En route to Athens

At Delphi

Yesterday was a day of travelling through Greece from the town of Kalambaka just below the Meteora rocks all the way to Athens. St Paul moved from Beroea to Athens by sea; we drove for six and a half hours by luxury air-conditioned coach, and will pick up our pilgrimage in his steps today now that we are located in the heart of the city.

The journey yesterday took a different course; not so much pilgrimage, as one absorbing the ancient culture and religious and political/military life of the ancient Greek kingdoms. The mountain ranges that we passed over, and the fertile plains that we crossed, demonstrate just to what extent the extreme high ground separated the Greek people, who dwelt in the wide, expansive valleys. Even today with the advantages of modern modes of transport and new roads and tunnels the journey is not easy; centuries ago the kingdoms were much more accessible to one another by sea than over land.

The main stop on our way was a place of great significance in the ancient wold; namely Delphi. This magnificent centre was the place where The Oracle of Delphi was consulted over hugely important matters by heads of families and peoples across the regions, including many of what are now the Greek islands. Amongst the treasures unearthed by archaeologists in the 1930s is a magnificent figure of a charioteer, the detail of the bronze is intricate and impressive; even the eyes are made of two different colours of marble are quite life-like.

The site is beautiful too, with a profusion of flowers and butterflies, with views down a steep-sided valley, and, from the vantage point of our lunch-stop-taverna across tens of thousands of olive trees down towards the sea. We arrived some hours later in Athens for the next reading of St Paul, which we shall encounter today. John Mann

The charioteer