The weather in Athens has been so arid that bringing an umbrella on our day trip to Delphi never even crossed our minds. So naturally, it was pouring when we got there. Of course, this made the already slippery marble steps like walking on ice. Ironically, there were hundreds of people selling parasols back in the dry heat and blistering sun of Athens…but not one in rainy Delphi. The gift shop didn’t sell umbrellas either. Or ponchos. Or anything of a water repellent nature. (If you’re an umbrella salesperson, or thinking about becoming one, there is a great niche for you in Delphi). One very kind German couple, however, offered to sell us their umbrella for 100 euros. Despite our rain sodden clothes, matted hair and chattering teeth, we declined. Good thing we did because the moment we finished our tour, the sun came out.
Despite the dreary weather, the ruins at Delphi were amazing. The Temple of Apollo is situated high up on the side of Mount Parnassus with views of endless mountain ranges spanning in every direction. Our eyes, however, were locked on the Jerry Springer-style throw down between a Greek security lady and a woman who’s husband was trying to descend the nearly vertical, extremely slick trails on a motorized scooter.
After the security guard threw her hands up in a “to hell with it” sort of way, the man was forced to crash his scooter into a nearby wall in order to stop himself from flying off the mountainside. Unrelenting, his family scooped him under the arms and helped carry him down the hill. Now that’s love…and also a healthy dose of insanity.
After Delphi we drove to Olympia, which took two hours longer than expected, although we really couldn’t complain because we traveled through thousands of scenic acres of olive trees and then along the rugged coastline, admiring vibrant blue water, deserted islands and the most miraculous suspension bridge that any of us (including my husband, who used to design bridges for a living) had ever seen. Fortunately, Ancient Olympia was worth the wait (and subsequent back pain which resulted from me riding b*tch in the back of our tiny rental SUV).
The first Olympic Games were held in Olympia in 776 BC and despite the mass destruction inflicted first by Imperial rule and then by an earthquake, it’s not hard to imagine the grandeur that the piles of crumbled marble columns once represented. Our awe was underscored with a sense of loss at how much history and beauty had been destroyed by past generations. As any respectful family would do, we payed tribute by holding a 100 meter dash in the ancient stadium where the great Olympians once competed. My hubby won in case you wondering; I came in third (out of four).
After dinner, we began the four hour journey back to Athens in the dark, following maps written in Greek and summoning our knowledge of the Greek alphabet from our respective frat party experiences. In lieu of actually knowing what any of the maps said, we came up with some loveably assanine pronunciations for the towns (next stop: Megalopolis). We also spent the first hour and a half of our drive searching frantically for the new “super highway”. We eventually found it and just as we were getting up to a comfortable cruising speed of 130 km/hr, we discovered that only a five mile stretch had actually been completed. Super.
But hey, at least it wasn’t raining!