RTW Timeline: 4th Century BC

After seeing so many interesting sites and learning many facts about places all around the world, we thought it would be interesting to arrange the different places and events on a timeline to provide more of a context for the different highlights.

Towards the end of the fifth century BC, Athens lost the Peloponnesian War to Sparta and the classic era of Athens came to an end. However, Greece was still a major player in the events of the world, with the conquests of Alexander the Great spreading its influence far and wide.

380 BC – Butrint Fortified With a New Wall

The city of Butrint in present-day Albania was a Greek city that grew in importance during this era, enough so that a large wall was built to protect the inhabitants of the island. We walked through this wall on our visit to the ruins on a day trip from Saranda. This site was later a major Roman city, so the Greek ruins were mixed in with those from later time periods.


375 BC – Temple to Aesclepius constructed at Epidavros

The Greek city of Epidavros was a pilgrimage site for those looking to be healed of physical ailments. Therefore, a temple to Aesclepius, the god of health, was built here. Not much is left of the temple today. We visited Epidavros as a day trip from Nafplio.

The temple

The temple

360 BC – Tholos at Delphi Built

One of the most iconic ruins at the Greek city and pilgrimage site of Delphi is the partially reconstructed ruins of a tholos, a circular temple. Archaeologists are still debating the purpose of this structure.

In front of the Tholos

In front of the Tholos

Mid 4th Century BC: Stadium at Olympia Moved to its Current Location

The city of Olympia was the site of the ancient Olympic games, a Panhellenic competition between athletes from all over Greece. We spent a nice afternoon in the ruins of this stadium.

Racing the track

Racing the track

350 BC – Tomb of Amyntas built by the Lycians in present-day Fethiye, Turkey

The Lycians were a civilization based along the “Turquoise Coast” of southwestern Turkey which existed concurrently with the Greeks and Romans. They were known for creating elaborate tombs in which the rock was carved to look like wood. A grand example of one of the tombs is carved into the hill overlooking Fethiye.

The Tomb of King Amnytas

The Tomb of King Amnytas

Sometime in the 4th Century BC – King’s Tomb built in present-day Kaş, Turkey

Another type of Lycian tomb we saw was in the style of an elaborate sarcophagus elevated off the ground on a large platform. There is an impressive example of this style of tomb called the “King’s Tomb” in the middle of the modern city of Kaş.

King's Tomb Jelfie

King’s Tomb Jelfie

340 BC – Antikythera Ephebe sculpted

This bronze sculpture was found as part of the Antikythera shipwreck, hence its name. It is considered one of the classic Greek sculptures. Since we can’t see what object the subject is holding, we aren’t sure who it is, but many people believe it is Paris holding the golden apple. We viewed this sculpture at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.



338 BC – Phillippeion in Olympia constructed

Philip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great’s father, had a monument constructed at Olympia to celebrate his victory in the Battle of Chaeronea, in which he defeated an alliance of Greek city states including Athens.

The Phillipeon

The Phillipeon

330 BC – Temple of Apollo at Delphi rebuilt after an earthquake

The main attraction at Delphi was the Temple of Apollo from which the oracle would issue prophecies and give advice.

Jelfie in front of the entrance to the temple

Jelfie in front of the entrance to the temple

330 BC – Initial Construction of Theater at Epidavros

As mentioned earlier, Epidavros was a pilgrimage site for those looking to be healed. Its main attraction today though is its large Greek theater, which has been amazingly well-preserved. We enjoyed taking turns standing on stage while the other person ran to the top to test the amazing acoustics.


329 BC – Panathenaic Stadium rebuilt in marble

This large stadium in Athens was the host site for the Panathenaic Games, another Panhellenic festival held every four years. It was extensively renovated and reused for the first modern Olympics as well. We stayed in an Airbnb just behind this stadium during our second visit to Athens.

The view from the end of the stadium. They were setting up for the marathon finish line

The view from the end of the stadium. They were setting up for the marathon finish line

Last Quarter of 4th Century BC – Doric Tomb built in present-day Kaş

In addition to the King’s Tomb mentioned earlier, Kaş also has another impressive Lycian tomb on a hill overlooking the city. It is called the Doric Tomb based on the shape of the column outlines carved into the wall.

