One of the interesting sights at Delphi was the Omphalos, Greek for navel, a four foot high hollow stone with a carving of a knotted net covering its surface. According to legend, Zeus sent two eagles flying across the earth to meet at the center, or navel, of the world. The Omphalos was said to allow direct communications with the gods, and may have been made hollow to channel intoxicating vapors from below ground that the oracle (a priestess) would breathe in and interpret for pilgrims coming to Delphi for guidance. It is probably not coincidence that there is another omphalos in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem that was said to be the foundation on which the Ark was placed when God revealed himself to his people. It was also called the navel of the world, and as the tradition developed during the Hellenistic period after the Omphalos of Delphi was already in use, was probably an attempt to copy and compete with its Greek version.
Because of the historic spirituality of the entire Delphi site, Suzanne suggested that everyone take time to meditate near the Temple of Apollo and consult the Oracle, which she reminded them, is actually inside all of us. She personally received a surprising and meaningful answer to the question she asked.
The most impressive statue in Delphi’s museum is this life-size bronze charioteer in almost perfect condition. Part of a set of six horses, a chariot, and two grooms, it was erected in 478 BC by Polyzalus, the tyrant of Gela, a Greek colony in Sicily, to celebrate the victory of his chariot team in the Pythian games (like the Olympic games, held every 4 or 8 years). (What if NFL team owners commissioned bronze statues to celebrate their Superbowl victories; that would certainly help our sculptors…)
Okay, enough history… we also had time to explore modern Delphi and a nearby town, Arochova. It is near a ski and snowboarding center on Mount Parnassus, and is relatively modern, with lots of shops and restaurants. The architecture is quite stunning, with houses built in terrace fashion up the steep mountainside.
The streets here are quite narrow, and traffic jams can be, well, interesting; this lady on her ATV may not be familiar with the mariner’s Law of Gross Tonnage, but is surely at a disadvantage with the approaching tour bus… speaking of buses, Suzanne and I joked about bringing our motor coach over here and touring Europe. I can’t imagine the stress of trying to fit it down streets originally designed only for walking, or maybe an occasional oxcart. And don’t even think about the $9.00/gallon diesel fuel prices.
This wood products shop was one of my favorites. I thought about buying a neat wooden slingshot, but realized that the TSA officers might frown on any hand-held weapons in my luggage.
We had a great group dinner in Delphi. These photos prove that this was a happy, fun group, even before the raki (also known as arrack, a raw, hard liquor distilled from anise or grapeseed) and retsina (Greek wine made with pine sap; it tastes a bit like turpentine) started flowing… the food was much tastier than the drinks.