My book Why Religions Work explores religious tolerance issues. It could not be more relevant at the moment with the world in its present state.
This blog has concentrated recently on the wonderful pilgrimages I have been on - to the Holy Land and to Turkey and more recently to Holy Georgia , Greece "In the Steps of St Paul" , Ethiopia and most recently my experiences in Iran.

"If I was allowed another life I would go to all the places of God's Earth. What better way to worship God than to look on all his works?" from The Chains of Heaven: an Ethiopian Romance Philip Marsden

Friday, 13 November 2015

Travelling through Greece - in the Steps of St Paul - on our way to Athens

We are off to Delphi today. Before breakfast I stroll around the hotel garden and find some more of those curious cocoons in pine trees that I have spotted all along our route. Up until now I have not been able to get a decent photo. Now I have the photo I rather wish I hadn't tried to identify these online. It seems they are rather nasty and I am lucky to have escaped without an allergic reaction at worst and at best some pretty horrible itching!
There is lots more information here. It's rather creepy!

We retrace our steps from yesterday through Trikala driving through the plain of Thessaloniki with mountains in the distance on both sides. Many of the houses appear to be half finished. One could easily assume that this is because of the financial problems- used as we are to half built hotels and houses in tourist areas of Europe which have been started in better times and since abandoned. But no; much of this is apparently due to the traditional Greek family culture - as girls in the family marry another floor is completed and they live with the family as the aging parents move to the lower floor - seems to make a great deal of sense to me- and I understand that planning and tax implications are also a consideration.
We also see a huge gypsy camp - these people travel according to the seasons and the work thus offered. They are paid in cash and kind - fruit and vegetable which they can then sell for profit - always very fresh and cheap and a good buy. These Nomads have no negative association here, Mara tells us.

They have to serve their term in the army and pay their taxes just like any other Greek. It was, she tells us, the huge influx of gypsies from the Balkans in the 1990s that have given a bad name to all travellers here. The true nomads, we are told, are a fascinating people with a religion that is an amalgam from many different traditions.
a nomad camp
Now instead of driving back Eastwards to the main coastal road we cut south towards Lamia across a high plateau through the mountains. Unusually for this area I spy a field of sunflowers - amazing how they turn their heads around to follow the daily travel of the sun across the sky. It feels like Tuscany!

Another nomad settlement we pass is empty - they are all out of camp at present picking water melons. Four km from the ancient city of Lamia - originally dating back at least to the bronze Age - we see the Aegean sea again - twinkling brightly in strong sunshine - and the high mountain of Bralos ahead.

We stop at Thermopiles for a comfort break. I am lucky to be at the front of the queue for a cappuchino and donut for 5 euro. The toilets everywhere are very clean - even the fortunately rare squat type. We settle down for another 2 hour drive to Delphi - it doesn't look far on the map but we will go over two mountains and on smaller roads - so we look forward to a beautiful route.

And we are not disappointed. There is plenty of Cotinus - the lovely pink fluffy flowers on roadside shrubs - and trees with red/brown pods all over them - looking like dead leaves or branches. In fact these are seed pods, the tree I guess a legume judging by the leaves and pods - but I havn't identified this as yet. 


And so we arrive in Delphi...

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