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News Archives from the Year 2001

9-September-01
Weekly news - Last week we took the girls to see a movie at the cinema on the big screen for a change. It was a disney animation called "recess". The story was fairly simple, school kids save the world from mad scientist during their summer holidays. The girls seemed to like it.

I missed last weeks update. I was to talk about Amphipolis mentioned in Acts 17 v1 where Paul and his companions stopped on their way from Phillipi to Thessaloniki during his first visit to Greece and Europe.

Amphipolis was a very important city on the Egnatia road in the ancient Roman world connecting the west with the east on an overland route. The city's name comes down to us in an two English words most of us know. The greek root "Amphi" meant "on both (all) sides" and "polis" meant city (from which comes the modern English word "police", those who represent the city to its inhabitants. In English something amphibious is equally at home on land or on water. Amphipolis was founded in the 5th century BC (434 BC) by the Athenians at the mouth of the Strymon river about 60 miles south of the ancient city of Phillipi (founded much later). The city was located about a kilometer inland inside a u-shaped bend in the river in such a way that it appeared that the river was running on "both sides" of the city, hence its name amphipolis.

Founded on the site of the Macedonian village called "Ennea Hodoi (nine ways), the city was to become a major hub of commercial activity as the river transported all kinds of produce from the inland areas to this port city where ships from distant lands such as Egypt, Asia Minor, etc. traded and loaded the goods for distant ports. The thing though that really made Amfipolis important down through the ages was the source of precious metals in the nearby Mount Pangaion. The city minted its own money and served as a royal mint for the likes of Alexander the Great, the Roman Ceasers, and others throughout history.

The city was constantly being fought over by the likes of Athens and the Spartans for control of this area of Thrace, and later by the Macedonian Kings and the Thracians, and then the Persians, as recorded by Thucydides in his famous "History of the Peloponnesian War". In fact it was partly due to the city of Amphipolis that we have Thucydides account today. He may never have written his story if he had not been a general who was exiled in the tenth year of the war. He explains the reason himself,

"The general sent to the other commander of the district, Thucydides son of Olorus, the author of this history, who was about half a day's sail from Amphipolis, and urged him to come to their aid. He sailed in haste with seven ships which happened to be at hand, wishing above all to reach Amphipolis before it surrendered. But the citizens capitulated. On the evening of the same day Thucydides and his ships arrived."

Thucydides arrived at Amphipolis too late. Athens punished unsuccessful officers and from then on he just occupied the post of an exiled observer, a fate in those days little better than death. Yet due his misfortune, we have one of the great treatise on war the ancient world ever produced. Beyond recording the events, Thucydides tries to point out what war is and why it happens. On the surface a series of petty quarrels between Athens and Sparta led up to the war in 431 BC. The real cause, Thucydides points out was not this or that trivial disturbance but something deeper down in human nature, and the cause of all the wars ever fought. The motive was greed for power and possession which can never be satisfied. Power and wealth creates the desire for more power, more wealth. Athens and Sparta fought for one reason only, because, "they were powerful, and therefore compelled to seek more power". In other words, they fought, not because they were different, one was democratic and the other an oligarchy, the war was not about differences in ideas or about right and wrong, but rather because they were alike. For Thucydides, the rule by the majority or the rule of the few over the many was not the question, there was no right power. Power, whoever wielded it was the evil corruptor of men. Thucydides basic thesis presents history as a cycle where excess power keeps revolving. Primitive despots start the cycle rolling, the more power they get the more they want, and they go on abusing authority until inevitably opposition is aroused and a few men, strong enough to unite seize the rule for themselves. Unfortunately they too can never be satisfied. This thesis very much also describes the history of the city of Amphipolis which spent most of its existance as the target of one powerful group after another.

