September 25, 2009 – Delphi

October 12, 2009

In Delphi, we stayed at the Hotel Acropole, a family run establishment.  Our room had a balcony with an amazing view of the valley – mountains sloping down to an olive-tree filled valley and the Ionian Sea in the distance. 

View from our balcony.

View from our balcony.

After a short nap, we walked through the town.  It felt deserted – we were much later than the tour groups.  Restaurants and shops catering to tourists abounded, though.  I bought a lapis pendant in one of them – the blue reminded me of Santorini. 

During our wanderings we purchased a bottle of Greek wine to share on our balcony. A grandmotherly type, who I think we pleased by buying Greek wine, smiled with a mischievious twinkle in her eye and gave me (but not N) a piece of candy.

We dined at a resaurant recommended by the hotel desk clerk. I ordered the lamb with pasta but received the veal with potatoes.  When I pointed this out tho the harried waitress, she convinced me that I would enjoy the veal as much as the lamb.  I probably would have but when I went to take a bite, I noticed a long black hair resting on top of it.  So, in the end, I wound up with the lamb and enjoyed it very much.

This morning, we woke up and went down for the hotel’s complimentary breakfast.  A school group of about 50 4-7th graders had flooded the dining room.  It turns out that European middle schoolers are just as oblivious to those around them as American middle schoolers. 

After breakfast, we visited the archaeological museum and the temples of Apollo and Athena.  The museum had a particularly impressive bronze statue of a charioteer – he even had eyelashes!  Unfortunately, much of the aracheological site was closed due to “technical problems.”  I have to wonder what sort of technical problems piles of rock can have.  We could go up to the altar of the temple of Apollo and down to the Temple of Athena.  The Oracle of Delphi sits in the latter and that’s what I wanted to see the most so I did not feel too disappointed by the closure.

 

Bronze statue of charioteer.

Bronze statue of charioteer.

Our guide book says that young women sat inside the temple and most likely were hallucinating either due to the fumes or chewing some sort of leaves.  Prominent men would ask quesitons and they would respond by speaking in tounges which the priests then translated.  Some pretty major decisions – such as whether or not to go to war – were made by consulting the oracle.  A bit dodgy, if you ask me.

Oracle of Delphi

Oracle of Delphi

We returned to a small cafe overlooking the valley for a bite ot eat and coffee before departing Delphi.  As we ate, we heard yowling and hissing noises at our feet.  A small gray cat, one that we met at the same cafe the night before, had returned.  He had an odd style of begging, though – hissing did not make us feel inclined to share our meal with him.

We left Delphi at 11:30 and travelled along the Ionian coast.  One of N’s favorite parts of the trip, the road twisted along the coast and through storybook-beautiful landscapes.  A word about driving in Greece:  Greeks consider lane lines suggestions, not laws.  Imagine a two lane road with one car driving on the shoulder on each side and one car driving into oncoming traffic in order to pass.  That’s driving in Greece.  N loves it.  It leaves me with a bit of a stomach ache.  I would have closed my eyes for the whole thing but N needed me to read the road map.

We arrived in Ancient Olympia just before three and checked into the Hotel Pelops.  According to our guidebook, New Zealanders started the hotel but young Greek men helped us during our stay.  When we asked for a dinner suggestion, one replied, “I suggest you take an umbrella – a thunderstorm is about to start.”  He then suggested a restaurant. It did, indeed, rain during dinner – in fact, it poured.  Also notable from that meal – the discovery of broad beans in tomato sauce.  I’ll need to track down a recipe for that.

I get ahead of myself, however.  Before dinner we headed out and went to the Museum of the Ancient Olympics and the Archaeological Museum of Olympia.  I did not realize that the Greeks held the ancient Olympics uninterrupted for 1,169 years.  In contrast, the modern Olympics just turned 100 in 1996.  At the ancient Olympics musuem, I also learned that one of the races required runners to wear a helmet, shin protectors and carry a shield.  Other than those items, they were naked.  It makes for an interesting picture.

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