Some days start with great promise and go downhill. Today was one of those days.
We loved the town of Nafplion and considered just staying there and forgoing our plans to see Delphi. Nafplion had good access to ancient sites, a great fort on the hill, a decent beach and good food. However, when we discussed the pros and cons of skipping Delphi, we decided we couldn’t get this close without visiting the Oracle. So we said goodbye to Nafplion for the 4 hour drive to Delphi.
Arriving in Delphi, we stopped for a quick lunch before heading off to visit the Temple of Apollo and to see if the Oracle was still taking questions.
We walked past the very quiet museum and decided we would visit it after seeing the site itself. Everything at the site itself was quiet, and, in a pleasant surprise, it was free!
But things immediately took a turn for the worse. The visit was free because most of the site, including the Temple of Apollo and the theater (the two jewels), were closed. We could not figure out exactly why, but it had something to do with “technical difficulties.” (Huh? Technical difficulties with rocks lying on the ground? Weird.)
We made the best of it. There is an ancient gymnasium down the hill with a running track where we reenacted some ancient races. Well, actually, we made one minor modification—we wore our clothes. (The root of the word “gymnasium” is “gymnos,” which means “naked,” which was how the Greeks did athletics.) And then we visited the Sanctuary of Athena, which has been partially reconstructed. But the whole site was a disappointment, particularly after our fantastic visit to Mycenae a few days earlier. We wished we had stayed in Nafplion.
And then things steadily, but relentlessly, got a little worse. We went to the next town past Delphi to look for a place to stay, but the town was uninviting and the rooms seemed grubby and overpriced. So we moved on, heading toward Athens, where we are to catch a plane the next day. But we did not know where to go, and which town we drove through might be a nice place to stay the night. We tried two towns. One turned out to be a pretty big, industrial town at the crossroads of two highways.
The next was a seaside town that appears to have no tourism at all. Even though there was a single sign in the town for a pension, the place was dark. And the town was so unused to foreigners that we had trouble communicating that we were looking for a hotel. No luck there. We did however, find an internet café and manage to book ourselves into a hotel in a suburb near the airport in Athens.
So finally we made our way to Athens and found ourselves in a suburb not far from the Olympic village from the 2004 Olympic games. This town was the opposite of the last town we visited: not a single Greek restaurant in sight, just American chain after American chain: TGI Friday’s, Ruby Tuesday, Starbucks, etc. So we capped our day eating good in the neighborhood—got to be Applebee’s. It was a mediocre end to a disappointing day. Nothing terrible, but nothing quite right.
Some days just don’t work as planned. But we have high hopes for tomorrow.