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5/31: Day Five, Delphi to Lamia to Kalambaka
According to my journal, "we spend too much time on the damn bus!" After a standard breakfast, we headed off to the Deplhi site, accompanied by yet another tour guide. We started off in the museum, where we saw a Roman copy of the "navel of the earth," which was found at Delphi by Zeus. Myth: Zeus sent two eagles out, one to the west and one to the east. They met, entangled, and fell to the ground at the center of the earth, which was Delphi. The "navel" was a piece of stone which actually, physically represented the center, and it was originally covered by a net, so the Roman copy had a relief of net worked into it. The museum also had the fronts of many of the storehouses that different towns kept at Delphi, in order ot hold their offerings.
A sphinx from the Sacred Path, and a tripod featuring dancing girls; the oracle would sit on something like this.
Blurry bronze charioteer; Cleobis and Biton; brothers who died in their sleep as youth, per a wish by their mother. They represent eternal youth, for if you died while you were young, you were always remembered for your youth and vigor.
The site itself was fantastic, perhaps my favorite on the tour (although I'd be hard pressed to seriously pick out just one). It was set at the base of Mt. Parnassus, and overlooks a huge valley filled with vineyards and olive trees. As you walk the sacred path towards the Temple of Apollo, where the Oracle sat, you can actually feel like you are a Greek looking for answers. The Oracle, usually an older woman, would sit on this tripod and give prophecy only once a month, 9 months a year. She would drink from a sacred well, chew laurel leaves, and inhale "fumes of the earth," and then would begin to speak in tongues. Priests, who were standing by (and would bring the question to the Oracle for you), would translate these speeches and write the prophecy on a piece of paper. This was convenient, because that meant if the message didn't prove correct, it meant that you misinterpreted the writing, and it wasn't an error in the prophecy. For example, if you wanted to know the sex of your yet unborn child, the prophecy could read "boy not girl" -- which could be "boy, not girl" or "boy not, girl". How annoying is that?
The site of Delphi.
The Agora, where different buildings were set up by towns all over Greece to hold that town's offerings to Apollo.
The Temple/Sanctuary of Athena, in the distance.
Daphne and the rock of the Sybil.
The Temple of Apollo.
At the top of the sacred path is a stadium. Getting to that thing was one of the toughest climbs that we did on the trip, and it was worth it; the stadium was the coolest of any we had seen yet, mostly because of the SPECTACULAR view and the surrounding area in general. I was sad that we had to leave the site, honestly, and it's one that I often think back upon when I am getting sad that I am not in Greece anymore.
Oh my lord, it was hard to reach this. I almost didn't climb down again :)
A view of the site from the stadium.
A lot of us made it to the top, considering the climb! (Remember, the whole group was 47 people...)
We be tough. Aww yeah.
After we walked back to the bus, we met our second love of Greece: lemon mentos. Why don't they carry this stuff in the US? It just ain't right.
On our drive to Kalambaka we stopped at a truck stop in Lamia to get lunch. Since I had been napping on the bus, I found that I didn't feel too great, and so I wasn't hungry. Caroline and I shared a plate of moussaka -- a dish a lot like pastitsio, made with eggplant, ground beef, and the same cheese and sauce -- and a soda. I got some of these awesome Greek sandwich cookies for the ride (everything is so cheap here that it gives me a thrill!), and we're off!
On the bus, Sabrina told us some cool facts about Greek Orthodoxy and gave us each an "evil eye". The coolest fact was that Greek Orthodox people are only buried for 3 years underground, at which point their bodies are exhumed, the bones cleaned, and everything stored in a place with the rest of the family. "Evil eyes" are used as psychosomatic guardians against weird illness -- when someone gives you the evil eye, you can get any range of symptoms, from an earache to a sinus drip. In order to get the evil eye off, someone performs a special rite (that not everyone knows), and once you start yawning, this indicates that the eye is lifted. The little blue eyes given to us were to protect us from "catching" the eye.
We also learned that Steve was the killer. Big surprise :) He had killed Matt and Andy off in our hotel in Delphi in such a sick way that we had to wonder who it was, because none of us wanted to be his roomie; it turned out that he had written a bunch of worse ones, but some Kaylene was too scared to write down (she was writing for him to throw people off his track) and Sabrina actually refused to read the other. This was good, as some of the deaths he concocted were a bit in bad taste -- for example, he made Jenna die from skin cancer. Bleh.
Somewhere on the way to Kalambaka, we stopped at Artisianos to look at a stork's nest atop St. George's Cathedral. Pretty cool...
See the cute little storky head? Awwww.
Once in Kalambaka, Caroline and I immediately made to the Internet cafe called Hollywood. I sent an email out from their pretty spiff machines, and then we went to buy some beer for the game of "I Never" that we planned to play around the pool with the rest of the tour group that night. When we got back to the hotel, Caroline had to call Josh, so I put on my bathing suit and went down to the pool to swim for a bit and talk to the people who were there. A nice thing about our group was that most of the people on the tour were women, so I didn't feel too self conscious about getting semi-naked in front of a lot of strangers.
Anyway, we did dinner, and then we went outside to the pool again to play "I Never." I know that I said that drinking games at this age are stupid, but when you're in a group of 47, things can get interesting. My first statement was "I've never gotten together with someone on this tour with whom I didn't already have a pre-established relationship with before the tour." Nope, no one had gotten it on. Kaylene and Steve were pretty racey, though, and I learned a lot of stuff about Caroline that I am not sure I was happy to know. Each time I pseudo-reacted, though, she would say, "Get over it, Alison." I think she was worried that I actually cared :)
After "I Never," a bunch of people left and we went into a game of "Two Truths and a Lie." This wasn't a very big game, but David made the mistake of making one of his truths "I am dating an actress who had a major role in Titanic," and then refusing to tell us who the person was. I am still wondering to this day! Argh!
Anyway, then we went to bed, everyone a little tipsy and way sleepy.