Inland trip to Ancient Olympia
08 August 2012 | Patra
Dan 43 degrees C, 1011mb, clear skies
We backtracked a bit two days ago after deciding to visit Olympia, the site of the ancient Olympic games. So after a few hours of uninspired exploring at Navpaktos (the highlight being a museum visit dedicated to the Battle of Lepanto), we hauled anchor and came to the marina in Patras so we could leave Interlude safely tied up while we drove to Olympia.
I made arrangements to have a rental car dropped off first thing yesterday morning, and also spoke with a Raymarine technician who agreed to be here at 8am to look at our VHF antenna. (Am now pretty sure that's the source of our AIS transmission problems and am worried that the cable running up to the masthead may need to be replaced. But that's another story..) In true Greek form, neither of these things happened. By 9am I learned that the car reservation was never "confirmed" and no one seemed quite sure when or whether our car would be delivered. So I grabbed a cab, went to the local Avis office and was back 45 minutes later with our wheels for the day. By then I had given up on the Raymarine tech who was two hours late for our agreed upon 8am appointment. So off to Olympia we went.
Here's a brief snippet from an email Christine sent to Marine & Peter describing the rest of the day:
"Yesterday was a mixed bag--rented a car and drove a couple of hours to Olympia. Although the archeological museum was quite interesting, the 100+ degree weather made the couple of hours we traipsed through the ruins almost unbearable. But Ty and Dan were excited to be there and we did learn a lot about the ancient Olympic games. We left at 3, just when the hordes arrived--literally 20 buses full of cruise ship tourists! I guess I prefer roasting to death to throngs...
Anyway, the rest of the day was lovely, as we stopped at a family owned winery named Olympia Land, had a tour by the 24 year old daughter who spoke excellent English, and to our surprise had a wine tasting with delicious food, all grown by them. Unfortunately, we didn't take a picture but the feast included succulent homegrown tomatoes & green peppers w/ olives and extra virgin olive oil from their farm. Also a tray w/ sausage, cheese and hearty bread. For dessert, cake made w/ wine syrup. It was all organic and delicious! Oh, and the wine was superb --so we bought a case.
We left there at 5 and didn't get back to the boat until nearly 10. We drove back through the mountains with unbelievably breathtaking views, through tiny towns and villages, and the constant hairpin turns--luckily there were few other cars on this road. This is the real Greece and exactly what I wanted to see: more sheep than people; authentic goat herders w/ staff and long tunic; old folks (widows still dressed in black) sitting on porches that nearly touch the road or walking w/ canes; and even an occasional ostrich..."
Chris did a nice job of recapping our day, only neglecting to mention the critical fact that I completed a full lap of the track at the ancient Olympic stadium in the 100 degree heat. I'm pretty sure that no records were set and I had ample time to wonder why the ancient Greeks chose the month of August to hold the games every four years.