Delphi

What creative crowded lives the Ancient Greeks seemed to lead. And in 2019 the signs state with certainty the dates of every event. All of which reinforces the perspective of time compression and longevity. How much of today’s infrastructure will be around in 2500 years to be admired and catalogued?

All of which is to say the ruins at Delphi are stunning in scale, detail and timespan. Apollo must be happy, though he probably predicted it.

Equally impressive are the insects Manning whoopee in the spring flowers and sunshine, particularly the purple thistles. The town of Delphi is ticking over before the main season rush. There’s not much info on the olive valley below the city, stretching down to Corinth Bay, with the occasional glimpse of an irrigation canal.

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So batteries charged, is back up the hills tomorrow!

Odyssey D2 Theba to Delphi 60miles 1340m

Today’s navigation was straightforward. Turn left, stay on road until destination. Apart from the deviation to find a castle in a town which saw us meandering among cobbled streets passing water features (a tourist attraction around here, note opportunity to sell Welsh weather).

From a flat plateau it didn’t take a genius to work out that the hills ahead were en route, and so it proved. Which made the coffees and pancake near the top very welcome. Before then, and again it might have been the rain, we’d had the harrowing experience of cycling over frogs, well baby frogs, that appeared at the road side in a multitude. Later on it was snails: the main concert there was punctures.

Local hospitality was found in a road side cafe….all for £2.50 and a warm welcome when they weren’t really set up for us. Dogs are more prominent in their groups compared with cats in the city: both lazybones in the heat.

BP Greece (which with Shell dominate petrol stations, many others closed), needs to work on their bilingual signs – to add Greek that is. The other surprise was to see signs for ski lifts and snow boarding. We gave that a miss this year.

Odyssey D1 Athens to Theba 46miles 1000m

A photoshoot at Hadrian’s Arch to show our best sides, followed by a convoy out of Athens. Final thoughts of Athens prompted by someone saying “it’s a poor city”. How to define poor or rich? Economic, appearance, social, cultural, health outcomes, happiness? How easy to draw conclusions from a slither of experiences. It felt safe, litter free. We’ve seen multicultural districts, rough at edges and posh places. So poor? It felt good to us.

After only 10km our so we we’d left Athens and fairly into sparsely populated countryside. First good ascent and descent is a portent of things to come. Time to get into a rhythm. But first to enjoy the spring flowers and surprisingly arable landscape. Then to check what is written on the election poster a friendly local insisted I took at a cafe stop…..

Athens Day 5

And so this leg draws to a close. We meet our companions for the next legs and the do’s/don’ts. Quick test ride of the bikes, remembering to stay on right and look over left shoulder (just like all the Athenians?).

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A trip up to the National Observatory, up as that’s a good place for observatories, which was strangely closed at 5pm, opening at 7. Thank the stars we had a plan b and ate instead. The route there and back is a good reminder of the melting pot of different nationals and cultures.

A fine start indeed.

Athens Day 4

Using the public transport is a good way to get the feel of a place. €4.50 for 24 hours travel on any public transport in Athens is a good deal. Google Maps is also extremely helpful, with health warnings, in making suggestions. So we got to the National Botanic Gardens in good time.

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A developing oasis is the best description. The insects in harmony with the wild spring flowers diverted our cameras. The tortoises munched then for lunch. Yes of course there is a native Greek tortoise, everyone knows that! The laid out gardens were more fun than anticipated: frogs bellowing for mates was the unexpected sound tapestry.

The local supermarket gave a very reasonable lunch, though not enough sustenance for the return bus journey. 45 minutes waiting for a bus that never showed. It may have, were we to have stood at the correct bus stop. We’ll never know.

To get our money’s worth, the Metro beckoned. The last time I was pickpocketed was on the Moscow Metro I mused before getting onto the bustling train. Maybe the thought heightened awareness : this time despite being ‘dipped’ nothing was taken. Then to read the messages online about the plague of pickpockets on the Athens Metro.

Other observations: Very few joggers. Most of the motor cyclists without helmets are male. The Greek script takes getting used to, pay more attention in school!