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I can’t quite recall when or where I first spotted a photo of the mystery-shrouded, clifftop monasteries of Meteora. But I do know that ever since the moment when that image first entered my brain, I became obsessed with seeing it not through a screen but with my own eyes.

After a few days in Athens decompressing from my weeks on the Greek islands, I was ready to finally meet Meteora. But while I was tempted by the endless adventure opportunities in the surrounding area — hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding and rafting, — I was also feeling exhausted from weeks on the go, monetarily drained from too much time in Europe, and pretty anxious to get back to Southeast Asia and settle down for a while. So while I normally pride myself on traveling relatively slowly and thoroughly, I quite happily signed on for Viator’s

Delphi, Greece

Viator Tour of Delphi

As my main objective was getting to Meteora, our first stop of Delphi was a big bonus. It was also a necessity to break up what would otherwise be two back to back days of long bus rides — an unavoidable element of trying to see these far flung sights with so little time. The good news? The scenery from my seat was gorgeous. So stunning I was almost physically aching for a camera stop, but settled for committing the vistas to my visual memory. I couldn’t believe this too was Greece, a country which so far had been all Acropolis and Aegean to me. And now, there was this.

And the feeling continued when we arrived at Delphi, stumbling into one of the most gorgeous valleys I’ve ever had the good fortune to gaze upon.

Delphi, Greece

Guided Tour of Delphi

Delphi, Greece

Our guide was licensed to give tours within the archeological site and so led us straight off the bus and up along the winding paths, refreshing our mythological knowledge along the way. While far from an ancient history buff, I always loved Greek mythology, and seeing the stories I first heard years ago in a classroom in Upstate New York come to life in front of me, half a world away, was a joy.

It’s hard to overstate Delphi’s significance to the Ancient Greeks. In the classical period, it is said that Zeus released a eagle from each side of the Earth, and Delphi was there they crossed paths. Hence, the city was seen as the center and navel of Mother Earth. Delphi would go on to be home to the Pythian Games (similar to the ever-so-famous version held at Olympia), to the most important oracle in history, and to the Temple of Apollo.

Delphi, Greece

Viator Tour of Delphi

Delphi, Greece

My favorite historical detail of the day was the myth of Apollo’s first trip to Delphi, in which he arrived in the form of a dolphin, carrying priests from the isle of Crete on his back. I hadn’t realized dolphins played such an important role in Greek mythology, and I was immediately reminded of my travels in the Peruvian Amazon, where local legend is that dolphins are descendants of spiritual humans, explaining their abundance in waters where almost every other creature has been hunted to the brink of extinction.

However, as much as the history, I simply enjoyed wandering the ruins of this epic city and exploring it through the lens of my trusty

Guided Tour of Delphi

Delphi, Greece

Delphi, Greece

Delphi, Greece

Viator Tour of Delphi

Guided Tour of Delphi

Now, all my solo travelers out there — praise Zeus for self-timer selfies, am I right? I have pretty much given up on trying to ask other travelers to take my picture and instead just look for a ledge where I can toss my camera up and throw on the timer. Embarrassing in front of onlookers? Yes. But well worth it to prove I was, you know, there. And to remind myself to request a hotel iron next time I wear those shorts.

Delphi, Greece

Delphi, Greece

Delphi, Greece

Guided Tour of Delphi

Delphi, Greece

After an hour and a half of exploring Ancient Delphi, it was time to head to the modern one and split off into two groups. The one day tour groupers were to explore the Delphi Museum before making their way back towards Athens, while those of us in the two day tour joined up with the last half of a four day tour around Mainland Greece. Unfortunately, due to the logistics those of us on the two day tour didn’t have the option to see the the Delphi Museum. But there was also an option for a , which was basically the exact itinerary I was on with 24 hours in Delphi injected in the middle — enough to hit up the museum in the afternoon, and spent the next morning kicking around the hotel pool. I strongly considered this option but in the end just ran out of time in Greece.