Cube Tomb Jelfie

Cube Tomb Jelfie

323 BC – Alexander the Great Dies

We didn’t see any artifacts related to Alexander the Great, but his death was such a large event that we thought it was worth putting onto the timeline for context. He had stretched his empire from Greece all the way to present-day Pakistan. He died at the age of 32.

After Alexander’s death, Greece entered into what is known as the Hellenistic period. Greece’s influence remained strong, but its art and culture would not continue to make the great steps forward that it had during the classical period. In addition, a new power began to arise in the Mediterranean which would shape the next few centuries.

RTW Timeline: 5th Century BC

After seeing so many interesting sites and learning many facts about places all around the world, we thought it would be interesting to arrange the different places and events on a timeline to provide more of a context for the different highlights.

In our previous installment covering the first half of the first millennium BC, we saw the Greek culture grow and develop, leading up to an explosion of culture and history in the period we will cover today, the 5th century BC. This is considered to be the classical era of Greece, and especially of Athens as that was the center of much of the development.

490 BC – Athenian Treasury built at Delphi to celebrate victory at Battle of Marathon

The sanctuary at Delphi was surrounded by structures built by the city-states of ancient Greece, given as offerings to the oracle in thanks for the good advice. After Athens defeated the Persians in the battle of Marathon (the one that gave the modern race its name), the city dedicated a treasury in Delphi to show its thanks and display the spoils of victory.

Failed jelfie in front of the Athenian Treasury

Failed jelfie in front of the Athenian Treasury

480 BC – King Leonidas of Sparta dies at the battle of Thermopylae

King Leonidas led the militaristic city-state of Sparta on the Peloponnese peninsula. He died in the battle of Thermopylae against the Persians (the same battle dramatized in the movie 300). There is a large contemporary statue of him in the modern city of Sparta which we visited.

A statue for King Leonidas (main character in 300)

A statue for King Leonidas (main character in 300)

478 BC – Serpent Column erected as part of a sacrificial tripod in Delphi

We actually saw this column at its current location in Istanbul. Emperor Constantine moved the column from Delphi to Constantinople for use as a decoration at his new Hippodrome.

The serpent heads on the top of the column were removed at some point

The serpent heads on the top of the column were removed at some point

474 BC – Charioteer of Delphi created

We viewed this well-known striking bronze sculpture at the archaeological museum in Delphi.

The famous Bronze Charioteer

The famous Bronze Charioteer

460 BC – Artemision Bronze Sculpted

Art historians don’t know if this depicts Zeus or Poseidon, since he could either be hurling a lightning bolt or a trident. The date for this sculpture is also just a guess, because it was found as part of a shipwreck about which not much is known.



456 BC – Temple of Zeus Built in Olympia

This was the largest temple at Olympia. Today, only one of the massive Doric columns has been reconstructed.

Temple of Zeus

Temple of Zeus

440 BC – Temple of Poseidon at Sounion constructed

This temple, located on a promontory overlooking Cape Sounion, was a pilgrimage site where those about to take a sea voyage could make offerings to the god of the sea.

The Temple of Poseidon

The Temple of Poseidon

438 BC – Parthenon Completed

The classic Greek temple dedicated to Athena, the patron of Athens, sits on the acropolis overlooking the city below. The decorative sculptures have been removed and it is under recontruction, but just seeing it in person was a great experience.

The Parthenon

The Parthenon

432 BC – Construction of Athenian acropolis Propylaea halted due to outbreak of Peloponnesian War

Athens dominated the Classical age of Greece, but it didn’t last for too long. War eventually broke out between Athens and the Peloponnesian city-states (led by Sparta). Costs for the war drained money from the treasury, and the ceremonial entrance to the Acropolis, the Propylaea, was never completed.

The Propylaea is still the main entrance for tourists

The Propylaea is still the main entrance for tourists

420 BC – Nike of Paeonius created for display at Olympia

The dynamic sculpture is missing a few pieces these days but still does a great job of conveying motion.

