Tag Archives: Athens

How to do a day trip to Delphi from Athens

Temple of Apollo

By Lakshmi:

Who?  If you are visiting Athens, you will love a day trip that takes you back in time when Oracles were revered and consulted before any important decisions were made.

What? The archaeological site of Delphi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which can be easily accessed on a day trip from Athens.

How? You could rent a car, take a guided tour or take public buses.  Guided tours frequently combine Delphi with other destinations, but give you time to take in this beautiful spot.

Why? Picture yourself away from the pollution of Athens.  You are ascending mountainous terrain and your bus chugs along with some difficulty.  As you reach the top, you are greeted with some majestic views and given the right season, lots of flowers in bloom.  Then you spot it….it being the temple of Apollo in Delphi.  You see the impressive columns, you see the tiered landscape and then you see the area that has made kings and commoners climb these steep hills to make it up here.  It is the seat of the Oracle, the soothsayer who sat on a tripod over a fissure in the earth, went into a trance and provided incoherent responses to questions with grave implications.  Kings did not go to war and major decisions were not taken until the questions had been answered by the Oracle and translated by the priests.  Am I in India or Greece?  For centuries now, no major decisions were made in India till the priests and the stars had been consulted and we were seeing links among brethren separated by thousands of miles.

Delphi’s well-preserved ruins along with the archaeological museum are totally worth the visit.  We have been multiple times and each time chose a tour.  Our tour guides created such a sense of history for us, that we would not trade the experience for a solo jaunt up there.  The museum has some unbelievable pieces including the absolutely spectacular bronze charioteer erected in 474 BC.  Please do not skip the museum and take your time to walk through some amazing annals in history.

You can learn more about Delphi at:


Mycenae – Does Homer’s Ballad Come To Life?

By Lakshmi: (Updated Sept 24, 2014)

Who?  If you are visiting Athens, Greece, are a fan of Homer’s ballads or simply love archeology, you will love a day trip that takes you back in time.

What? The ruins of the ancient citadel of Mycenae which are located about two hours from Athens (give or take some time, depending on the infamous traffic).

How? You could rent a car, take a guided tour or take public buses.  We took a guided tour on two separate trips and were blessed with the most amazing guides who built our anticipation, transported us back in time and helped us soak in the place better.

Why? It was Homer’s ballads brought home on CD’s that served as my voice of reason and sanity as I survived some long commutes between Princeton and Washington DC.  Like the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata that I had devoured at a young age, the Odyssey and Iliad were Greek versions of good and bad, war and peace and so much more.  Like many a reader, I had quilted a rich patchwork of images of Agamemnon,  Helen, Menelaus, Paris, Cylopes and more and these were brought to life by the stories that our tour guide narrated en route to Mycenae.  Our arrival at Mycenae was heralded with the guide announcing the discovery of the ruins in the tone of Schlieman, “I have gazed upon the face of Agamemnon.”

To be very honest, I felt a bit let down when I first lay sight on the ruins.  You will need every part of your imagination and a good guide to envision the citadel that existed here in prehistoric times….the many tales of treachery that were cooked here, the bloodshed that happened, the richness of the history, the bloody way in which Agamemnon met his end at the hands of his wife and her lover, and the many graves that once housed the remains of a civilization from a world gone by.  Our guide did a fantastic job showing us the layout of the palace complex, the graves and the few well-preserved landmarks including Atreus tomb, the Cyclopean Walls and the Gate of Lionesses.

Unlike other ruins that we have seen elsewhere in Greece, Italy, Egypt and other locales, Mycenae is a worthwhile visit if only to use your imagination to bring one of our most beloved stories to life.

To learn more about Mycenae and its ruins that have now been classified it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, click here:


Lycabettus Hill – Fond Memories from a Lovely Spot in Athens

By Lakshmi:

Lycabettus Hill, a limestone rock over a 1,000 feet tall is one of the highest points in the city of Athens.  You can pretty much spot this landmark with the Church of St. George from many points in the city.  Given all the bad rap Athens gets as a city (congestion, pollution, not a place to hang around for too long), this spot away from the crowds is a lovely place to soak in the city and its views.

On our first trip to Athens, the discovery of Lycabettus Hill gave my husband a tremendous source of joy.  Eureka!  He had discovered the perfect workout.  Run up and down the spiral path 3-4 times and get an amazing challenge.  So, while he indulged in his drive to best his time, I soaked in what the venue had to offer.

First, you can get to the top of Lycabbettus Hill either on foot or using the funicular railway.  Given what I just mentioned about my husband, my taking the two-minute funicular ride would have been viewed as a major act of laziness.  So, while he ran, I walked my way to the top.

It was a lovely clear day and it was not too crowded either.  Once up there, I spent time taking in the 360 degree views and identifying the various places that we had either been to or had to cover.  Next I stopped at the Church of St. George and after offering a prayer and lighting candles, alighted to the cafe to reward myself with a treat.  There was absolutely no sense of guilt as I watched my husband continuing his run.  In fact, I might have just eaten enough for two!

At the hilltop, there was also an open air theatre where many a renowned artist has performed.  So, you might want to time your trip with a musical celebration as well.

The second time up at the hill, I was with my father and the girls and this time we took the funicular up there.  While I did feel some guilt at not walking up, it wasn’t strong enough to prevent me from enjoying my dessert and coffee.

I would love to go back and visit and if I do, would actually love to take a picnic lunch up to have an amazing meal with such lovely surroundings.

Lycabettus Hill is a nice long walk from Syntagma Square.  Alternately, you can take the metro to the Evagelismos stop and walk from there.