Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Delphi and destinations

There's a sense of no return for us in going westwards through the Corinth Canal.

Looking into the Saronic gulf, from the end of the Corinth Canal quay

Business beyond the canal

The canal is opened by submerging the road bridge

Follow the boat in front - and keep moving

The exit 

As we motored out into the gulf of Corinth, we marvelled that it had taken us this long to make for Delphi. At various times we could have done with a quiet word from the oracle, but perhaps no more so than now.

The valley leading from Itea (in distance) up to Delphi

The Athenian treasury (restoration) at Delphi, looking east

Temple of Apollo 

We'd often talked of flying to Greece in the winter months, of seeing Delphi without the heat and the crowds. But in the end we'd chosen to go elsewhere. I'm glad we finally made our approach from the water, escorted into the port of Itea by dolphins. That beats arriving by rental car any day.

The theatre at Delphi, looking towards the temple of Apollo
Delphi is one of those Big Places you can't really have to yourself anyway. It belongs to the world - the ancient Greeks believed it was the centre of the world. It's still a magnet for those seeking self-enlightenment, but the pilgrims who now make their way up to the mountain sanctuary by tour bus need to be told why they're there, and what they've come to see. Mass cultural tourism doesn't persuade me. I suspect it offers more benefits to those who sell product than to those who buy. But perhaps I'm judging others by my own pitiful powers of concentration - I can never listen to a tour guide for more than a few minutes without my brain slipping into some kind of sleep mode.

Museum pieces at Delphi (and below)

Delphi is the last of the ruins, at least until we get to Sicily. We've missed so much in Greece. I understand this even more acutely because I've just finished reading a biography of the 19th century archeological impresario Henry Schliemann. He dug up Mycenae on the Peloponnese, but it's for excavating Troy and its gold that he's mostly remembered. I stumbled across The Lost Treasures of Troy, by Caroline Moorehead, in a second-hand bookshop in Datca, a town better known for its almonds, olive oil and potatoes than as a literary trove. But believe me, finding such a shop in provincial Turkey was akin to unearthing gold.

Apollo statue from Delphi

The town of Itea is quiet in the late afternoon. The summer heat has kicked in and people take the siesta seriously. But today there's an extra reason for catching up on a bit of sleep. A lot of people were up very late last night watching the World Cup game between Greece and Ivory Coast. The blaring of car horns and whoosh of sky rockets way after midnight let us know that Greece had won.

Bus station on main street Itea

There's a hot southeasterly wind pushing us around on the dock. It'd be nice if it stuck around tomorrow. Typically, the wind in the gulfs of Corinth and Patras comes from the west, and you're up against it if you're pushing out towards the Ionian sea. That's our general direction, but we have a lot of our mind at the moment, anxieties generated from home.  We're not sure how far we want to travel and in what time frame. To keep things simple, we think we'll stick around in the Ionian longer than planned. No hardship.

Phone call from Delphi to Sydney

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