By Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny

 

 

Delphi, the Navel of the World

 

Central Greece is this vast area of inland Greece North of Peloponnese and South of Thessaly where democracy was born. As we read names on its map Delphi, Thermopylae, Mount Parnassos… we are reminded of half-forgotten history courses. But beside this great heritage this region offers some of Greece’s most beautiful landscapes and beaches, a great gastronomy and genuinely warm people. A unique blend for a relaxed and rewarding holiday!

 

 

The unique sea of olive trees in Itea valley

 

The best way to visit this vast region is to rent a car at Athens’ airport and book short stays at hotels in several strategic places carefully selected from where you will have quick access to the sites of interest. You will find plenty of cheap car rental agencies online but think twice before thinking cheap! We did it once and were not very happy with it. The agency was far from the airport and we had to wait for the agency’s shuttle to finally get there. Then although the contract we agreed for on the website included an automobile insurance the agency’s lady told us that it was far from being enough to drive in Greece. For her we definitely needed an extra and of course expensive insurance otherwise we would have had to pay a “breakages” deposit of several hundreds Euros and we would have to pay for everything in case of accident or car theft. What kind of choice did we have? Of course we paid for the extra-insurance and that car rental was not such a bargain after all! Better trust well known and reliable auto-insurance companies that have offices at the airport, it will save you time, money and give you peace of mind!

 

 

Domotel Kastri, former Royal Summer Residence

 

The Domotel Kastri Hotel, an Athenian islet of peace:

After travelling all day from home to Athens you may not feel like driving to your next destination in Central Greece right away. Nor do you feel like driving to Athens city centre and waste more time in the famous town’s traffic jams! So, why not spend your first night at Domotel Kastri, a 5-star boutique hotel half way in between the airport and city centre. This beautiful classical building formerly was the King of Greece’s country mansion and is located in a chic residential suburb North of Athens. Set in a vast pine garden it offers modern luxury for an affordable price. On weekends you can book a special package including one night, dinner and breakfast for 84 Euros per person, plus free car park (a rarity in Athens where parking is a big headache).

Entirely refurbished in 2015 the Kastri hotel has a contemporary decoration with modern paintings on the walls. The large rooms have elegant Italian made furniture inspired by unpublished Le Corbusier drawings. Warm Wenge wood, Corian and chrome matched with pastel colours create a gay atmosphere and you’ll get all the modern amenities you can expect in a 5-star hotel: big bathroom, internet workstation, walk-in closet, complimentary tea and coffee set, pillow menu, bathrobes and slippers…

 

 

Domotel Kastri fine cuisine

 

Domotel Kastri Hotel is rightfully proud of its chef Dimitris Karababas who makes a delicious cuisine reinventing traditional Mediterranean recipes and using fine produce. Try his “Salmon filet in fennel puree with cuttlefish ink” served with a homemade saffron, orange and coriander sauce, or his “Beef Tagliata” with truffle oil, and his “Hot semolina halva” served with cinnamon, cranberry and Kaimaki ice cream, a typical and awfully creamy Greek ice cream… All breads are also homemade. Remember that dinner is included in the weekend package and treat yourself!

https://www.domotel.gr/hotel/7/Kastri-Athens

 

 

Arachova, typical mountain village

 

Meeting the Ancient Gods in Delphi:

Well rested after a goof night sleep and a delicious breakfast you will be ready to drive to your next destination, Arachova. Going eastward a two-hour drive will take you to this lovely old village ideally located near Delphi, Mount Parnassos and Itea seaside resort. Even if we don’t see Greece as a ski destination the Greeks do ski and Arachova is their number one winter destination with lot of snow and a lively nightlife. But from April till October when the snow is gone and the warm Greek sun is back Arachova is the gateway to Parnassus National Park and its unspoiled nature. Some of the most beautiful paths in Greece are here and await hikers from the whole world. The season begins on April 23rd with a 3-day festival celebrating St George during which you can discover what party animals Greeks are!

