Saturday, August 8, 2009


I hired a driver for my two days in Greece. “Hired a driver” sounds so very extravagant, but, actually, it was cheaper than going with the tour bus supplied by the cruise company (because the cruise decided to apply their “single supplement” to the pre-cruise hotel/tour). So, cheap hotel on hotwire + Jordan, the taxi driver < (tour + expensive Athens hotel) * 1.75. And that there is the mathematics of my trip to Athens.

I found Jordan on the internet. It was only after I’d read all sorts of recommendations from random people on the web that I looked at his “testimonial” pages and saw two of my co-workers there. Yep, they’d used Jordan, too. So, good to know I was going with someone recommended by people I trust.

So, my full day in Greece was taken up by Jordan driving me to Delphi. And giving me bits of Athenian history along the way. Jordan asked, “What do you know about Delphi?” at which point I came up with: (1) Oracle was there; and (2) Temple of Apollo. (Not bad, I thought, seeing as Art History was about 20 years ago.) Jordan gave me all the details on everything I would see at Delphi -- both historical and mythological, and, by the time we got there, I was totally on top of this.

Here’s an interesting factoid about the archeological site at Delphi. It’s on the side of a hill. OK, mountain. So, after you drive up the long, winding, switchback-covered road, you pay your money and then start walking up the hill. OK, the treasuries of the various cities (where they’d store their offerings) were pretty low; as was the temple of Apollo itself. The ancient theatre (there will be photos when I get back) was a little bit uphill, but no biggie. But then… the stadium.

Holy crap, ancient athletese must’ve been in some kind of shape just to get to the stadium. The spectators, too, I imagine. I was huffing pretty bad getting up there (largely because I hadn’t brought any water with me, a fairly stupid move I don’t plan on repeated), but it was pretty impressive to look at. On my way back down, I saw a jogger -- I imagine she just runs on up to the stadium and back for a workout. That’s gotta be pretty cool, using these ancient sites as landmarks.

When Jordan drove me back from the main site at Delphi, we stopped at the ruins of the Gymnasium. (DOWNhill. Of course, you had to walk back uphill to get out, but still.) I liked these ruins because, unlike the main site at Delphi, you could actually touch them. I reached out to touch one of the partial marble columns -- it was hot, having baked in the sun for days, months, centuries. And I imagined myself to be a psychic, to see if by touching this column, I could somehow make contact with the people who must have touched it before -- some naked, oiled-up, muscular wrestler types getting ready for a match.

Nope, not psychic, but I have a good imagination.

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