After the Athenians and the Spartans, Philip II, king of Macedonia took it from the Athenians in 357 BC and later it served as the navel base of Alexander the Great as his army and fleet set forth to conquer Asia. Alexander also designated the city as one of the six cities where large, luxurious temples costing 1,500 talents were constructed. The Persians leter then marched through the area in the great war that ended at Marathon as recorded by Heroditus. After that the Romans took this last stronghold of the Macedonians after the battle of Pydna in 168 BC and designated it a capital city of the region when the Roman General Aemilius Paulus made it his headquarter. After Paul's visit in about 50 AD and the influence of Christianity later arrived, it became a seat of a bishopric up until 692 AD. The city was most likely destoyed by the Slaves in the 8th or 9th centuries though it still remained a strategic post for the Bysantium empire up through the middle ages. Occupied by the turks in the Ottomon empire, it was revisited and rediscovered by archaelologists in the end of the 19th century who have uncovered the remains of four or five very important christian basilicas among other ancient world ruins including a gynamsium (school) and an ancient theatre. The ancient city walls extend for 7.5 kilometers and much of the area remains unexcavated under the modern day village of Nea Chori renamed today Amphipolis. One of the few remarkable sites a vistor will notice today is the famous "lion of Amphipolis", a 7.5 metre high monument on which a huge stone lion sits overlooking the west bank of the river Strymon. It seems to date from the fourth century BC and may have been a funery monument or as some suggest raised as tribute to Alexander the Greats personal friend, companion and triumphant returning Admiral from the asian victories, Laomedon from Lesbos.

It was here at this stopping point along the ancient Egnatia road that Paul visited the town of Amphipolis on his way from Phillipi to Thessaloniki as mentioned in Acts 17 v1. It was about a two day walk from Phillipi to Amphipolis and another two days on to Thessaloniki. Paul arrived here mostly due to the passage of the Egnatia road nearby, and although the town was a Roman capital and garrison,it was not a large city. Paul, who preferred large cities, and his companions probably explored the town in the morning after spending the night there and quickly decided that it could not be a base for any major missionary activity where one could set up to disseminate missionary work to smaller towns in the area and therefore they rapidly moved on in their trek to arrive at Thessaloniki, but not before stopping at Apollonia on the way.
23-August-01
Weekly news - Summer vacation is now over. We spent 10 days on holiday with most of it on the Greek island of Samaothrace. We went swimming in the sea most every day, visited a number of museums, archaeological sites, towns, villages, taverns, and campgrounds as we retraced Paul's first steps in Greece from Asia Minor (Thessaloniki - Apollonia - Amfipolis - Phillipi - Neapolis - Samothrace). I will give a brief summary of each site, one at a time, over the next few postings, starting with Apollonia today.

Apollonia - Acts 17 v1 "... and passing through Amfipolis and Apollonia they reached Thessaloniki..." This little village finds itself on the Via Egnatia road, the important road linking Rome with Asia Minor along which traders and Roman armies frequently travelled. Apollonia, according to Strabo, was founded by King Philip I of Macedonia in about the 5th century BC and it is located about 60 km east from Thessaloniki near a large lake today named Lake Volvi. The name Apollonia means the city was named after the God Apollo, the God of light or truth, one of the most esteemed of the Greek Gods. Apollonia was to be a staging post after a days walk from Amphipolis on Paul's trip to Thessaloniki. It would take Paul and his companions a good 12 hours to walk from Apollonia to Thessaloniki. The town was destroyed by Barbarians in the 5th or 65h century AD.

