Dionysius the Areopagite.  It is appropriately located just behind Mars Hill.  It was build in honor of Dionysius, who is mentioned Act 17:34 as being persuaded by the words of Paul spoken on Mars Hill: "Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others."  Tradition has it that he became the first bishop of Athens and suffered a martyr's death under the Emperor Domition.  Canonized by the Orthodox Church, he became and still is the patron saint of Athens.

Church of St. Dionysius the Areopagite
For lunch, we sat on a bench not far from the church (building) and ate snacks out of Jenese's travel bag.  This was supposed to include a nectarine that had traveled with us all the way from Rhodes, but after getting beat around inside the bag all morning, it was seriously bruised and in a foul mood, causing it to dispel juice onto Jenese, me, the bag, and the bench.  We headed for the Acropololis Museum, all sticky.

The Acropolis Museum was completed just in time for Athens to host the Olympics, and it is truly spectacular.  It was built to house every artifact found on the Acropolis and around its base, from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. It also lies on the archaeological site of Makrygianni and the ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens.  The walkway in front of the entrance is made of see-through Plexiglass so that you can look down at your feet and see the ongoing excavation work.  This is a brilliant architectural design, but it must have really increased the construction costs.

At the entrance to the Acropolis Museum with the Athenian owl behind us.
The museum consists of multiple levels, each of which is lined with picture windows that allow for a beautiful view of the Parthenon on one side and allows for natural lighting all the way around.  It might be too much natural light, since we were forced to wear sunshades for part of the time as we viewed the 4,000 items the museum contains.  I soon had my fill of statutes and vases, so stares became glances, and we were moving at a pretty good pace by the time we reached the third floor.

I still regret not stopping in the gift shop to purchase an Athenian owl for our bookshelves.

Another reason for picking up that pace was that we had a goal of making it to a church of Christ in Elliniko in the southern part of Athens in time for evening worship.  Getting there required taking the metro to the end of the line and then taking a bus still further for about a dozen stops.  The names on the bus stop signs were written solely in the Greek alphabet, so spotting the correct stop was a challenge.  Jenese managed to catch it, otherwise I would probably still be on that bus.

An even bigger challenge was locating the church building.  We had a street address, but had no idea how to find the street from the bus stop.  We crossed the widest and busiest street I've ever crossed in my life and then just started wandering along the same street back the way we had come on the bus.  The numbers on the buildings were in the right ballpark, even though the street name wasn't right, so we turned up a side street.  We had just about given up when we spotted a large group of people, neatly dressed and walking in our direction.  They definitely had a church of Christ aura about them.

Another example of God's providential intervention.  I looked over my shoulder in time to see this group disembark from a bus.  They were dressed nicely, and carried iPads and books that I just knew were Bibles.  Spirit was calling to spirit, so I felt bold enough to speak to them.

Jenese approached the oldest gentleman, who seemed to be leading the group, and asked him if he could give us directions.  Not only did he turn out to be American, but he told us he was headed for the church building we were looking for and we were standing right in front of it.  (There was no signage of any kind.)

There were congregations closer to our hotel, but we wanted to go to this one because the lead minister is Dino Roussos.  In addition to being an evangelist, he's also a licensed archaeological guide and owns his own travel agency, Aristotle Travel.  Friends of ours from church had used Dino to arrange their trip to Greece earlier in the year, and they told us about Dino  I also intended to use his services, but it didn't work out.    One of his agents prepared an itinerary and emailed it to me, but I had to tell her the price was too steep and that she needed to dial it back.  She sent me a stripped down itinerary and I told her to dial it back some more.  I must have broken her dial, because I didn't receive anymore email after that.  Nonetheless, Dino knew we were coming.  There was even a message from him waiting for us at the front desk when we arrived at our hotel.  So we were really hoping to see him at the church service.

We didn't know what to expect in the way of a Sunday service.  I assumed it would be a small group of locals, with the service in Greek, but it turned out that the church has two Sunday services -- Greek in the morning and English in the evening.  The bulk of the congregation, including the group we met walking outside, consisted of Harding University students from Searcy, Arkansas.  There were between 20 and 30 of them living and studying in Athens for the semester.  Overseeing the Athens study program is Dr. James, whom we met earlier.  There were also three Iranian refugees in attendance.

We met Dino before the service started.  He's in his late 50's, of medium height, and has gray hair, silver-rimmed glasses, and a large belly that gives a rock to his confident stride, which in turn highlights a large personality.  To borrow a Tom Wolfe description, he's a man in full -- intelligent, high energy, sure of himself, and sure that you'll see things his way.  After a brief introduction, he assigned me the task of leading the prayer for the Lord's Supper.  Apparently, assigning tasks comes easily to Dino.

Charisma often seems the hallmark of those truly gifted in evangelism.  I think that's why their work is growing so well, though.  Brother Dino has the God-given energy and strength not only to start and oversee the work, but also to motivate others to participate.  I wanted to stay and help -- especially with his son-in-law's mission (see below) -- and he wasn't really even trying to recruit us.

It was a fascinating Lord's Supper.  In addition to the prayer I lead in English, Dino lead a prayer in Greek, and one of the Iranians led a prayer in Farsi.  (At the downtown congregation, you can hear services conducted in Russian and Bulgarian.)  The sermon was given by a visiting Harding professor (I think), who is also a minister at a congregation in a small Arkansas town.  His last name is Butterfield.

