Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Oracle at Delphi

Delphi was by far the most relaxing part of our trip for the simple reason that there isn’t a whole lot to do there.  We took the three-hour bus to Delphi on Thursday with two other girls from our hostel, Kathleen and Nicole.  They were also American students studying abroad (Copenhagen).  It has been such fun to meet people randomly like that, and the best part is that everyone we’ve met has been so nice.  And since most of the people we meet are also traveling all over right now, they have interesting stories, and their lives are similar to ours.  I worry sometimes that when I go home it will be hard to relay all my experiences to my friends and family because they’ve all been living their regular lives while I’ve been over here.  It’s not that I think my life is so much more exciting, it’s just very different from the daily routine back home.  So it was nice to meet other abroad students and travelers.

When we got to Delphi we ate lunch with Kathleen and Nicole without even meaning to.  After we disembarked, we parted ways.  They were only in Delphi for the afternoon, and were taking the evening bus back to Athens, whereas Christy and I were staying for three days.  So Christy and I wanted to get settled in at our hotel, but when we got there we were told the room was still being cleaned.  We were welcome to leave our bags and come back in about half an hour, so we went to get lunch, and happened to go to the same restaurant where Nicole and Kathleen were eating.  Since we had hit it off at the bus station while waiting for the bus, they invited us to join them, and we had a great time.  We sat and chatted for about two hours, enjoying slightly exotic meats - rooster and goat - and a very warm sun.  After lunch Kathleen and Nicole went to see the ruins, and Christy and I went to settle in to our hotel room and finish our required reading - “Bridge on the Drina.” 
We explored the town a bit that evening, had some more traditional Greek fare for supper, and retired early.  We happened upon a television channel that played American movies (in English!) at night, and that night we watched “The Mummy.”  I didn’t say they were good American movies. 
On Friday we slept in, ate a leisurely breakfast, and then headed to the ruins.  I liked the Delphi ruins so much more than those in Athens.  These just seemed more natural.  I suppose it helped that they weren’t in the middle of a huge city.  The side of a mountain is a much more picturesque place for ruins.  We also liked the museum there more.  It was better organized and had fewer but more impressive pieces. 

The day was beautiful; it couldn’t have been better.  I think we both got a bit of sun, but I’m ok with getting tan at the end of October.  :)  The ruins were also allowed to be ruins.  They weren’t doing construction there, and while one of the treasuries had been restored, it was the only one.  For the most part the ruins were allowed to be ruins.  At the primary site there are many treasuries, the temple of Apollo, and the stadium.
Across the street and down about 100 yards were the gymnasium and temple of Athena, where the Oracles were.  The Oracles were virgins who inhaled natural gases, and once they were high, spewed nonsense.  A priest “interpreted” and told those seeking answers what the Oracles had said.  The answers were notoriously vague, but were also credited with a perfect record of accuaracy.  Here I am pretending to be an Oracle in front of their altar. 

After we had seen the ruins, there really wasn’t anything else to do in Delphi, but that was ok with us because by that time we were getting tired.  We enjoyed browsing through the many shops in town, reading books for pleasure (having finally finished “Bridge on the Drina”), writing postcards, watching soccer games with the locals, and relaxing.  We headed back to Athens on Sunday, and hung around by the Acropolis that evening.  We finally saw the Changing of the Guards before we left on Monday.  It was quite a performance.  I would feel silly if I were one of those guards, but that’s what they’re trained for, so I guess it probably doesn’t seem silly to them.
We enjoyed sitting in a gazebo in the Greek National Gardens while it rained on Monday morning, too.  There were a number of mothers with their small children also waiting out the rain, and watching the kids play was heart-warming.  Some things are international.
We were really ready to go “home” to Budapest, though, and ended up going to the airport early and waiting there for our flight.  It was raining in Athens anyway, so we were going to have to be inside somewhere.  We chose the airport.  It was so nice to just board our plane and fly “home” last night.  Once here in Budapest we knew exactly where we were going, recognized landmarks, and received a warm welcome from our Calvin “family” when we got to the dorm.  That was about the only warm thing, though.  It was a whole 5 degrees (Celsius) when we got off the plane, and fall has definitely come finally.  The leaves aren’t really changing color, unless you count brownish-yellow, but they are falling off the trees, and it is chilly out.  It’s so good to be back, though, that the cold hardly matters.

Posted by Emily MacLeod on 10/31 at 10:42 AM
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