Published: July 31st 2010May 23rd 2009
The Temple of Apollo
Or what remains. Probably the most scenic and evocative part of Delphi
Its not just pop culture that venerates crazy drug-ineberiated women. The Greeks did it too - here at Delphi. The Oracle, as she was known, was the source of all knowledge, a speaker of riddles, the one who held the keys to the future. And all this power was driven by her relentless sniffing of noxious fumes. Delphi for many years drew kings and conquerors, the rich and the meek, all and sundry, looking to catch a glimpse of what their futures held.
The Oracle operated in much the same way that a lot of 'sellers of the future' operate today. Lots of mystery, crazy smoke, a bit of mumbling and of course the obligatory encoding of the future in a riddle that could say anything you want it to say. Basically, the Oracle of day (for there were many over the years), would first have a bath (to cleanse her spirit I guess) and then would head over to a chasm that emitted some potent fumes. She would sniff those fumes until she was suitably stoned, at which point then she would proceed to relay the future. She was known for never giving a concrete answer - rather her
Temple of Athena
The Oracle came here to bathe before commencing her Oracling duties. One of the best preserved structures in Delpha
publicist positioned her prophecies as only making sense once the future had occurred.
There was of course the occasional truth seeker that wanted something more concrete though. We were told the story of Alexander the Great, who, frustrated by the Oracle's rather hazy answer to whether his conquests would be successful, dragged her up and down the mountain by her hair until she gave him a real answer. She must have guessed right because Alexander went off to carve out his huge empire shortly after. Today, Delphi is a tiny tourist town set high in the mountains overlooking the Bay of Corinth,
sporting its one draw card - a set of ruins that though only partially preserved, are set against a dramatic backdrop of lintle-crowned mountains. It is indeed a picturesque and peaceful place - the kind of place where stopping and taking in a deep breadth of the fresh mountain air may actually do something good for you. To paraphrase the Lonely Planet, with a setting like this, its no wonder the Greeks decided to make this one of their most auspicious places.
We started the morning bright and early to beat the crowds, heading first to
Panorama over Delphi
Hard to imagine these ruins were once the seat of all knowledge in Greece.
the Temple of Athena. This is one of the better preserved structures at Delphi, and probably the most photographed. It sports a round pool in which the Oracle used to bathe prior to resuming her next round of fortelling. It was nice, but we did regret not having a guide to explain what we were looking at. Thankfully there was a German tour group a little ahead of us, and though neither of us spoke German, we at least new which hunks of rock to look at and nod our heads in awe.
Next up was what I'd call the conglomerate of structures of Delphi - a collection of partially preserved temples to various Greek dieities, plus a few store houses and pits. Once again we do recommend grabbing a guide, as we really didn't get too much elucidation from just staring at those crumbling structures. They were very picturesque though and I did end up taking lots of photos from all sorts of angles. The Lonely Planet did say a few words about them but clearly they weren't impactful as I dont' remember anything about them.
Those structures are built on the side of a hill, so
If only I was as thrilled
Carrying the little elephant gave me one very sore back! At least one of us was happy.
you need to climb up to discover the full set of things to see. Probably the most gorgeous were the pillars that remain for the Temple of Apollo - very cool against the mountain background. Climbing up that hill does indeed reward you with some great views.
Before calling it quits, we stopped by the small Delphi museum which was full of some really well preserved wall paintings and statues. That place was overflowing with people cowering in the great air-conditioning as an escape from the blistering heat outside. Some industrious fellows had set up a slurpee shop right outside which sold 20 different colors/flavours of slurpee - very smart guys who were obviously making a killing selling cups of crushed ice for 4 Euros each!
Having covered the main sites of Delphi, we decided to move on for the day. Though there are a few smaller sites around, I wouldn't call Delphi the most amazing site ever - once you've seen a few of those ruins, you've seem them all. Don't get me wrong - it is indeed worth visiting, but just not for that long. I'm amazed at the tours that spend 2 days in Delpi
Delphi is mostly random broken - not too many intact buildings. Seems pillars seem to be more robust than buildings - note to self - if I ever want to leave a lasting legacy, remember to build pillars.
- what do they do?
The rest of the day was dedicated to a leisurely drive along the coastal road from Delphi to Thessaloniki. The Greek highway system is fabulous if you want to make great speed - but as a result, you don't get to see too many little towns or scenery. We thus stopped periodically along the way in smaller towns, grabbing snacks here and there. One of the great discoveries was the local delicatessan at a grocery store that sold an incredible range of cheeses for bargain prices. That together with a great assortment of olives and fresh bread, made a great Mediterranean lunch. We of course also cruised the streets looking for gyros since today was to be our last full day in Greece. Alas, not too much luck on that front - what we did get paled in comparison to the god of all gyros - those made by http://www.travelblog.org/Europe/Greece/blog-412777.html
We arrived back in Thessaloniki mid afternoon thus decided to wander the streets. We were rewarded by a great discovery - a Greek sweet shop. Oh man - Greek sweets are good - fattening and oily ... but good. I gorged
... or maybe, Mr. Tour Guide, I have a question?
myself on numerous derivatives of what looked like Baklava which turned out not to be a smart thing. Those things are rich and thus Melenie had to escort a suger-delerium-inebriated husband for the next hour.
Thessaloniki has a beautiful strip along the coast that is littered with eating places. Its a great place to walk at night - lots of Greeks going for long walks, lots of others just sitting watching the night go buy, and of course lots of opportunity for water-front eating. Alas we picked bad in terms of a dinner restaurant - or perhaps just ordered badly?
We hit the hotel early that night to prepare for an early morning train ride the next day - onwards to Bulgaria!
There are more photos below