BLOG #4, Friday, 11/27, waiting for train to Thessaloniki
DELPHI – So glad we came here despite arriving in a huge downpour first rain in three months, lucky us!) The rain measured at least two inches deep as we crossed the little street from the bus stop to our hotel. Shoes were soaked through about halfway up. Luckily, they dried overnight.
HOTEL – Gwen scored really high on finding this boutique hotel, Kastillia, with 28 rooms. For some odd reason the manager (owner’s son, a charming actor from Athens in his late ’50s) upgraded us to his BEST room, and gosh was it BEST. A suite with 2 rooms, tv and balcony in each, modern (small) bathroom, great contemporary design, and wonderful location overlooking the Gulf of Corinth. Unfortunately they didn’t set it up as a twin room and had put the two beds together into a king. The mgr. showed us 3 rooms altogether but the suite was best so he turned the living room sofa into a bed for me. Most comfortable sofa bed I’ve ever encountered. Price of $51 per night for two included a lavish breakfast overlooking the terrace and sea. We stayed two nights.
ANCIENT DELPHI – As usual, we got an early start and arrived by 8:30 a.m. on our full day in Delphi. Only one tourist beat us to the top. Spent close to two hours wandering up the Sacred Way toward Mt. Parnassus, reading nearly every word on the descriptive kiosks. History really came alive. It was easy to close our eyes and picture the ancient Greeks in the 5th century B.C. arriving by sea and making the journey to the Oracle of Delphi.
We saw at least a dozen local workers maintaining the area–scraping moss/mold off the ancient columns, removing vegetation that crept up the bottoms of monuments, picking up garbage, etc. More workers than tourists.
Then we went to the Museum which was smaller than I expected but interesting. Truthfully, I was a bit “museumed-out” and went through fairly quickly while Gwen read every word.
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great. Gray, cloudy and occasionally sprinkling but not raining hard. We left before the tour buses arrived (except for one Chinese group) and had the place pretty much to ourselves.
DINNER was the most delicious meal since arrival and probably among the top 20 in my lifetime. Again, Gwen researched TripAdvisor and chose To Patelko about an eight minute walk from our hotel. (Everything in Delphi is very close.) The decor was wonderful with stone walls, beautiful art and many decorative touches.
We were seated next to one of two parties in the large restaurant. Turns out they were American so they immediately wished us “Happy Thanksgiving.” We enjoyed talking with them prior to our meal arriving.
Of course there was much too much food and we left half of one dish. We shared 3 appetizers and a salad. The tasty salad had walnuts, pomegranate seeds, shaved cheese and two-three kinds of greens. Scrumptious, light-as-a-feather zucchini patties topped the list of my favorites. Next came tasty mushrooms cooked in olive oil and white wine. Least favorite were seafood dolmades–as Gwen said it tasted like gefilte fish wrapped in grape leaves. And, of course, there was ubiquitous tzatziki (sp?), which I love, with homemade bread.
TRANSPORTATION SCREW-UP – Trying to get from Delphi to Thessaloniki is/was difficult. There’s a daily bus which on Thurs. was at 10:15 a.m. which would have been perfect. But on Friday (today) the only bus is at 3 p.m. So I took an 11:30 a.m. local bus (one hour) from Delphi to Livadia (toward Athens, not Thes.), a cab to the middle-of-nowhere train station, and discovered that the 1:40 train wasn’t running today. So am patiently waiting 3 hours for the 3:40 p.m. train. There’s a little cafe with next to nothing in it where I’m waiting. Bought a cup of tea and, luckily, had purchased a sandwich in town before getting the cab. Not only is there a long wait but it’s a fast train which means the price was double the normal fare. Additionally, I could have just stayed in Delphi and taken the 3 p.m. direct bus, arriving an hour or so later than the train gets in. Oh well, nothing to do about it so am “going with the flow.”
This screw-up is minor compared to my 2006 disaster. Arrived in Madrid from JFK with a 2 hour layover for my El Al flight to Tel Aviv only to discover that the plane wasn’t on the November schedule. Next plane was 10 hours later—and then was about 6 hours late departing. Arrived 10 a.m. Madrid time and departed around 3 a.m. Definitely one of my worst transportation experiences.
LATER, ADDENDUM TO SCREW-UP – Waiting over 3 hours for the train turns out not to be the worst of the screw ups. At around 5:10 p.m. (after leaving on time at 3:40) the train stopped in the middle of nowhere. I thought, perhaps, we were waiting for another train to pass through a short tunnel, the type we’d traversed several times. After about 10 minutes the conductor made an announcement in Greek of course. From the groans of fellow passengers, it seemed likely that the news wasn’t good. A beautiful young lady sat across from me and I asked what the announcement said. “There’s a problem with the train. It’s not working, ” she informed me.
I asked if it happened often and she replied in the negative. Only once previously in her experience. Bummer! Of course, I finished my novel on the bus to Livadia. Luckily I have a “Vanity Fair” and another novel in my suitcase.
After about 15 minutes I figured it would be smart to hit the cafe car while it still had food. Naturally a lot of others had the same idea but only about 6 people were ahead of me.
The train just started moving, after 40 minutes at a standstill. Hopefully it’ll keep moving all the way to Thessaloniki. Guess arrival will be 8:30-ish p.m. instead of 7:40. Let’s hope so anyway