Last year when we left Athens the roads were clear as it was a Public Holiday and most Athenians were still in bed, but today, the roads were blocked by much traffic. Tasos therefore had to patiently guide us through the traffic and on our way. We headed out of Athens through the northern pass that in ancient times was a strong point and protected Athens from attacks from the north.
On our way we made our way past Marathon and Thebes. Thebes is one of the oldest cities in Greece and has been inhabited for 5 Millenia and was heavily engaged in both the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars.
Our first stop associated with the Battle for Greece and Crete Campaign that we are following was at Levardia, one of the many blocking positions established to ensure that the German Force was not able to flank the main withdrawal route and cut off the withdrawal. At this site Lieutenant Colonel King and his 2/5th Battalion, supported by a company of the 2/1st Machine Gun Battalion 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. Part of this force had Tim's father there with the Machine Gunners and Denise's father out with the engineers demolishing the road. We will follow their part in this campaign as we head further north.
A visit to the close by coach stop for coffee followed before we headed off on our way to Delphi. On our way we were driving through some spectacular country closed in by huge mountains. We drove through the beautiful ski resort town of Arachova after a group photo overlooking the town. In Arachova we dropped off Kaye and Ross as they had been with me here last year and wanted to explore that town in lieu of the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi. They were then to cab it to our hotel. A quick lunch at a roadside restaurant was enjoyed before resuming our drive to Delphi. Delphi, the home of the Oracle and the Temple of Apollo was not far ahead and when we arrived we decided to visit 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 we were able to see where family of those on tour had actually been operating during the campaign. A great start to our first day on the road. 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 then Kalambaka.
PS, no rain today!!