Greece is like a toxic lover.
It consistently treats me badly – yet I keep coming back for more.
I was dangerously close to leaving for good, but I knew if I did, I’d kick myself for missing the ancient sites of Delphi and Olympia.
So I begrudgingly book a three-day organised tour. It’s not cheap, especially once they slap me with the dreaded single supplement, but given my track record with Greek public transport it’s the only way.
When I get on the bus my heart drops. It’s predominantly a golden oldies tour, and the only people around my age are honeymooners.
My heart sinks further once I realise the tour is bilingual. Everything our guide says is sentence for sentence in English – then in French.
It’s gonna be a long three days.
Our guide is best summed up by this Australian woman, who likened her to a Greek Judge Judy (fitting, as apparently she used to be a lawyer in America).
Here she is with her trademark umbrella. I choose to use this photo as the other one I have is her in a very unfortunate pair of purple pants. Two words for you – camel toe.
Put simply, Judge Judy should not be a tour guide. She’s downright rude, intolerant, blunt and doesn’t have any people skills.
For example, when we arrive at Delphi, Judge Judy discovers we’re missing one person and asks – “where is the fat lady?” using her hands to demonstrate her width.
All of us, including the Belgians laugh out of sheer awkwardness and look at each other with an exasperated – did she just say that? – look on our faces.
Luckily the South African woman on our tour takes her on – “she has a name you know, her name is Jane.”
Judge Judy rolls her eyes – “Very well then, where is Mrs Jane?”
In those three long days Judge Judy cracked just one joke, leaving us to make our own fun.
My favourite game was to wander off from Judge Judy’s ridiculously long bilingual rants (I swear no-one listened to her) and take covert photos of lurking angry whistle people.
I didn’t get whistled at but a lot of people on our tour did, including for leaning over this bar at Delphi to get a photo of what the ancient Greeks believed was the centre of the world.
I also spent an entire morning trying to take a covert photo of a stocky woman wearing a lacy black bra underneath a see-through black fishnet top. I failed but the image is forever etched in my memory.
As for the archeological sites – they don’t disappoint.
As cheesy as it sounds, I run the 162-metre female track at Olympia (in my jandals) and get the equally cheesy photo to remember it by.
We were also fortunate enough to be there for a dress rehearsal of the lighting of the Olympic torch, which took place today.
Mediterranean men in skirts = happy Rachael.
The ruins of Delphi, nestled on the slopes of Mt Parnassos, overlooking the Gulf of Corinth are also stunning.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an organised tour without a ‘coincidental’ un-publicised stop – this time at a vase factory.
Lunches are equally as sneaky. They drive us out of town to these crappy little tavernas that look like they haven’t seen a lick of paint or a customer since the 1970s and then out of sheer hunger we each spend around 10 Euro to eat some re-heated, dehydrated-looking piece of meat, accompanied with flaccid salad and stale bread.
On the bright side, our first night’s accommodation’s palatial compared to what I’m used to and they make a massive point of not letting us carry our own bags to our rooms.
Perhaps I’m about to be treated to some of this old-fashioned Greek hospitality I keep hearing about.
I get to my room, desperate to have a shower before dinner and wait for my bag to arrive.
I wait and wait, check outside the door, then wait some more.
Half an hour later I give up and go in search of my backpack. I find it outside the lift shaft. It’s like they got to the third floor and just projectile threw it out the elevator.
The next morning Judge Judy gives us strict instructions that if we’re only doing the three day tour (thank God) we must tell the driver our bag is going back to Athens.
I carry my backpack over to the driver and inform him – “Athens please.”
I turn around to get onto the bus and there’s Judge Judy yelling at me – “tell driver, your bag Athens.”
She repeats more forcefully – “tell driver your bag back Athens,” waving her umbrella like a cane.
I walk back over to the driver, point to my bag and confirm – “bag, yes, Athens.”
I ignore Judge Judy’s ongoing rant and board the bus.
Three minutes into our journey she stops the bus and over the loud speaker says, “if you just boarded the bus (clearly she means me) please get off and inform the driver that your bag is going back to Athens, as I just told you (one of her favourite sayings).”
I get off and for the third time confirm that, yes, my backpack is going back to Athens.
Despite all that, my bag still gets put in the wrong pile and if it wasn’t for the vigilance of my Australian friend it would have gone to Meteora with Judge Judy and the other half of the tour group.
We, the lucky half, get left in Delphi to catch another bus back to Athens.
We wave them off gleefully.
I swear some of them are telepathically pleading with me from the other side of the glass – please, take me with you.