Friday, 12 May
Dolora and I woke up to glorious sunshine this morning. Our room is on the second floor, breakfast was on the third. Add a floor for everything in Europe. What we think of as the first floor is the ground floor so it goes ground, first, second, third, …
After breakfast it was on the bus for a ride to Olympia. Our drive was through the mountains. When we got off the bus, Ioanna treated us to some of the baklava made by her mother. It was the best we had tasted, the perfect amount of honey. We made our way to the Olympia Museum where we met our guide Niki. Niki and Ioanna are best friends. Olympia was first excavated in 1829 found buried under twenty five feet of mud. The location was identified by reading ancient texts. This was the site of the first Olympic games every four years from 76 BC to 393 AD. The Olympia Museum was the best museum Dolora and I have seen. Many of the statues and relics were intact and in amazing condition. There were even some samples of the color applied to the temples and the whitewash used to make the sandstone look like marble. There were complete Greek shields. The museum contained a large statue of Nike, the goddess of victory. The Greeks seem to have had hundreds of gods. The museum tour was chronological which made it even more enjoyable.
Understanding how the site function made the outdoor site impressive. There was an “Olympic Village”, the Temple of Zeus and of course the stadium. Unlike the stadium at Delphi, stadium seating was on the grassy bank. The marble start and finish lines are intact as well as part of the entrance tunnel. Dolora and I took photos on the start line where 2,000 years ago athletes were lining up to compete. The Greeks emphasized the complete person so athletes were trained in arts and philosophy as well.
We have passed thousands of acres of olive trees. Ioanna arranged a stop at an olive oil pressing facility of an award winning oil, Koufolias. After a tour of the equipment used we were treated to an olive oil tasting. Along with extra virgin olive oil, the orange and lemon olive oils were my favorites.
From there it was about a two hour bus ride to Kardamyli and the Hotel Anniska on the Mani Peninsula. The hotel is family owned and they insist on taking you to your room. Our room has a kitchen and there were gifts waiting when we arrived, a bottle of Ouzo, cookies and milk in the refrigerator. We have a balcony with a table and chairs that has a view of the sea. It is really a nice accommodation.
After settling into our room, Dolora and I took a walk to check out the rocky beach. A couple of us decided to go to dinner together. A little up the road we shared the fish special, dentex (Snapper?), at Taverna Dioskouroi. It was enough to feed all five of us with a pair of appetizers to share. Another excellent meal sitting outside watching the sun set. Then it was back to our room where Dolora and I enjoyed our first ouzo out on the deck
After passing lots of windmills generating electricity when we first left Athens, we did not see any today.
Tomorrow is a rest day – well no tour activities. Ioanna will be hosting a backstreet walk in the morning and then there is the chance to do some hiking in the area. It may be a little early in the season to go swimming but we will probably check out the beach.
Note: The photo inside the Olympic Stadium is panoramic and you should be able to do a complete circle. If you see what looks like two identical photos at first, look closely. That means I have been playing with Google’s “Magic Eraser” to clean up the original photo.