The last time I wrote about Greece (Greece travel tips), I mentioned you should not skip the ancient sites and only visit the islands. I now want to tell you more about Delphi, Greece which is situated on the side of Mount Parnassus. It was an ancient religious sanctuary which was home to the Oracle of Delphi, dedicated to Apollo, who gave guidance to the city-states and its citizens. People would come from all over the Greek world to ask the Oracle for guidance.
Delphi and Temple of Apollo
Originally, Delphi was a centre of female worship during the Mycenaean period. By the 8th century BC, the cult of Apollo was established and building of the sanctuary began. The Delphi site was at its height during the 6th to 4th centuries BC. Two sacred wars occurred during the 5th and 4th centuries BC with the site being conquered by the Aetolians in the 3rd century BC before being driven out by the Romans in 191 BC. The sanctuary was favoured and ultimately plundered by Roman Emperors. With the closure of all pagan sanctuaries by Emperor Theodosius in 393 AD, Delphi went into decline and abandoned several centuries later until rediscovered by French archaeologists in 1880. Some of the finds were moved to the Delphi Museum.
Inside the Delphi Archaeological Museum, there are many items from the sanctuary and it is worth a visit if you are stopping by Ancient Greece – Delphi.
Delphi museum Kouroi (580 BC) – statues of Kleobis and Biton by Polymides of Argos
The Sphinx of Naxos (570 BC) stood atop a column below the Apollo Temple terrace at Delphi. It was found in 1861 in three large pieces. The original would had been painted as most ancient sculptures were in colour. This is one of my favourite pieces in the museum.
Sphinx of Naxos 570 BC
Another favourite of mine at the ancient site is the Treasury of Athens, built to commemorate the victory at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC when the Athenians took on and destroyed the Persian army, a turning point in the Greek-Persian Wars driving the Persians away for ten years.
Treasury of Athens to celebrate Battle of Marathon
The Athena Pronaia Sanctuary in Delphi is down from the main archaeological site in Ancient Greece – Delphi. This is a large area that had many temples and altars during the ancient time. The structure in the middle is what remains; the Tholos. Built by Theodoros of Phokis in the 4th century BC, the structure had twenty doric columns which supported a roof.
Athena Pronaia Sanctuary in Delphi
The stadium is near the top of the Delphi site, originally built in the 5th century BC. It could seat around 6500 people and used for the Pythian and Panhellenic games.
Delphi stadium – site of Pythian Games
Finally, the archaeological site had a theatre built into the hill in the 4th century BC. It could hold 5000 spectators. You get quite a view from the theatre of Delphi.
While this does not top the Acropolis in Athens, it sure comes close. This is probably my second favourite stop in all of Greece. I really recommend that you visit the Ancient Greece – Delphi site. I booked a five day tour of the mainland that included Delphi through Viator. It was an easy way to get around (some of the roads are quite insane) and I loved getting the extra info from our very knowledgeable tour guide.
Have you gone? What is your favourite spot in Delphi or Greece?
Greece is one of the world’s most beautiful countries with an incredible history. There are ancient sites everywhere you look in Greece. The food is amazing and cheap. Why have you not gone yet? Here are some Greece Travel Tips!
Do not stick to the islands only. There are SO many amazing places to visit on the mainland from Athens to Delphi to Epidaurus to Olympia
Make sure to visit the islands as well. I took a day trip to Poros and Aegina which was all the time I had but I regretted not visiting Santorini (It is now on myBucket List)
The best time to go is September or early October. I went in early October which is near the end of the high season and when the islands are slowing starting to pack up for the winter. There are fewer tourists like yourself so it makes for a nicer trip and the prices for accommodation are cheaper
Do not be afraid to try the local cuisine or street food. The prices are incredible and damn tasty
Try the Ouzo – it is a Greek drink. It is pretty strong but you cannot go to Greece and not try one of their most popular local drinks. I think it tastes a bit like licorice. You drink it straight with no mix or anything to dilute the flavor. Greeks drink it practically at every meal
Book early – this tip is almost for any trip but it works. The earlier you book your flight and accommodation, the cheaper it should be
Greece is SUPER HOT. Even when I was there in October, the weather was nearing 30 degrees Celsius most days and often it exceeded it. You will not need layers in Greece unless you go to the mountains near Meteora
Meteora from monastery, Greece
Speaking of Meteora, that is an amazing area that is famous for its monasteries. They sit atop small mountains, very rocky formations, and is quite the trip to visit them. Go visit!!