Nike - goddess of Victory. She stood on a pedestal where the Olympic victors were crowned near the Temple of Zeus

Nike – goddess of Victory. She stood on a pedestal where the Olympic victors were crowned near the Temple of Zeus

420 BC – Temple of Athena Nike constructed on Athens acropolis

This small temple is found on the southwest corner of the Acropolis. This was the oldest Ionic temple that we saw. Nike means victory in Greek, and Athena was worshiped in her victorious form here. Note the date – the Athenians were praying for victory in the Peloponnesian War which was still going on.

Temple of Athena Nike at the entrance

Temple of Athena Nike at the entrance

415 BC – Construction of Temple of Hephaestus completed

This Doric temple, found in the Ancient Agora of Athens, is one of the better preserved temples that we saw.

Temple of Hephaestus Jelfie

Temple of Hephaestus Jelfie

406 BC – Construction of Erechtheion on Athenian Acropolis complete

The Erechtheion is a temple on the north side of the Acropolis, dedicated to both Athena and Poseidon. Arguably its most famous feature is the “Porch of the Caryatids,” where the columns holding up the roof were carved into women in flowing dresses.

The porch with the caryatids on the Erechtheion

The porch with the caryatids on the Erechtheion

404 BC – Sparta triumphs over Athens in the Peloponnesian War

We visited Sparta, but there was much less to see there than there had been in Athens. Its culture was much more focused on the military than it was on building grand temples.

This is Sparta! No, really, this is actually the historical site of Sparta. And the modern town of Sparta beyond.

This is Sparta! No, really, this is actually the historical site of Sparta. And the modern town of Sparta beyond.


After Athens lost the war, its time as the dominant force in the region was over, and its boom of monumental architecture was through. Structures like those seen on the Acropolis in Athens were never to be equaled.

However, as you will see in our next entry, covering the fourth century BC, there would still be many sites in Greece producing architectural gems that are world-renowned to this day.

Flashback Friday: European Sunsets

Flashback Friday is a picture series where we “flashback” to some of our memories – from either from our prior travel or from home. We hope you’ll enjoy some of our remembrances! 

We’ve been experiencing some nice sunsets here in Asia, so naturally, we remembered some of our other nice sunsets from the road. During our self-drive safari in Africa, we saw some amazing sunsets almost every night. We shared some of those in a flashback Friday post. We were in Africa for only 6 weeks and came up with 11 photos we just needed to share. We were in Europe for much longer and saw much fewer nice sunsets. However, there were 14 pictures we wanted to show you. Enjoy some awesome sunsets!


“The greatest sunset in the world” in Zadar, Croatia


A closer shot of the “greatest sunset in the world” in Zadar, Croatia


Sunset over the Adriatic from the walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia


Sunset over a mosque in Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina


Berat, Albania

Pretty sunset

Tirana, Albania


Delphi, Greece


Nafplio, Greece


Fethiye, Turkey


This one was so good, we had to show you two! Fethiye, Turkey


Selcuk, Turkey


Kas, Turkey


Pamukkale, Turkey


Antalya, Turkey

Monthly Recap: Month 4

Wow! Month 4! The month was characterized by slower travels and more connections! We are also so pleased to announce that we have become first-time uncle and aunt this month. Congrats to Eric’s sister Suzanne on the birth of her beautiful baby girl, Sofia.

Here are our stats for this month.

Countries visited: 3 (Montenegro, Albania, and Greece)

Beds Slept In: 12

UNESCO Heritage Sights Visited: 7 (Historic Centres of Berat and Gjirokastra, Butrint, Meteora, Archaeological Site of Delphi, Archaeological Site of OlympiaArchaeological Site of Mystras, Archaeological Sites of Mycenae and Tiryns) Total on RTW: 30

We traveled by 0 planes this month!

We traveled by 0 trains this month!

We traveled by 20 long distance buses.

Top Moments:

~ Our first top moment came at the very beginning of the month! We had been looking forward to our visit to Kotor for a long time. We really enjoyed slowing down in Kotor at the end of last month and the beginning of this month. One of the best days we had there was when we climbed the fortress walls. It was an absolutely gorgeous day weather-wise. We waited until the late afternoon to miss the cruise ship crowds. We climbed up the mountain, enjoying amazing views, and even a sunset on the way down. It was lovely!


