Friday, 1 July 2016

Fri 1 Jul 2016. Meteora to Delphi

Fri 1 Jul 2016. Meteora to Delphi
”A pinch and a punch for the first of the month”. Way way too hot and still throughout the night. T’was a slow departure, savouring remnants of coolness in our shady corner. Last use of internet, checked our end-of-financial-year superannuation balance, pleased to see its OK to keep travelling a little while longer! Town almost too crowded to move, people out everywhere, all double-parked. Markets? Holy Day? Did not escape the parameters of town until almost 11am. 

At Tricola, saw a guy wobbling on motor bike, driving one-handed, balancing 4 milkshakes with straws on cardboard tray with the other! Bikers have no helmets, no regard for traffic rules, some go through red lights, through people disobeying "don't walk" crossings. Cars park on corners, on crossings, overtake into oncoming traffic, honking at YOU to get out of their way! The Greeks we have observed to date truly lack discipline. Have only seen one police car since we arrived - and that was being towed!! Hahaha. Many closed stores/ factories/ workshops. Huge shopping malls out in middle of nowhere, far from nearest town, many of them derelict, abandoned or with no vehicles in carparks. Tractor crawling along single lane road with door open into second lane to beat heat. Potholes in rural roads, railings not repaired, no trim of bushes, thickets and thorny brambles - growth out of control. Sad sad country really. 

Stopped at the pass through the mountains at Thermopylae where King Leonidas led a small force of Spartans and Thespians against the might of the invading Persian army. Although vastly outnumbered, with the right weaponry, strategies and use of terrain, he held off the invaders for two days. On the third day, realising they had been betrayed and outflanked, Leonides sent all but 300 hand-picked Spartans to safety, covering the retreat. The epic is a quintessential "last stand" - and the battle cry attributed to Leonidas "Come and Take Them" is oft quoted in military, poetry, culture and media. 

Putting best... er... foot forward 

We looked at outdoor statues, maps and memorials on site, climbing Kolonos the fortified hill to try and understand the tactical advantage. It wasn’t until we saw a map of the Gulf of Malia in 480BC that we realised how extensively the shoreline had retreated (actually marked by the road we had travelled on).  So who could not believe in climate change?? There were three obstacles (“gates”) constricting the original path, one was formed by the hot springs still running today. Touched a toe (gingerly!) into the lightly steaming sulphur channel running through the small archaeological site. 

Laurel wreath left in homage on Kolonos marker

Site of Day 2 battle

We had planned to spend an hour or more in the museum, which had a write-up as “top in Greece, 14 rooms filled with marble statues including The Charioteer, artefacts from Delphi, full suits of Spartan armour” etc. We paid the entrance fee and were given smudged dark glasses and shown a brief slideshow story, then shown to a room of interactive information tables. One had a poem penned by an Australian, Brookes who was imprisoned in Thermopylae concentration camp in WWII, and compared himself to a Spartan in his final hours awaiting a miracle. That was all there was. Disappointingly, the bright new building is not a museum after all, and we were out again within 15 minutes.  Oh well, on towards Delphi to find a camp for the evening.

Leonidas repelling yet another invader...

Valley showing shoreline retreat of Malian Gulf 

Lured by a campsite on the sea, drove past the turnoff to the Delphi ruins and pulled up at Ayannis camping on Corinthian Bay. We were in swimwear in minutes and walked over the slippery rocks into cold deeper water - so refreshing! It wasn't until we were coming back in to the beach that BoyRob pointed out all the spiny sea urchins between the large pebbles waiting for unwary feet! Magic quickly dissipated....
Found new brand of iced tea


At the on-site cafe, enjoyed wine, tzatziki dip and moussaka, watching the sun go down behind the mountains.

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