Wednesday 26 June 2013

Greece: Day Nine - Delphi

Today was another early morning as we had a three hour drive to get to Delphi. Breakfast at the hotel was excellent - they had really yummy crepe's with Nutella and these feta pastry things. No toast though which was odd. One of the group members got locked out of their room, so our departure was held up a bit, but we got on the road around 8:15. 

I don't know what is it about these big coaches - but I find myself getting really sleepy and falling asleep in it like I was doing when in Ireland. When I awoke an hour and a half later we were pulling into this cute little village Nafpaktos that was on the water for a short break. We got some photos and I had a chocolate Fredachinno which is this coffee/chocolate like iced drink which is perfect for the hot weather. I think the sleepiness is partly due to not feeling the greatest, as well as our guide Theadora who is super nice, but a tends to drone on and on about random boringness. A number of us keep drifting in and out. 

(Photos: Nafpaktos) 

(Photo: Ally & Sydney)

(Photo: Brian and I) 

(Photo: Jenn and Eva)

(Photo: Nate, Alyssa and Charlie) 
Our next stop was another few hours away, in this beach front village that I would love to spend time in. It's very quiet, not at all touristy, with these beautiful views of the water. We only stayed for 15 minutes but everyone was wishing we could just stay and spend time in the water. I believe the name was Galax-something or other. I will ask around and try and find out to clarify. While there a bunch of us got these drinks that seem to be a cross between lemonade and club soda... It was delicious! I must track down more of them. 

(Photos: The Town whose name I forget!)

Our drive today had some excellent scenery from the bus. These beautiful views of the sea, gorgeous flowers and the mountains in the background. I had an animated discussion with Mikhali, Charlie and Brian about super powers which was highly amusing to me, but annoying to those around us. The boys were coming up with their superpowers that they would have, and I was thinking logically and rationally about the pros and cons to their powers. It went on for a while, with them trying harder to outsmart me. It made some of the bus time fly by! Feel free to comment or email me with what your super power would be. It's a very interesting discussion topic! 

(Photo: Our bus inside) 

(Photo: Giving thirteen year olds an iPhone to play games keeps them occupied for hours!)

(Photo: Me on bus) 

We headed north up through mountains into Delphi, and arrived around 1:15pm. Apparently Greece has a few mountains in the north that get snow and act as skiing areas... That shocked me, I never would have guessed that. By this point I started to not feel so great again. A few of the boys have been sick, so it's likely I am coming down with a virus or having trouble adjusting to the crazy busy schedule as we have been on planes, ships and busses with a number of super early mornings and crazy late nights. 

Our first stop was the museum attached to Delphi which was excellent. There were all these amazing artifacts from the site along with photos of the excavation process. I started to feel really awful so I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have liked, but was able to take a bunch of photos. Odd fact, in Greece you can take non-flash photographs in most museums but absolutely NOT pose with the artifacts. Museum security was very tight and a little over zealous. They were not only yelling at those posing or touching which I get, but were yelling at people who appeared to maybe start posing or touching- a few times to people in our group who had no intention of doing either.

(Photos: Artifacts at the Delphi Museum) 

After the museum we went to a local restaurant in town for lunch which was very cute and had an amazing menu. All of the food looked delicious and there was an excellent view that overlooked the mountains. I however felt terrible that I was unable to enjoy any of it. Rather then go on to the actual Delphi site with the rest of the group, I opted to go straight to the hotel with Jenn and Eva as Eva was over tired and not feeling the greatest. 

(Photo: The streets of Delphi and the views)

(Photos: Delphi site - Brian took these) 

(Photo: Nick)

(Photo: Chris and Anna) 

(Photo: Todd) 

This hotel was okay, not anywhere near as great as some of the others but nice for the area. There was no pool which disappointed the kids, and you had to pay for WiFi which only worked in the lobby. The staff were kind of rude --- which seems to be 50/50 with service in Greece --- and the food was by far the most lacking. Still it was a comfortable room with a great view. 

