Sunday, April 24, 2016

Friday in Athens

Robin and I enjoyed an uneventful flight to Athens via Amsterdam. Our itinerary included a 9 hour flight from Portland, OR, to Amsterdam, a 4 hour layover, and a 3 hour flight to Athens. No problems at all except not a wink of sleep. But that is how it goes. Bleary eyed we made our way to the baggage claim area, and grabbed our duffel off the carousel, and out the door we went to meet an old friend and shipmate that I had not seen for 20 years. He lives in Athens and was very happy to pick us up. He was off to visit his daughter in Sweden the following day so are reunion was limited to the time we had driving into the city. Eventually we squeezed through the thickening traffic and found our hotel which was quite near the Acropolis Museum. We offered our thanks, said our goodbyes, and shuffled into the hotel. It was Friday the 22nd, about 4:20 pm, and fatigue was rapidly getting the best of us. We did manage a small rally after a shower that led us down the street to a lively area of bars and restaurants. A good dinner and a couple of drinks finally rang the bell and we were off to bed. The rest of our group arrives tomorrow.

Robin is still smiling
View from our hotel


Friday, April 15, 2016

Outward bound

The time has come again to look to the open road and set ourselves upon the task of becoming pilgrims once again. This time it is not as taxing as it has been in the past as we will only be slinging our packs for a couple of weeks. We set out next week for Greece to follow the path of the apostle St. Paul as he preached his way through Turkey and Greece. We are fortunate to find ourselves in good company with our now retired Archbishop, John Vlazny, leading this pilgrimage. He is a good friend and a remarkable human being. We are well pleased to be in his company once again. So our plan is to spend two weeks on pilgrimage in Greece and Turkey, and then split from our group in Athens to head for Rome and then Florence to eventually find our way to the sanctuary where St. Francis received the stigmata (the wounds of Christ). From the Santuario della Verna we will walk to Assisi and then on to Rome following the Way of St. Francis. We only have two weeks to do this so we might have to skip a stage or two. But we will see how it all goes.

When we arrive in Rome we will spend some time at the Vatican and then head directly to Santiago de Compostela where we will assist the Camino Chaplaincy as volunteers at the Cathedral for the month of June. We hope to be back home on July 1st. Robin has her mind set on a grand Fourth of July party, and we also must make preparations for our annual feast of St. James celebration (July 25th) at our home parish of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, Oregon. This has become a very popular event for our local pilgrim (APOC Portlandia Chapter) community. We celebrate mass then have a wine tasting in the courtyard following the mass. This year we are going to add a new treat and offer, along with the wine, freshly sliced jamón Iberico as an appetizer. It should be a fun event, and if past experience holds true, we will also be offering pilgrim blessings and concha shells to a large number of local pilgrims setting out on the camino. So that is what lies ahead. It is a time of both reflection and service which is just the way we like it. For now it is the usual chaos as backpacks compete for space with around town clothes and camino essentials. Robin is always very fashionable. I am trying to catch up (sort of). But guess who carries the (fashionable) excess. That is what husbands do (joyfully). We are off again!

Please remember that the Camino Chaplaincy offers daily mass, in English, at the cathedral in Santiago, from Monday through Saturday at 10:30 am and on Sundays at 9:oo am in the Capilla de Nuestra Señora de Soledad from May 2nd through October 15th, 2016. Please come and join us. All are welcomed.