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Day 8 - Visiting Apollo


Location - Delphi

Remember when I said that the heat was not so bad, and that the tourists were relatively scarce? Scratch that.

Because we did not want to miss Aliki’s breakfast at 8:30, our plan to get to the Delphi site as it opened at 8 was altered. Her fig and plum jams alone were worth it. The honey here is also astonishingly yummy. Aliki proudly served us a mild, chamomile-like “mountain tea” that she promised had medicinal qualities. We were also delayed by my folly: on my way out to breakfast on the terrace, I pulled the door of our apartment shut. I did not realize that it locks automatically, nor that the keys were in the inside lock, which disallows a second outside key from opening it. Thankfully, Athena had left a window unlatched, but we did have to wait for a neighbour with a ladder and a willingness to climb through the small second storey opening. He laughed at us. Deservedly, I suppose.

We had read that the day-trippers from Athens don’t arrive to the site until 11, but when we arrived at 10, there were already a handful of tour buses parked in the shade. And the groups just kept coming for the next two hours. French, Spanish, and, of course, English. And was it ever hot! We sought out shady spots with vantage points. There were lots of those though. Everything is very vertical there, from the obvious (the tall columns of Apollo’s Temple in front of the tall mountain backdrop) to the macro (the 700 vertical feet climb from the entrance along the Sacred Way past the treasuries, temple, and theatre to the stadium), to the natural (oddly tall and pointy evergreen trees that looked like the ones they use in architectural models). And I guess that makes sense; it all looks up to the sun god, who got stronger and stronger all day.

We were done about noon, and thought about driving into Delphi for lunch before seeing the museum, but given that the Sanctuary of Athena closes at 3 while the museum closes at 4, we decided (probably foolishly) to walk the 1.5 km over to the second site right away. It was in the mid-30s as we dashed from tree to tree on the shoulder-less highway with whizzing tour buses passing us. I’d like to say we took a long luxurious time soaking in the majesty of Delphi’s most photographed site, but we were so, so hot that we grabbed a few shots (mostly of Athena, to be honest), and girded ourselves for the trek back. We did stop at a small ‘cafe’ for a 20 euro snack of lemonade and ice cream, and the 20 minutes of shade there saved our sanity.

We then headed into the tour-group filled museum to see some astonishing stuff. The big, famous pieces here are the Sphinx of Naxos, the Twins, and the Charioteer. Great museum, but we were pretty exhausted by the time we were done it.

We drove into the town of Delphi for supplies (okay, just wine and chocolate), and David had a long conversation with the store owner, who recommended a restaurant and tried to arrange a marriage between his 8 year old daughter and Triumph. Then after a couple hours in Aliki’s garden with the hammock and the kittens, we went to the recommended Delphi restaurant where we were able to gaze out over vast olive groves and the Gulf of Corinth.

We left before the sun fully set, though; we required a bit of light for the 15 km single lane mountain highway full of switchbacks and crazy Greek drivers not to mention that four-by-four terrain section near our house at the end of the one-car wide rubble road on a shear cliff edge. David, determined to drive like a Greek, now wants to drive, well over the speed limit, with an iced coffee in one hand and his mobile in the other, while being yelled at by his wife with expressive hand gestures, while goats (Athena provides the sound effects) bleat in the back seat.

Off to bed with very tired legs.


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