I’m going back in time once again to our honeymoon trip to Greece in July of 2000. If you ever go to Greece in the summer, it is highly recommended to head straight to the islands where you’ll get a nice ocean breeze. Mainland Greece was steaming hot and typically in the 100 degree F mark/40 degree C. Furthermore, the sun was so incredibly strong it made life unpleasant for meandering around ancient greek ruins.
We had done all we could in Athens in a day. Perhaps if the weather wasn’t so fiercely grueling we would have done more sightseeing but we desperately wanted an escape from the sweltering, unrelenting heat. At the time, I had strong fear of the safety of small planes thus made my new husband promise we would take the ferry to the islands versus a Greek turboprop. Our first island on our tour was the mystical Santorini and unfortunately the ferry was an overnighter not leaving until 10 pm. We had a whole hot day ahead of us so we decided to sign up for a last-minute tour to the ancient ruins of Delphi located about two hours outside of Athens.
The tour was what I expected. One thing I’ve learned about traveling is that not all tours are created equal. If you don’t do your homework you often get stuck on tourist trap tours where they stop at expensive albeit beautiful rug factories on the way to the ruins and the merchants push hard for a sale (would have been wonderful to buy if we could have actually afforded one!) which is generally followed by an overpriced horrible lunch and a mediocre tour. This is exactly what happened to us but at least it was nice to get to see the gorgeous countryside and the spectacular ruins. As we drove to Delphi, we passed olive groves and the landscape was a nice serene contrast to big city Athens. The city smell and haze quickly disappeared as we climbed out of the ancient city and into the rolling verdant hills of the Greek countryside.
The ruins of Delphi were breathtaking yet it was unfortunate that there wasn’t any shade to escape the intensive heat otherwise I’m sure I would have taken more than two pictures! But honestly it was a little on the miserable side. I guess being from the extreme north my body can easily tolerate 20 below zero F with not a problem but when it comes to heat, I’m a wimp.
Since I didn’t manage to get a good picture of the ruins I thought I’d borrow one from Wikipedia Free Media Commons to show you the true size and scope of the place. It is in the middle of nowhere and truly astounding:
Here are some facts on the ruins of Delphi which I found fascinating*:
- Delphi was inhabited since Mycenaean times (14th – 11th c. B.C.) by small settlements who were dedicated to the Mother Earth deity. The worship of Apollo as the god of light, harmony, and order was established between the 11th and 9th centuries. Slowly over the next five centuries the sanctuary grew in size and importance. During the 8th c. B.C. Delphi became internationally known for the Oracular powers of Pythia–the priestess who sat on a tripod, inhaled ethylene gassesand muttered incomprehensible words that foretold the future.
- Delphi Sanctuary: Such was the importance of the Oracle at Delphi that the ancients believed it to be the center (“Omphalos”) of the world. The oracle advised the great Persian Kings of the time, and when the Persians were poised to sack Athens, Themistokles turned the advice of the Oracle to a winning strategy that led to the Greeks’ victory in the naval battle of Salamina. The Oracle had simply advised that “wooden walls” would aid to victory, and Themistokles interpreted walls to mean the wooden ships of the Athenian fleet.
*Source for all the above content is from www.ancientgreece.org. If you are interested in learning more about ancient Greece and the ruins of Delphi, check it out!
We boarded the bus and arrived back in Athens in time for a delicious meal before setting off on our overnight ferry to Santorini. I couldn’t say that the start of our honeymoon was all that relaxing. We both felt jet-lagged and drained from the wedding, the travel and the heat. However, I’d seen pictures of Santorini and if it was at all even a fragment close to the paradise I imagined we’d be in heaven. Besides, I’m not one to sit on the beach. I tend to opt for the adventurous way out of life.