Day 9 - Delphi

Arachova (on the way to Delphi). Literally stopped me in my tracks with its beauty.

Arachova (on the way to Delphi). Literally stopped me in my tracks with its beauty.

I'm beginning to see a pattern here, Scully.

I'm in Delphi! And guess what... it's a small town and I'm in my hotel room by myself and I feel... alone. BUT! Here's the important part. I know why. Who knew I'd become such a people person? So I'm going to try to shrug that off.

This might be disjointed. I'm now writing 24 hours after I just write that. And I'm feeling amazing. So deal with it.

(Yes, that was an X-Files reference. No, I'm not going to explain it for you.)

Delphi. Delphi will remain in my heart as maybe my favorite spot in Greece. I know it's ballsy saying that when I still have four days and two cities to visit. But I'm pretty confident on it.

(Ha. I just wiped a spider off of my mouse pad and all that remained was it's body. Yes, I wiped the legs off of a Greek spider. Shit happens. Separately, I just gave an old lady a beer not realizing that I did not have refrigeration for both of my beers and it's friggin hot. She was so excited, but did not speak that much English. So, we drink in tandem, silently.)

So. I left the hostel in Athens around 8am and headed for the airport. I reserved a rental car to pick up in Athens and drop off in four days when I reach Thessaloniki. I figured airport to airport is the easiest way to accomplish that. When I got to the airport, I found the area where rental cars are kept. The guy at the Avis/Budget counter was nowhere to be seen. But, I'm on vacation time, so everything takes longer. He finally arrived.

"What car you need?"

"I don't know. Here." Handed him a printout of my cute, American rental car confirmation number.

"No, no, no. Did you pass main counter in terminal?"

"What?

"Did you pass main counter in terminal?"

"I don't know what 'main counter' is. So, no?"

At this point, I know we're getting equally frustrated with each other. Does he want me to go to customer service? Why can't he help me with cars? He's the car guy! But I'm sure he's thinking, "This dumb American girl just thinks I can manifest cars! Ridiculous."

"You have to go to main counter."

"I don't know what you're saying."

"Okay. You must go to main counter. You make a contract there. They give you the key. I give you the car."

Now we're getting somewhere.

About, "making." Greeks have this thing about translating the word, "get." When I arrived at ancient Agora and wanted to view the grounds, the woman at the gate stopped me and said, "Your papers?"

"I don't have any papers."

"You must make a ticket."

"I don't have a ticket. Can I buy one?"

"You must make a ticket first. Here. You can either make a ticket for Ancient Agora, or if you are planning to go around to Acropolis and others, you can buy this for thirty euros."

For the record, thirty euros sounds steep for viewing all of antiquity... but I guess not really. So, that's the ticket I made.

Okay. Back to Avis/Budget. I had to go make a contract.

I went to the counter, easily made a contract and came back and got my car. No problem. They are still surprisingly lax about giving people cars.

"Here you go. You can look at it if you want."

For insurance purposes, always look at the car.

I started driving. But there was a problem. I still didn't have an AUX cable and I'll be damned if I'm renting a car for four days and listening to staticy Greek crap. Yeah, I'm over it. Low and behold, I saw a sign for "Athens Mall." Yes, I went to the mall. And do you want to know what Greek malls are like? They are exactly like American malls. Ick. And the store I went into was the equivalent of a Best Buy. I don't know what it was actually called because it was in Greek. But do you know what Best Buy is like in other countries? Best Buy. It took a long time and the guy wasn't that helpful and it was more expensive than he said it would be. BUT, I got an AUX cable and now I can listen to all the Justin Bieber I want to and no one can stop me.

Pulled back, panoramic view of Arachova. 

Pulled back, panoramic view of Arachova. 

So I drove. I drove fora long while. I was driving through parts of Greece that look like Eastern Colorado or southern Wyoming. And then I was in the mountains. And I didn't even realize what I didn't realize until I came around a corner and BOOM! Arachova. It's gorgeous in a classic Greek way. I stopped and snapped a few pics. At this point, I was only about 10 minutes away from Delphi.

Temple of Apollo

Temple of Apollo

Found the ancient ruins of Delphi a few minutes later. It was hot. I know I've already stressed the heat, but Jesus. 

So you hike up a lot of shit in Greece. Turns out the Greeks were all amazing athletes in that this is not easy hiking. Maybe it's the sun talking. I don't know. But everything they do seems to be vertical. Or just the Acropolis and Delphi, but that's a strong showing.

