Kalambaka to Athens

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July 13th 2017
Published: July 20th 2017
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Kalambaka to Delphi to Athens

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July 13 Thursday
Early wake up to get to Delphi early. The room was warm all night but with the fan I was comfortable. Others complained about their room being too warm too. Breakfast was a great buffet. They even had spinach pie again! Yummy. I tried a dessert called Bougatsa. It was flaky, cut into squares and filled with a warm vanilla flavored creme. It was soooo good. We boarded the bus and head off at 7:30 am.
On they way to Delphi we passed mostly small villages of one room shacks with metal scrap for roofs and cotton farms.
We made a rest stop in Thermopylae. I picked up a cream pastry thinking it would be like the one I had this morning. Unfortunately it was not anything like it. I also tried my first Monster energy drink. Got an orange flavored version. It actually tasted better than the yellow Red Bull I had some days earlier. After I boarded the bus, Dana came up to me and handed me my wallet!!! She said she found it on the bottom step of the restaurant!!!! OMG!! I still had a panic attack just thinking about what would have happened!! Now I know why she was always the last person on the bus. Sometimes God put annoying people in your way for a reason. I definitely not going to fault her anymore. I hugged her when we got off the bus at the memorial. Going to find a nice gift for her on my next shopping trip.
10 minutes outside of town we stopped at the Memorial for the Battle of Thermopylae (For those who don't remember their Greek history, think of the movie The 300.) The monument was designed by Basil (Vasilios) Phalereus and was erected in the 1950's opposite the hill of Kolonos, which is where the remaining Spartan and Thespian hoplites died. An accumulation of spears and arrowheads were located at the hill by the Greek archaeologist Spyridon Marinatos in 1939, which confirmed the details of the final phase of the Battle of Thermopylae as recorded by the historian Herodotus.
Below the statue of King Leonidas is a marble frieze, which depicts the defenders of Thermopylae who died during the battle. The heroes (Alpheus and Maron, Sparta; Demophilus, the Thespian; Dienekes, Sparta;Dithyrambus, the Thespian; Eurytus, Sparta; Megistias, the Arcanian) that distinguished themselves and who were recorded by Herodotus, have been immortalized by name and the respective city-state that each warrior represented. We posed for our first group picture. I hope I can get a copy of it.
We then headed over the mountains to get to Delphi. I'm used to the San Gabriel Mountains so I wasn't impressed until we got into the interior of the mountain range. A huge valley appeared and it was very impressive. To see the steep mountains and the low valley all in one eye opening was absolutely stunning. It's hazy due to the heat but still impressive. After getting to the bottom of the valley it was a long climb to the top using switch back roads. It was a little disconcerting looking down to the valley again. Lots of Olive groves along the side of the roads.