Be prepared for last minutes strikes or protests. Greece is still going through a tumultuous time economically and politically so be prepared. Some historic sites may be closed or its workers are on a one day strike. That occurred to me back in 2011 and I hear that it is still occurring. It can cross over to the transit system and taxis as well
Also keep in mind that museums are not opened every day and as is the case in most European countries, they have different hours depending on their summer or winter schedule. Do your research in advance; check their websites online
Do not be ignorant – learn some Greek phrases. While English is quite common in Greece, I ALWAYS suggest learning a bit of the local language. The locals appreciate it in particular and I always love learning new words
Try the olives. Unfortunately, I HATE OLIVES but they areeverywhere in Greece and everyone else loves the olives. I did try them but seriously, I cannot express how much I dislike them. Everyone else? They LOVED them; they cannot get enough. Olive oil is another story; I love that and it is tasty dipping with bread. That I did enjoy!!!
Book your accommodation near the PLAKA area if you stay in Athens. It is the oldest part of Athens and a wonderful area to take nightly walks or stop by the wonderful restaurants to try the moussaka (mmmm), souvlaki or gyro. Honestly, I did some good eating in Greece! Once again, I never took any pictures of the food. I am going to force myself in the future to do so
A short note about Athens – I loved it there BUT I spent a lot of time at the Acropolis and in the museums. The city itself can be quite dirty with piles of garbage on the corner and dogs roaming everywhere even on the Acropolis site (which I found adorable but others did not) especially on the edges of the Plaka area. Be careful with street vendors and scam artists. They are everywhere as well
Temple of Hephaestus in Ancient Agora, Athens, Greece
Well those are the top Greece travel tips I can think of off the top of my head. I’ll post something more about my trip to Greece next time. I had a great time: spend a few days in Athens, then went on a tour of some of the ancient sites such asDelphi, EpidaurusandMeteora via a five day tour of the mainland via Viator before coming back to Athens then heading to Italy. Yes that was a GREAT trip! Mmmmmm the food, the history, the men….oh such a delight.
So have you been to Greece? What tips do you have?
Do I have a travel bucket list? There are certainly a list of countries I want to visit before I perish. That is true but I have never written it down. Now is the time to collate all those thoughts from my brain (there are A LOT) and come up with a list. I have decided to do a top ten travel bucket list. The trouble will be narrowing my thoughts into ten. 🙂 I had started this list the other day but after reading Backpacking Diplomacy’s bucket list and seeing we shared a couple in common that I had already put on my list, I figured I should get going on mine and finish it.
The Travel Bucket List
1. Russia – Russia is the first on my travel bucket list. No surprise to anyone that knows me. I have studied Russian history for years and have been obsessed with the country for decades. My first memories of Russia are during the late 1980s during the Winter Olympics. Canada was hosting the games in 1988, in Calgary, and the whole country was on the edge of their seat. Russia existed in the form of the Soviet Union, the so-called ‘evil’ comrades from Russia and several other eastern countries.
My memories are pretty scattered from that time. I remember the Battle of the Brian’s, the Jamaican bobsled team, Elizabeth Manley’s unexpected silver medal and Karen Percy kicking ass on the hill. The other memory is one of dislike. There was a lot of dislike for the Soviet Union and all the Eastern Bloc countries. I was young and did not like that so from that moment on, I decided to cheer on the commies (all of them). I did not like that no one liked them. Seriously, that was the reason.
I do not remember when my love of Russian history started but I can only assume it was around that same time. I read up on Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Ivan the Terrible (actually translated incorrectly – Grozny is closer to formidable or threatening), Ivan the Great, and so on. I only ended up studying Russian history in university by accident. I had planned on majoring in German history, as my mother’s family is German, but switched to Russian when the German professor retired and the university did not replace him immediately.
Why Russia? There is so much beauty and history in Russia. From the Kremlin to Red Square to the Heritage to Peter and Paul Fortress, you will need weeks to visit this beautiful country. I am very excited that I will be crossing this item off my bucket list very soon. I will be going to Russia next February for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. I am also planning a few extra days in Moscow. Well, I will not be able to cross it off entirely as I will not have time to visit the Golden Ring, Novgorod and St. Petersburg. Plus, a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway is a must-see (see below, I had to separate it out since that is a massive trip in itself). I hope to check off St. Pete during a Nordic trip. Maybe a cruise of the Baltic Sea??
UPDATE: I finally made it to Russia. HAPPY HAPPY. I stopped by Moscow and Sochi for the 2014 Olympics. In Moscow, I enjoyed Red Square and the Kremlin!
St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow. Photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/ushakov
2. A Cruise – I have always wanted to take a cruise. Whether it is an Alaskan, Baltic or Mediterranean Cruise, I definitely plan on making this happen. I lean towards a Baltic Sea cruise since I think that will be the easiest way to hit up Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and St. Petersburg in one trip and a good introduction to all those countries. I can always return on a separate trip, or trips, at a later date. I am a bit concerned that I would end up sea-sick. I live inland; we do not have a lot of water in Alberta. I did grow up in Manitoba which is the province of lakes but not oceans. I still think this would be a fun way to travel around an area.
