Delphi has always held a mystical place in my mind, a place where the oracle transmitted the wishes of the gods and goddesses of Greek Mythology to the people. Visiting the famous valley did not disappoint. The natural rock formations on the slopes of Mount Parnassus provided an awe-inspiring backdrop for the ancient ruins. The Delphi ruins run up the side of the mountain and feature amazing columns, a Roman Agora, an ancient stadium for the Pythian games, and the remains of the Temple of Apollo. The Pythian games were second in importance only to the Olympics and honoured the God Apollo through art and dance, as well as athletic games. The Temple of Apollo was the most important site in Delphi and housed the shrine of the oracle of Delphi, where the Priestess Pythia sat and conveyed the guidance of Apollo and other gods.
Chris and I spent many hours walking around the site trying to imagine what this place looked like over 2000 years ago.
The next day, we took a hike up the side of the mountain outside the main archeological site. Even here, on a trailside, we found an active archaeological dig and ancient stone wall remnants. There is so much beauty and human history to be found in this small town, and it is definitely worth the trek from Athens.
We caught the 10:30am bus from Athens, which got us into Delphi at 1:30.
We stayed at the cheapest hotel available that night, the Hotel Sibylla for € 30, that we booked using booking.com. The hotel was very simple, but we had a room with a balcony overlooking the valley.
Normally the Delphi archeological site is € 12/person, but we got lucky and arrived on a day when it happened to be free as they were celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the Greek Revolution.
There was no need for a car, as the archeological sites and the trailhead for the hike are all walking distance from the main street in town where the bus dropped us off and where our hotel was located.
The flight from Athens to Rome is 2 hours. But wanted to see the ancient ruins of Delphi and the port city of Patra, Greece, so we took a different route. Our journey started on a Thursday morning, when we took the bus from Athens to Delphi (if you're curious about the details on how we travelled by bus from Athens to Delphi, or our experience in Delphi itself, check out our other post from Oct. 26, 2021).
On Friday after visiting Delphi, we planned to catch the 1:00pm bus to Patra (sometimes called Patras, Greece). The buses between Delphi and Patra only run a few times a week and tickets could not be purchased online ahead of time, so we were relying on a bus schedule we'd seen online and just standing on a street corner with a sign labelled "bus depot" above us (aka street corner of Apollonos and Friderikis, where the highway splits into 2 one-way streets at the south-east end of the village) hoping the bus would show up. We arrived at the stop around 12:45pm and asked the person running the restaurant next door if he knew about the bus and bus tickets. He told us we could purchase our tickets directly from him, which we did for about € 15/each, and that the bus usually arrives some time around 1:15.
At 1:30pm the bus actually showed up, so we boarded and sat ourselves down for what we thought would be a 2-hour journey. About 15 minutes later we pulled into the Amfissa bus depot, where the driver told us we needed to get off and transfer to the bus to Patra, that was leaving at 2:00. We didn't realize we needed to transfer, but off we went onto the next bus. The bus to Patra went through tons of cute little beach communities along the Gulf of Corinth, stopping to let people on and off, until we eventually arrived in Patra around 5:00, 2 hours later than we thought we would be arriving. As our overnight ferry was leaving at 5:30pm and we still had to get our rapid Covid tests, fill out the Passenger Locator Form (PLF), and buy our ferry tickets, we knew we wouldn't make it. We had a feeling the bus might not be on time so we were glad we hadn't purchased any tickets ahead of time! So in Patra, we switched up our plans and walked to the cheapest hotel we could find, the Marie Palace for € 45 (it was quite reasonable!), and fortunately they had a room for us. The hotel was right in the center of the city so we were able to experienced the Patra night-life. For a city of only 170,000 people, it has an fun set of busy alleys filled with restaurants and shops that kept us entertained.
Saturday morning, we went for our Covid rapid tests, filled out the PLFs, and purchased our overnight ferry tickets for that evening's 5:30pm departure. The overnight ferry itself was fine, but nothing special. We had purchased the "assigned seats", which gave us access to a side room on the ferry. We did not purchase the cabin rooms as those were quite a bit more expensive, and they were also sold out for that evening. The ferry wasn't busy and so the assigned seating room that seats up to 100 people only had about 10 people in it. This was fortunate as I wanted to work on my computer for a while and the entire room only had about 4 electrical outlets. With so few people, I had no trouble moving to one of the few seats near an outlet to get some work done. Chris and I also enjoyed a dinner at the cafe - there were only a few mediocre food choices and over-priced drinks, but we ended up having a lot of fun people watching and playing cribbage late into the night using a napkin as a cribbage board. When it came time to sleep, Chris and I had a full row of seats each to lie down on. And because the room we were in had a closed door, it was relatively quiet. Between the full row of cushioned seats, my balled-up shirt acting as my pillow, my sarong covering my eyes, and my jacket acting as a blanket, I was comfortable and probably slept for at least 6 hours.
The next morning, we arrived in Bari, Italy on-time at 9am. At no point in our journey did we need to show the apparently-required vaccine certificate, negative covid test, or passport. We de-boarded and found a taxi to take us to the Bari Bus Terminal. Italy is a lot more expensive than Greece and the 5 minute taxi ride was € 15.
When we arrived at the bus terminal, we found out that tickets were sold through 3rd party vendors inside the cafes, as there was no official ticket office. We purchased our tickets, which ended up being a lot more expensive than we planned, as we didn't realize the prices went up about 50% when you purchase them day-of. After we got over the annoyance of having over-paid for the bus, we found some breakfast and waited for the 10:35am bus to arrive. The bus from Bari to Rome was quite luxurious as far as passenger busses go, and the 6-hour journey went reasonably quickly.
We arrived in Rome, found the metro station by the bus depot, and rode the metro to the RomeHello hostel, where we have a private room and bathroom, with access to a shared kitchen and other amenities. Now we have 4 days to explore the city! Blog posts for our Italy leg of the trip are here