It was definitely amazing to see everything there. As at the Acropolis, they just have signs saying, "Please don't touch." I guess that works here? In the states I feel like we have to put up electric fences to keep people out. Additionally, they have marble steps everywhere. I assume due to the fact that it's easy to get slabs/blocks of marble. BUT, it makes it very difficult to walk on. We're all walking on it and it wears smooth, making it very slippery.

Okay. So I made it to the Temple of Apollo. Apollo, if you don't know, is kind of the god who made all this a thing. He's the god of music and creativity and harmony (more on that later). So there's that temple. And there's an Athenian treasury. I don't really understand why, but why not. After that, you hike up to the main theater. 

Okay. The Theater. I'll be honest. I thought it was going to be bigger and a little more impressive. (Am I right, ladies?) The one I saw in Athens yesterday was about twice this size. But, then you think about the time and think about who the hell was actually roaming around THESE HILLS. And you realize the size is just about right. And maybe size doesn't matter. (No more on that later.) 

Delphi theater with Apollo Temple and Treasury of Athens in the back.

Delphi theater with Apollo Temple and Treasury of Athens in the back.

Some really cool girl at the Delphi theater

Some really cool girl at the Delphi theater

Something not pictured is the stadium. It's about a 15 minute hike after the theater. It's impressive also, yes. But it kind of pissed me off. If you read the placard, it's like, "A place where sports and games took place... blah, blah, blah." Really? We need sports and games after climbing the shit out of this hillside? I think not. But again, good for the Greeks. I don't think I'd have it in me. I'd need to be tented and fanned and fed food in order to keep my robust figure. 

Church in Delphi at night. Rad cross.

Church in Delphi at night. Rad cross.

Checked into my hotel. Guess what I'm about to say about the hotel staff? THAT HE WAS SO FRIENDLY! But he really was. I was supposed to have a "street view," but he put me in a... whatever the view is facing the mountains. I bet it's a "mountain view." Damn.

"Are you alone? Where is your husband?"

"No husband. Just me."

The room was lovely and maybe my first with an actual double bed, and not just two twins pushed together pretending to be a double bed. Because mama needs to stretch out after being dirty in a hostel for two nights. (Listen, I can actually rough it if I need to. Camping is great, etc. But given the options, I want to be alone, in a large bed, in a quiet, clean room with a mountain view. Is that really too much to ask in life?)

I finally showered. And put on clean clothes. The difference was indescribable. But I'm sure for those of you in my armpits, it would be describable. So, at this point in the day, it was maybe 6:30 or 7:00? I decided to go out and grab some food.

I'll be very honest. Up to this point in my trip, I have not. Cracked. One. Guidebook. But I was googling placed to eat in Delphi and our good friend, Rick Steeves, recommended a place. Alas, I couldn't find it. Which is just as well. By the time that trickles down to the masses, it's time to find the next new place anyway. So I found a place with a varied menu and had stuffed tomatoes and peppers. I don't know what I was expecting, but I really wish the dish had done more for me than it did. Probably the first real food disappointment yet. But Delphi is still my favorite.

Balconies of Delphi.

Balconies of Delphi.

Stuffed tomato and pepper.

Stuffed tomato and pepper.

I walked around a bit after the food. Oh, at dinner I met this woman who'd been traveling for like a month. I don't understand this when I come across it. She was from... I think Montana, but had lived in Wyoming for 10 years. Wyoming, I thought! I told her I have family in Casper.

She asked the family name and when I gave it to her, she said, "Oh, well they're everywhere." Yes, I thought, and they're probably related to me. But whatever.  We don't need to bond.

I left dinner and walked around the town. Very charming town. You can tell it's mostly waiting for the high season. Staff waiting for customers, hotel owners trying to draw in customers, tourist shops open. I stopped at the edge of town to overlook this majesty...

Overlook at Delphi.

Overlook at Delphi.

Street in Delphi

Street in Delphi

I passed a restaurant on the way back to the hotel that had a sign out front advertising, "Live Music Tonight." That's my jam. Who knows how hoppin' Delphi even gets, but I decided to head back to my room for a bit and hang out before a "night on the town," as it were.

When I ventured out again, things were still pretty quiet. I can't quite figure it out here. Are things quiet because it's not high season yet? Or are they quiet because of the economy and it's a bit more of a permanent lull? I think it's both.

I walked up and down the streets looking at the town, taking pictures. There was one shop that had a weird furry monkey hanging in the window. Nothing Greek or anything, but very silly. I was about to snap a picture when the store owner saw me.

