In Ancient Greece, the Oracle of Delphi was the most infamous of treks to make. It was rumored that the God Zeus sought the heart of Mother Earth and sent two eagles soaring through the land. The place where the path of the two eagles intersected was to become the site of the Oracle of Delphi. Delphi sits some 150 km from the bustling city of Athens. Throughout time, legends have been passed down throughout the world of the Gods and Heroes alike who climbed to the top of Delphi to beseech the High Priestess Pythia (otherwise known as the Oracle) to bestow upon them some nuance or inkling predicting their future. The catch being that the Oracle could never answer a question directly with “Yes” or “No”.
So, one unbearably warm October day, I found myself hiking up the southern spur of Mount Parnassus to touch the bedrock and ruins of the infamous archaeological site. What guide books fail to warn you is that the site was a pilgrimage for a reason. The motivation to reach the inner sanctums of Delphi is what spurs the normal traveler to hike to the top in the face of beautiful distractions. It is rumored that the Muses that inspired the ancient Greeks were also inhabitants of the nearby Mount Parnassus. Among the beautiful distractions are a grove of succulent ripe olives in myriad shades of green.
Have you ever come upon a place that aside from being beautiful holds some mystical power? Thinking about what lay at the top of that hike still causes me to fade into a flashback reverie. Warm sunshine and cool breezes tickled my suntanned face as I plucked olives straight from the trees at the base of my trek. Once to the top, gulping large quantities of bottled Delphi water, I found myself inhaling a type of light, sweet, fresh air my New York City soaked lungs had never felt before. When every breath you take feels like the first real breath of air you have ever taken, you seldom want to leave such a place. I remember poking around the ruins for hours. Mystified by each piece of rock and each new angle my camera was able to capture. I stared at the pillars, wondering how much truth and how much legend encompassed the stories I had heard about the Oracle.
Apollo, the Greek God of light, truth and prophecy was the son of the Greek God Zeus and Leto. Leto was the daughter of the original Titans. As such, Apollo and his twin sister the hunter goddess Artemis were incredibly powerful. It is legendary that Apollo granted immense powers to his High Priestess to indulge the queries of his devotees.
And now onto my favorite topic, traveler tips!
Vakhos – Sitting near the top of Delphi is this authentic family run tavern. On a sunny day, I swear you can see heaven. Normally I am not a fan of chicken, but every dish at this restaurant is mouth wateringly enticing.
Pitho B&B – to stay, there is nothing comparable to Greek home style hospitality. Although most make a daytrip out to Delphi from Athens, I would actually recommend spending the night. A fresh dinner and then tucked into a room in Delphi village with its fresh breezes is a comfortable respite from the normally frenetic pace of life most of us enjoy.
Mpempelis– For those seeking something slightly off the beaten path, I would recommend venturing to Galaxidi near Delphi. A small harbor type village, the locals are lovingly raucous and I remember a delicious meal complete with plenty of “opa!!” inspiring plates breaking.
Do youself a favor, don’t leave until you’ve had a breakfast of thick Greek yogurt topped with sweet honey drizzled on top of sugar crusted pecans.