Sunday 13th November 2016
Day two in Athîna, and it’s a cracker. Hot and sunny. We are certainly not staying indoors today. In fact first thing Kingsley and I wander down to the foûrno for a loaf of our beloved white country bread and a fresh sesame pretzel – soft and doughy – then a wander about. Today’s adventure takes us to the extraordinary Hagios Pandeleimonas which is the largest church in the Balkans and over 100 years old. Its unique green cupola and stained glass windows house unbelievable Byzantine icons and art depicting the passion of Jesus Christ as well as the saints.
Strolling through Athîna on a Sunday morning feels like home: the bakeries are doing a roaring trade, the kiosks are busily selling papers, mums pushing strollers make their way to where we go: the pethikî harâ adjacent to Hâgios Pandeleimonas. You see the church has built this playground for bored church going toddlers (as it should! Relief for us mums), so the mixed feelings of visiting yet snore church is tempered with the promise of play; Kingsley is sold on the idea, therefore, of lighting a candle in church, taking in the remains of the liturgy, and viewing the rare icons of saints. For thereafter we spend a good hour among little Albanian kids at the playground the common language of all being broken Greek and a warm smile.