We arrived today by bus from Athens to Delphi. Our first question is: How on earth did the ancients find their way to this isolated spot on Mount Parnassus without modern transportation?
Of course we have other questions for the Oracle, but as we have not arrived on the seventh day after the new moon, we know that the Pythia will not appear to answer them.
Undeterred, we will attempt the summit tomorrow, just as the rains are predicted to appear. Shades of Knossos!
Not having time to explore much today, we limited ourselves to sites outside the main shrine. Our first stop was the sacred spring, Kastalia, the place of ritual purification. The walk there had some stunning views, though there is not much to see at the spring. Now you can access it through a handy fountain, so we did sample the water.
Across the road is the Lower Sanctuary which was used for sacrifices to Athena and a training track for the runners competing in the Pythian Games.
The highlight of our walk was the Sanctuary of Athena Pronea, where Athena also got her due at Delphi. The round structure shown in the top photo was the tholos, but its use is unknown. The sanctuary was created in 380 BC, and it must have been glorious.
Don’s Food Corner
The town of Delphi survives solely to serve the needs of tourists — mostly those making day trips from Athens. That means lots of little restaurants, souvenir shops and ice cream stands in streets that surely weren’t meant for the steady stream of tour buses careening up and down. We decided to stay overnight so that we could study the site and the museum at some leisure.
After arriving, we checked on the bus connection we had expected to take on Saturday only to learn it has now been canceled. Stay tuned for how we solve that one! Plus, we’re hoping for a turnaround on the weather forecast for tomorrow. It’s a long hike to the top of the Delphi sanctuary and I’m not looking forward to doing it in the rain.
We attempted to divert our concerns about the next couple of days by going to one of the very few restaurants in town that actually come with some recommendation. It offered a great view and we got a window table.
The menu had an extensive array of possibilities. However, the special of the day featured eggplant. Not our favorite. I ordered a lamb dish that promised to have been stewed in a lemon sauce. It came with some rice, boiled vegetables and fries. The meat was incredibly and flavorful. However, while I’m sure it kept the lamb warm in winter, I could have done without about half the amount of fat surrounding the meat and layered within it.
Jo, after leafing through about eight pages of Greek specialties, found at the bottom of a page the offer of schnitzel. As long-time readers of this blog know, Jo has mission to taste every possible version of schnitzel around the world. I warned her that in the mountains of Greece the schnitzel might not be as good as found in Austria. (Neither would a Philly Cheese Steak taste the same here as it does in Philadelphia, but, happily, that wasn’t on the menu as a temptation.) The schnitzel was not as good as Austria, but I have to admit it was better than some of the schnitzel served this past February in Germany. It was interesting to see rice served along with potatoes in both dishes.
To balance out this meat-heavy meal, we shared a Greek salad and also tasted some local draft beer. The salad was unusually good, despite having precisely the same ingredients served in every restaurant here. The beer? Anheuser-Busch need not worry about losing market share to Delphi beer.