Saturday, March 9, 2013

Greece in Spring: Athens to Skiathos through Delphi, Part I

This post is long overdue. My only excuse? Greece is so vibrant and fantastic, the memories are still as fresh in my head as the day it happened. Out of all the travel photo albums I have, I probably look at the Greece ones the most and cannot wait to return.
I admit, I was skeptical at our initial plan of flying to Athens, then somehow making it more inland towards Delphi, then transporting ourselves onto the island of Skiathos and then back to Athens all in a matter of 2 weeks! Well, the car rental option was out-not only expensive, but everyone advised against it, kind of like back in Italy. I searched and searched and it turned out that Greece has  quite a decent and relatively cheap bus system, so we decided to give it a try, not really sure of what we were getting ourselves into.

Well, arriving into Athens was a no-brainer, the connection by the metro line was pretty straightforward too; we chose a hotel walking distance to the Acropolis and I have to add, we lucked out and saw it lit up at night   from out balcony :) that really made the experience of being in greece for the first time surreal. I've been a huge fan of Greek and Roman mythology for years now, so visiting all the main sights in person is an experience like no other- even the late August heat was not a distraction to our heavily scheduled days.

Acropolis temple
Once the 3 days in Athens flew by, we picked up our bags, got ourselves to the main bus station, got the 1-way tickets to Delphi and off we went! Here, I cannot stress enough how easy it all was- you do not need to book any tours, pay hefty sums only to be ordered around and ripped off. The bus ride was amazing-it was mostly locals, just a few smart tourists like us, who opted out of any tour packages. The bus cost 15 euros for a 3-hour trip, made 2 stops, both at great roadside cafes with decent bathrooms and amazing food selections where I'd managed to stock up for the entire ride and then some. The seats themselves were comfortable, spacious and overall a very pleasant ride. Of course, we did not have a clue where to get off, so we just told the driver to let us off at the main Delphi stop, hoping we'd figure it out from there-that he did. 
Sunset View of Athens from Agora hill
The hotel was an easy 5-minute walking distance from the bus stop, altough we did get some funny looks from the locals as these two "American tourists with oversized luggage" that did not even fit on the sidewalk (where there WAS a sidewalk). Anyhow, we made it! All by ourselves, no tours, no maps.

Now, Delphi... Indescribable to say the least. If you've been to Greece but haven't been to Delphi, you need to return. This place holds so much magic, history, and such an easy-going approach to life that forces you to forget all about time and just relax..
...I can still remember the feeling of wandering the streets of Delphi, the afternoon sun, the golden pillars of the Temple of Athena, the pleasant breeze and the soft pine smells in the air… I can recount the details of almost every day. What I cannot remember is how many times we’ve laughed until it hurt, we found joy in the simplest things, sat by a giant tree for the most delicious homemade moussaka with rose wine that is making my mouth water just writing about it. And the views, the views! Delphi is located in the valley along a winding road, so there are endless photo opportunities hidden behind each bend.

After a much too short stay in Dephi, we were off to the island of Skiathos for a needed swim and relaxation-see the next post!

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