OUR FIRST FULL DAY
written february 21st
for our first day, dia and i woke up extra early to get our breakfast and make sure we were ready for the day – but we ended up getting ready and going down for food before the staff at the attached restaurant (COOK) were prepared! they were super nice anyway though and we got food cooked to order – fresh squeezed oj, cappuccinos, tap water, omelets with peppers and cheese, plus sweet breakfast breads. it was so filling. we were the only ones in the place and had it all to ourselves, quiet before the rest of the city woke up.
after we were fed we headed out to met alexandra at 8:30 and drove to meet a pentecostal couple – the husband is a pastor at the local pentecostal congregation in katerini and the wife is an english teacher with over 30 years experience. they go two or three days a week to teach english lessons at the hotels that the crew in katerini manages near thesaloniki.
the first lesson we sat in on was the teens – there were about twelve youth in the class and they were all super well behaived and interested in learning. the next group were elementary-aged kids – there were like twenty of them and they were crazy. lastly, a class of adults came in – around twelve people total and they were super clever and kind.
for the people there, these classes are sometimes the only thing they have to do all day. they’re safe and living in the hotels, but it’s out in the middle of nowhere, they’re not allowed to work, and they’re kind of going stir-crazy – which is understandable. it was amazing to meet all of the wonderful language students during our visit there; they were so warm and genuine and eager to learn.
we got done around one in the afternoon and drove back to katerini, talking with the couple about their experiences working with other denominations in katerini to aid refugees – it seems like there’s a great ecumenical response in the city.
dia and i then grabbed lunch at COOK, where they let us pick a starter salad, main course, and a drink from the menu and OMG it was delicious!
when we were done eating, we hopped a bus and headed to paralia katerini aka the beach at katerini. we wandered along the beach, taking time to lay out on lounge chairs in the sand for a solid 45 minutes soaking up the sun . then we walked around the town itself, buying ray bans knockoffs and taking a ton of photos.
when we returned to katerini we were starving so we went to a place i remembered from my trip in august and got giant chicken gyro plates and ohmylord they were just as good as i remembered. from there we meandered through various shopping streets, popping into stores here and there. dia got a few things and so did i, feeling hella good because it was all so damn cheap. we grabbed various types of baklava on our way back to the hotel and then had a relaxing movie night before our next day!
our first day in katerini gave us a unique perspective into the work being done there and just how much it’s grown in the six months since i last visited. seeing the new ways in which the community in katerini is serving the people around them was heartwarming – they’re really listening to the needs of the people and doing what they can to help them.