Showers in Greece have been odd and this was by far the worst. As it is very European to bath not shower, the showerheads are mounted in the middle which is very awkward. It's pretty much a guarantee that you will flood the bathroom. This one was not only in the middle but low down closer to the bottom. Speaking of Greek bathrooms (because I know this is just such a fascinating topic for you all) the plumbing system sucks. As in places like Jamaica or Mexico the system isn't designed for toilet paper, so the expectation in some places is that you throw it in the garbage. My method of dealing with this is to avoid these places and/or ignore the signs. They also don't seem to use wash/face cloths. Luckily I noticed this in Ireland and remembered to bring one. 

Once I got back to the room, I laid down to try and feel better. I made it in for a light dinner and then returned to bed. It wasn't really an exciting day in Delphi for me; but I was able to feel a little better the next morning. 

Greece: Day Eight- Olympia

Tuesday morning marked day two of the bus tour, and had us starting the day by 7:00am. We had a fantastic breakfast at the hotel and were on the road by 7:45

I am mostly loving the food in Greece, likely due to the fact I have always enjoyed Greek cuisine. While there is a lot of meats I don't eat on the menus (lamb, veal, rabbit etc) there is always chicken, pork and fish. I have had chicken skewers a number of times along with pita and feta. The feta is amazing here --- it is like Ireland and Guinness... You can get feta at home, but it doesn't compare at all to here. I've had rice a few times an its much lighter and tastier here, and one night I had squid. I'm ashamed to admit this, but I had no idea what squid looked like. It was essentially a fish, but with a tentical tail-like thing. It was also delicious! Another other thing I have discovered is stuffed vine leaves. This is a common greek dish, where vine leaves are stuffed with rice. In terms of Breakfast the hotels have a buffet which is far more my style then the Irish/Scottish/English version. While there are always eggs, bacon and some sort of potato, there are also cheeses, tomatoes, fruits, and pastries. I'm not talking just breakfast pasty like croissants but cakes, custards and other desert like goodies. They also have greek yogurt which I plan on trying at least once. I tend to hate it at home, but again maybe the Guinness philosophy will work again with it being awesome here! Despite all the selections for Breakfast I try to stick with lighter options so I don't feel sick on the bus. But I did cheat once and hve some crepes with Nutella. 

Our first stop today was for photos in picturesque areas of the Peloponnesus which is the region we are in. 

(Photo: A castle in Nafplion)

(Photo: Nafplion town) 

(Photos: scenery from high in the mountains) 

We stopped at a gas station/rest stop for a small break which was interesting as the toilets had no toilet seats. I haven't encountered this since I was in Italy back when I was 14. I had thought maybe things had changed since in my recent Europe travels I haven't encountered this, but I guess not. 

We made it to Olympia in the afternoon where we were spending the rest of the day. Olympia is where the Olympics were founded, and as we drove in Theadora - the guide - talked about various gods/goddesses and the myths attached to them. I am happy to report I knew them all, so I did retain some info from my mythology courses! 

(Photo: Alex and Eva)

From Wikipedia:  
"Olympia is a sanctuary of Ancient Greece known for having been the site of the Olympic Games in classical times, the most famous games in history. The Olympic Games were held every four years throughout Classical Antiquity, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. The first Olympic Games were in honor of Zeus."

The site also contains temples of Zeus, Hera and was a sacred site to the Greeks. 

(Photos: Olympia)  

(Photo: Pam, Alex and Jenn)

(Photo:Brian and I) 

(Photos: Olympia) 

(Photo: Syd, Ally, Eva, Mikhali, Alex and Charlie - group grandkod photo!)

(Photo: Charlie and Me)

(Photos: Olympia)

(Photos: The kids running across Olympic stadium) 
(Photo: Todd, Leah, Sydney and Ally)

(Photo: Chris, Mikhali and Alex) 

We stopped for lunch outside the attached museum at a place called the Ambrosia Cafe which was horrible. The food, service - everything was just awful.

After lunch most of the group went into the museum where some of the artifacts from Olympia are housed. I opted to stay with Jenn, Erin and the three little girls. 

(Photos: The Olympia museum)

Once the group came back we drive up the mountain to our hotel. It was awesome! It's like one of those motel-like places you see in the US where all the rooms are outside along corridors but a high end version. There was also beautiful views from the balconies and a wonderful restaurant that overlooked the pool. Again, I planned to swim but fell asleep until just before dinner. 

Dinner was excellent - some of the best food we have had. We all dined outside overlooking the pool, and were able to see the sunset. 

(Photos: Pool) 

(Photos: Sunset dinner)