21.11.2008 - 23.11.2008
Another amazing weekend away from Athens
I now realize I am going to miss it all
I love Athens. At the same time I really don’t like Athens. As I walked down the street the other night the wonderful smells of the tavernas and bakeries filling my nose, I realized that I would miss this city when I have to leave it. In spite of the noise, the grime, the pollution, the strange sites (twice I have witnessed drug use on the streets). Going back home will be hard. There is so much I will miss. Having everything within walking distance. Tavernas at my beck and call during the late hours of the night. Gelato on every street corner. Bakeries and more bakeries. Greek yogurt. Good Greek wine. The sound of “worry” beads clicking. Baklava. Chocolate covered baklava. Finding ruins at every turn. Shopping in Plaka and Monastiraki. Syntagma. The central market. Laiki. Incredibly fresh fruits and vegetables. You get the idea? But that is just what I will miss about Athens! What I will miss about the rest of Greece is the sheer beauty of it all. The mountains are incredible, the views stunning. The air is so fresh, so clear. Even bad weather can’t ruin a day in Meteora or Delphi.
Delphi is just where I went two weekends ago. What an incredible place it is. Not just for the ancient ruins, but for the location of it all. The ancient inhabitants certainly had the right idea when they chose this spot for a sanctuary. Delphi is located high up on the slopes of Mt. Parnassus. You can’t actually see the peak of Parnassus from the site though. I know I usually write some great info on these sites but sometimes the photos are enough. I’ll see what I can pull from my brain as I post them.
I slept part of our drive up, but when I was awake it was usually cloudy, foggy, and sometimes rainy. At one point we stopped to see if we could find the Oedipus crossroads. We missed the actual spot but did get some great views and the sky actually cleared up for a while!
When we got to the hotel in Delphi we had some free time to just explore after we got settled in. I decided to take my camera and go on a solo walk. It was quite windy and cool there but the clouds made for some dramatic views over the mountains. Delphi sits not too far from the water and you can see the bay in the first photo here.
We visited the lower sanctuary that night. Not much there except for the tholos and the gymnasium, as well as a temple.
This is the gymnasium from afar....
The tholos, which designates a round building. Scholars really have no idea what purpose tholos served.
As it started to sprinkle we made our way out of the lower sanctuary and by the Kastalian spring. Those who visited the temple in ancient times would have washed to purify themselves here at the spring.
The rest of the evening was spent wandering the town, having hot chocolate and finding a cool taverna for dinner. As always, ice cream is popular!
After hot chocolate we wandered up hill and chose a place called the Vakos to have dinner. No photos of my food, but I had lamb I believe.
I was pretty pleased with our hotel. I managed to grab a single room so I didn't have to share with anyone. Although I have to say the wind picked up so much that night that I might as well have had a snorer in the room with me. Something banged on the roof of the building all night. I thought we were having a hurricane for a while! The next day dawned a bit cloudy with a slight threat of rain. We were lucky that it held off until we were finished touring the main sanctuary site. This is where the good stuff is!
The omphalos, or "navel" of the earth. Legend has it that Zeus set lose two eagles to fly around the earth and where they landed was considered the center of the earth. It is said that they landed at Delphi. There were many omphalos found in the sanctuary.
This lovely kitty followed us the whole way through almost. She is the center of the world!
A bit further up is the Athenian Treasury, given by the city state of Athens.
and then the base of an enormous tripod that was supported by a bronze column of intertwined snakes. The serpentine column now resides in Istanbul in the Hippodrome. Yes, I have a photo as you can see...
A cute little dog followed us around the whole time we were there. Several wanted to take him home...
The Temple of Apollo at Delphi. This is where the oracle was housed. She was called the Pythia and sat on a tripod that some say was over a fissure in the earth that seeped gasses causing her to have her visions. Others say she chewed on laurel leaves. It is apparently true that a group of German archaeologists tried chewing laurel leaves to see if there was a hallucinogenic effect. They failed to find conclusive evidence.
And then there is the theatre. What a view!
The museum experience was kind of tainted by the fact that we were behind a large tour group. But I did get a few photos of some treasures, like the Naxian Sphinx, so called because it was dedicated by the island of Naxos, and the archaic chryselephantine statues. The Naxian Sphinx is impressive alone but just imagine it on a column that is 33 feet in height!
Chryselephatine statues are made of ivory and gold. Imagine huge cult statues made of this!
There seemed to be a colony of tabby cats that populated the area around the museum, as well as a few other cats that I captured while at Delphi. Yes, these are all different cats....
and the beautiful little grey and white kitty who followed us...
and finally a lone black cat I found wandering the streets...
A little shopping, lunch in a cute taverna while it rained like crazy, and an evening Arachova is the end of this entry....