~ Our second moment came in Berat, Albania. We knew almost nothing about Albania when we arrived (though learned a lot while we were there) so we didn’t know what to expect. We had heard that it was not really on the tourist track in Europe. We were so impressed with Berat! Our top moment came when we decided to take a tour of the city offered by the worker at our hostel. He was a native of Berat, and knew a ton about his city and the history of Albania. The tour was particularly personalized because there were only 4 of us. The other couple was an amazing pair of bikers from Belgium. The tour started at 10 am and after seeing the beautiful city of Berat, we sat down for Turkish coffee (tea for us) and then dinner with both our guide and the Belgian couple. It was a fantastic way to spend the day, full of everything we love about traveling – new friends from around the world and learning a lot about cultures we didn’t know much about!


~ We mentioned above that this was a month where we made some really great connections. The first was our Belgian friends in Berat, the next was a couple of Americans from Washington state (and Idaho). There is almost nothing better than seeing another pair of travelers trying to make the same long travel day as you are. It helps with confidence, knowing that someone else is attempting the same trip, as well as company! It is even better when you find out that you have a lot in common and really enjoy chatting with each other. Our top moment was when we were able to visit the ancient site of Delphi with our new friends. Wow, we have to say, it is a wonderful experience to find another couple who enjoy reading Rick Steves (and other informational signs) as much as we do, and who enjoy talking popular culture, TV, and books (even the Wheel of Time series!!!) in the breaks. What luck! We had a great time!



Runners up for Top Moments:

~ We already mentioned in this recap that we really enjoyed our time in Albania. Another example of this was our time at the archaeological site of Butrint. This was a wonderful place with a lot of history, but the best part was that we got to experience it practically on our own! We didn’t see any other tourists almost the whole day! What was even funnier was that when we got back to our hostel in Saranda, we found out that 4 other people from there had done it as well, separately, but it was big and empty enough that we didn’t even see each other. This is not to say we don’t enjoy company, but there is something special about experiencing an ancient city (and tourist attraction) without having to dodge the crowds.



~ Our second runner up was in Meteora, Greece. We were pretty excited to finally reach Greece, which we had been looking forward to for a very long time. Della has dreamed of visiting Greece for as long as she can remember. Meteora did not disappoint. We walked among the monasteries taking in the unique, impressive scenery and imaging what it must be like to make your home on the top of vertical pillar, high above the world. It was especially good when we were able to escape from the tourist bus crowds.



~ We had a wonderful time with our new friends in Delphi, Greece. One of the activities that we did with them was to take a walk from Delphi, down the mountain, through the olive groves, and to the coast. It is actually the reverse of what many pilgrims did in ancient times on their way up to hear their fortune from the Oracle. We had a magnificent day, with perfect weather. The scenery was shockingly beautiful and our company was grand. It was hard to beat!



~ As some of you may already know, we celebrated 10 years of being together as a couple this last month. We couldn’t have picked a better locale. Delphi, Greece was absolutely beautiful. It is hard to imagine a better way to remember 10 great years with a person you love while overlooking one of the most fantastic sunsets you’ve ever seen!



Items Missing, Broken, Discarded, or Added:


1. Simple Wine Opener


1. New toothpaste

2. More Complex Wine Opener

3. Butter knives

Packing Update:

We got to use our summer gear a bit this month which made us happy! We also have used our winter and rain gear, so we are glad we have it all. Della hasn’t used her dress since Budapest so is wondering if it is necessary. Eric is happy with all of his contents.

Books Read: (Have you read any of these??)

Della has read Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

Eric has read The Persian Boy by Mary Renault, The Golden One by Elizabeth Peters, Black Ice by Lorene Cary, Making Money by Terry Pratchett, Crescent Dawn by Clive Cussler.

Eric and Della have BOTH read The Greek Treasure by Irving Stone and Hope of Earth by Piers Anthony.

