Delphi (or Learning to love the Ktel bus)

This is a flashback to Delphi – a whole 3 weeks ago. Feel’s like a lifetime ago…

I love the bus, I genuinely do. In many islands and all across the mainland it is the only way of getting from A to B (usually via C, D and E!). In the first week we were in Athens a trip to Delphi was on the cards. Now Delphi has been a long running place of pilgrimage since the site was chosen to house temples in homage to Apollo. A town has been there plying its trade to the worshippers and fortune seekers, much as it does nowadays to tourists visiting its UNESCO Heritage status site.

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It is perched up near Mount Parnassus a three hour drive from Athens. We’ve been on some bone-shaking, high in the mountain rides across Andros and Tinos, so thought despite the distance it couldn’t be any worse. It is believed the site was chosen because of its mystic and spiritual properties and that’s believed to be one of the reason the Delphic Oracle offered up her mysterious advice. Within the Temple of Apollo is the place the Oracle would speak through a female Priestess and the babbled chants would be interpreted as a prophecy answering important questions such as waging wars or dividing up fortunes. According to legend the ground breath the site had hallucinogenic vapours seeping up from the rocks, which could explain the visions interpreted as the Oracle! Each nation state across Greece built temples as offerings to Apollo, depending on the value placed on the statues carved from marble and gold leaf decorated temples, it gave them more rights to consult the oracle more frequently. All fascinating stuff and it seemed a logical place to look for answers, after all isn’t that what this six months is about? Looking beyond the everyday to find meaning? Armed with our own questions for Apollo we set out for the Ktel Bus station in Athens  – luckily I’d figured out there is more than one bus station is Athens and yes this one was a bit of a trek, basically along a long road that has taxi garages as far as the eye can see.  We were travelling light for 3 days so not a baggage problem (:)). Buying the tickets and figuring out which bay the bus left from was a breeze, unlike the Larissa Train Station. There’s also a really nice café, ‘Anna’s’ just over the road where we ate lunch of cheese toasties. The bus journey was smooth and raced through the flat plains and small towns, the started the climb into the mountains, stopping for 15 minute break at ‘The Friendly Café’ after 2 hours was a leg-stretching relief.

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Once we pulled into the small town of Delphi you get a real sense of why such temples and ruins were built here – the scenery is just -dropping, the mountains in the background and views all the way down to coast at Itea. Our hotel was a really simple place called the Athina Hotel.  A very smiley friendly lady showed us to our room – amazing but vertigo inducing views from the balcony! After a decent dinner in one of the traditional taverna’s, it was an early night and up to explore the site. I’d totally recommend getting there early, as it is a place high on the list of school trips (yes, those bored-looking privileged kids from UK public schools were there in force along with a huge group from Italy and France, when we visited. Really taking in the culture by posing for selfies– all very Instagram-able moments! I guess that’s how we make memories, a virtual slideshow of life’s best moments, never fully honest and edited to reveal a half-truth public face, but still capturing a snapshot of time.  I won’t hate them for it, I would have done the same at that age!

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In Spring this is a truly beautiful place – all the wildflowers are out, blossom on the trees, fresh grass under blue skies. We just wandered round in its peaceful corners, up lots of steps to the monuments – it’s not a huge place but deserves a good couple of hours to explore and take in it’s mystery.

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What I found fascinating was this huge old dog which just paraded through the old arcades, it owned the place, paying no mind to any of the photo-snapping tourists. She looked around and just walked under the temple of Apollo – she was like the reincarnation of the Priestess Phythia herself. Free to roam where no human was allowed.

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We finished off the day by watching the sunset and eating at Vlakos Taverna; rooster in wine sauce and beef stifado. I didn’t find any answers from the Oracle but just asking questions to ask was certainly a good place to start.

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