The Lord's Supper was beautiful.  To illustrate the truly effective power of fervent, righteous prayer, Mr. Butterfield told the wonderful story of how God intervened to save his wife's life after a horrific car accident, and restored her to a level of health the medical professionals never expected her to reach (they never expected her to live, let alone thrive).  You'd never know it -- we didn't, and we were sitting right behind her!  And God is using that congregation's boldness and love to reach many souls.  We should all be willing to hit our knees, collectively, and so confidently.

After services, we met Dino's American wife, Debbie.  She looks to be at least a decade younger than Dino.  She's really attractive, with long straight blond hair and low bangs.  Dino and Debbie met while they were both students at Abilene Christian University.  Dino already had a degree in archaeology and had worked as a tour guide in Israel before attending ACU, while I assume Debbie was a student right out of high school.

We also met Mark, their son-in-law, who is from Muskogee, OK. He's in Athens overseeing a ministry that serves immigrants who are transitioning through Greece.  Many immigrants from third-world countries are using Greece to gain entry into the EU, often illegally.  Mark's organization helps them with their basic needs and shares the gospel with them.  Mark explained that their numbers have shrunk in recent months as the Greek government has been pressured to crack down on illegal immigration due to the bad economy.  Also, members of the growing fascist party, Golden Dawn, have been getting violent with immigrants. (We saw their Nazi-like party symbol spray-painted on walls.)

After just about everyone had left, Dino talked to us about our desire to visit Corinth.  Originally, we had planned on paying to go on a group trip arranged by his company, but when his agent stopped responding to my email, I decided we would just rent a car, which would be cheaper anyway.  But it turned out that Dino was planning on personally escorting us to Corinth for free.  This was very generous, and it was tempting to take advantage of having our own professional guide, but we could tell that he didn't have that kind of time to spare, and so felt like we would have been imposing.  He seemed relieved when we assured him that we could get to Corinth on our own.

He even explained how easy it would be to drive there, since our hotel was right on the very road we'd need to take -- just get on, and follow the signs.  Dino also suggested another couple of stops to round out our day.

But when Dino invited us to go with him and Debbie to have supper, it really was a relief.  That's because it had not occurred to us to purchase a return bus ticket when you cannot purchase tickets on the bus, so we had no idea how we were going to get back.  Now, Dino was going to drop us off at the metro.

We climbed into Dino's SUV, which is a conspicuously large vehicle for Athens traffic, and headed for the mall.  The traffic was horrendous and we were almost immediately caught in a jam that was apparently caused by an accident far up ahead.  Dino calmly changed lanes and back again, wedging the large SUV in front of compacts, as he searched for the fastest moving lane.  (With Debbie trying to give suggestions in a calm manner.)  He jumped a curb to drive over a median and onto an access road, but it still didn't help.  He became agitated.  Clearly, there were some assignments he needed to give, but there was no one within shouting distance to whom he could give them.

Eventually, we inched past the smashed up vehicles and the traffic started moving again.  We arrived at a really large, multistory, modern-looking shopping mall.  We parked in the nicest, most brightly lit underground garage I've ever seen.  Because it was Sunday evening, all the shops were closed, but the movie theaters and restaurants were open, so the mall was filled with teenagers.

Dino and Debbie asked us if were were okay with T.G.I. Fridays and we both lied and said that was fine with us.  (In Greece, shouldn't it be called T.Z.I. Fridays?  Think about it and wait for the rim shot.)  So instead of moussaka, dolmas, or souvlaki, we had to select from a menu of standard American chain food.  We were used to paying slightly higher food prices in Greece, but it was less bearable when we knew we were getting the same drek we could get in Tulsa.  Seeing the prices (and the carb load), we both held back, even though we were starving.  I ordered the chicken Caesar salad and Jenese ordered the nachos, which turned out to be a basket of chips with a small scoop of meat and processed cheese goop.

It was supposed to have tomato sauce on it.  Couldn't really find it.

But the dinner conversation made up for the disappointing meal.  We enjoyed learning about the fascinating lives of the Roussos family and Dino's work with the church.  He's even published a book in which he explores the practice of the Greek Orthodox Church, versus what their original fathers wrote.  I was particularly interested when Dino explained why the Elliniko congregation did not have a sign.  This began with Dino expressing his satisfaction that the congregation recently obtained government permission to meet as an official group.  This involved an approval process that required at least one trip to court.  That was just so that they could meet.  A second approval process will be required in order to be recognized as a church and to place a sign above the door.

I was so stunned by this, that I had him explain it to me a second time.  Inwardly, I was appalled, but Dino seemed perfectly fine with it.  He even said that it was good that "everyone be accountable to someone."  About a dozen libertarian quotes ran through my head.  I'm subject to the ruling authorities, but when it comes to worship, I'm accountable only to God.

But it got worse.  Dino pointed out that the Greek constitution bans proselytizing. I looked it up and there it is under Section II, Article 13:

1. Freedom of religious conscience is inviolable. The enjoyment of civil rights and liberties does not depend on the individual's religious beliefs.
2. All known religions shall be free and their rites of worship shall be performed unhindered and under the protection of the law. The practice of rites of worship is not allowed to offend public order or the good usages. Proselytism is prohibited.
3. The ministers of all known religions shall be subject to the same supervision by the State and to the same obligations toward it as those of the prevailing religion.
4. No person shall be exempt from discharging his obligations to the State or may refuse to comply with the laws by reason of his religious convictions.
5. No oath shall be imposed or administered except as specified by law and in the form determined by law.
Freedom of religious conscience is inviolable.  But evangelizing is prohibited.  This means that if Paul were to address the Athenians from Mars Hill today, he would be subject to arrest.  Who knew that 1st century Greece under the Roman Empire was the good ol' days when it comes to religious liberty?