 

 

Delphi site

 

Delphi is only 6km away from Arachova and you will easily get to this ancient holy place founded by God Apollo and named “Navel of the World” by Zeus. With amazingly well preserved monuments set in grandiose nature the site is truly impressive. Parking is not a problem with plenty of parking spaces along the road leading to the site. For one thousand years, from the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD pilgrims came here to consult the famous Delphi’s oracle. Visiting Delphi you will follow in the footsteps of these ancient worshippers and walk up the Sacred Way to reach the Temple of Apollo where Pythia issued her prophecies, the Kastalia Spring where priests and pilgrims purified themselves, the Tholos shrine of Athena Pronaia, the Gymnasium, the wrestling arena called Palaistra, the Baths, the Stadium…

 

 

Delphi theatre

 

Little by little as you slowly go up the hill in total serenity, a wonderful panorama appears in the distance with endless olive groves and the blue Mediterranean Sea in the background. Absolutely breathtaking! Before leaving Delphi don’t miss to visit the new Archaeological Museum. The museum of resolutely contemporary architecture was built in 2004 in place of the very first one that had been created in 1903. It is filled with artefacts found on the site, mostly sculptures, statues and smaller objects donated by pilgrims over ten centuries. This collection made of humble offerings to impressive masterpieces is a unique overview of Greek ancient history.

 

 

Pilgrims’ offerings at Delphi Archaeological Museum

 

After having spent the morning in the company of the ancient gods who still haunt Delphi, get back on the road and drive to Itea, a lively sea resort only a few miles away from Delphi. The road goes through an incredible plain, the Delphic Valley, planted with 400,000 olive trees, that is also called the “Sea of Olive Trees”. This is the oldest olive grove in Greece and in ancient times the olive oil made in this area was already famous and highly sought after. When in Itea you can have lunch in one of the numerous restaurants on the seafront that propose classics of Greek cuisine and later enjoy a lazy afternoon on this beautiful seaside.

 

 

Domotel Anemolia Hotel very close to Delphi

 

A room with a view at Anemolia Hotel, a stone’s throw from Delphi:

Two to three days will be enough to discover Arachova, Delphi and the surroundings. In the near outskirts of the village on the road to Delphi the “Anemolia Mountain Resort” is ideally located to discover this beautiful area. This hotel is full of charm with a warm decoration mixing stones, wood and objects shopped in local antique shops. While having a drink in the lounge sitting by the big fireplace, swimming in the heated indoor pool or dinning on the outside terrace you will enjoy a magnificent view over the mountains and the Delphic Valley.

 

 

Classic Greek food at Anemolia Hotel in Arachova

 

All the rooms of the Anemolia Mountain Resort have a balcony and the same spectacular view. They are spacious and you can choose a “chalet-style” room or one of the newly refurbished rooms decorated in contemporary style and colours. Most rooms and all suites have a fireplace and air conditioning! The smallest ones are 25sqm while the family suites have two bedrooms and a vast lounge. If you can take advantage of an early booking and get a 3-day stay for the price of two including the copious breakfast buffet and fully enjoy this beautiful region a little bit longer.

https://www.domotel.gr/hotel/8/Anemolia

 

 

Aegean aircraft

 

Aegean Airlines, the obvious way to fly to Greece:

Aegean Airlines propose many destinations through Greece and has daily direct flights from London or Manchester to Athens and during high season from Dublin, Birmingham or Edinburgh. It’s a good value-for-money company with a hot meal served on each flight even in economy class. Prices start at 59£ from London to Athens or 71£ from Manchester.

https://en.aegeanair.com/

 

Next week we will continue our trip through Central Greece and discover the Meteora and their unique monasteries and then head eastward to beautiful Thessaly and the coast of the Pagasitic Gulf.

