Exploring past ancient Greece: Delphi, Epidaurus and Mycenae

July 23rd, 2010

When traveling in a country as old as Greece, ancient ruins can quickly go from great to mind-numbing. Great – as yet unnamed, another hill over stone remains of people of past centuries.

Just because some dates before Christ does not mean it has to be seen. Be selective about your visits old. Three of my favorites are the ruins of Delphi, Epidaurus and Mycenae. All are within three hours from Athens, and all are well worth the trip.

Perched high on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, Delphi (pronounced DELL-fee) was one of the most important monuments in the ancient world. People travel here from everywhere to seek wisdom from the oracle, who served as spokesman for Apollo earth.

In the sixth century C. , Delphi became so influential that no great leader who made an important decision without first send envoys to consult the oracle. Because so many people come and shed their truth about the state of his homeland, became the Delphi database of the ancient world. The priests (not to interpret the mysteries of the oracle and struggles) learned more than enough to dispense advice divine quality.

The actual site and the Archaeological Museum, a half mile east of the modern city of Delphi. I suggest visiting the first site (while you still have energy for the steep climb up), so it is easier to imagine the original context of the items you see in the museum. The archaeological site contains the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo, a place of worship around the temple where the oracle prophesied. Near the temple are the remains of large monuments built by grateful pilgrims.

There were more than just the Delphi oracle. You will also see the theater and the stadium where the Pythian Games were held. It happens every four years in honor of Apollo, the games were second only to the Olympics in importance. Not only have athletic skills, but also dance, theater and music – including some kind of Idol singing competition Panhellenic. I like to explore these places at the end of the day with all the tourists gone, the crowd cheers old still playing in the fresh air of the mountain and my starting block.

For a truly spectacular theater experience, a trip to Epidaurus is a necessity. Located in the northeastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula, is near Epidaurus Nafplio, which gets my vote for the most charming city in Greece and is a good base for exploring the ruins.

In 400 a. C., Epidavros sprawling complex ‘of hospitals and sick rooms was the most famous healing center in the Greek world. It was a place of miraculous healings, where the sick came to be treated by doctors and priests doing the work of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine.

The high point is its theater of Epidaurus, which provided entertainment for those who made the pilgrimage here. Given its size (15,000 seated) and the apparent lack of modern amplification, acoustics needed to be perfect. They were – and still are. Sitting on the most distant seat as his traveling companion is on stage, you can practically hear the noise Retsina wine in the stomach.

About 45 minutes north of Nafplion, Mycenae old is the oldest monument you will see in this land of so many ruins. The Mycenaeans dominated the Greek world between 1600 and 1200 BC, about 1000 years before the onset of Athens. These were the first Greek Homer wrote in The Iliad and The Odyssey.

Following the same steps of sandalwood old as the Greeks of Mycenae you will enjoy majestic setting of mountains, valleys and the distant sea. The location was only stage, was strategic. Surrounded by enemies, the Mycenaean fortified capital needed in an easy to defend the hill. Although only scant remains today, the mighty lion city gate remains impressive.

Royalty were buried in underground chambers large beehive-shaped, like the Tholos Tomb. The tomb of enormous igloo-style dome was made of 33 rings of truncated (slowly outgoing) stones, each weighing about five tons. The kings were buried developed in the center of the room together with their swords, jewelry and personal belongings. After the funeral was over, the whole structure was covered with a mound of dirt. tomb robbers were not fooled and got in any case, as modern archaeologists have found the bodies.

When it comes to Greek ruins, the Acropolis and the Agora are given, for me, the joy of Greece outside of Athens. Once you’re done with the big city and its many requirements, hit the road and head for Delphi, Epidaurus and Mycenae. Each offers a unique opportunity to delve into the old life and explore the rich history of Greece.

Athens Taxis

June 19th, 2010

Athens Taxi drivers see incomes plunge

Athens taxi drivers say their income has plummeted by up to 40 percent since last year with most attributing the downturn to the impact of austerity measures on city dwellers’ wallets.

Athens Taxi

“Business is going downhill,” Constantinos Dimos, one of some 15,000 taxi drivers in the capital, told Kathimerini. He said he and fellow cabbies are “out on the streets driving around like crazy looking for customers.” Even the increasingly frequent strikes by transport workers have failed to benefit cabbies, Dimos said.

“On strike days, it is such chaos on the roads that all our journeys take longer so we earn less,” he said. Dimos said cuts to salaries and benefits were chiefly to blame for the slump and saw little chance of an upturn in the near future. “How can we hope for an improvement when people don’t have money?” he remarked.

Taxi drivers say their income has also been dented by increases to value-added tax and fuel taxes introduced recently by the government. Some cabbies expect their losses to reach 5,000 euros this year.

Radio taxis have been particularly hard hit, sector representatives say, as their service is more expensive than that offered by regular cabbies.

Dimos said he believed his sector’s fortunes were inextricably linked to the country’s ability to weather the debt crisis. “Our survival depends on the the survival of society in general,” he said.

Athens residents say they are not using taxis as often as before. “I used to commute by taxi between my job in Ambelokipi and my home in Moschato,” Anna Drakoulaki said. “It’s too expensive now.” Athens  Taxi drivers increased their fares last November, the second in a series of three planned incremental hikes. The third increase, due last month, was abolished.