I was horrified, which I think only shows how naive I am about the world.  I suspected there would be a cultural preference for the national church, certainly, but then I also thought Greece was more easygoing about such things.

Also, all "known religions are free," but until the government determines that your religion is "known," don't try putting a sign over your door.  Oh, and is here is another provision from Article II, Section 3 of the Greek constitution:
The text of the Holy Scripture shall be maintained unaltered. Official translation of the text into any other form of language, without prior sanction by the Autocephalous Church of Greece and the Great Church of Christ in Constantinople, is prohibited.
So look out, William Tyndale!

Undoubtedly, these laws exist to protect the Greek Orthodox Church from the competition.  Although Dino certainly has no love for the Orthodox Church, Greece is his country and I guess these laws make sense to him, but as for me, I no longer think of Greece as a free country, and I wonder why Voice of the Martyrs does not include it on their list of restricted nations.  Unfortunately, it's probably because using my definition of religious liberty would reveal there to be more restricted nations than free ones.  I've since learned that conditions were even worse before Greece became a member of the EU and they were forced to loosen up, so maybe I should be thankful that the Elliniko congregation can meet at all, sign or no sign, and maybe I should start singing the Star Spangled Banner with more conviction.

We enjoyed our evening with Dino and Debbie, even if some of my libertarian buttons got pushed.  They are a very nice couple, seem to have great kids, and have a passion for serving in the Lord's church.  Oh, and Dino picked up the check, so our T.G.I. Fridays meal suddenly became a good one.  (I should have ordered more food!)  They gave us hugs good-by at the elevator and told us how to get to the metro station.

I love how we can find family just about anywhere we go.  God knows we need each other (and not just to get to the metro station!).

We had no trouble making our way back to the hotel.  We topped off our partially empty bellies with dried figs and went to bed.  Was that really just one day?

Envy – A Silent Sin

Envy Plucking the Wings of Fame

Beginning in December, I will be teaching a 12-week class on the sin of envy on Sunday mornings at Adams Blvd. Church of Christ.  The following is a class description, as well as a bibliography listing the source material.

Class Description

Envy is a sin that is often listed, but seldom confessed.  Many of us think our hearts are free of this sinister force and then are surprised when we find ourselves slow to share in rejoicing when a brother is honored. In this class, we will look at how envy operates in society at large and particularly within the Lord's church, where it impedes the progress of God's kingdom.  We will learn how to recognize envy and move past it to true biblical love for one another.



Envy: The Enemy Within, by Bob Sorge.  (This is a brief study of envy, written for a Christian audience.)

Envy: A Theory of Social Behaviour, by Helmut Schoeck.

Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, by Kenneth E. Bailey.


"The Origins of Envy," by Max Borders, The American (Jan. 2012).

"Envy (Definition)," Wikipedia.

"Seven Deadly Sins," Wikipedia.

"Are People Willing to Pay to Reduce Others' Income?," by Daniel John Zizzo and Andrew Oswald (June 2001).

"They Clapped: Can Price-Gouging Laws Prohibit Scarcity?," by Michael Munger, Library of Economics and Liberty (Jan. 2007).

"The Envious Affluent," by James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 17, 2012).

"What Drives Views on Government Redistribution and Anti-Capitalism: Envy or a Desire for Social Dominance?," by James Lindgren, Northwestern University - School of Law (March 2011).

Envy Quotes


"How Sweet, How Heavenly, is the Sight," by Joseph Swain (1792).


"Babies Help Unlock the Origins of Morality," CBS 60 Minutes, November 18, 2012.


The following works of fiction all deal with the theme of envy.  It is unlikely that we will discuss them in class, but they all provide an enjoyable means of examining envy more in depth. 

Envy, by Yuri Olesha.  (A Russian novel originally published in 1927.)

Facial Justice, by L. P. Hartley.  (A satire set in the future, it was originally published in 1961.)

Billy Budd, by Herman Melville.

Paradise Lost, by John Milton.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bountiful Basket

Today's haul from the Bountiful Baskets food co-op.

Eating 25 pounds of Clementine tangerines will be a challenge.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Greece, Day Six

To return to Greece . . .

(Jenese's words are still in blue, and Rick's are still in black.)

Our final day on Rhodes dawned to find us once again sticky and in need of cooler air.  After breakfast, we loaded the car, turned in our room key, and set out to see what adventures the western half of the island had in store for us.  The plan was to cut over to the western highway, drive all the way to nearly the southern end to start our sightseeing, and then work our way back north.  We intended to arrive in Rhodes Town in time to turn in the Fiat, grab a bite of dinner that wasn't sliced out of a tube and drizzled with pineapple unexplainable, and catch the bus to the airport for our flight to Athens.

Spoiler alert:  We succeeded.  We know you're surprised.  You should be.  And we're big enough to admit that.

Breakfast was our final meal at the Hotel Princess Flora.  As we left the restaurant, the Waiter smiled and said good-by, as if he knew we were leaving for good and the time of strife had come to an end.

As we entered the connecting road between the east and west highways, Rick spotted an exciting sign:  "Bee Museum."  Many of you know that we are amateur beekeepers, so it should be no wonder that this instantly became a must-stop.  It turned out to be a cute little place, perfect for second-grade field trips.  It had educational exhibits (which we did not pay to see), a bee garden, and a gift shop offering all sorts of beekeeping gear, different types of honey, and various treats and cosmetics made with honey.

The prices on the gear were surprisingly reasonable.  I was tempted to stock up, but was deterred by the prospect of taking beekeeping equipment through TSA screenings and fitting it into overhead compartments.  