Sound confusing? While I’d been worried in theory these mix n’ match tour legs would lead to a disjointed overall experience, I was actually relieved by it in practice — our first tour guide had certain speech patterns that were driving me slowly insane and so I was overjoyed to be handed over to my new guide, Joy. It turned out to be a nice benefit to the way the tour was structured. Don’t like your tour guide? No problem. Here’s a new one.

Delphi, Greece

After a lunch stop in modern Delphi, we wound our way towards Meteora. Joy’s commentary made the long drive more than manageable, and before I knew it we were pulling in to Kalambaka, the small town base for visiting Meteora. Because our hotel was not walking distance from the city center, we were given some free time to hit ATMs, fuel up on snacks, and stretch our legs after the long ride.

I was pleasantly surprised by our digs for the night, which boasted an idyllic pool and rooms with inviting soaking tubs. Yet we weren’t staying for long — I was early to bed and for once not dreading a dawn wake up call. After triple checking my cameras were charging, I fell asleep that night buzzing. I was just mere hours away from Meteora, and Delphi had been the perfect opening act.

Meteora Hotel

Meteora Hotel

 Stay tuned for my very last dispatch from Europe… magical Meteora!

. . . . . . .

I am a member of the Viator Ambassador initiative and participated in this tour as part of that program.

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50 Comments...
  • MissLilly
    November 25 2014

    gorgeous photos!!
    MissLilly recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      Thanks Lilly! It was very photographically inspiring!

  • Sonja at Breadcrumbs Guide
    November 25 2014

    “our first tour guide had certain speech patterns that were driving me slowly insane”
    Hahaha! I know exactly what you mean.

    And yeah, it is very hard to get a decent shot of myself without the self timer!
    Sonja at Breadcrumbs Guide recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      Every sentence started with “Basically….” All I could hear was the “basically,” and then I would black out with annoyance and miss everything that came after.

  • Martina Donkers
    November 25 2014

    Hey Meihoukai!

    Oh my, seriously, every single post lately is putting Greece higher and higher on my places to go next list. It’s just beautiful!

    And the history of the place!! That’s so interesting about the oracle and the games all the things that happened there… I always wonder when I’m in ancient places like that about the people who were there before – who were they, what did they do, are they seeing the same things I’m seeing or were things different then? It’s so interesting.

    Looking forward to the next post!!

    Martina πŸ™‚
    Martina Donkers recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      Just wait until you see Meteora… you’ll be dying to hop on a plane!

  • becky hutner
    November 25 2014

    alex, you really ignited my imagination with this one. to be at the site of the pythian games is pretty mind blowing. there’s nothing like a good tour to bring an ancient destination to life (even if it does involve grating speech patterns).
    becky hutner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      This trip has definitely taught me that archaeological sites are best explored with a guide. I’m investing in one from now on, even if I travel to the site independently.

  • I visited Delphi as part of a 10 day cruise through the Ionian Islands and it was one of my favourite historical sites in Europe. The site definitely has a spiritual feel to it and I loved learning about the history, especially about the Oracle of Delphi
    Katie @ The World on my Necklace recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      The oracles are fascinating, aren’t they! Such a different world, it’s hard to picture it all really happening right there where you’re standing.

  • Miquel
    November 25 2014

    Delphi is one of my favorite places I’ve ever been. When I was 15 I took my first trip out of the country to Greece. I can remember looking into that valley and being brought to tears by the overwhelming history and beauty of the place. It sounds a little dramatic and cheesy, but that was the day I caught the travel bug.

    It’s so fun to revisit Delphi through your eyes. Can’t wait for Meteora!
    Miquel recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      That’s amazing you can look back and pinpoint that’s where it all happened! For me it was Koh Tao — much less regal of a location, but a very fun one, ha!

