Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tour to Delphi

I've been a little neglectful in finishing up the posts to our trip because real life has started again.  The kids are back to school and I am back to work in full force.  I do like having our routine back though....but it's Thursday morning (our Saturday) so I thought I would get another blog entry in this morning. 

On Monday (Dec 27, 2010) we had scheduled a tour through Key Tours in Athens to take a day trip to the town of Delphi (pronounced Del-phee).  Mark and I have agreed that this was our favorite day on our trip.  We were picked up in front of The President Hotel close to our apartment by the tour company at 7:30 am - we were a couple minutes late and I think if we had been any later, we might have missed the pickup.  But we caught him and were on our way.  We got to their offices and waited with some other families for the tour to start. We met the head of the theatre department from University of Texas - Austin and his wife who is a professor there also.  Another family that was there waiting was from the states waiting also - the 20ish something girl had a best friend who was studying in the theatre department there - it's funny what a small world it is sometimes.

We got on the bus about 8:30 and started out on our tour to Delphi. We drove through Athens and our tour guide shared information about some of the things that we saw on our way out of the city. Once we were out of the city, the lanscape changed dramatically - it was very hilly and very green. The trip to Delphi took about 2 1/2 hours and took us on small mountain roads (in a big bus).  Dephi is located on on the south-western slope of a large mountain in Greece called Mount Parnassas.  We drove through a village called Arahova where many people stay because of the two ski resorts that are fairly close by.  We didn't see any snow but I guess about 20 minutes further up in the mountain, they get snow and these resorts are very popular for skiiers in the area.  Driving through Arahova was interesting as you wonder how these drivers can get a bus so big through these tiny little streets - you feel like you could reach out and touch all of the buildings.

Approaching Mount Parnassus

Village of Arahova

Driving through Arahova

Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god Apollo after he slew the Python, a deity who lived there and protected the navel of the earth.  You can find more information, if your interested, here.  People would travel from all over the world to get advice from the oracle - and the oracle was always correct.  This was mostly because the answers came in ways that could be interpreted correctly with any outcome.  Our tour guide told us of the leader of a great country that wanted to attack another country close by and wanted to make sure that he would win this batter.  He asked the oracle and the oracle answered that if he attacked the country a great kingdom would fall.  The leader felt that this meant that he would win the battle so he attacked the nearby country.  He lost and the great kingdom that fell, was his own. 

Delphi was also the sight of the Pythian Games held every 4 years and were a precursor to the current Olympic games.  There were musical and poetic competitions along with athletic competitions.  The winner of the games would receive a laurel wreath to wear on their head.

The first place that we visited in Delphi was the Delphi Archeological Museum.  The museum houses artifacts that were found in the area.   The rule in the museum for pictures was no flash and you couldn't take pictures of people standing next to the statues - which we found kind of interesting.

Rachel outside the musem

The Charioteer

Once we were done visiting the museum, we walked out to visit the Temple of Apollo.  Of course, there was some uphill walking involved (this is Greece of course).  Our tour guide was really good and it was interesting to see how many people "joined" our tour along the way up the path to the Temple.

A treasury where offerings to Apollo were left. 
This was usually part of what was won in a battle.
That is our tour guide in the picture.

An olive tree
The family in front of the Temple of Apollo

The kids in front of the stadium.

These next two pictures were taken further up on the path.  Mark and Spencer continued on up the path to see another stadium, the rest of the kids and I stayed down.  We ended up chatting with a women on the tour with us from Alaska.  

Can you see me in the orange sweater?

Headed back down the hill.

A Treasury.

This picture is one of my favorites taken at Delphi. 
It is the Gulf of Corinth in the
distance with a little village right at its shores. 
The flat land is covered with olive trees.

When we were done with our tour, we headed into the village of Delphi for lunch.  We enjoyed a nice meal at a local restaurant that was served family style.  We got to sample all sorts of different foods - yum!  As we ate, the weather got cloudier and colder.  We were very happy that the weather had cooperated while we were sightseeing.

The restaurant we at in Delphi.

We made a short 20 minute stop in Arahova on the way back.  It would have been nice to be able to explore the town a little longer but it was not to be.  We bought some cheese that the town was famous for and some candy for the trip home.  We never actually got to eat the cheese as you had to fry it up to eat it and we forgot to do that the next morning.  We didn't think that it would make the trip back to Saudi Arabia very well so it was a little disappointing that we never got to try it. 

Walking through the streets of Arahova -
it was getting pretty chilly out now

Alex got to try on a cool hat!

We chatted with the people sitting near us on the way home.  There was a dad and his son from Lebanon and another family from Orlando, FL.  We made it back to Athens tired and hungry after the rest of the trip back.  The bus dropped us off at Syntagma Square, we hopped on the metro and headed home.  I said that we ate at TGI Friday's in my last blog but I think I mixed up the nights.  This means I should be better about getting blogs written sooner as I am getting older and my memory is going!  So I think it was tonight that we ate at Friday's and last night we ate at this little open air restaurant that had the absolute best gyros!!!  Mmmmm....I'm hungry now just thinking about them.  So either way, we headed back to the apartment where our heads all hit the pillow very quickly.   One last picture was snapped on the way back from the metro to the apartment.  I just like it because it's kind of Christmasy even though there's no snow.

Thanks for reading!!!

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