Bee Museum
Rhodes prides itself on its honey.  The warm climate, long growing season, and abundance of plants bees love all make for a wonderful environment for producing this golden treasure.  We sampled thyme honey and pine honey, and picked up jars for ourselves and our families, along with a couple of sesame seed and honey treats to nibble on.  True to their names, thyme and pine honey have rich, aromatic, herbal flavors that blend strangely well with the sweetness of the honey.  It's hard to describe, but believe me:  If ever you try it on yogurt with walnuts and figs, you'll never go back to Yoplait.  We also picked up a few ideas out in the bee garden, although the hives did not appear to be inhabited.

Greek bees are prone to going on strike.  It drives the Germans nuts. 

And back to the road.  The western highway was less resort-ish.  Instead, there was a succession of small towns, with free beaches here and there, featuring a taverna and occasionally real sand.  More beautiful water, more gorgeous, piny mountains.  We seemed to reach the mountains more quickly on this coast.  When Rick needed a stretch break, we stopped at little Kopria, which boasts a Lycaean tomb.  It's basically a big triangle carved on a big rock.

Lycaean Tomb
I don't know if "boasts" is the right word.  The rock face containing the faint chiseled outline is on the other side of a chain-link fence at the end of a large parking lot.  There was a single sign that simply read "Lycaean Tomb."  I was more impressed with the free restroom at the opposite end of the parking lot. 

And back to the road.  It curved higher and higher into the mountains, and farther from the coast.  As we approached our destination, the ruins of a castle at Monolithos, we found a scenic overlook with two roadside stands, placed several yards apart.  Or meters, if you want to be all EU about it.  We stopped in between them to take a few photos of the castle with the sea behind it, and then drove over to the second, smaller stand.  
View of the castle from the roadside honey stand
The woman running the stand welcomed us warmly, ascertained that we spoke English, and proceeded to feed us tastes of everything she had for sale.  She gave us "flowers" honey, bread dipped in fruity, rich olive oil, a sinus-clearing moonshine called souma, and peanuts covered in honey and sesame seeds (and "aromatic stuff" -- it says so on the package!).  I tried to compliment the food in Greek by saying "orea", the word for "good" I'd learned in travel guide.  She smiled.  "You say, 'poli oreo,'" she replied in a deep, gentle tone and raising her hands, fingertips together, for emphasis.  "This means, 'very good.'"  I repeated it until I had it down, and mentally dubbed her my new Greek auntie.  We chose more honey (which she wrapped in tape, so it wouldn't accidentally open in our bags), and a bag of those tasty peanuts, and thanked her.  She wished us all the best and safe travels, and we continued to the castle.

"aromatic stuff"
We parked at the foot of a hill and, to the apparent amusement of other tourists, applied sunscreen.  Guess what happened next?  That's right!  We climbed -- more stairs!  They must have stabled all their horses downhill, somewhere.  There would have been no awe-inspiring galloping through the portcullis, from Monolithos Castle.  Some walls and arches still stand on the tippy-top of a peak, as well as an arched room that served as a storehouse, I believe.  And there's a little white chapel.  It was surprising to find little protection around the edges, as well as no supervision, compared to some places we've visited, where the out-of-bounds spots were roped or fenced off, and dragons disguised as docents hovered to ensure you kept your grubby hands to yourself.  Here, you could scramble about at will, at your own risk.  Perhaps the Greeks figure we were all given brains for a reason.

Or perhaps castle attendants tasked with keeping tourists from falling to their deaths were the first to get sacked with the onset of Greek austerity measures.  The Venetian castle was built in 1480 by the Knights of St. John and was never conquered, but is now overrun with German and Russian tourists.  

Once again, I was entranced by the view of steep hills thickly covered in pines, sweeping down to the blue, but it didn't take long to thoroughly explore the ruins.  Soon we were back on the road.  I waved at Greek auntie as we passed, and she returned it, enthusiastically.  I like these people.

We were able to see Greek aunties' honey stand from the castle.  We felt sorry for her when we saw a large tourist bus stop at the stands further up the hill and tourists loaded up with honey without taking notice of her more isolated stand.  

As Rick negotiated the tight turns and twists of the road, I fell to watching the slopes.  I noticed that the soil was variegated, in dusty shades of pink, green, yellow and brown.  Maybe that's a strange thing to notice, but, to me, it was yet another item to add to the list of beautiful things to find on this island.  We stopped at Kritinia Castle, which is in much the same shape as Monolithos, but it is on a smaller hill, and is surrounded on nearly three sides by farmland.  We explored, ate snacks in the shadow of the castle, and continued north.

It is another Venetian castle built by the Knights of St. John.  Much more remains of it than of Monolithos Castle, so I was surprised that there were fewer tourists.  There was a ticket booth, but it was locked up, so we once again had FREE reign of the castle without adult supervision.  After some thorough exploration, I found some shade and enjoyed the view of the Aegean while Jenese got artistic with the camera.  (See the photo at the top of this blog entry.)

Kritinia Castle
Our final sightseeing destination was Ialyssos, with its tall Mt. Filermos.  Here, high above Rhodes, the ancients built an acropolis.  Rick drove the Fiat up yet another piny slope, to the flat top.  We parked and walked up to the gate, only to find that the ticket booth was closed.  We hesitated in confused consternation, but the sight of a number of other tourists wandering in and out of the grounds freely, emboldened us to march right up the path.  

An open gate and closed ticket booth is my favorite combination. 