  • Justine
    November 25 2014

    I was so enraptured by this post that I was bummed when it ended! I was an anthropology major in college and I love anything that has to do with ancient ruins or Greek mythology. And I so badly want to see and hear all about Meteora, which just happens to be my new travel obsession. Can’t wait πŸ™‚
    Justine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      I tread very lightly on sharing history since it is not my forte, but I do my best πŸ™‚ Thanks Justine!

  • Leah
    November 25 2014

    LOL’d so hard at the wrinkly shorts comment. And at the annoying speech patterns bit I couldn’t help but think of a certain Australian hiking companion from the Colca Canyon…I can’t remember for the life of me what he kept saying that was SO ANNOYING but I remember being SO. ANNOYED.
    Leah recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      Ha ha, thanks to my rose tinted hindsight that has all but faded from my memory! Maybe with time this woman’s horrible affinity for starting ALL sentences with the word “basically” would have too.

  • Oh, Greece! Each and every post of yours I read about Greece just makes me want to go there more and more and more! Lol at the ironing comment, I never get my clothes ironed when I have them washed but sometimes I really should just fork over that little bit more!
    Christie of The Butterfly Editions recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      These ones would come out fine out of the wash, I think the problem was more that they were shoved in a corner of my bag and trotted around for weeks. Whoops.

  • Rae Morgan
    November 26 2014

    I love how you included the history! As usual, incredible photos!
    Rae Morgan recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      Thanks Rae! With a location like this, you’ve got to share a little of the past πŸ™‚

  • Katie
    November 26 2014

    All of your pictures of Greece are so sunny and beautiful!! I also have given up on asking other travelers for pictures. Sometimes I’m like – did you even look at the screen? Did you not notice it was blurry and completely crooked??? Sigh… πŸ™‚
    Katie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      Oh my gosh, it truly shocks me how bad they can be. Some people are just clueless when it comes to composition and basic camera operation! Well, I guess it wouldn’t be special if everyone could do it πŸ™‚

  • Janice Stringer
    November 26 2014

    As lovely as these places look – Greece has never interested me but it must be fascinating to visit the places with all the stories of the Gods!
    That’I would enjoy…
    Janice Stringer recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      There is definitely an entire historical side to Greece that I’ve only brushed on. This was a nice preview, though!

  • Shaun's Cracked Compass
    November 26 2014

    You’re bring back amazing memories for me Meihoukai. This was were Apollo spoke through his oracle and was my first stop in Greece. My hotel looked out over the valley all the way to the town below on the lake, Itea.

    I’m too excited for your write up of Meteora. I was blown away the whole time I was there and had to pull myself away as Mt. Olympus was calling as my next stop.
    Shaun’s Cracked Compass recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      What did you think of the modern town of Delphi, Shaun? I would have liked to have explored it a bit, I think, had I not been in such a rush to get back to Thailand.

      • Shaun's Cracked Compass
        November 28 2014

        It holds it’s own without the ruins. When the sun takes away the view of the valley you have a small place that lives big.

        These were the tips off my write up:

        β€’There is no bus to take you to the ruins. You just walk there.

        β€’The best sunset is seen from the church courtyard looking west at the mountains

        β€’Buy any on-going bus tickets from the restaurant across from the “main fork” in the road as you enter town past the ruins. It is written on the building but not always obvious.

        β€’The best fruit and veggies are found on the left side of the upper street
        Shaun’s Cracked Compass recently posted..

        • Meihoukai
          November 28 2014

          Awesome! Definitely sounds like it’s worth a longer trip someday πŸ™‚

  • Marni
    November 26 2014

    Beautiful pictures!!! In 2006, I went on a school trip to Italy. Our flight landed in Rome, but our itinerary had us going from Assisi to Florence and finally back to Rome. After a Canada to Europe flight, the last thing you want to do is hop on a bus for 3 hours. Like you said, though, the scenery made it entirely worth it and I hardly noticed the time pass. It’s amazing how soothing and distracting a different landscape can be!

