As we were leaving Athens, it soon came to our notice that after Easter Sunday when families gather for their traditional Lamb on the spit and the party atmosphere around such an event, the Monday Public Holiday was then a day of recovery. Why did we know, the roads were empty. Therefore our escape from Athens was an easy event, but we look forward to our return following our adventure up north. Athens is surrounded by mountains with passes the only way in to the city and the other side covered by the sea. When Athens was sited in ancient times, it like all great cities were sited for protection. There were passes in the mountains but each had a fort constructed within the Pass for early protection and if still that was not enough, if an enemy broke through, then the Athenians pulled back onto the Acropolis for their further stand.
We left Athens via the norther pass and made our way past Marathon and Thebes. Thebes has been inhabited for 5 Millenia and was heavily engaged in both the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars. On our way were visited Distoma to pay our respects to those massacred by the Germans on 10 June 1944. Typical of the SS Regiments, they are good at slaughtering unarmed civilian women, children and old people and killed over 200 in a period of 2 hours. Being the cowards that they were, they left at 18:00 as they did not want to be away from their base by dark. Scared of the dark, maybe, but it was the partisans who really scared them. We attended a presentation by an historian who had lost family in the massacre as did some others who were present. It was a moving presentation followed by a movie describing what had happened. There were many interviews of survivors in the film which had been made quite a few years ago. The presentation and movie affected us all and we were very happy that we had attended.
After leaving Distoma we continued on towards Delphi but stopped at a bridge where Lieutenant Colonel King and his 2/5th Battalion, supported by New Zealand Machine Gunners and a troop of Field Artillery had taken up a position to halt Germans trying to block the withdrawal of the ANZAC Corps as it moved towards the evacuation beaches. Blamey's Headquarters had received a report that hundreds of German vehicles were streaming south from Iannina on the western road and was advised that they may reach Delphi next day. Therefore Brigadier Savige had ordered the road to be so damaged that the enemy would be delayed 24 hours even if the demolitions were not defended. Engineers were sent out 50 kilometres and worked back from Amfissa blowing the bridges, culverts and to cratering the road.
Time then for a coffee break and to enjoy some of the cakes/biscuits that Maria had baked for us. After coffee at the nearby café we continued towards Delphi driving through some spectacular country closed in by huge mountains. We drove through the beautiful ski resort town of Arahova which was packed with tourists being only an hour and a half from Athens on this beautiful Public Holiday and just outside the town we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. A quick lunch of local cuisine and then on to Delphi. Delphi, the home of the Oracle and the Temple of Apollo. We first visited the actual site that had been excavated in the late 19th Century by French archaeologists and were taken through the history of the site by Elena before moving into the Museum to see all the artefacts found during the dig.
Our first day on the road was filled with much history from ancient times and the time our ANZAC Corps was fighting its way back to Athens. We settled into our hotel and enjoyed the wonderful views from the balcony of our rooms before preparing for dinner. Tomorrow we head further north through the Brallos Pass and on to Domokos and Kalambaka.