It's an elegant, dreamy place.  Peacocks tiptoe on the open ground between the widely spaced pines and oaks.  A monastery and chapel were built atop the ruins long ago, and the the small towers and little cloisters seemed to grow quite naturally out of the top of a gentle slope.  The buildings were closed to entry -- that, perhaps, may have been where the tickets would have gotten us -- but we could look about the quiet grounds freely.  Sunken in the ground beside the chapel was the baptistry of an early Christian church, shaped like a cross.  In front of the monastery are the ruins of an ancient temple and necropolis.  Behind the monastery were the remains of a Byzantine castle.  We reached it by strolling down a lane flanked by pines, whose fallen needles softened our steps.  I had that feeling again, of being taken back to an older time.  We returned to the slope in front of the monastery, and I found two large benches set into the hill, placed several yards apart.  They were semicircles carved from stone, nearly hidden by the low-hanging branches of venerable trees.  I tried both out, and found them to be quite comfortable.  Perfect spots for letting the imagination wander.

The baptistry is what remains of a triple-aisled basilica built in the 6th century A.D.  The basilica was built from material taken from the temple of Polias Athena, which was built in the 3rd century B.C.  The foundation of that temple is still visible.  The Byzantine fortifications were used by "Suleiman the Magnificent" as his headquarters during the great siege of 1522.  But most tourist cameras seemed to be pointed at the peacocks roaming the grounds.   

We passed by the ticket booth and found that the path continued to the other side of the hill.  It became a wide lane, also flanked by huge pines.  It was thick with tourists.  We joined the stream.  At intervals were stone monuments depicting the stations of the cross.  The lane terminated in an overlook, dominated by a huge cross.  The arms of the cross could be reached by a tight, spiral staircase inside the central shaft.  Rick was up top in no time.  I made it about halfway, but a choking fit of acrophobia sent me shivering back down.  Nevertheless, the view from the base of the cross was spectacular.

Looking southward, I could see the island's old airport below and to my left, and the new, much larger airport to my right.  I was able to watch passenger jets pass by at eye level and then drop below me to land. I noticed a warning light at the end of the arm of the cross I was standing on.  Presumably, that's to shoo jets away from the cross.  

It was time to return to Rhodes Town, which is about 15 minutes north of Isalyssos.  Dreading the stroke-inducing snarl of traffic, I studied the map and found the intersection where we'd need to turn to go straight to the rental place.  And then missed it.  When we reached the port, where we'd boarded the ferry, we knew we'd gotten something wrong.  Rick bravely pointed the Fiat back into the thick of Rhodes Town, disregarding my gasping map-flapping and trusting in the idea that if we just kept turning east (or left, from our perspective), we'd somehow find it.  Bless me if he wasn't right!  (By going left, har, har.)  In a very few minutes we were stunned to see the sign for Zeus Rent a Car.  We gratefully tumbled out, turned in the car, and collapsed at a sidewalk cafe across the street.  We filled up on soulvaki and gyro plates before catching the bus to the airport.

Our uneventful flight landed in Athens at 9 p.m.  (Uneventful except for the tragic loss of honey, which was covered in an earlier post.)  The express bus dropped us at Syntagma Square (the main square, located in front of the Parliament building -- more on that, later).  From there we caught the Metro to Karaiskaki Square.  Now, we did not have directions from the Metro stop to our hotel.  Rick had sent an email inquiry to the hotel, but never received a response.  So, my little adventurer decided to bet on his luck and simply hope that the Metro stop would have a street map.  It did.  I (a nervous wreck from watching for bus stops and Metro stops and wondering whether we'd EVER see our hotel) tried to focus my tired brain and eyes on picking out the street name we needed from the tangle of avenues on the map.  

We had already suspected that God was closely guarding our steps, but He was about to prove His presence, unequivocally.  I must tell you that we were alone, downstairs in the quiet station -- it was around 10 p.m.  Out of nowhere, a little gray-haired man appeared, leading a child by the hand.  Or, rather, the child was trying to drag the man holding on to his hand.  The man peered at us through thick glasses, and then, in a soft, quiet voice, asked if we needed help finding our way.  He knew exactly where our hotel was, gave us directions, and allowed the child to pull him away.  We seemed to be on the same path, however, because we met again, upstairs, and then again, at street level.  Each time, he reiterated the directions, apparently determined to make sure we arrived safely at the hotel.  When we reached the street, he set us precisely on the right path before the child dragged him across the square and into the night.  

The child looked to be about 12 years old and seemed to be autistic.  We did not rate very high on his attention meter. 

The hotel was exactly where our angel had said it would be.  I asked God to bless this angel He'd sent us.  We checked in and found our room.  I was unpacking and settling in, when Rick called me softly to the tiny balcony.  I joined him, and he pointed between the buildings across the street.  There, glowing above the cityscape, was the Parthenon.  Rick put his arms around me.  We were in Athens.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Torture for Whistleblowers

I apologize for interrupting the Greek travelogue, but as an attorney, and as someone who really doesn't like to be tortured, I can't resist commenting on the ruling issued this week by the full 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Donald Vance and Ethan Ertel v. Donald Rumsfeld and United States of America.  You can read a summary of the facts and the ruling here.  CBS does not bother to provide a link to the court opinion being reported on, but you can find it here.

This is yet another stunning torture decision from our federal courts.

