Saturday 30th April 2011
Today we head further south towards Attica. Initially rejoining the E75 Thessaloniki - Athens motorway as far as Thermopylae where we stop for a spot of lunch and a short history lesson.
It was here at Thermopylae where the Greeks tried to defend a narrow pass in battle against all odds of the massive army of Persians led by Xerxes, in 480 B.C.
The Greek army was led by King Leonidas of Sparta. Xerxes demanded they lay down their arms only to be told to 'come and get them'.
For forty-eight hours the defenders of Thermopylae held out, defeating not just the poorly trained initially sent to dull them, but the Immortals, the Persian elite. Unfortunately for the Greeks, Thermopylae held a secret: a small pass by which the main defences could be outflanked and having been betrayed they were defeated. However this was only after Leonidas having learnt of the betrayal had ordered the bulk of his army to retreat to safety, When battle commenced the next day there were 1500 Greeks left, including 300 Spartans. Caught between the main Persian army and 10,000 men to their rear, all were involved in fighting and wiped
out. After this battle, the Persian army advanced into central Greece where they marched into Athens burning and sacking it. However the Athenians had already evacuated the city.
After lunch we head over the mountains towards the Gulf of Corinth and Delphi. The drive was spectacular over good roads and alpine scenery - recommended.
Sunday 1st May 2011
A National Holiday in Greece and suprisingly this includes the closure of major historical sites including Delphi. Therefore a day of relaxation by the swimming pool which has stunning views of the Gulf of Corinth in the distance.
Monday 2nd May 2011
Bus from the camp site to the village of Delphi to consult the famous oracle. But first a visit to the excellent museum to give background to the following site visit
In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god Apollo.
It was here he slew the Python and protected the 'omphalos' (navel) of the earth the centre of the world.
Apollo's sacred precinct in Delphi was a panhellenic sanctuary, where every four years, from 586
BC athletes from all over the Greek world competed in the Pythian Games, one of the four panhellenic games, precursors of the Modern Olympics. The victors at Delphi were presented with a laurel crown rather than an olive crown as at Olympia.
The site of Delphi is located on multiple plateaux/terraces along the slope of Mount Parnassus and Jack feeling unwell in the heat elected to stay below with Max whilst Ben and I ascended to consult the Oracle. A climb well worth the effort with fabulous views across the valley.
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