    I can’t wait to see your pictures from Meteora – it looks beautiful! As a lover of photography myself, I am almost always critical of the (usually poor) job another person does at taking a picture. If I’m taking one for someone else, I make sure they’re happy with it before I walk away. The self timer idea is a great one, though!

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      That’s why there are certain people I love traveling with, for the very superficial reason that I know they can take a good picture — ha! I need to do a brief training session for all future travel companions…

  • Camels & Chocolate
    November 26 2014

    Pretty! I’ve only been to a couple of the party islands (Kos, Patmos, Corfu) and am dying to see more of ‘real’ Greece.
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      This little mini trip through the mainland definitely inspired me to explore beyond the islands next time I returned (though there are more of those I want to see as well!)

  • Sabine @ Thetravellingchilli
    November 26 2014

    Very interesting post. We were in Greece last year, but just missed to visit Delphi, unfortunately. And we also missed Meteora. It is definitely a reason to go back to Greece πŸ˜‰
    Your photos are really awesome, thanks for sharing. And looking forward to your post about Meteora!
    Sabine @ Thetravellingchilli recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      Luckily I don’t think I’ll run out of excuses to return to Greece anytime soon. It is one of my absolute favorite countries to travel to!

  • Amanda
    November 27 2014

    I haven’t been to Delphi, but it’s definitely on my list! I love all the history and ruins!
    Amanda recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      I can definitely picture you loving it here. Your posts on Meteora were part of what inspired me to get here!

  • giselleandcody
    November 27 2014

    Such beautiful photos Meihoukai.

    Greece has always been a place that the both of us have wanted to travel. Every time we read up on it or see blogs about it, we just want to jump on a plan and head over there πŸ™‚
    giselleandcody recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      I think you two would love it! I can absolutely picture some Mindful Wanderlusts coverage on Greece πŸ™‚

  • Anna @ shenANNAgans
    November 28 2014

    I’ve never been to Delhi, looks incrediable, your photos are amazing. πŸ™‚ Your posts are making me rethink my travel plans for 2015. Hope you have a wicked good weekend. Cheers from Aus. Anna
    Anna @ shenANNAgans recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      You won’t regret adding Greece into the mix, Anna!

  • Peter
    November 28 2014

    Hey Meihoukai, nice to see you travelling. Simply coolest pictures with great content. Keep travelling so that we can get more information about some lovely places around the world.
    Peter recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      I think I can make that sacrifice, Peter πŸ™‚ In all seriousness though, there’s so much of the world to see, I’ll keep keeping on!

  • Ligeia and Mindy
    November 28 2014

    What a gorgeous location for an archaeological site! Your photos are fantastic and your post is wonderfully thorough, as always. We’ve learned so much! πŸ™‚
    Ligeia and Mindy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2014

      Thank you so much, that’s lovely! And yes, it was an insane location — reminded me of Machu Picchu in Peru!

  • Amanda Kendle
    November 30 2014

    Gorgeous photos!! I visited Delphi (and Meteora) as a nine-year-old with my parents and have such amazing memories of it, I have always been a bit scared to go back, thinking the reality won’t match up – but you have made me feel a bit braver!
    Amanda Kendle recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 1 2014

      I know that feeling! But so many years later, I’m sure you’d have a totally new and magical experience to compare it to.

  • Kristin Addis
    December 1 2014

    I alllllmost went, but needed to get back to Berlin for a visa appointment πŸ™
    Next time, and there WILL be a next time!
    Kristin Addis recently posted..

  • Chris
    December 6 2014

    Okay, so at the risk of sounding repetitive, I’m going to say it again…

    Stunning!

    Wonderfully captured in those photos.

    The changing tour guides obviously worked in your case, but what if you have a great one!
    Chris recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 10 2014

      Hopefully you’d be handed off to one equally as awesome πŸ™‚