Two employees (U.S. citizens) working for a U.S. contractor in Iraq became aware of an on-going gun running operation.  Their company was smuggling liquor into Iraq, where it was then traded to U.S. military personnel in exchange for guns and ammo.  The guns and ammo were then being sold on the black market.  The two employees, Vance and Ertel reported this to the FBI.  In retaliation, the company fired them and revoked their papers.  The U.S. military then arrested them, accusing them of being the illegal arms dealers.
They were classified as "security internees" and held in isolation.  They were brought before a Detainee Status Board where they were accused of crimes, but not allowed to present evidence.  The Board refused to contact the FBI agents who were working with Vance and Ertel and could have confirmed their version of events.

The Board determined that Ertel should be released, but he continued to be held and tortured for another 18 days.  Vance was held even longer. Vance and Ertel sued the U.S., Rumsfeld, the soldiers doing the torturing, and everyone else in the chain of command.  The 7th Circuit framed the issued as whether it is appropriate to create a private right of action for damages against those in the military chain of command.  They determined that the answer is no.

I'm sure that the way this decision will be reported is that Rumsfeld can't be held personally liable for the bad conduct of troops overseas.  But reading the court's opinion, you'll see that the implications are much greater than that.  Effectively, the court determines that the military can torture U.S. citizens overseas and there is no remedy, other than to apply for a discretionary award from a fund for injuries caused by the U.S. military.  I'm not convinced that Rumsfeld should be held personally liable for the torture suffered by these two individuals, but the reasoning of the court, excusing the torture of U.S. citizens, should frighten all of us.
Here's some of what I found disturbing in the court's opinion:

1.  The court noted that "it is unsettled" whether the U.S. Constitution applies to torture that occurs outside of U.S. territory.

2.  Neither the Detainee Treatment Act, nor any other statute, gives a right of action against soldiers and their immediate commanders for torture.  Therefore, any right of action would have to be judicially created, like a Bivens action.  (In Bivens, the Supreme Court ruled that an implied cause of action existed for an individual whose Fourth Amendment freedom from unreasonable search and seizures had been violated by federal agents. The victim of such a deprivation could sue for the violation of the Amendment itself, despite the lack of any federal statute authorizing such a suit.)

3.  The court notes that past decisions have determined that it is inappropriate that soldiers be able to seek damages from their commanders.  Vance and Ertel are not soldiers, but the court said that they can be thought of as soldiers since they are working in a combat zone and performing some of the same functions.

4.  The Administrative Procedures Act bars courts from reviewing military authority exercised in the field in time of war.  (On this basis, the U.S. asked that the suit be dismissed.  In other words, the U.S. government (under Obama) took the position that so long as the war on terror is on-going, the U.S. military can torture U.S. citizens overseas.

5.  The Torture Victim Protection Act and the Alien Tort Act offer authorizes the award of damages for torture done to non-citizens, but they offer no remedy to citizens.

6.  . "The Attorney General supervises thousands of FBI and DEA agents, thousands of prison guards,  and so on. Many exceed their authority. People able to  exert domination over others often abuse that power; it is a part of human nature that is very difficult to control."  While this might be an argument against holding an agency director vicariously liable for the bad act of his underlings, the court implicitly uses this reasoning to give a sort of immunity to the torturers themselves.  


The dissenting opinion makes a good observation:

If a victim of torture  by the Syrian military can find his torturer in the United States, U.S. law provides a civil38 Nos. 10-1687 & 10-2442 remedy against the torturer. Torture Victim ProtectionAct of 1991, 28 U.S.C. § 1350 note. If the victim is killed, the same U.S. law provides his survivors a civil remedy. The same could be  said for victims  of torture by  any other government in  the world  — any  other, that is, except one. Under the  majority’s decision, civilian U.S. citizens who are tortured or worse by our own military  have  no  such  remedy. That  disparity  attributes to  our  government and to our legal system a  degree of hypocrisy that is breathtaking

I don't disagree with the majority's holding as to the specific question of whether Rumsfeld can be held liable in civil court for the torture that occurred to these plaintiffs, but I'm disturbed by the overall attitude of the court, which is dismissive of the torture that occurred -- refusing to even use the word -- as well as being very vague as to whether the torturers themselves can be held liable in civil court.  The court seems to be saying that if you don't like being tortured, you can apply for an award from the compensation fund or write to your congressman.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Greece, Day Five

(Jenese's words are in blue; Rick's words are in black.)

The night was a bit sticky.  With only a sliding glass door to the balcony, we had no cross breeze to moderate the temperature.  It was a relief to walk to the breakfast buffet, and feel the cool morning air.  We managed the buffet like old pros, without faux pas or beer tea, and then stepped over to the supermarket to stock up on snacks to sustain us through two days of sightseeing.  And some laundry detergent, because somebody didn't bring enough unmentionables.  On the way back, we popped into a tourist mini-mart to buy a power converter, because the I-phone was getting hungry.  Our converter was still at home, with the unmentionables.

Managing the buffet like old pros also meant that we knew not to attempt to sit on the north side of buffet line.  It's like another country over there, signified by bright red tablecloths.  It's also a more populated country.  But the waitstaff always insisted that we sit on the south side in the land of the pale green tablecloths.  We were unable to identify the determinative segregation factor.  At first, I thought it might be hotel guests vs. diners-only, but I couldn't imagine anyone having at least three senses paying money to go through the dinner buffet.  Was it odd vs. even room numbers?  No, the waitstaff were not aware of our room number when they seated us.  Was it EU vs. non-EU guests?  Who knows?  When you are travelling, there are always little mysteries like this one that never get solved. 

