We’d intended to arrive in Delphi on Wednesday, check out the really old shit on Thursday, take Friday as a spare day to catch up on life admin or stroll up and down a section of the E4 trail, then head north on Saturday. We booked accommodation accordingly. In a fine example of your classic Rookie Error I didn’t check the bus timetables which are running on winter schedules and hey, you can’t get out of Delphi by bus on a Saturday! Okay sure, you can get to Itea, but then there’s nothing out of Itea either. Bollocks.
It turned out the best day to leave would be Monday when we could get a series of buses up to Kalambaka so we could gawp in awe at the monasteries of Meteroa, and it also turned out that Delphi is not an awful place to be a little bit stranded. It’s stunning, with eyehole fodder as far as you can see. There are bars and little shops, and there’s a gyros shop too so yeah, pretty much everything we’d needed. Our room was alright too and included breakfast. Yes, this would do.
So this ancient site. It turns out that Delphi was considered the centre of the Earth. Zeus released two eagles from opposite ends of the Earth, where they met was considered the middle and he chucked a big rock down to mark the spot for good measure. So it was pretty important.
We visited the museum first, we like to do it this way as it means when we see the ruins we can try to visualise the statues where they would have stood. I’m particularly fond of pediments and I love it when they set the statues up as they would have been on the pediments. It’s such a cool thing to do. It’s also fun to see the cool little bits of pottery that are now familiar from other sites we’ve seen, like the weird little Mycenaean figures with upraised arms.
The site was dedicated to Apollo and there was, predictably, a fuck off great big temple surrounded by pillars. I can understand why some people aren’t a fan of restoration but I personally love it. It helps you get a feel for the sheer epicness of a monument. They’ve restored a few pillars of the Temple of Apollo and it is amazing. Can you imagine the majesty of it in its full glory?
The rest of the site was full of various statues, and each city state built its own treasury to house their votive offerings. Athens’ is the best preserved and has been restored. Everything else is sort of just rubble, but really attractive rubble made even more photogenic by the exquisite backdrop.
You wind your way up and up, the views just getting better and better. Past the theatre which Tarrant adored. She loves ancient theatres about as much as it’s possible to love them before she has to go on some manner of register. At the very top there’s a stadium where the Pythian Games were held, dedicated to Apollo, second in importance only to the Olympics Games. But what kind of absolute sadistic bastard puts a fucking stadium at the top of a hill? Those poor athletes, they’re going to be utterly knackered before they even start their race. Bless.
Once you’re done with the main complex you can wander out to the Temple of Athena which owners of the 15th edition Greece Lonely Planet will recognise as the front cover. I wanted to do that thing where you line the book up with the actual location but it turns out the cover photo was taken with a drone and fucked if I’m climbing up any trees to replicate that. Even if I could get up I’d never get down again.
The next few days were spend doing actually fuck all. We’d intended to go for a big walk on the Sunday but at about 1am a small earthquake shook us awake and we pretty much couldn’t get back to sleep after that. Add to that the mosquito that had terrorised us every night since we got there and yeah, we were in no fit state to be wandering up the epic hills that surrounded the town. We stuck with just wandering to our new favourite café where we sipped beer and enjoyed the hills with our eyeholes instead.
There seems to be a minor obsession with ouzo here too. On our first day we popped to the supermarket for supplies and the bloke behind the counter insisted that Tarrant have a shot glass of ouzo delivered from a fucking five litre bottle. I abstained, I hate aniseed drinks. I couldn’t get out of it at the gyros shop we went to every day for our meat-chips-bread fix. He insisted on pouring us one each and I had to just grimace it down. Thank fuck that only happened once or we’d have had to have stopped going, or I’d have had to send Tarrant in whilst I hid round the corner.
Delphi was a really lovely surprise. We went there for the old shit, it didn’t occur to me that it’d be drop dead gorgeous too. It’s good to slow down too and just chill out, wander the pretty streets, especially after our Peloponnese whirlwind where we were doing something every day. It’s nice to rest. I’d prefer it if there was less fucking ouzo involved though.
Jump to “Useful shit to know…”
Delphi, Central Greece, Greece / Δελφοί, Στερεά Ελλάδα, Ελλάδα
Stayed at: Hotel Orfeas, Delphi
Useful shit to know…
- To get from Nafplio to Delphi we decided to go through Athens. Rome2Rio, a usually reliable resource, suggested we do Ithmus to Patra to Delphi, but why do three buses when you can do two?
- Nafplio to Athens cost €13.10 each and took about 2.5 hours. We caught the 6.30am bus much to Tarrant’s upset. This bus will take you to the big terminal at Kifissou.
- The buses to Delphi leave from the smaller Liosion bus terminal. I’ve read that you can catch the X93 between the two but we didn’t do this.
- The bus stopped at Eleonas Metro which is ideal for those carrying on to the airport but we decided to jump off here as we know the Metro, it’s cheap and it’s fast. The closest Metro station to Liosion bus terminal is Agios Nikolaos. It’s probably a ten minute walk, if that.
- The ticket office at Liosion is by platform 1, the desk you need for Delphi is the first on the left as you walk in. The buses leave from platform 7. They’re not very regular so do check timetables online. It cost €15.10 each and took about three hours I think.
- The museum and the archaeological site are €12 for both.
- The Temple of Athena is separate, you need to leave the site and walk away from Delphi. You’ll see it on your right. It’s free.
- If you want cheap eats, Souvlaki Gyros Pita is only €3 for gyros pita.