We woke up early Tuesday morning and hauled our bags around the corner to meet our tour group for the 3 day tour. We were heading to Delphi for the first day and I couldn’t wait to step foot on such historical grounds. We booked this tour because we were told by a friend that we absolutely could not miss it.
The drive to Delphi was a little over 2 hours through the gorgeous Greek countryside. We had an amazing tour guide who spoke to us the entire way there with facts about Greece and the spiritual place we were heading. She kept switching between English and French and I was amazed at her fluency in both languages!
We arrived in Delphi at one of the hottest points of the day. I couldn’t believe how uncomfortably warm it was, but our tour guide didn’t seem to notice and began our tour. It was then I looked around and realized that there was close to no shade around the entire grounds.
We began our walk through the treasuries and stopped at the stone believed to be the ‘naval of the earth.’ Legend has it that Zues sent two eagles flying from the eastern and western extremities. The path of the eagles crossed over Delphi and that it why they believe it is the center of the world.
I think my favorite story was about the journey people made to speak to the oracles. Our guide explained that the oracle would breathe in ‘holy smoke’ before answering visitors, but it turns out that the smoke was actually Ethylene gas, so she was actually drugged and thus spoke in gibberish to them! Her words were then translated by a priest (who was often well-knowledged in world issues and could give solid advice), but the advice was usually cryptic. The best part, was that when they had a very important guest, they would ask them to bring an animal to sacrifice. The priest would then sprinkle water on the animal and if it shook it’s head, the visitor could proceed. If it didn’t, they had to go back and try again later. The trick? The priest would use COLD water when they wanted it react and WARM water when they didn’t. Ha!
We took a break in the air conditioned museum, but I began to feel too hungry and hot to concentrate on what our guide was saying.
Most of the group we came to Delphi with was heading back to Athens that night. We were going to be dropped off at our hotel and picked back up the next day for the drive to Meteora. When we checked into our hotel, I couldn’t believe our luck with views! We could see for miles above the valley below.
We dropped our bags off and spent the next few hours at a cafe down the street enjoy greek coffee and taking in our day before we grabbed dinner and went back to the hotel.
We weren’t getting picked up until the afternoon the next day, so we decided to walk back to Delphi to explore more on our own. I couldn’t help but feel that the heat and the pace of our tour the previous day didn’t allow us to fully enjoy it.
We beat the crowds there and followed the same path we had previously. I noticed that we had missed the Sibyl rock the previous day and I spent more time studying the details of how the walls were made.
We could spot some ruins in the distance and decided to explore. We walked for a while down the road and discovered that we had completely skipped the Athena Pronaia Sanctuary with our tour! I was so glad that we had our morning free so we could see everything on our own.
We made our way back to our hotel, took a nap, and soon our bus arrived to pick us up. We had a 3.5 hour drive ahead of us to get to Kalabaka for the night.
We made a quick stop along the way at an icon workshop. The priest created byzantine icons for the churches and we learned how the entire process worked. It was one of my favorite memories from the trip! The priest’s son was at the workshop to demonstrate how he painted an icon. We watched as he painted with all-natural pigments and layed gold leaf over the icons with a steady hand. It was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen.
We left and eventually arrived in Kalabaka for the night and were dropped off at our hotel. We were amazed at the sights of the rocks in the distance where the monasteries were located. This was the part Danny was most excited for and I could see his excitement for the next day! We didn’t have much time to explore the town that night, so we ate dinner and headed to bed in anticipation for the next day.
Up next: Monasteries of Meteora