"Hello!" I said in that, no-I'm-not-trying-to-take-a-picture-of-your-window-monkey kind of way.

"Hello, hello! Please! Come in! Come in!" The shop was just another trinkety shop in a pile of many others. But I went in and looked around. Chess boards, jewelry, refrigerator magnets, figurines, wall hangings (some might call them pictures if they remembered how English worked). 

"How are you?" one of asked the other. We were both doing well or good or fine or something very positive.

"Where are you from?"

"Chicago. The states."

"Oh! Chicago, Illinois." This man has a very thick Greek accent, please read it as such.

"Yes!" Very impressive geography skills.

"How long have you lived here?" He didn't understand me the first time, so I tried another iteration.

"I have lived in Delphi for thirty years."

"Wow. Long time. You must love it."

"Yes, well you see. Delphi is for Apollo, god of music and god of creativity and god of harmony. You must have harmony in life."

Preach.

"So I live in Delphi and my life has harmony." I've never heard anyone say that word with such intensity before. And it really drove home how hard he meant it.  Without bringing Webster into the mix, what do we know about harmony? Complimentary tones, accord, just overall balanced. I definitely took what he said to mean life balance. And that's what we're all looking for is life balance.

I'm currently struggling to find that myself. Work, life, love, passion, etc. It's not easy to find. I mean, I guess everyone is always struggling to find the balance. But there are those people who seem not to question it and are just "happy." Not that I'm not happy. Ugh. I'm not even going to try to justify any of this.

Streets of Delphi at night.

Streets of Delphi at night.

I feel/know that the last year and a half have been the hardest of my life. There has been so much growing, thinking, feeling, struggling, crying, laughing, falling, catching, standing, dancing, howling... and learning. I'm finally getting to know who I am. And the best part, I'm finally getting to like (dare I say love) who I am. That is no small feat. And I know I'm not all the way there yet. And maybe no one ever is. And that's okay with me. Because right now, I'm in the best emotional state I ever have been. And I think it's only going to get better on that front from here. Yes, I will stumble, yes I will make mistakes. I'm good at those. But it's the keeping on that I need to remind myself to focus on.

And somehow, through all of this, I'll find my harmony.

So I looked around the shop. The owner's name is Dimitrios. So I looked around his shop. I didn't want anything. I'm not really into collecting things as I used to be. Better to collect experiences.

"Well, thank you so much!" I said as I was about to leave.

"Wait," Dimitrios said and came over, like really close to me. "I want to make you a gift." (Again with, "make.") Honestly, I was afraid this 60 year old man was about to kiss me. Because that was not the harmony I've been looking for. Instead he walked over to a display of refrigerator magnets.

"Yes, I make you a gift. Let's see..." He looked over the different characters depicted on small plates stuck to magnets. "Yes. This is for you," he said showing me the trinket. "This is Artemis, the sister to Apollo. This is for you."

I can't say why he picked that one. I think it's because he's in love with Apollo (and rightly so). I looked it up though. Artemis, yes, sister to Apollo, is the goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth and virginity. I can only claim two, maybe three of those depending on how you define them. But I love the spirit of Artemis. She's fearless and brave, with a good heart for her fellow woman. I'll take it.

"Are you traveling alone?" Dimitrios asked me as he gift wrapped my beloved present.

"Yes."

"Good. It's the only way to travel." I've been on and off the fence on that statement this entire trip. But for now, I'm in his camp.

"Where are you going? Back home?"

"No. I was on the islands for a week. Then in Athens. And tomorrow I go to Meteora." Now, I've been saying it, "meaty aura." And Dimitrios had no idea what I was saying. He corrected me with, "meet youra." (Please pretend that, "youra," is a word.) Or was it, "met eh youra"?

We chatted a bit about the islands. I took his picture (sorry on my camera, not phone) and was walking out the door.

"Thank you so much. This is so nice!" I said.

"You are welcome. You are beautiful and kind. You are everything."

Holy shit.

Once upon a time, there was a Greek man named Dimitrios who gave me a refrigerator magnet and made me cry on the streets of Delphi.

I can't even say how much everything that man said means to me. Find harmony and don't forget how amazing you really are.

I left the shop and cried as I continued to walk back towards my hotel. How could the night get any better?

I'd nearly given up on the night when I passed that restaurant again and the music was on. It was two guys. One with a guitar, one with a bouzouki? Whatever the lute looking thing is. They were good. I walked in and the waiter seated me by the window in the back side of the restaurant.

Enter Stefos.