Of course, as soon as we entered, I saw him -- my oppugner, my Newman, my Green Goblin, the Waiter.  I saw the look of recognition, but he didn't approach us.  After filling up our plates and seating ourselves in the land of the pale green tablecloths, I realized there was a pepper shaker on our table, but no salt.  I spotted a salt shaker on an unoccupied table a few steps away, but I hesitated, knowing that to go for it would risk drawing the attention of the Waiter.  So I waited.  When I saw him turn his back to me while tending to one of my pale green countrymen, I made my move.  But just as my hand touched the salt shaker, as though sensing a movement in the force, he spun around to face me.  

At first, I panicked, fearing I would draw a reprimand for exceeding my boundaries.  But rather than look me in the eyes, he looked at the tables -- first to the one I was robbing and then to the one to which I was retreating.  He had a look of displeasure, but I deduced that it sprang from his assessment of himself, rather than of me.  Suddenly, this became my victory.  "Yes!  That is right -- you failed to properly lay the tables.  Feel the shame and hang your head!"  So it was a good breakfast.  

Our game plan was to explore the eastern side of the island, stopping at Lindos and anywhere else that seemed interesting, get a little beach time, and make it back to the hotel in time for our delectable free dinner.  As we gathered up our swimsuits, we realized that we had no beach towels.  You can probably guess where they were.  Our only (free) option was borrowing the hotel's towels, but that proved to be a problem of conscience.  I was too big of a chicken to ask the clerk for permission, so Rick went to the front desk while I settled into the car.  He received a qualified acquiesence, and we were off.

Highway driving was ridiculously easy, compared to the madness of town.  The signs are in Greek and English.  The main roads are well-maintained and fairly straightforward.  And there is plenty of room for the natives to whip around the law-abiding Americans.  The highway follows the coast, much of the time, but also weaves through hills and valleys, and mountains.  We'd pass a group of resort hotels with private beaches, and then drive for long stretches with few signs of civilization, save the occasional roadside taverna or private residence.

My passenger declares the driving "ridiculously easy," but I recall getting lost more than once and killing the engine at a stoplight on the highway with a line of cars waiting behind me.  (Hey, it was my first time driving with a standard transmission in about six years.)  I have to compliment Greek drivers for their forbearance, though.  No one honked -- not then or the many other instances when I gave them good cause to do so.  

Looking inland, the landscape reminded me a little of New Mexico.  Dry and scrubby, and yet not quite so monochromatic as NM.  Olive and pine trees relieved the dusty brown of the rocky soil.  The hills rolled into mountains, which were covered with pine forests and dotted here and there with chapels, gleaming white in the hot sun.  The sky was blue and cloudless.

Our first stop was the Monastery of the Virgin Mary atop Mount Tsambika.  One of the legends surrounding this shrine involves a childless couple finally having a baby, and so it has become a pilgrimage site for women who want to have children.  On the shrine's festival day in September, pilgrims will climb the 300 steps to the monastery (some accomplish this on their knees), and leave offerings of wax baby dolls and thin silver or gold plaques.  Now, don't get any ideas.  We were going there for the frescoes and the views.  The steep, narrow road wound up and up the mountain, until we reached a taverna and a parking lot.

It seems you can't see anything on Rhodes without working for it.  Those 300 steps were quite a trudge.  They're numbered, which is a thoughtful encouragement for gasping tourists.  You know when you're finally getting close.  The chapel itself is quite tiny, and the frescoes are faded, but still visible.  The views are stunning -- ocean blue on one side, pine-covered heights on the other.  Before we headed back down, I filled up my water bottle at the chapel's outdoor drinking faucet.  The march down was much, much easier.  And I did a very good job, I think, of not teasing Rick with that water, through the remainder of the day.

After making part of the ascent, we came upon a man with a table, upon which were several varieties of honey for sale.  We were impressed by the man's entrepreneurial spirit, as well as his stamina.  I know I wouldn't want to lug a table and a bag full of honey jars up and down that mountain every day.  But I didn't notice any panting tourists eager to sample a gulp of honey.  I thought maybe he would do better to sell wax babies. 

Onward!  We pulled off at Charaki, which is a fishing village with a medieval castle.  The crumbling turrets still loom over the little village from a barren, rocky hilltop, but the site is fenced off for safety.  Our little Fiat did not appreciate being asked to jerk itself up the rough gravel to get to the fence, so we just snapped a quick picture or two, and departed.

Onward!  Next came Lindos, lousy with tourists, but pretty, nonetheless.  We parked in the free lot, crossed the highway, and joined the stream of fellow travelers that flowed downhill to the main part of town.  Rick has already described our misadventure that occurred as soon as we got into town, so I will simply refer you to his earlier blog entry, which is entitled, "Acropolis at Lindos on Rodos."  I was most unhappy, indeed.

As we plunged into Lindos, we found ourselves weaving in and out of tourists and around the backsides of a group of donkeys.  The donkeys are there for the benefit and amusement of the tourists who prefer to ride, real-live-Greek-style, up the hill to the acropolis.  I was so busy worrying about my bank account and keeping up with Rick's back in the crowd, that I barely remembered to watch my step. 

Lindos is a huddle of white buildings connected by narrow cobblestone streets.  We saw more of the graceful black and white mosaics on some of the paths and porches, that we had enjoyed in Rhodes' Old Town.  Following the signs for the acropolis, we passed cafes and souvenir shops (remarkably similar to what we'd seen before), turned a corner, and found more stairs.  I think there were more than 300.  The first stop after the ticket booth is a relief carving of a graceful ship.  It gives you a good excuse to stop (and stretch your aching calves) before the next flight of stairs.

The steps were cut into the black rock of the mountain and had been worn smooth and shiny almost like obsidian.  They were extremely slick and there were no handrails. It was entertaining watching the many tourists with impractical footwear shuffle along the steep inclines like a poodle on a frozen pond. Several women opted to take their shoes off and walk barefooted.  