Today's visitor to this small village finds himself in an area strewn with beautiful Plane trees, which make for great shade, spread around a bend in a meandering stream that curves around a large slightly raised flattened rock where local tradition says the Apostle Paul stop and spoke to the local people before continuuing on his overland walk to the city of Thessaloniki. A small plaque marks the spot today commemorating the event and one can refresh oneself in the cool shade by the water, visit a small church built on the site or wander over to investigate a Turkish bath house in ruins built nearby during the Ottomon occupation (1453-1913). There is little else to see or do today except to imagine how nice this spot must have seemed to a weary foot traveller almost two thousand years ago on the hot and dusty Via Egnatia road.
10-August-01
Weekly news - We are on vacation now. 10 days off work and we will try and retrace Paul's steps in northern Greece. First we are off to Apollonia first on the road from Amphibolis to Thessaloniki where Paul stopped briefly. Then we will visit the ruins of the ancient city of Amphibolis where Paul found little of reason to tardy after leaving Philippi. Then we will visit Philippi and see the place where Paul was supposed to have been imprisoned. A stop by Neapolis to see the spot Paul is supposed to have disembarked on his first visit to Europe. Finally we will continue on to Alexandroupoli where we will take a boat to the island of Samothrace where Paul momentarily stopped on his trip from Troas in Asia Minor on his way to Greece. We plan on spending about week exploring the island. It has an ancient volcano that rises to 1600 metres and a famous ancient pagan sanctuary where Kings and other famous people came in ancient times to be initiated into the cult. Homer tells us that Poseidon watched the battle of Troy from the island of Samothrace. We'll tell you about it when we get back.
4-August-01
Weekly news - Well we did some camping on the sea about three hours from Thessaloniki. Crystal clear blue waters and rock music loving campers greeted us for the weekend. It was a stifling hot weekend. We watched lots of people pay $30 to bungie jump, put up with loud teenagers, and tried to keep as cool as possible which seemed like a losing battle. Well it probably would have been hotter at home without a/c. Hope this update finds you cooler than us.
27-July-01
Weekly news - Greetings on this last weekend of July. It is the vacation high season in Greece as millions head for their summer oasis from the heat. Beaches are crowded, island resorts full, and urban streets emply. Except for the island of Skyros that is as it experienced a 5.7 to 6.3 earthquake yesterday. Nobody was killed as far as I can tell but quite a bit of damage. This past week was a dash to try and finish as much work as possible that needed to get done, before the holiday season makes work almost impossible since nobody is around to work with. The girls are a load on Yiota's hands without daycare help, but that is what parents dread of summer vacation. Might as well get used to it. We'll probably head off ourselves to some camping this weekend. We wish you all the best and send greetings to those out there in netmeeting video teleconferencing world that we like to see each weekend but probably won't this weekend.
22-July-01
Weekly news - I missed mentioning in my last update that the twins have now turned four years of age on the 6th of June. They had a little party at their day care centre with their friends. We took them shopping for a few toys. They like that. Last weekend we went camping up at Mt Olympus in front of the sea. It is nice because we can go swimming or hiking whichever we choose. We did a bit of both but I think the girls felt a little bit tired after the hiking. We did a bit too much for them in one go probably. This weekend we are spending it at home and we visited Uncle Bob and Aunt Katerina. The weather has been fairly hot but it seems we have a slightly cooling breeze this weekend. They probably need it in Genoa where the anarchists disrupted the G8 conference these past few days with a lot of violence. It seems to have become quite the fad with these 'anti-globalization people' with every G8 summit meeting for the last several years. I wonder what money is behind the violence. I think on the long run the public opinion is going to turn against these demonstrators if the only thing they can offer is violence.
3-July-01
Weekly news - It has been a long while since I have posted an update. This past month has been busy and somewhat tiring with end of the year school work to finish up. Sorry that for June I did not get any updates out. We spent the first week at home trying to get caught up on work. The second weekend we spent camping in front of Mount Olympos. The water was still a bit cool to swim for very long, but the mountain was great for hiking. The girls really seemed to enjoy it. The weekend afterwards, we had a friend from London visiting and we partied at a Mexican restaurant. The following weekend we had a friend from Australia visiting. Last weekend was a normal one. I have been working on teaching myself Visual Basic Computer programming and I completed one nice little database programming project. The girls are now out of daycare and keeping mom with them on her hands all day now. That makes it difficult for her to keep up with all her work. Hopefully we'll try to get in some camping this next weekend. Till next update, enjoy the summer.