Make sure to catch up on all our monthly recaps: Monthly Recap 1, Monthly Recap 2, Monthly Recap 3

Connections: Rick Steves, Wheel of Time, and Wine!

Traveling is a wonderful way to meet people! Unfortunately, often those connections are strong but only fleeting. Connections is our tag to recognize and remember some of the wonderful people we meet.

We were leaving Meteora, a little unsure what the day would hold. We were hoping to make it all the way to Delphi, not very far by distance, but at least 4 bus rides… we were told. We hadn’t even made a hotel reservation because we were slightly unsure that we would even make it all in one day. The first bus left at 8 AM, which is quite early for us. We were sitting at the bus stop, still trying to wake up, while waiting for the bus when we saw a welcome sight. Two more backpackers, heading our direction! As soon as they sat down, they said hello and we quickly found out that we were both planning this long confusing day of travel.

We found out over the course of our loong travel day that they were a couple also from the USA, who we really enjoyed chatting with. When we arrived in Delphi they graciously shared where they were staying. It had been on our list from when we were looking so we were pleased when we also were able to stay there.

The next day, we all left the hotel together and headed off towards the ancient site of the Oracle of Delphi. Here we were even more impressed with our new travel companions. Not only did they really know a lot about ancient Greece (we learned a lot!) but they were equally interested in hearing from our Rick Steves’ guidebook and even reading informational signs. Let me say that again: they wanted to hear from the guidebook AND take the time to read the signs. We were thrilled! There just aren’t that many people out there who can go as slow through museums and sites as we can (and wish to). We enjoyed a lovely day with them. It was so much fun we decided to hang out again the next day.

This time we decided to take a day long walk down from the mountain all the way to the coast. It was a long, lovely walk and we found that enjoyed them even more! They were into all the same TV shows and book series that we were. I mean, let’s be honest, there are not that many people out there who are super excited about Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series (OK, there probably are… we just haven’t met them!) Another great day.






We all decided that we were having so much fun in Delphi that we wanted to stay another night. So, we had another fun evening of drinking wine in our hotel.

There was a little wine involved...

There was a little wine involved…

From there, we were all heading to Athens so we took another long journey together. We were fortunate to be able to meet one more time for dinner in amazing Athens, eating dinner practically in the shadow of the Acropolis. Another great connection with some amazing people! We were sorry to have to say goodbye!


Our last dinner in Athens

Delphi, Greece

Our second stop in Greece was the town and archaeological site of Delphi. The Ancient Greeks considered this area to be the center of the world, and the best place to worship Apollo. Dignitaries would come to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi to get advice on big decisions from the priestesses located here. We weren’t planning on getting any advice, but we hoped to see the plethora of structures left over from when Delphi was such a prime destination.

Getting There

We knew that it was possible to get from Meteora to Delphi by bus from Lonely Planet, but the instructions were vague so we were a little nervous. We talked with the bus office the day before, and they said we needed to start early to make it all the way. Luckily, on the day of the journey two fellow travelers were intending to make the exact same journey, so we all did it together, which made it go more smoothly and quickly. (Look for a Connections post coming soon…)

The sequence of buses ended up being:

  1. Buy a ticket in Kalabaka to Lamia
  2. Catch the 8:00 AM bus from Kalabaka to Trikala
  3. In Trikala, transfer to a bus bound for Lamia at 9:00 (using the same ticket from 2)
  4. In Lamia, buy a ticket to Delphi
  5. Catch the 12:45 bus from Lamia to Amphissa
  6. In Amphissa, transfer to a bus bound for Delphi at 3:30 (using the same ticket from 5)

We didn’t end up getting to Delphi until about 4:30 PM, so definitely a long day of travel!

Where We Slept

We hadn’t pre-booked anything before arriving in Delphi because we weren’t positive we would make it in one day. So, we arrived without a plan, but our travel friends were headed to a place that sounded good so we tagged along and got a room at Hotel Athina. The room was nice, but we had a shared bathroom that was a little rustic, so after two nights we switched (along with our travel friends) to the Sibylla Hotel, where we had our own bathroom. Our favorite feature of both rooms was a nice balcony with a great view over the valley below.