3. African Safari – I have only recently been thinking about hitting up Africa as I have only even wanted to visit Europe. Now? I have such a yearning to visit Africa on a safari. How fun would that be? Obviously, I want to see the big attractions, known as the Big Five. I live in a very northern city in Canada (Edmonton – great city but we are quite north) so we do not have many exotic animals in our zoo. I just do not have the opportunity to see these majestic creatures often. The Big Five are: Elephant, Rhino, Cape Buffalo, Lion and Leopard. These were coined by hunters and are not the only animals I would love to see in their nature habitat. Others are Giraffes, Cheetah, Hippos, Gorillas and many more. I want to see them all. Maybe even go on a hunt?
Meoooow!! Photo via http://www.sxc.hu/profile/GermanGirl
4. Egypt – This is the easiest one to put on a travel bucket list. Who does not have this on their list? And if you do not, what the hell is wrong with you? 🙂 Come on – pyramids, mummies, cruising down the Nile, ancient temples and on and on. Sadly, there are serious troubles going on in Egypt and have been for several years. I really hope they can figure things out. There has been too much death and I hate to see such a beautiful place crumbling from within. I really hope things work out for them. Of course, I want this to happen as quickly as possible. I have pushed back a possible Egypt trip for a few years. I have an opening in 2015 – hint hint. I want to come visit. 🙂
The Sphinx and Pyramids in Egypt. Photo per http://www.sxc.hu/profile/tanya_b
5. The Tropics – As I mentioned, I have rarely wanted to even venture outside of Europe but as I look toward Africa, my eyes have started looking at visiting some place warm. I refer to this as “The Tropics” since it really covers many, many, many, many countries. Maybe I will go to Mexico, Bora Bora, Turks and Caicos or Hawaii. I really have no idea which country I will visit for my first warm vacation but I know one thing, it will be an adult-only resort. Ha, sorry no children allowed. Thank you! 🙂
I will try to relax on a beach, trying not to plan every minute of my trip, with a cocktail or twenty. There are quite a few activities you can do other than relaxing on the beach with a beverage in your hand. You can go horseback riding, take a boat ride, go scuba diving or snorkelling. That is usually not my jam; I am more of a museum and castle girl. I have not met a castle I did not love. I have not met a museum I did not want to marry and live happily ever after. 🙂 I hope to take that tropics trip in the next 12-18 months.
6. Group trip to Oktoberfest – I went to Oktoberfest back in 2008 as I took my first solo vacation. I toured around Germany for twenty-five days and had THE BEST TIME EVER. Ever since that trip, I have travelled solo to Europe two more times and I highly recommend a solo trip to every single person out there. Do it. Now. Great people and food!!!
I popped into Oktoberfest in Munich for two days but in honestly, I was there one afternoon. It was the last weekend of Oktoberfest which also coincided with Germany’s national holiday so it was CRAZY busy. I suggest going earlier and avoiding that last weekend. I had a great time, met some lovely people from Germany and a couple cute Austrians in their lederhosen and had the best time. I do want to return with a group of friends because I think it will be a lot more fun to take a group of friends to Munich.
Oktoberfest Paulaner Tent
7. Santorini, Greece – I took a one day tour of three islands when I visited Greece back in 2011. I went to Hydra, Poros and Aegina and they were so damn lovely. I want to return to hit up Santorini, the most famous of all the Greek islands. I know several people who have gone and loved it. I think a return to Greece is needed. I did not have the time back in 2011 to add a few days in Santorini as I was also heading to Italy after my 9 days in Greece. I regret not making time but I will return. 🙂
8. Venice, Italy – This travel bucket list shares the same reasoning as Santorini. I simply did not have the time to add it to my Greek-Italian vacation in 2011. I chose Florence over Venice because I wanted to see Michelangelo’s David which was absolutely worth the trip. However, I have had my eye on Venice for many years and would love to visit. There are so many museums, churches, bridges and canals to gaze upon! Plus who can refuse a gondola trip down the canal.
9. Riding the Trans-Siberian Rail – I am not sure why this sounds so appealing but hitting the rails to make my way from Moscow to Vladivostock (seriously, how is that not the best city name ever? Just rolls off the tongue) sounds like a great trip. It is one of the longest rail trips in the world at 9,258 km; takes six nights and seven days to complete. You can also go to China or Mongolia as it links up with the Trans-Mongolian and Trans-Manchurian lines or stay in Russia. All three sound great to me.
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I am a history-obsessed Canadian in search of crazy adventures and Olympic memories. I wish to connect with people from around the world as we share our love of travelling, history, culture, museums, and the occasional cemetery. From travelling solo to with friends, from London to Rome to Moscow, I have embraced life and enjoyed every moment.