 

Text ©Annick Dournes

Photos ©Frederic de Poligny & Annick Dournes

 

Tags: Annick Dournes- Frederic de Poligny- Central Greece- Thessaly- Delphi- Mount Parnassos- Itea sea resort- Car rental Athens- Domotel Kastri Athens- Dimitris Karababas- Kaimaki ice cream- Arachova- Arahova- Apollo- Zeus- Navel of the world- Delphi archaeological museum- Pythia- Pythia oracles- Kastalia spring- Tholos- Athena Pronaia- Delphic valley- Sea of olive trees- Domotel Anemolia Mountain resort- Anemolia hotel Arachova- Aegean airlines- Domotel Greece

 

 

The treasures of Central Greece (part 1) – World Meanderings (n°58)

 

 

By Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny

 

<photo1>

 

Central Greece is this vast area of inland Greece North of Peloponnese and South of Thessaly where democracy was born. As we read names on its map Delphi, Thermopylae, Mount Parnassos… we are reminded of half-forgotten history courses. But beside this great heritage this region offers some of Greece’s most beautiful landscapes and beaches, a great gastronomy and genuinely warm people. A unique blend for a relaxed and rewarding holiday!

 

<photo2>

 

The best way to visit this vast region is to rent a car at Athens’ airport and book short stays at hotels in several strategic places carefully selected from where you will have quick access to the sites of interest. You will find plenty of cheap car rental agencies online but think twice before thinking cheap! We did it once and were not very happy with it. The agency was far from the airport and we had to wait for the agency’s shuttle to finally get there. Then although the contract we agreed for on the website included an automobile insurance the agency’s lady told us that it was far from being enough to drive in Greece. For her we definitely needed an extra and of course expensive insurance otherwise we would have had to pay a “breakages” deposit of several hundreds Euros and we would have to pay for everything in case of accident or car theft. What kind of choice did we have? Of course we paid for the extra-insurance and that car rental was not such a bargain after all! Better trust well known and reliable auto-insurance companies that have offices at the airport, it will save you time, money and give you peace of mind!

 

<photo3>

 

The Domotel Kastri Hotel, an Athenian islet of peace:

After travelling all day from home to Athens you may not feel like driving to your next destination in Central Greece right away. Nor do you feel like driving to Athens city centre and waste more time in the famous town’s traffic jams! So, why not spend your first night at Domotel Kastri, a 5-star boutique hotel half way in between the airport and city centre. This beautiful classical building formerly was the King of Greece’s country mansion and is located in a chic residential suburb North of Athens. Set in a vast pine garden it offers modern luxury for an affordable price. On weekends you can book a special package including one night, dinner and breakfast for 84 Euros per person, plus free car park (a rarity in Athens where parking is a big headache).

Entirely refurbished in 2015 the Kastri hotel has a contemporary decoration with modern paintings on the walls. The large rooms have elegant Italian made furniture inspired by unpublished Le Corbusier drawings. Warm Wenge wood, Corian and chrome matched with pastel colours create a gay atmosphere and you’ll get all the modern amenities you can expect in a 5-star hotel: big bathroom, internet workstation, walk-in closet, complimentary tea and coffee set, pillow menu, bathrobes and slippers…

 

<photo4>

 

Domotel Kastri Hotel is rightfully proud of its chef Dimitris Karababas who makes a delicious cuisine reinventing traditional Mediterranean recipes and using fine produce. Try his “Salmon filet in fennel puree with cuttlefish ink” served with a homemade saffron, orange and coriander sauce, or his “Beef Tagliata” with truffle oil, and his “Hot semolina halva” served with cinnamon, cranberry and Kaimaki ice cream, a typical and awfully creamy Greek ice cream… All breads are also homemade. Remember that dinner is included in the weekend package and treat yourself!

https://www.domotel.gr/hotel/7/Kastri-Athens

 

<photo5>

 

Meeting the Ancient Gods in Delphi:

Well rested after a goof night sleep and a delicious breakfast you will be ready to drive to your next destination, Arachova. Going eastward a two-hour drive will take you to this lovely old village ideally located near Delphi, Mount Parnassos and Itea seaside resort. Even if we don’t see Greece as a ski destination the Greeks do ski and Arachova is their number one winter destination with lot of snow and a lively nightlife. But from April till October when the snow is gone and the warm Greek sun is back Arachova is the gateway to Parnassus National Park and its unspoiled nature. Some of the most beautiful paths in Greece are here and await hikers from the whole world. The season begins on April 23rd with a 3-day festival celebrating St George during which you can discover what party animals Greeks are!

