Saturday, July 3, 2010

Katakolon, Greece

Katakolon is the gateway to the town of Olympia, the site of the very first Olympic games played by the Greeks. Our tour was in the afternoon, so in the morning, Russel and I explored the port town of Katakolon for a bit. Katakolon is a very small town, only home to about 600 people - so the people disembarking the ship actually outnumbered the residents. Many of the people in the town are fishermen, since it’s right up against the sea. Others grow olive trees to make olive oil and olive wood. The remainder of the people have opened shops aimed towards tourists who visit the area. Katakolon is a much greener area than Mykonos and Santorini, with many more trees and vegetation than we’d seen in a while. The shops ranged from the typical beach souvenir shops to jewelry stores and art galleries. After a quick tour of the town, we headed back to the ship to lay by the pool until our tour of Olympia. Olympia was very beautiful, surrounded by lush trees and bushes. Many of the structures were beyond recognition, but we luckily had a very good tour guide to help bring things to life. We learned that some of the architecture ruins were several thousand years old - one house foundation was actually built 4,500 years ago. Most of the Greek architecture used limestone, and it was evident that the city had once been underwater because there are many imprints of seashells in the stones. We saw the different areas for field games and foot races, and chariot races. We also saw the area at which they light the Olympic torch every two years. They use a concave set of mirrors in a basin heated by the sun to ignite a flame. No matches allowed. The last part of our tour took us to the area of the 200m race - used for foot races and chariot races. The original starting and finish lines are still in-tact. I tried to convince Russel to really run it, since this was his race in college, but he had flip-flops on, so the two of us just jogged it instead. Afterwards, we were pretty spent, since it was 36 degrees C outside (somewhere around 97 degrees F). We also saw the Temple of Zeus, where his ivory and gold statue was once housed - one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Not much is left of it now, and frequent earthquakes in the area keep knocking down any reconstruction as well. Oh, and yet again, on the tour, we were stuck with mom-skank and her gang. Although, luckily for us, she was in a different group this time, so we got to hear the reactions of other people. Our tour guide was simply flabbergasted by her shoes (I’d say they were about 5 inches high today) and a woman nearby murmured something about her appearance - which was soon followed by her young son loudly asking “mom, what’s plastic surgery?” This inspired our new nickname for her - “Heidi Mom-tag” After we visited Olympia, it was time to head back to the ship and relax for the night before our last port: Corfu, Greece.

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