Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Greece Trip Report, Part III.


Friday, April 23, 2004


Today George had a prior commitment so his son Dennis (Dionysus) picked us up for our trek to Delphi.

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The drive to Delphi was beautiful. The ruins are about 2.5 hours northwest of Athens in a lovely mountainous area.

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We stopped for a break at this little coffee shop.

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On the way there we passed through a beautiful alpine town called Arachova.

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It was St. George's Day, and there were great celebrations going on in the town. We passed several gatherings where groups of men were roasting 20 or so lambs on spits. There was loud music playing, and the Greek men and women were dancing in the street. It was quite a fun sight to behold.

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Ancient Delphi was the site of a large temple to Apollo, who spoke to visitors through an oracle there. It was a popular place for Greeks to visit in its day, and the ruins are impressive.

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Delphi has a large amphitheater, though it is not as well preserved as the one in Epidaurus.

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There are ruins of an ancient stadium at the very top of the settlement, and it is huge - I would guess 200 yards long with several rows of seats running along one side.

Delphi has a beautiful museum, but all but one room was closed for construction in preparation for Olympic visitors. We enjoyed our visit here very much, with Robert providing apt commentary from a guidebook he'd brought along.

After eating lunch in town, we headed back toward Athens, stopped at the monastery of Holy Luke. This was a lovely site and completely intact, but dating only to the 12 c. A.D., it seemed disappointingly "new!"

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The view from our table at lunch. I seem to recall that across the body of water far below is the Peloponnese and Corinth.

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We had mentioned to George that we would like to visit the town of Marathon since Robert is a marathon runner. George alluded that the road there was under construction, but that his son would take us. Well, not only was the road under construction; the whole dadgum town was! It took us quite a while to find a paved way into Marathon and even longer to locate its monument.

Marathon is situated along the sea, and the Greeks were invaded there by the Persians once. There were some 25,000 Persians to 10,000 Greeks, but somehow the Greeks held them off, losing only 152 men to Persia's 9,000 casualties. A young soldier dressed in full armor was sent to Athens to convey news of the Greek victory. He ran the whole 26.2 miles, delivered his message and then promptly died on the spot. Why this incites people to emulate his journey is a mystery to me, but it is a good story.

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There is a mound in Marathon where they buried the ashes of the Greek soldiers, and it is marked with a copy of the marathoner's spear. Once we found this monument, we discovered that it and the adjacent area were completely under construction, but having searched for it for quite some time, we were determined to get a picture of Robert in front of it. So we climbed over huge piles of dirt, scooted under barbed wire fences and risked probable deportation, but we got that picture!

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We returned to Athens "the long way" because the main road was, you guessed it, under construction, but we did get to see Lake Marathon, which was quite pretty.

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Upon returning to our hotel, we met up with other people from Robert's company, who were just arriving in Athens. Most were bleary-eyed with jet lag, and we were glad to have a few days under our belt already.
We ate a nice buffet dinner at the hotel, then retired to the Galaxy bar on top of the hotel with some friends. The view from the bar was spectacular, and it got us quite excited about embarking on our cruise the next day.

2 comments:

Marian said...

I like the bigger pictures, more detail and they are easier to see. 2 weeks from today we arrive in Athens and we too have hired "George the famous taxi driver" to show us Pelopenese and Delphi!

Liz said...

Ok. I'm longing for a vacation more than ever! What a fantastic trip! I like the bigger pictures too.