 

<photo6>

 

Delphi is only 6km away from Arachova and you will easily get to this ancient holy place founded by God Apollo and named “Navel of the World” by Zeus. With amazingly well preserved monuments set in grandiose nature the site is truly impressive. Parking is not a problem with plenty of parking spaces along the road leading to the site. For one thousand years, from the 6th century BC to the 4th century AD pilgrims came here to consult the famous Delphi’s oracle. Visiting Delphi you will follow in the footsteps of these ancient worshippers and walk up the Sacred Way to reach the Temple of Apollo where Pythia issued her prophecies, the Kastalia Spring where priests and pilgrims purified themselves, the Tholos shrine of Athena Pronaia, the Gymnasium, the wrestling arena called Palaistra, the Baths, the Stadium…

 

<photo7>

 

Little by little as you slowly go up the hill in total serenity, a wonderful panorama appears in the distance with endless olive groves and the blue Mediterranean Sea in the background. Absolutely breathtaking! Before leaving Delphi don’t miss to visit the new Archaeological Museum. The museum of resolutely contemporary architecture was built in 2004 in place of the very first one that had been created in 1903. It is filled with artefacts found on the site, mostly sculptures, statues and smaller objects donated by pilgrims over ten centuries. This collection made of humble offerings to impressive masterpieces is a unique overview of Greek ancient history.

 

<photo8>

 

After having spent the morning in the company of the ancient gods who still haunt Delphi, get back on the road and drive to Itea, a lively sea resort only a few miles away from Delphi. The road goes through an incredible plain, the Delphic Valley, planted with 400,000 olive trees, that is also called the “Sea of Olive Trees”. This is the oldest olive grove in Greece and in ancient times the olive oil made in this area was already famous and highly sought after. When in Itea you can have lunch in one of the numerous restaurants on the seafront that propose classics of Greek cuisine and later enjoy a lazy afternoon on this beautiful seaside.

 

<photo9>

 

A room with a view at Anemolia Hotel, a stone’s throw from Delphi:

Two to three days will be enough to discover Arachova, Delphi and the surroundings. In the near outskirts of the village on the road to Delphi the “Anemolia Mountain Resort” is ideally located to discover this beautiful area. This hotel is full of charm with a warm decoration mixing stones, wood and objects shopped in local antique shops. While having a drink in the lounge sitting by the big fireplace, swimming in the heated indoor pool or dinning on the outside terrace you will enjoy a magnificent view over the mountains and the Delphic Valley.

 

<photo10>

 

All the rooms of the Anemolia Mountain Resort have a balcony and the same spectacular view. They are spacious and you can choose a “chalet-style” room or one of the newly refurbished rooms decorated in contemporary style and colours. Most rooms and all suites have a fireplace and air conditioning! The smallest ones are 25sqm while the family suites have two bedrooms and a vast lounge. If you can take advantage of an early booking and get a 3-day stay for the price of two including the copious breakfast buffet and fully enjoy this beautiful region a little bit longer.

https://www.domotel.gr/hotel/8/Anemolia

 

<photo11>

 

Aegean Airlines, the obvious way to fly to Greece:

Aegean Airlines propose many destinations through Greece and has daily direct flights from London or Manchester to Athens and during high season from Dublin, Birmingham or Edinburgh. It’s a good value-for-money company with a hot meal served on each flight even in economy class. Prices start at 59£ from London to Athens or 71£ from Manchester.

https://en.aegeanair.com/

 

Next week we will continue our trip through Central Greece and discover the Meteora and their unique monasteries and then head eastward to beautiful Thessaly and the coast of the Pagasitic Gulf.

 

Text ©Annick Dournes

Photos ©Frederic de Poligny & Annick Dournes