This post will be a bit technical and boring so that it can be helpful to anyone who stumbles across it looking for the information.
Delphi and Meteora are the two big ticket tourist items north of Athens, if you ignore Thessaloniki and the sites further north, but they just don’t link easily by public transport, so many people opt for hiring a car or taking an organised tour. There are organised bus tours that visit both sites but they do so too quickly and I already mentioned that I hate tour groups. And there was no way this jet lagged Aussie was driving in Greece. So becoming a public transport expert was my only option.
Hours of googling and reading blogs convinced me that either way was going to be a bit messy but doing Delphi first was best. As I already mentioned the bus companies are regional, to get from Delphi to Meteora involved three different regions. Fortunately they had timetables that linked up but none of them sold tickets for the others so I had to buy my first ticket in Delphi and hope that there would be seats on the subsequent buses.
During the time I was researching this one of the K’tels (bus companies) did put up on their website the linked trip. I still couldn’t buy tickets for it but I could see how it worked without having several tabs open. I’m going to put that link here in case anyone finds this post while doing a similar search.
Despite all my research, this was a day where I carried a baseline level of anxiety until I was on my last mode of transport and safely in Meteora.
That three bus trip actually involved four buses. I bought my ticket on arrival in Delphi for the first leg of the trip, from Delphi to Lamia. The ticket office is also a cafe and is right in the heart of the village, the buses stop right outside it. This is the view from the bus stop of the outdoor dining of the cafe that sells the tickets.
In Greece, it pays to ask if you aren’t sure. The bus that turned up at the time I was expecting a bus to Lamia, was actually a bus to Itea. A quick question to the driver confirmed that I needed to get on it to get to Lamia.
Itea is the little seaside village that I could see across the olive groves from my room. The bus wound down through those groves.
On arrival in Itea we were quickly herded off the bus and onto one waiting on the other side of the road. I just followed the people calling out Lamia, figured it was my best option. I quickly learned to trust that although things looked a little disorganised that I was looking through my Australian lens and that even though Greek organisation looked different, it still worked. A quick view of Itea.
From Itea, the trip was smooth to Lamia. On arrival in Lamia I needed to buy a ticket to Trikala. At the ticket booth there, again, it seemed a little disorganised, I had to wait for the seller, but I got the right ticket and ended up on the right bus.
I travelled on the Friday of a long weekend and although probably not a lot of international tourists use these buses, the locals certainly do. The bus was full and I spent the first half of this journey sitting on the step next to the driver, grateful that I was at least going where I wanted to. Lamia bus terminal.
I made my one mistake of not speaking up and asking on arrival in Trikala. I knew what time the bus to Kalambaka was meant to leave Trikala and the bus trip from Lamia was slow so I knew we were late. I just presumed I would have to take the last bus to Kalmabaka rather than the one I had planned to be on. What I didn’t realise was that this seemingly a little disorganised system was actually run to serve the passengers, not the timetable. So the Kalambaka bus was waiting and if I had realised this and just walked over to it and got on I would have been able to buy a ticket on board and been on my way there in no time. Instead I just figured I had missed it and went and queued inside to buy my next ticket. By the time I got my ticket, the bus had left. So I had an unintended stop in Trikala for an hour. I rationalised that if this is the worst that happened on my trip I’d be ok. The Trikala bus terminal is out of town so there was nothing to do but put my feet up and wait.
The sunset in Trikala was lovely.
When the final bus for the night did arrive in Trikala I saw again the emphasis on passengers. The staff made sure that there was no chance anyone wanting to go to Kalambaka was left behind. I finally arrived in Kalambaka at about 10pm, a quick question to the bus ticket seller and I was directed to the taxi rank nearby. I was staying in Kastraki, a village a few minutes and a 5 euro taxi fare away.
My long day of travel was over after four buses and a taxi, my anxieties eased and my next highlight loomed in the dark.