Monday, December 3, 2007

Weekend in Kastoria (Part II, Sunday)

Today Katerina, with little Spyros in tow, took us to an old monastery on the lakeshore. Actually, the monastery has two small chapels. Parts of them are 17th Century, parts are 10th Century, and parts – are you ready for this? – are 6th Century!

The ancient frescoes are all shot up. Turkish bullets have gouged out the eyes of most of the figures, and there are scores or hundreds of other pockmarks from random shots.

My first reaction to them was to think reverence might seem to call for some loving repair and restoration. On the other hand, perhaps they are too ancient to touch. And perhaps the Greek people could do with a reminder of what it was like under the Turks, in these days when they are allowing all sorts of political, economic, and yes, military incursions. (Turkey violates Greek air space daily, with impunity.) Perhaps a compromise could be struck, in which most of the frescoes are repaired, but some of most damaged places left.

The chapels are heated with wood stoves set in the narthex.

They are popular venues, Katerina says, for weddings and baptisms.

Afterward, we went for a scenic drive. Katerina showed us how to drive out onto the peninsula and to the top of the hill occupying the far (eastern) end of it. There is another monastery near the top, and a café at the summit. Obviously, the panoramic view was fabulous; you could see nearly the whole, deep-blue lake and the peculiar shape of the city below, shining in the sun.

Sypros fell asleep in his mother’s lap, so we drove them home and went on alone to an exhibit of very accurate, extremely detailed models of some of the more scenic buildings in Kastoria. The exhibit was closed, however; we only got to see four or five samples of the work in the hotel lobby.

The men went back to Katerina’s for a nap instead. Rena and I went shopping, finding numerous stores along the lakefront open. But of that, I can say very little, Christmas being too close, except that Rena, adding kindness to kindness, bought me a pair of fur-trimmed house slippers.

The last store we went into had a variety of interesting things to look at. As we were looking, somebody said, “Good afternoon,” and we looked up to see the Kindly-faced, Singing Matador!

He recognized us from the night before, and greeted us warmly, even more so when he found out Rena is the sympethera of Norma and Spyros. “And how is the little one?” he inquired, meaning little Spyros.

I told him how much we had enjoyed his singing and dancing last night, and asked if he were also a Psaltis in the church. Yes, indeed, he chanted every Sunday in church. His wife nodded. I told them my husband was also a cantor. And then I blurted out, “He looked at you last night and immediately loved you!”

“What is your husband’s name?”


So the man went to his desk, opened a drawer, pulled out a CD with a picture of himself on the front, and signed it, “Best to Anastasia and Demetrios, Konstantinos Liogas.” Then he took a second one, his wife beaming all the while, and autographed it for Rena and Theodosius. Then he put a third CD on a player under his desk and had us listen to the first song. It was charming! We were thrilled.

When the men and little Spyros had waked up, and Rena and I had finished shopping, and Nikos had finished with the medical presentation and clinic, we all regrouped and went out for a late afternoon dinner. Katerina and Nikos took us to a restaurant atop one of the mountains to the northeast of the city, where we had a spectacular view of the whole, and of the lake. We also had a great dinner, but again I’m ashamed to describe it in detail.

And then, in the deepening dusk, we drove home. We had planned to stop at Berea (in Greek, spelled Beroia and pronounced “VER-ee-ah”) to see the monument that marks the spot where St. Paul preached, but dark had set in and everybody was too tired.

The Jews in Berea, St. Luke records, were nobler than those of Thessaloniki, because instead of rejecting the Gospel and setting the whole city in an uproar, they “searched the Scriptures” to see if St. Paul’s assertion was correct, that the Scriptures, in sign, symbol, and prophecy, spoke of this Jesus on every page.

Another time, we shall make a point of going into Berea instead of just passing it by. St. Paul preached in Thessaloniki, too, so I don’t quite know why I feel this especially keen sense of reverence when near Berea. No doubt once I go there I shall discover why.

We came home all in the warm glow of love, tired but very happy, having spent a beautiful time with dear people, old friends and new.


Elizabeth said...

What a marvellous weekend you had !
I'm glad you enjoyed it so very much.....