Today the omens appeared more favourable. Setting off from Eptálofos our aim was to reach Amfikleia by passing through Lilaia. We decided to achieve this by walking the 18 kilometres to ancient Lilaia, and then taking the bus from the village centre of Lilaia.
Pausanias (along with his advice yesterday about how to reach Lilaia), gave this information about the route to Amfikleia:
“From Lilaia to Amfikleia the road runs for seven or eight miles”
So at least we knew the journey had to be quite straight as he does not widely use the word ‘run’ to denote a winding path. The same could not be said of the concreted road we took from Eptálofos to Lilaia. Distrusting the map due to our experiences with it the day before, we were reluctant to stray off this as we knew it would take us eventually to Lilaia, so not unsurprisingly we missed out the ‘short-cut’. So we went, zig-zagging back and forth across the mountainside soaking up the contrast between the contrast of the yellowing land with its grass, the grey soaring limestone peaks, and the white-dotted blue background. It was, in short, stunning. We arrived at Lilaia: a small red-roofed village, and looking above it saw the greying remains of the old town. Here are a few choice lines of Pausanias on the town:
“Lilaia has a theatre, a market-square, and baths, and there sanctuaries of Apollo and Artemis”
“The river has its springs here. It does not always come quietly out of the earth…around mid-day…as it comes up…[the sound is like] a bull bellowing”
Lilaia has none of its buildings remaining, nor did the water bellowing like a bull appear even when we listened hard, especially at midday. However, its walls were preserved to a very large extent, including a whole tower. We doubted whether this was an original construction as it appeared almost certainly to contain two phases of building. The stones in the lower half were larger and were made with very little mortar while the upper had smaller stones with a mortar consisting partly of red pottery.
It is intriguing that Pausanias did not mention the fortifications as they are so obvious to the modern eye. This could be that most of the cities he went to were fortified or just that these were not so remarkable. They were overlooking a cliff, glowering down at the valley below, and with all the surrounding buildings long since disappeared, and to us, in contrast, they were extremely thought-provoking. We spent over two hours exploring them and trying to work out how high and necessary they actually were. Therefore we paid far more attention to Pausanias’ few sentences on Lilaia’s sack by both Xerxes of Persia and Philip V of Macedon. We also wondered, unlike Pausanias, why the city had been built there. It seems that the city commanded the valley which rolled past it’s right flank from Delphi, and had a good position looking onto the fertile plain. This may have allowed it to sustain itself through a mixture, then, of tolls on the pathway and larger scale farming. The fact that the valley had Lilaia on one side, and on the other the sanctuary (though this couldn’t be seen from our side of the valley– Levi and the map agreed it was there), may point to the importance of the valley to Lilaia.
Lilaia was a beautiful spot– its tower and walls defined themselves against the sky. We walked on from the ancient, and settled down in the centre of modern Lilaia by the church. There, having made friends with both the local barman and some adorable cats, we attempted to find the bus to take us to Amfikleia. It was 4.00pm when we learnt we had missed it by 8 hours. Slightly worried, we were saved by a another gesture of Greek hospitality as the barman decided his friend the taxi driver would take us to our final destination. Yet an hour later we were still in the taxi as both hotel and proper road eluded our driver. It finally transpired after some one-hand and no-hand driving along with the cabby’ repeated telephone calls to friends and family (and a visit to a heavy-set armed policeman), that the hotel we were to stay in no longer existed. Downcast we were set down in Amfikleia’s central hotel with the only barman there who could speak English. The taxi-man left after repeated apologies and seemingly depressed that he hadn’t fulfilled his duty as a host. Our new guide revealed to us that the hotel he worked for shouldn’t be used and instead we should move to one on the edge of town. Encountering the owner and her prices we agreed. When we reached the new hotel we found a host who was not only was extremely interested in our quest but also again knew of Pausanias. When she had given us poor travellers water and some of her mother’s cooking, she let us into a secret that the Greek children (she was a school teacher), were not so bothered about their own history and ancient language. A fact, if true, Pausanias would probably have mourned.
Pausanias never had to rely on the internet to work out bus times or distances. It is probably better that he didn’t as Greece being less technologically-crazed than the UK does not have such a reliance on such things. Pausanias probably made use of local guides, and a faster mode of transport than his pins, but here the differences between us may end. The guest-friendship, and use of a friend network appears so ingrained in Greek culture that they are surely ancient, and could have been used by the arch-guide himself.
Joe: “I have never had a nicer dinner for five euros, and have never been treated so nicely by the cheapest hotel in town”
David: “Although many of the local Greeks were totally unable to speak any English, everyone was familiar with the western alphabet which we often saw on adverts and signs”