Olympia!

Trip Start May 22, 2009
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Trip End Feb 16, 2010


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Flag of Greece  , Peloponnese,
Monday, November 9, 2009

The sun shone down on us lightening spirits and reassuring me that we CAN get through this and continue on (or at least reassuring ME).  I must not get so devastated from only rain.  I guess it’s just one of the signs that we are both starting to get a bit tired. 

But today was to be a fun sight-seeing day.  Seeing the remains of the temple of Zeus, the temple of Hera, and the stadium that held those first games in 776 BC.  The time span boggles the mind. 

But first there was the tacking of crowds.  I tried to get up and out as soon as possible to arrive at opening time, but it wasn’t going to happen.  There was coffee, and Brian’s hair, and internet, and breakfast.  By the time we made out way to the site, the parking lot was full of busses.  Great!  And this is supposed to be the off season!  Fighting through the crowds of colour-coded name-tag wearing tourists rushing to follow their banner-carrying leader to get to the bus before it leaves. 

But once we were inside the complex, the area was huge    !  And all the tourists inside kept huddled closely to their leaders so as not to get lost.

This is an area of amazing beauty with collumns and ruins rising up all around.  Dates of 7th century BC are hard to imagine…700 years before Christ?  This is the ancient history he was taught in school?

Wandering around I tried to imagine the grandure of what is not basically rubble.  The temple of Zeus was the most awe inspiring.  Huge masses of collumns which had toppled in 500 AD.  One collumn has been re-created to give an idea of scale.  Six rows by thirteen of 20m+ towers.  If only the gold and silver statue of Zeus still remained…

Also, there was the temple of Hera where the disk of the Sacred Truce was held.  Every 4 years the games were held, all hostilities between regions were to cease.  Outside Hera’s temple was the place where the Olympic torch was (is) lit.  Still today the torch is lit in Olympia and transported to wherever the games are being held.  Supposedly we just missed the lighting of the torch for Vancouver’s games this winter. 

And the stadium.  The immense area carved out to hold the various events.  It was fun to watch everyone strutting to the starting line to get their photo taken. 

In the afternoon, we went to the archeological museum.  That’s where all the good stuff from the Altis is.  All of the statues, the pots, the carvings, and various other artifacts and art.  Seems as though tour busses are on a strict schedule and there’s not enough time to go to the museum.  Consequently, we were the only ones, and were followed around by puppy-dog-like staff members who were bored. 

Hard to believe that a civilization could build all of this so long ago.  When technology was limited and other civilizations were barely scraping out a living, the Greeks were creating momentus buildings, beautiful sculptures and organized games!  Now, their road signs can’t even tell what a kilometer is, but that’s for another story.  Today we’re focused on the impressive accomplishments of old. 
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