19-May-01
Weekly news - Greetings from Thessaloniki. We are supposed to be enjoying a cooker of a day but it is still overcast. I suppose that is good news from the weather point of view. Classes have ended at school for the spring semester. Now we head into the summer months. We may try to sign the girls up for swimming lessons. Vasilea's eye doctor thinks it would be good for the development of her neck muscles since she still favours leaning her head on one side. In the rest of Greece everybody is getting ready for the summer. It may be a hot one this year. The kids are looking forward to seeing Disney's video 'The Sword and the Stone' this weekend, a story spin on Sir Arthur as a boy. Best to all of you!
13-May-01
Weekly news - It's rainy weather again on this day in May to honour Mothers around the world. Happy Mother's Day. We went and visited great-grandmother today as usual on sundays. We have moved her at her request to another elderly care home where she shares a room with three other women. She claimed she wanted company and felt lonely in the single room she had before. She sleeps a lot of the time now and complains about her age but I imagine that is a normal way 94 year old people seek validation. We got flowers for grandma, too. The other grandmother we visit every sunday. I wish you all well. Sorry it is not possible to see everyone we'd like to all the time because of distance and expense. Our thoughts are with you.
6-May-01
Weekly news - It's rainy weather on this day in May. We did enjoy the labour day holiday on 1 May. We travelled out to a lake nearby with the grandparents and enjoyed a fish tavern together. Other than that business as usual. The girls are adding to their collection of Disney videos that we have. This week Dumbo was the new discovery. They've watched it several times. Next week will be the Fox and the Hound. We are still looking for an English version of Pinochio. For now they watch in English which I guess is good for them.
28-April-01
Weekly news - We went to enjoy the home of the Gods this weekend. Mount Olympos was our hiking destination. We climbed up about 1000 ft through forest trails, river beds, and pine trees. We braved snakes (well a baby one anyway), amused ourselves with turtles, fought the flies and enjoyed a beautiful view with wonderful weather. The girls were already "tired" before we even had barely left the car but they soon found their 'second' wind and got along fine leading the way most of the time. We enjoyed a nice picnic high on a lookout point with a view of the sea. We are all a bit tired after this workout but it was family 'quality' time well spent. Hopefully the beginnings of many more walks in nature and fresh air.
22-April-01
Weekly news - Well, we missed several weeks with school spring break, I hope this finds you all well. We have been enjoying our bicycles, visits with relatives, sunny weather, and springtime. Last weekend we took the girls to the zoo where they enjoyed bears, dear, pelicans, eagles, pheasants, wolves, weavils, foxes, and a host of other animals. The part they like the best was getting to ride shetland ponies. There were not many people waiting, so they got to ride about 20 minutes with big smiles on their faces. When we get the photos developed we will try and post them on the web site. Till next week... all the best.
6-April-01
Weekly news - We are back after three weeks. Tripod, which hosts this web site, due to a technical error had deleted the all my web pages. It took three weeks of persistant appeal before they were able to restore the entire site back to normal. So I apologise if you tried to load these pages and found them gone. It is springtime here, with nice sunny weather. We went out to the forest today for a nice family picnic. The girls saw ducks and geese and turtles which the girls liked.
22-March-01
Weekly news - Sorry I missed a week. Last weekend was the national Greek census and we were supposed to stay at home Sunday while the census takers made their rounds door-to-door. They never came to our door so we weren't counted! Some system! Yiota had to go down to the police station during the week fight long lines to make a declaration. I wouldn't have gone, if they can't be bothered to do their job correctly in our modern age and I imagine many others wouldn't bother either. So much for accuracy. Congratulations to Kylee's birth in Atlanta, a new niece on the Wells side. Here we are mourning the loss of an uncle who passed away Wednesday following complications from a stroke that had left him mostly quadraplegic a few months previously. And the cycle of life continues ... !
11-March-01
Weekly news - Greetings from springtime. The calendar may say its winter, but the weather doesn't. It's warm enough, we've turned off the home heating systems this week and more often than not there is a window open to let some nice fresh air in. We've all watched Snow White and the Seven dwarfs at least 50 times as the twins cannot seem to get enough of it. The Lion King is in second place as we've probably only seen it 20 times. Still... Akuna Matata (No Worries) ... as the song goes!
4-March-01
Weekly news - The news this weekend is that we are all coughing, sniffling, and generally are fighting colds, so I will see you next week when we are up on our feet again.
25-February-01
