Tiryns, Epidauros, Argive Heraion, Sparta, Messene, Pylos, Olympia, Delphi
It's been a while since i scribbled some lines because the internet has been rather sketchy! In this time i have been to so many places i can scarcely remember where i was or what day it was so forgive me if this seems a little disjointed. Tiryns, Epidauros and the Argive Heraion were next on the list to visit and all were exceptional sites. For me Epidauros has been one of the highlights of the trip because it has so much to offer. The site boasts a full theatre that is still used today - it is just incredible. Elora tested it out for us by singing some opera and then Rob read some Euripides, it is unbelievable how clear it all is, even at the top most row, despite being 35+ rows away from the centre of the theatre. Epidauros is also a centre for the god Asclepius, which i mentioned in my last post. It is in a sense the ancient equivalent of a spa retreat!! There were a lot of remains there (badly sign posted, as was the museum, curatorship clearly doesn't exist there!) but it was more about the location for me. The centre as surrounded by gentle mountains rather than harsh jagged ones and beautiful trees that over all contributed to a real sense of tranquillity. This seems fitting because it was a centre of healing but it made me start to question the consideration in antiquity of placing certain sites in particular landscapes. So tranquil in fact that the afternoon saw us running around as wood nymphs singing our own theme music and taking (more) silly photos - this theme has now continued at each site, probably much to the confusion of the rest of the group who seem to think we are suffering some sort of oxygen shortage. From these places we then travelled to Sparta which we were all BUSTING to see, mostly so we could yell 'THIS IS SPARTA' while imagining a large pit in the ground, however, it turned more into a rather deflated 'is this Sparta?' - the site is very small and the town is void of life. It does have quite a good museum though and the Menelaion is worth a visit, if only for the view. I am beginning to see that this is a country of stunning views. From Sparta we took a visit to the site of Messene, a rather out of the way spot but nonetheless a lovely one. There is a huge amount to see as quite a lot of restoration was done there. As the next day loomed i was beginning to feel slightly unmotivated simply because it is hard to absorb so much each day, but the bronze age Palace of Nestor was on the cards and a lady from the American Institute of Classical Studies and head archaeologist of the site provided a guided tour. It.Was.Fantastic. Never have i walked through the remains of a settlement and really felt a sense of how it functioned or what it might have felt like in its 'hey' day, here though it was possible. Each room is preserved so you can walk through them and consider their function; particularly interesting was the bathroom, which still had the ornate mosaic bath in situ. I don't know how to explain this site except to say it was amazing and if ever you have the chance to visit it, even without a tour, do. You wont regret it.
And then there was more.... Olympia was next to receive our raucous group. The site was extensive but not the most impressive; the museum though rivalled the Acropolis Museum in Athens. It was set out perfectly; the light was natural, the cases displayed the artefacts well, the layout was aesthetically pleasing and it possessed the most interesting collection of bronze artefacts i have yet seen (and thus far i have seen a lot - don't even get me started on pottery - i think i will come up in hives next time i see and amphora or stirrup jar). They had masses of bronze votive offerings to Apollo in the shape of animals and the way they displayed them reminded me of toy soldiers. Nath, Pat and Clance look out for these in the photo album, i thought you might like to see them.
From Olympia we went onwards and upwards, as the saying goes, to Delphi. The sanctuary is simply astounding, why or how anyone would choose to build a sanctuary made of rock 700m above sea level on the side of a precipitous mountain beats me but i am grateful that they did! Yesterday i had the best meal of my entire life, or at least the trip, here in Delphi. As a gift to ourselves Ellie, Jess, Flick, Mel and I went to a fancy restaurant and ordered a lot of small appetisers to share. They were as follows: fried fetta in pastry with honey and sesame seeds, herb and spinach pie, dolmades, a Greek salad, bread, and tatziki. If that wasn't enough we enjoyed the herb pie and fried feta so much we ordered a second round. Never have i ever tasted anything so good as fried fetta. I walked out of there one very full but content person!!
Today i trekked over twelve ridiculously steep, snow covered kilometres to reach a cave that was once dedicated to Pan and the Nymphs - i am not joking when i say that the climb to the top of the last mountain was brutal. Was it worth it? Hell yes. The view was breathtaking and the cave was huge! I now have a newfound appreciation for the ancient Greeks, how they managed to climb over the steep terrain constantly blows my mind. What goes up must come down and for us that meant another 5km or so down from the cave and into the next town to await the bus. This meant we had to carefully walk downhill through very slippery snow and ice, needless to say more than a few people fell over. It really was a highlight of the trip despite the distinct lack of oxygen at that level above sea and the sheerness of the cliff. I took some photos but they really don't do the view any justice. Just to make the most of the view as per usual the girls and i took some humorous photos, it wouldn't be right if we didn't! I am now sitting on my bed after a scrumptious dinner of fried feta (again!) and chicken soup, trying to sum up the energy to get in the shower. It seems like such a long way, such an interminable distance; probably less than three whole metres. I am off to Lamia and Thermopylae tomorrow, if i can walk. I will let you know how that goes! Parakalo!