Relief of a Rhodian Ship (180 - 170 BC
Finally almost on top, you pass through ancient storerooms and onto an area where archaeological teams have organized the remains of statues and columns into neat rows and piles.  Placards throughout the site explain the remains and how teams are working to restore some of the ancient pillars and steps.  Several pillars are already standing, some a mix of ancient and new stonework, and some entirely new.  It's a bit disturbing, if you're a purist about your ruins.  And the huge crane used to lift stones back into their old places is also incongruous.  You can just imagine some toga-clad old Yannis elbowing a buddy and snorting, "What is this?  These kids have to use metal monsters to do their work?  Pfff!  In my day, we built these temples with our own muscle, and sweat, and ..." etc., etc. 

On the acropolis are remains of the Temple of Athena Lindia and related structures dating from about 300 BC, as well as the Castle of the Knights of St. John, built sometime before 1317 on the foundations of older Byzantine foundations.  So it's an archaeological mishmash that looks cool, but it is difficult to make sense of. 

A few more steps brought us to the summit.  Storm clouds were growling, nearly over our heads, but no rain fell.  (So we did not get to watch tourists slip and slide their way back down the mountain over wet and slick steps.)  Instead, we wandered in comfortable shade, listening to the varied tongues and accents around us, and drinking in the gorgeous views.  Oh, that water.

We descended, refusing the offer of transport by donkey.  We stopped in town for fresh-squeezed orange juice, and resumed our trip south.  (The orange juice was only 1 euro per cup.  We discovered why it was so cheap once when we sat down on a bench with a view overlooking a bay and noticed that all the trees on terrace below us were orange trees.  At our eye level were the tree tops, loaded down with green fruit.)  We were on the watch for a free beach, and it was some time before we found one.  Actually, we just saw a sign and turned off, hoping it was free.  And since it was, we probably should've tried doing it earlier.  It was a pebble beach -- no sand -- quiet, and open.  Umbrellas and lounge chairs lined the shore, just out of reach of the waves.  I changed in the big wooden box available for that purpose, and limped my way to a chair, my flip-flops offering very little protection against the tiny pebbles.  

Actually, I think most of the beaches we passed were free and open to the public.  The number and variety of options were impressive.  There would be a beach turn-off about every ten miles.  You could opt for a pebble beach, a sand beach (no white sand, though), or one with cliffs and rock outcroppings. 

We had a snack, and then made for the water.  We quickly learned that flip-flops are better than bare feet on those rocks.  But the water was cool and clear.  I sat down to watch Rick swim, letting the waves bounce me back and forth.  I'm not a swimmer, so I was content to watch him, and play with the polished pebbles around me -- red, green, pink, white, black.  Eventually, I felt cold and decided to go back to the chair, but I tripped on those treacherous pebbles and stumbled right back into the water. 

The water was so clear, that regardless of how far out I would swim, I could still look down and see the bottom quite clearly.  I had hoped to find a place to go snorkeling, but I could tell just from treading water and looking down past my feet that there would not be anything worth seeing.  There are definitely places to go scuba diving and snorkeling on Rhodes, but I think they require a boat ride. 

I finally understand why people enjoy just lying on a beach.  I always thought I'd be bored, but it was so peaceful, lying on that chair, listening to the waves, feeling the sun.  I wish we could have stayed longer.

Once I got out of the water, I was bored.   The open road was calling me. 

The day was getting on, however, and we still had one stop to make before returning to the hotel.  Our friends at Zeus Rent a Car had told us that up in the mountains west of Lindos, was a monastery from which you could see much of the island.  We pointed the Fiat northward, but when we tried to go west, we missed the signs and somehow found ourselves back in Lindos.  We tried again, and finally found the right turn-off for the Panagia Monastery.  The road led through a thick forest of pines, with little underbrush, and up into the heights.  

First, we had to fill up with gas.  The tank wasn't completely empty, but it still cost 50 euro (or $65 to fill it up).  Oh, and that's for a little Fiat.  Wow.

The monastery was a good-sized complex, with several buildings and some sort of playing field.  Over our heads, on a peak, was a large cross.  Between us and the cross were ... more stairs.  Sigh.  The climb, however, was well-rewarded.  All around us were the pines, filling the evening air with a heady perfume.  In the distance, you could just make out the line of the sea  between the mountains.  All was still and peaceful.  I could've slept there.

The climb was a series of switchbacks.  Approximately every 100 feet, there was a little dilapidated wooden and glass hut depicting one of the 14 stations of the cross.  There was indeed a nice view from the top.

The trip back to the hotel was uneventful.  The buffet included some sort of pressed meat product that must have been sliced out of a tube -- it was formed into too-perfect circles, topped with pineapple rings, and drizzled with some unidentifiable sauce.  The Rick pronounced it cat food.  I pronounced it perfectly adequate, and helped myself to a second slice.  (Meow.)  We went to bed, once more without A/C.

The soup was surprisingly tolerable.  On previous nights, it wasn't really soup, but appeared to be plain vegetable broth, or maybe dishwater.  But this night, it resembled split pea, which is worse than dishwater.  But Jenese seemed to enjoy it, so I tasted it and decided I was hungry enough to get my own bowl.  It had a bit of a coconut curry flavor and it definitely had some sort of pureed legume in it, but I still have no idea what it was.  I filled up on the soup and more nectarine slices from the dessert bar.  The Waiter was there, hovering about, but a different waiter brought us our one shared bottle of water.