Day 5 – Thursday, September 14: Thermopylae, Delphi, Athens
Today was another beautiful day, with full sun and comfortable temps in the 80s. We drove south with a final destination in Athens. Again, the beauty of the high mountains (80% of Greece is mountainous), valleys, and plains of inland Greece was incredible behold. We read from various verses about “running the race” from Paul’s letters as we left the hotel at 7:40 to begin the day.
The mooning drive took us to the area of Thermopylae. It was here in the famous battle that took place in 480 BC where King Leonidas, along with 300 Spartan greeks (and incidentally along with 700 Thespian greeks) were defeated by the Persians. These Persians would be later defeated in a sea battle at Salamis shortly after. Today, only a monument stands in honor of the courage of these brave greek warriors.
Continuing southward, we drove towards Delphi. Before climbing the final stretch of mountains, we first enjoyed lunch at Itea, a small quaint town along the Ionian (Adriatic) Sea coastline.
Following lunch, we arrived in Delphi. Following a classic Greek lunch once again, we arrived at the archaeological site. First, we walked through the museum. Many impressive artifacts are displayed here, including the famous bronze charioteer (dating to 476 BC), and the Gallio Inscription. This was written by a scribe named Claudius who mentions “my friend Gallio the proconsul of Achaia.” Luke mentions him as well as the one who listened to Paul at Corinth (Acts 18:12).
The archaeological site nearby was quite impressive. We ascended through the site, complete with the famous Temple of Apollo, a theater, and a stadium. The Pythian Games were held here in Delphi every four years in honor of Apollo. Paul used the image of “running the race” often (i.e. 1 Corinthians 9, Philippians 3, etc…).
Delphi was known in this classical period of Greece as the place of oracles. The women who shared oracles were call pythia. Acts 16:16 uses the same word. Paul and Silas preached that accepting Christ as spoken in the very Word (e.g. oracle) of God and trusting in God’s Spirit is what gives purpose and direction for our lives! Paul would also say that we are there “temple of God” with God’s Spirit indwelling within us (1 Corinthians 3:16f).
“Today was another ‘wow’ day, with beautiful scenery as we drove south, and a great visit to Delphi. The Greek mountains are spectacular, and there ruins of Delphi were amazing! We are now in Athens and looking forward to the start of our cruise tomorrow morning.”
Following the visit of this incredible classic Greek site, we drove to Athens. We arrived about 2.5 hours later. We checked into our hotel and enjoyed dinner together. Following dinner, some walked to Constitution Square to see the changing of the guard. We are all looking forward to our three-day cruise that begins tomorrow.