First, apologies for the hiatus: I left Greece on the 12th, jet lag kept me from doing anything properly on the following Monday and then I left for a Greek wedding in New Jersey on the next Thursday. Yes, that’s right: I left Greece to go to a Greek wedding in the U.S. – and what a wedding it was!
But now, I’ve retuned to Toronto and have had a day of recovery, so I’m ready, willing and raring to take you back with me to Greece and to tell – and show – you about another one of my destinations….
Delphi was once famously known as the ‘navel of the world’, the centre of the universe (of its time) where, as per the myth, the two eagles released by Zeus met.
One travel guide I read, though, perceptively pointed out that even without this mythical and spiritual import, someone would have been insightful enough to take advantage of Delphi’s incredible location high up on Mount Parnassos, overlooking the Pleistos Valley in some other way.
Many significant figures in Hellenic history made the trip to ask advice of the god Apollo. Today, the site still sees a steady stream of national and international VIPs and I can picture a few asking a question or two themselves. After all, some visitors claim that there continues to be a spiritual ‘something’, an aura perhaps, that continues to be felt. Wouldn’t you ask too, just in case?
Whatever the truth, and whatever each of us is open to feeling or believing, this location attracts A LOT of people. Best times to visit are definitely first thing in the morning (admission begins at 7:30am according to the Ministry of Culture and Sports website, a great resource for those visiting Greece – http://odysseus.culture.gr/index_en.html) or late in the day just before closing in order to avoid the throng of tourists and tour buses. A tip: if you buy the special ticket package that includes entry to both the archaeological site and the museum, the entrances are completely separate; so, if, like me, you wanted to hang around the dig site for sunset, I would suggest going to the museum first because you can’t return to the site – I learned this the hard way. Check the website for last entry time to the site.
Outside of the main site, there are two other sets of ruins that can be seen for free: the sanctuary of Athena and the gymnasium where the Pythian games were held (unfortunately closed to visitors during my visit).
Additionally, for the actively inclined, the original pilgrimage path still exists: from the port town of Kirra (neighbouring Itea), you can trek through the olive groves and hike up Mount Parnassos to reach Delphi. A word of advice from friends who made the 3.5 – 4 hour trek… um, watch out for snakes.
For me, I cannot deny the sense of wonder and awe that I felt as I made my way up the winding roads with the billowy clouds staking much of the territory in the bright blue sky; as I sat before the Pleistos valley sipping coffee and watching the morning light break through and begin to expose the details of the greenery below; and as I stood among the ruins, high above the mountain road watching the flow of vehicles bring people in and take people away from this historic site. If nothing else remains, I would imagine that this would be enough to kindle a little spiritual magic in anyone.