Trip Start Dec 27, 2012
84Trip End Mar 26, 2013
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On the bus the guide gave us information on what we were driving past as we went plus on what we were going to see. Honestly for me I got the most out of the information he gave when we got there as a lot of it didn't really make sense without the visual information. Also while I know a little but about the Gods my knowledge of Ancient Greece as a whole and of more recent wars is very sketchy, plus the guide had perfect English but a strong accent that was worsened by the bus PA system so I struggled with some of the information
About half way through the journey we had a 20 minute break at a coffee shop and then we continued onwards. As well as having a beautiful coastline (16000km, thanks to the islands), Greece is very mountainous and as we got close to Delphi the scenery was awesome! Olive trees all over the hill sides and we passed the town of Arahova, which is perched on this beautiful cliff. The Greeks ski near here in the middle of winter and there is snow in the very top of the mountain about 6 months of the year
Where we were actually headed was the ancient city of Delphi (and its associated museum). This site is on the slopes of Mount Parnassus and olive trees go from below the site all the way down to the sea. What the site actually is, is two sanctuaries or places of worship for Greek gods. The sanctuary of Athena is on one side of today's road and the sanctuary of her brother Apollo is on the other. There is lots of Greek mythology tied into the sights and like I said I missed some of what the guy said but Apollo killed a giant python here (in his sanctuary) and so it became a sight where the Greeks came to contact Apollo and ask questions and favours. So obviously the year a god killed a mythical snake is unknown but it was many years BC that pilgrims travelled here to seek advice from Apollo and to build monuments and things here to thank him for any favours that he was apparently responsible for. A priestess would be the one to receive trance like cryptic messages from Apollo and then the priests would translate the information to the people. So I guess for us it would be like people travelling miles and miles to line up for days to see a fortune teller. The name Delphi is derived from the Greek for dolphin as this is the animal form that Apollo appeared to the first priests as. It was also believed that Delphi was the centre (or the navel) of the world. As legend has it that Zeus released two eagles at the ends of the earth and they met here in the middle
Anyway enough ancient history! Our tour guide gave us all the above info in bits and pieces over the course of the 4 hour drive and like I said I had no idea what all the sanctuary, treasury stuff was until I got there so I'll stop with the details! in more recent times then, this site was buried underground for many thousands of years and was actually under a little town and so when archeologists wanted to dig it out in 1892 they moved the town to where the modern city of Delphi is today. Because it was underground many buildings etc were amazingly well preserved. And that's why we can see it today.
When we arrived our guide re-explained a lot of the bus information as we walked through the sight and then after showing us some of the areas we had free time to explore the rest before meeting him again at the museum. We saw what was the old market place first and while the original building/ruin was really old it 400BCish) when the Christians came here later they used it as a church so there are crucifixes on the old marble that were added many years later. We then entered the main part of the sanctuary and followed the old path of the Holy Way. The guide did tell us specifically where certain treasuries or monuments stood, who donated them and what they were for but I honestly forget all the specifics. For example one fishing Greek city built a monument of a bull as it apparently led them to a really good fishing catch. The main thing that interested me was just seeing the rubble or the foundations of a building and then later in the museum we saw a diagram of what it looked like plus pieces of what had been dug up. A lot of the statues and things were actually still standing in their original spots which is pretty crazy
This was where the guide left us so the steep walk up the hill to the theatre and the stadium we did on our own. From the top we also had a pretty good view down over the rest of the sanctuary so we took lots of photos. I really liked the stadium I can just imagine people doing the javelin and wrestling and stuff there so long ago! Plus most of the seats were still intact and it just generally looked cool. We then wandered back down past everything he had shown us so that we could get photos as on the tour bit there were always people in the way.
From here we headed to the museum and everything in here was from the site we had just visited and it was primarily in age order (so oldest to newest). Like I said it was really awesome seeing the preserved bits of what we had just seen outside. There were many tripod cauldron things which I guess are like today's premiership cup, they were a celebratory victory thing presented to the gods. We saw also the remains of one of the treasuries where they had found heaps of fragments and one whole room was dedicated to this. They had the beautiful lady statues that stood at the front of the treasury and the around the wall they had the frieze which is like the trim around the top of the building. This was a series of panels that depicted various stories about the Gods including the one that led to Helen leaving the Greeks to be with Paris of Troy leading to the Trojan war. There was also the sphinx from the top of that column I mentioned and then there were pieces from the pediment (the top triangular pieces that go below a two sided roof) from both the temples of Apollo. One thing I really loved was a drinking vase. This was a bowl type thing from 400BC in absolutely perfect condition. It's crazy that someone use to drink out of this and we have it today!!
The final star attraction of the museum was a bronze statue (everything else was in marble) that they believe is a charioteer that originally had four horses attached to it. Apparently it's one of the oldest pieces of Bronze sculpture work we have and it really is a beautiful statue. It still has its eyes and everything!
After this we boarded the bus and it took us down the hill a bit to the modern city of Delphi. The scenery on this drive was even nicer than what we had seen earlier today as we had a better view of the ocean. As it is coming into Spring some of the tress had blossomed so it was all very pretty. Lunch was included in the deal so it was a set menu but it was all pretty good. We had the classic Greek salad and then Greek yoghurt and fruit for dessert.
Then it was time for the long drive home.. Via a carpet selling place in Arahova. It was a fairly obvious selling commission for the tour company type thing and I didn't really want a carpet so I wasn't in there long. I had a bit of a doze on the way home but I didn't sleep properly and then I decided to watch a movie to kill a bit of time.
When we got back we thought we may as well go and have our free welcome drink at our rooftop restaurant and while we were there enjoying our free coke we had a look at the menu. Most things were pretty expensive and we were thinking we would give it a miss when the waiter came and told us that for €19 you could have entree, main and dessert from a set menu so we decided to stay and do that. I ended up with another Greek salad for entree but it was delicious and we also got free bread with olive paste to start with as well as the other courses so it was a good meal. We then basically got organised for bed and played on the Internet until sleep time.