The Centre of the Universe(according to the Greeks) - Delphi,Greece


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May 31st 2013
Published: June 3rd 2013
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The town of Delhpi is tucked around a corner on the mountainside and it was pointless waiting in bed to watch the sun stream in the hotel window as it was going to take a while to reach us.Down the valley though, the town of Kirra was sitting in full sun which encouraged us to get up and get the day underway.

This morning we had another challenge while showering.We have got used to the hand held shower head(well as used to it as we are ever going to get)but this morning there was another surprise for us.Having got into the shower and getting ready to turn the shower on I suddenly realised that there was an open gap in the sliding shower door as one of the doors was missing.It was just as well I had noticed it or there could have been streams of water squirting all around the bathroom as one hoses oneself to wet up for the shower gel and then to wash the stuff off!Showering is one thing we will not miss about Greece!

With breakfast included in the room rate we availed ourselves and came away very full after a hard boiled egg,soft bread and cake plus of course coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice.While having breakfast we watched the crowd from the hotel across the road gather waiting for the tour bus to arrive and pick them up.The street being one way meant that when the bus did arrive there was a long queue of traffic waiting for the bus to load up its passengers and luggage and clear the road.With a number of hotels along the street we guess this same process is repeated many times a day for arrivals and departures.

We left the car parked outside the hotel and strode down to the ancient site hoping that the tour buses hadn't yet arrived and although we got there not long after the place opened we could see we were still going to have to make our way around fighting for space to read the inscriptions on the various exhibits as there were at least 4 other groups ahead of us ranging from young Americans to Germans to French and a mixed load.

Neither of us are experts in ancient Greek history so like our visit to Olympia we won't try and get too involved in describing the exhibits and their importance and any way there was so much to read on the inscriptions as we went along it would have been impossible to take it all in.

One thing we did come away with from our visit was the understanding that this was a very important site in the history of the classical Greek world and we would certainly say if any of our readers had the opportunity that they take a trip here as it is very worthwhile to appreciate the life and times in more detail.

Like Olympia,Delphi also held its own games every 4 years from the 5th century BC although this was the principal reason as to why Delphi was so important in the ancient Greek world.

Delphi was seen by the Greeks as the centre of the universe as they knew it and the worship of Apollo was of great importance.Even more so was the Oracle of Pythia,the priestess who sat on a tripod,inhaled ethylene gasses and foretold the future in incomprehensible words.Greeks of the time and others of great importance would travel to Delphi to consult with Pythia before making important decisions.

The site is quite sizable and there is a lot of walking uphill to take it all in and also to get to the stadium which is at the top of the site.

We quickly worked out that it would be best to head past some of the early bits and start half way up to get ahead of 3 of the tour parties and get enough time to read about what we were looking at and also have reasonably clear space for photos and video.

At the Temple of Apollo we passed a couple and the guy was wearing a NZ cap so we asked them if they were from NZ which of course they were and spet the next ten minutes swapping stories.They were on a 6 week drive around Turkey and Greece and were also heading to our next destination of Meteora when they had finished their walk around the site,the same as we were.We bade them farewell and said we might see them later in the day again!

The Temple of Apollo is the centre point of the site and we found it was best photographed from above to take in its expanse.A couple of the doric columns have been restored and give a sense of what the temple may have looked like.The temple itself was destroyed by Theodosius a Christian Roman emperor in 390AD when he silenced the oracle.

The building that was the Treasury of Athens has been reconstructed and is the most complete building on site along with the theatre which could seat around 5000 people and looked out over the sanctuary and valley below.

We walked right to the top of the site and the stadium and took in the track which was 177 metres long and about 22 metres wide.It could seat 6500 people.

It was late morning by the time we finished our walk around the ancient site and got on the road heading for Meteora and our overnight stay.The road down the mountainside took us over a spiral in the road similar to the one at Rijeka in Croatia.It was clear that you would not have been able to negotiate the corner without the aid of this ingenious piece of engineering.

We had lunch on the side of the road which climbed over another mountain range.This time it was as close to a sausage roll as we have got since being away from NZ and we enjoyed something with a meaty taste after a couple of fairly bland tasting meals.

Coming out onto the plain at Gravia we came across a cemetery containing British and other allied bodies from the 1st World War.It was all a bit unexpected and we haven't been able to find out too much about the involvement of the soldiers buried there.Like all military cemetraies we have visited on our journeys this one too was beautifully kept and a credit to the people of Greece. and surrounded by low brown hills

More hills followed and then eventually ahead of us ,where a new highway was partly completed,was a massive plain with green and gold patchwork fields surrounded in the background by low brown hills.Oddly the temperature dropped from 30C to 23C when we hit the plains when we would have expected the temperature to rise given too that a strong warm wind was blowing.

At Karditsa,a large rural serving town if we were to go by the number of agriculture machinery businesses on the way into town,we found a car wash and gave Cindy her second shampoo and wash and also a vacuum to clean up all the little stones etc that come in on our shoes.It would have been easier to keep the carpet clean had we had mats but these weren't supplied when we picked the car up.

We arrived shortly after into Kalampaka and found our hotel without too much trouble even though the street it was in didn't appear to have a name.Our room had a small terrace and we sat outside having a cold beer and admiring the tall sandstone cliffs just a stones throw away that were part of the Meteora World Heritage site which we will visit tomorrow.

We decided to dine out again and thought a Greek salad(can't get enough of these)and a gyros washed down with another cold beer would go down well as our short time in Greece was coming to an end.We found a café downtown and joined the men who frequent these places(no women)and went home feeling well fed for less than €13 which included our two 500ml beers.


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