During our week in Greece in June 2015, we took a day trip from Athens to the ancient sanctuary of Delphi, high up in the mountains. The Greeks once considered Delphi to be the center of the world. It is now recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
I can’t remember the name of the tour company we booked with, but I do know that they never showed to pick us up. There was another company that picked up their clients at the same spot, so we asked them what we should do. They called our company and then said we should come with them. We never got an explanation why they didn’t come for us, but we were so relieved the other company took us on!
Our first sight on the tour was Lake Marathon. The guide told us that the marathon race is based on the legend in which a messenger in Ancient Greece ran from the Battle of Marathon to Athens to announce the Greeks’ victory over the Persians. The distance between the two locations was approximately 26.2 miles.
We arrived in Delphi after a couple hours on the tour bus. The earliest remains in Delphi date to 4000 BC! The sanctuary was originally the center of an association of twelve tribes in Greece, with religious and later political significance. In 6th century BC, the territory reorganized and hosted the Pythian Games (the second most important games in Greece after the Olympics). Delphi contains two sanctuaries and many other buildings mostly intended for sports.
Our tour guide walked us through part of the site and then let us explore for a bit on our own. I thought the amphitheater was the coolest part. The audience’s view of the mountainous backdrop is amazing. It is big enough to seat 5000 people and is in great shape considering its age. I also climbed up to the stadium, which is located at the very top of the hill. It can seat about 6500 spectators and was used for various athletic events.
There is also a nice museum here that contains extensive artifacts unearthed during excavations over the years. It was great to have the tour guide point out the most significant pieces and the stories behind them.
Back to Athens
We left Delphi and stopped at a restaurant in a small village. The restaurant was large, but we were the only people there. They served us the most delicious lunch and we got to know other people in our group.
On the drive back to Athens, we stopped in Arachova, a very charming village. Our guide told us that this was a ski town, and it would be packed when winter came. We stopped to check out souvenirs and take a picture of the breathtaking mountain landscape.
Our guide pointed out what olive trees look like (they have silvery looking leaves) and I began noticing them everywhere. Now I know why olives are so popular in Greece!
I would definitely do this tour again. It was so great to see inland Greece, which I hadn’t heard much about as most of the talk is about Athens and the Greek Islands. Greece is so beautiful!