Weekly news - We have a long weekend now. Clean Monday is a national holiday where everyone traditionally goes out and flies kites. Of course the season of carnival is also in full swing. Everyone seems to be over the flu and the weather seems like spring. Not much news otherwise except I built a solar clock yesterday for fun. I am trying to figure out how to measure the distance around the earth based on an ancient Greek idea. More later.
18-February-01
Weekly news - We're back on our feet this week. Mostly anyway. Mom has been extactically trying out her new $300 (ouch) robot cooking machine. It bakes, roasts, grills, cooks, etc. all without oil, and a supposed mess, in almost no-time at all! Or so it is claimed. The girls are growing fast and seem are no longer toddlers but young girls now. Their English is coming along slowly. We sometimes play games with English and they do quite well though they do not like to talk much in English.
11-February-01
Weekly news - The week of the influenza attack is the headline of this past week. Mom and the two girls were all sick for most of the entire week with colds and fevers. It was not the best of weeks to say the least. Both mom and Vasilea relapsed after getting back on their feet and quickly found themselves back in bed. They must have watched 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' video about a dozen times at least for something to do. The girls really seem to like the story and it gives mom a break from their fussing!
4-February-01
Weekly news - The theme this week is the Return of the Chili!!! Daddy has been on a forced chili diet for the last three months due to the Mad Cow disease scare. I generally enjoyed a least one bowl of chili a week for most of my adult life untill ... MOM said NO MORE BEEF!!! when Mad Cows were found in France. Life hasn't been the same since then. But finally mom found a 'trustworthy' butcher and dad finally has CHILI AGAIN!!! YUMMY!!! The other news is that the girls are enjoying watching at this moment the very first full feature animation ever - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - on our home VCR.
28-January-01
Weekly news - You caught us on a rainly weekend in mild winter. Everyone is fine and the girls are growing as fast as ever. This weekend the girls enjoyed "Aladin", the full-length Disney animation. They really like the Disney films. The VCR comes in useful. Yiota is ordering her Kitchen Robot today. It is a little expensive but she insists it will transform her life! It reminds me of all the kitchen gadgets mom got when I was at home but there we had a basement to put them in after they had lost their luster. We do not have a basement in our flat. We will see. Till next week.
21-January-01
Weekly news - the girls asked why they weren't riding their bicycles anymore, so daddy hauled the bicycles out yesterday and we went riding our bicycles again. They liked that even if it was a bit nippy outside. I fixed the old hoover and Yiota is happy that we have a vacuum cleaner again. We are enjoying the VCR. Recording movies and zipping through the commercials is a great pleasure, pausing the film when one wants to do something else, etc. etc. We're off to see great grandma now. We usually visit her before going to visit the grandparents. She has aged a lot in the last year or so at age 94/95. She is still mobile, just but she is talking more and more nonsense. Seeing her in a home for the elderly is a sad reminder of growing old and its consequences. The girls seem to have difficulty relating to her.
15-January-01
Weekly news - I am a little late this week but we send our greetings to everyone. The girls are doing fine as we seem to avoid the eternal flu that plagued us last winter. I believe it is because this winter has been very mild in comparison. We are probably going to have a very late winter. We really need the rain this year as water reservoir levels are down. Classes are in their final week at work for the first semester. Yiota is busy trying to sell houses and we took the car to the garage for some major repairs. The car almost leaps out of your hands as we engage the new clutch and listen to sweet silence with a new exhaust system. In the end we decided that fixing up the old car would be less costly than buying a new one at this point in time.
6-January-01
Weekly news - Greetings and Welcome to the New Millenium. Its officially here since humans start counting from year 1 and not year 0, however, it is not very relevant since Christ was not born in the "Year of our Lord". This new year starts with flawed calendars and new VCRs. Yes, Daddy splurged and bought a new VCR. It's time the Great American Babysitter (TVs and VCRs) started doing its job! Last night featured the "Lion King" on our home cinema! The kids loved it! Makes a great change from Greek TV where a 90 minute film normally takes 3 hours to view with 20 minutes of commercials each time there is a commercial break in the film. Films usully start around 10:00 pm and finish about 1:00 am on Greek TV. Recording them and zipping through the commercials is a great revenge! Other news headlines indicate that the influenza season is upon us again. The women in our family (mom and the two girls) seem quite good at circulating the flu from one to another so that just as one is getting over it, the next one in line catches it and so on. The result is a 3-4 day flu sets us back a week and a half at a time. Oh JOY says mom!
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