Delphi is famous as the ancient sanctuary that grew rich as the seat of Pythia, the oracle consulted about important decisions throughout the ancient classical world. Moreover, the Greeks considered Delphi the navel(or center) of the world, as represented by the stone monument known as the Omphalos of Delphi. Delphi Archaeological Site. The archaeological site of Delphi is one of the most important one in Greece, second only to the Acropolis of Athens. At the Delphi sanctuary, excavations have unearthed settlements that date as far back as the Neolithic era. Some of the most prominent edifices on the sacred slopes of Delphi are the temple of Apollo, the ancient theater, the stadium, the sanctuary of Athena Pronaia with the Tholos, the Kastalia spring, and the various treasuries that adorn the sacred way. The archaeological museum on the site contains many important ancient Greek artifacts from the excavations at Delphi.
The main road leading through the village of Delphi is narrow and full of little hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. Those not going on the guided tour were left off in the village. We parked at the entrance to Delphi Archaeological Site. I couldn't wait to get inside. After a quick restroom break, our tour guide started the long walk up the hillside. She talked along the way about the historical significance of each location. I was antsy so I went ahead a little bit and red the large information signage instead. It was very hot being close to 100°. I wish we had more time to explore but we only got to see a small part of it. However what we saw was spectacular. Definitely need to come back to Greece. While waiting, one of the stray cats from the site curled up next to the benches we were at. So of course we had a pet it. We were then taken back to the village for lunch and shopping on our own for about 2 hours. I found some really cool postcards that shows the ruins then when you move it slightly, it shows an artistic rendering of what it looked like in the past. I got 4 different ones. There was a cute sign in one of the souvenir shops that said welcome to Greece now please take a cat home!I they weren't kidding! I can't believe how many feral cats I've seen in Delphi and in Athens. I picked up some more gifts and then chose a restaurant near the bus. I ordered a spinach pie and a bottle of water. I had 30 minutes to eat. I got my water 5 minutes later then asked about my food 10 minutes later. She went over to get it out of this large metal container. I took 2 bites and it was nice and warm. 3rd bite cool. 4th bite cold. The outside of the rectangular slice was warm but middle was cold. I ate around the sides and left having already paid. Got to the bus to find out that a meat delivery truck hit the bus's left mirror scraping paint off the side of the mirror. Our driver, Luigi, was very upset and very vocal with the Greek driver of the truck. A local then got involved, and according to our tour guide he was upset because the buses are too big for the streets. But yet they still want our money. We drove her another hour 45 minutes to get to Athens.
Athens is the capital of Greece. It was also at the heart of Ancient Greece, a powerful civilization and empire. The city is still dominated by 5th-century BC landmarks, including the Acropolis, a hilltop citadel topped with ancient buildings like the colonnaded Parthenon temple. The Acropolis Museum, along with the National Archaeological Museum, preserves sculptures, vases, jewelry and more from Ancient Greece.
We entered the suburbs of the city 45 minutes before actually getting into our hotel room. I could not believe the amount of graffiti everywhere! I thought Los Angeles was bad but this is definitely worse. Many of the buildings are tightly packed together, streets are numerous and not really in straight lines, the drivers drive worse than anything I've ever seen- speeding down these tiny narrow streets and unbelievable speeds. Totally not at all what I expected for Athens!
We are staying at the Divani Palace Acropolis. The neighborhood, to me, looked very run down but according to one souvenir shop owner that was normal. I was the last one off the bus since I was sitting in the back so I was the last one to enter the hotel. Most of the people already had their room keys. I asked Scott for mine and he acted like I should've already had mine. He checked his list and my name was not on it for some reason. However there was a room for the driver who was not staying while we were gone for the next four days. So I end up getting his room. We are only going to be here for one night so I didn't cause a fuss. My room is on the six floor in the corner with three other rooms virtually almost side-by-side. When I opened up the door to my hotel room I stepped into a long hallway. My bathroom is immediately one step into the hallway from the door. I actually have to walk into the bathroom to shut the door to room! Down the long hallway I find my very small bedroom. I do have a balcony for the inner courtyard but I won't be using it much since it's so tiny. I looked down and there's the swimming pool. I was told we could see the Acropolis from the hotel: That is, if you use the expensive restaurant up on the top floor which is one floor above me at the other end of the hotel. I could lean out my balcony and see part of The Acropolis. After settling in for a few minutes, I decided to try to head out somewhere in town to grab me a bite to eat. The rest of the group is going out to a Greek dinner and show with a small tour of the city and finally ending up at the main shopping area. I was aware of the dinner and show but not the tour or the shopping excursion. However they still wanted over $60 just for this extra event.
I decided to take a taxi from the hotel to the far end of the shopping area called Plaka. I grabbed a taxi from the hotel for €8. The driver didn't speak much which I'm glad so he wouldn't be distracted while driving. He was one of those who didn't obey the speed limits. We did pass by some important looking buildings. He dropped me off about 15 minutes away from my hotel. Once again I couldn't believe them out of the trash and graffiti everywhere. There was even a monument to some ancient Greek man and it was covered in graffiti at the base. I started heading in the direction I was told to go to but then noticed that fleamarket was to the right. Since I probably didn't want to spend money at high-end shops along the Plaka I decided to venture down the flea market side. Very busy thorough fare with lots of shops and cheap junk. I picked up a couple magnets of the Acropolis and of the city. I was able to talk to Rose and my parents for short time before heading back to my hotel. While I was talking my parents I connected with another pedestrian walkway and was able to show them some of the ancient ruins that they have uncovered but left open for people to view. One site was still being worked on. I finally decided I had enough walking in the heat. Even though the sun was setting It was still about 100° outside. While still talking to my dad I was able to get a cab to stop after letting off another passenger. Eileen through the passenger side window and I showed him the map and the hotel card I had on me and ask him if he could take me there. He said yes and I asked him how much and he said €10. I was so hot I didn't care so I said OK. I stood back, went to grab the back door of the taxi, and he took off! He left me! I couldn't believe that! I went up to the restaurant that was on that corner. There were three waiters standing there and I asked them if they could help me get a cab. One of the workers flag down the next cab around the corner and I was able to get in. This driver spoke English and it only cost me €6 to get back to the hotel. He was very friendly so I left him a €2 tip.
Went back up to my room to get my American money so I can change it for euros at the hotel desk. I've been asked about a good pizza place or Italian restaurant I could eat out that was nearby. They suggested Diva Plus. It was about five minutes walk from my hotel. They're a little slow on service but the food was excellent.The waitress wanted to know from what country I was from a long with the other couple that came in after me. She then brought out an American flag for me and a Belgian flag for them to place on our table! That was so cute! I had the Bruschetta Caprise and of course for dessert I had brownie with ice cream. At the end of my meal they offered for free two slices of watermelon to eat. I politely declined since I can't stand watermelon. I then headed back to the hotel to take a shower before going to bed. On the way back I noticed my left green was beginning to hurt my been to sometimes! I hope it's just slightly sore from all that climbing in Delphi today. When I got back to the hotel I remember to go to the rooftop restaurant to get a picture of the Acropolis. All the advertising's in the Hotel shows a tablesetting what the Acropolis a close behind. I got to the top restaurant and it was very swanky. I walked between the tables and over to where I can get a good Picture of the Acropolis. Imagine my surprise when I had to use the zoom lens on my cell phone camera just to get a good picture. The Acropolis is very far away and not at all like it is in the advertisement. After providing a interruption in their dinner, even though I was told by the hotel desk it's OK, I walked out of there in my shorts and tank top and tennis shoes so that the rest of the well-dressed people can finish their dinner! When I got ready for bed I only found one plug by the refrigerator to use for the fan. There was only one more plug that was being used by the lamp. So I am plugged it and plug in my laptop and then used 2 USB multi-ports to hook up all my power cells to recharge them. Today was the first time on this trip I used up all my power cells in one day. Time for bed, time to rest my knee, time to rest my feet.

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