March 27, 2008
Notes on Greece, Day Three: Delphi to Olympia
Ancient Delphi is in a truly beautiful and fresh mountain setting. I loved the pink, purple, yellow, white and red wildflowers, the steep rocky paths with occasional marble steps, and the scented trees. At one point it smelled like maple syrup! Maybe pine syrup would be more accurate. We spent about 2.5 hours walking around in the fresh mountain air, seeing the Temple of Apollo, the Theatre, the Polygonal Wall, the Stadium, and the various treasuries and victory monuments erected by people who had conquered other people. The view down over the valley was awesome. From across the road, at the Gymnasium (training area for the athletes of the Pythian Games who competed in the Stadium up the hill), we could see tall, snowy peaks to the West.
We've been using the Rough Guide to Greece and it has been of excellent service to us in enlightening us as to what we are seeing, what to look for, and how to get there.
See more of my Delphi photos with comments.
I also have put up some more Athens photos on picasaweb (close-up Greek tanks, more Acropolis and Agora photos)
After our self-guided tour of Ancient Delphi, we drove four hours to Olympia, Greece, on the Peloponnesus. What a gorgeous drive along the Gulf of Corinth! Snowy mountains across the blue water, cliffs and red rock, little Greek towns... We crossed the cable-stayed suspension bridge to Patra halfway through the drive. It connects the town of Rio on the Peloponnesus to Antirio on mainland Greece, and is officially called "Charilaos Trikoupis" bridge after the statesman who first envisioned it.
Travel notes for today:
1. We are lucky to have been born speaking English. It really seems to be the international language of tourism. Most of the staff in hotels, restaurants and museums speak it. I feel sorry for tourists whose mother tongue is not English - for example, the German couple at the restaurant at lunch today ordered their Greek meal in English... In Delphi, though, French seemed to run a close second to English - the hotel receptionist first asked us if we were French, and a lot of the signs and menus had French as prominently displayed as English (and Greek of course!). We are hearing a ton of different languages spoken all around us. A lot of Americans on spring break, but also Spanish, Italian, German, French, British, and some Eastern European languages I can't identify.
2. It is great to stay in a variety of kinds of hotels, in order to appreciate the best bits of each. The best bit of the hotel in Athens was the proximity to the Acropolis. Turn the corner twice and there it is! The best bit of the hotel in Delphi was the view from the balcony: blissful mountain and valley and sea of Corinth in the distance. The best bit of the hotel here in Olympia is the quiet garden setting on a hill, the prolific birdsong, and, well, the luxury compared to the other two hotels! Nice to fully appreciate it.
3. You can really spell Greek words any way you want when transliterating them into English, because they only have official spellings in the Greek alphabet (and maybe not even then). It's quite liberating.
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That is quite a suspension bridge. I thought the one in Charleston, SC was spectacular, and also the one in Boston, but this is twice as big. Also, seeing Emily looking out on the valley of olive trees reminded us of the time Alan and I were there in 2003. A spiritual place!
Aunt Willow (Thanks Emily for your thank you)
Posted by: willow drinkwater | Mar 28, 2008 2:29:14 AM