Published: March 1st 2009March 2nd 2009
The Sanctuary of Athena, Delphi
One of the most recognized ancient ruins in Greece set amidst spectacular scenery.
There is something timeless about Greece and her welcoming people. Even as a citizen of a young country one can’t help but be caught up in the glory of classical Greek culture. The Greeks were the leaders of the ancient world, and were so admired that even their Roman conquerors protected the magnificent culture for several hundred years during the height of Roman rule. In fact the Greek speaking Byzantine empire of the east ensured the culture and traditions of Ancient Greece would stand the test of time. I arrived back in Athens on a flight from Santorini, and it was time for further exploration as the Greek travels continue…
I have to say it was with some degree of trepidation, dear reader
, that I travelled south on the bus to the Peloponnese; the home of the indomitable Spartan warriors who crushed all before them in Ancient Greece. Perhaps a descendant of Leonidas would cross my path, and what chance would I have against a ruthlessly trained soldier from the ultimate warrior race? However, during this particular journey there wasn't a sword raised in anger as the bus hugged the coast. We travelled through beautiful scenery before arriving in
Columns in Ancient Olympia
Superb ruins at the home of the Olympic Games.
Olympia, a gorgeous little town famed for the ruins of Ancient Olympia. It’s a different experience here at the ancient ruins when compared to visiting the Acropolis in Athens, but equally compelling. How extraordinary it is to note the Olympic Games in Ancient Greece commenced around 776 BC, and were held every four years for the next thousand years before being kiboshed by a Roman emperor, thereby ending temporarily an astonishing tradition in the history of mankind.
The ruins are situated in beautiful surroundings, and I was blessed with a perfect winter’s morning for my visit. A half-day spent in Ancient Olympia is an unforgettable experience, and it was especially moving to spend time in the Olympic stadium. Having participated as a performer in the opening ceremony at the 2000 Sydney Olympics the games will always hold a special place in my heart, and to sit high on the hill looking down on the stadium is to lose yourself in time. I was half expecting the Greek athletes to pour in through the entrance for the opening ceremony in preparation for the prestigious competition ... let the ancient games begin! The town of Olympia is a gorgeous little place,
The Sanctuary of Athena, Delphi
Looking down on the ruins from the hilltop above.
and surrounded by hills that still bear the scars of the terrible fires that roared through the Peloponnese in 2007, directly threatening the ancient ruins and the town itself.
I spent two enjoyable days chilling out in Olympia before taking the bus back to Attica, and a compulsory stopover in Athens. Then it was onto another bus heading northwest to Delphi, another famous tourist destination in Greece and only three hours out of Athens. The town itself is perched on the mountainside with stunning views to take your breath away. The little village was heaving with local tourists on a Saturday night but luckily I scored a bed. I checked into the Hotel Athina right on the cliff top, featuring incredible views from the balcony down the valley and out to the Gulf of Corinth. The views stretch on further to distant snow capped mountains that no photo can truly capture. Delphi is a special place and people have been flocking to this iconic destination for over 2,500 years. The ancient ruins are just down the winding road out of town, as you take in the stunning scenery along the way. The Delphic Oracle ensured the fame of the
The Treasury of the Athenians, Delphi
Partly restored and looking pretty as a picture.
sanctuary at Delphi for several hundred years across the known world, and the ruins are impressive set amongst spectacular natural surroundings. The Delphi museum is world-renowned and there are many splendid works from ancient times on display, many in quite remarkable condition. Delphi makes for an unforgettable stopover, and two days here comes highly recommended.
I concluded the Greek adventure with a brief stopover in the Macedonian capital Thessaloniki. In the 4th Century BC Phillip ll of Macedon had subjugated all of Greece to his will. His son and heir Alexander the Great then led his conquering army east into Asia, as they knocked heads together while marauding all the way to India. Finally his troops cried enough and managed to turn the conqueror's attention back towards the west and home. Despite amassing an unprecedented empire in the blink of an eye Alexander died at 33 years of age, and his new found spoils quickly crumbled.
Coming back to the present it's time to bid a fond farewell to Greece after an enjoyable and rewarding two-week adventure in the country. Aside from Athens I haven’t stayed in a hostel once, and as such I’ve been dealing exclusively with
Entrance to Olympia Stadium
The Greek athletes entered to the roars of the crowd for 1,000 years.
the local people. In the depths of winter it's still possible to have an authentic travel experience in the country despite Greece being a world famous travel destination. I’m almost overwhelmed by the friendliness and hospitality of my Greek hosts and suggest, basically all of you should be here now!
And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer." Plutarch
As I continue my travels, until next time it’s signing off for now
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