Enjoying some local tsipouro (a type of brandy) from the balcony at Sibylla

Enjoying some local tsipouro (a type of brandy) from the balcony at Sibylla

What We Did

The Delphi Archaeological Site and Museum – This is the main attraction in town, so we tackled this the first day. We bought a combination ticket to both the outdoor site with the ruins and the museum which houses a lot of the sculptures found at the site. We toured the site first.

The biggest part of the site is the sanctuary of Apollo, the big destination for those coming to consult the Oracle. Delphi was an active site from at least the 8th century BC up until the 4th century AD (meaning even the Romans kept the site active). Since it was such a popular site, many of the different Greek city states built “treasuries” containing offerings to Apollo to thank the oracle for her advice. The most well-preserved of the treasuries is the Athenian Treasury, built by the Athenians to commemorate their victory at the Battle of Marathon.

The main attraction in the sanctuary was the Temple of Apollo. The oracle would sit in the middle of the temple over a natural fissure in the rock and speak in tongues. Priests would interpret the words for those who came to ask a question. (Some say that there were hallucinatory vapors coming from the fissure). There isn’t much left of the temple but it is still fun to imagine walking up the ramp and waiting to ask your big question.

Delphi was also the host site of the Pythian Games. Similar to the Olympic Games, these were gatherings of all the Greek peoples every four year to compete in various contests. The stadium where the athletic events took place is at the top of the hill. The Pythian Games also included artistic competitions; a large theater used for these can be found at the site as well.

The theater from the top row of seats

The theater from the top row of seats

The remains of the stadium from the Pythian Games

The remains of the stadium from the Pythian Games

Apollo was the main god being worshiped at Delphi, but there was also a smaller area with structures dedicated to Athena. This is just a few minutes walk further down the road from the main site. The most iconic ruin here is the Tholos, with its three reconstructed columns. They haven’t actually figured out what its purpose was.

In front of the Tholos

In front of the Tholos

The Tholos and the Sanctuary of Athena with the Santuary of Apollo on Mount Parnassas in the background

The Tholos and the Sanctuary of Athena with the Santuary of Apollo on Mount Parnassas in the background

After we finished visiting the ruins, we headed into the museum where we got to see many of the actual statues. Here are some of the highlights:

Hike Down to Itea – Most people only spend a day in Delphi, but the natural setting on the side of the mountain was great, and the weather was perfect. We had read about a hike in the Lonely Planet, and decided to spend a day doing it along with our travel friends. The hike goes from Delphi all the way down the to the Gulf of Corinth at a town called Kirra. This retraces (in reverse) the route that pilgrims coming to Delphi via sea would take once they had landed their boats.

The scenery for the hike was quite pretty.The first half descending down the slopes of the mountains and through the town of Chrissos provided great views over the valley and out to the Gulf. Then, the second half of the hike along the valley floor went through a giant olive grove -according to Lonely Plant the largest continuous olive grove in Greece.

The trail was supposed to end in Kirra, but somewhere in the olive grove we took a wrong turn and ended up closer to the neighboring town of Itea. This wasn’t too bad though, because our main goal was just to find a beach, and Itea is also on the coast! We found a spot on the pebbly beach (not too hard since it is starting to be low season) and had a nice relaxing afternoon. The water was a little chilly, so we didn’t swim for too long.

The Gulf of Corinth

The Gulf of Corinth

The town of Itea

The town of Itea

Luckily, we didn’t have to backtrack and hike our way back up the mountain! Instead, we just took one of the local buses that whisked us back up there for a small fee.

Where We Ate

Our Rick Steves guidebook recommended a few different tavernas in town. The first night we came across one and decided to give it a try. The food was pretty good, but the best part was the view of the great sunset from our table.


Two of the nights we spent in town, we found a cheap pita place on the upper street in town. Not as fancy of an ambiance, but definitely a good amount of food for the money!

Final Thoughts

We really enjoyed our time in Delphi. We knew that we would appreciate the archaelogical importance, but we weren’t expecting to be as drawn in by the natural surroundings as we were. The great weather every day helped as well. And to top it off, it made it even more fun to be able to share with new friends!IMG_2441_edt