Greece: Patras, Pyrgos, Sparta ... and eventually, Athens
May 16, 2006
|I know I haven't updated the other entries, but we are at an internet cafe in Sparta (Can you believe it??) and Greece is happening right now.
We landed in Partas after an uneventful 21 hour ferry ride from Ancona in Italy. I was going to sleep on deck, but there were a lot of people laying about who looked very much like they were snorers and the uncovered section was soaking wet. So, instead of getting wet, or choking someone I hardly knew, the five of us bunked together in a four bed berth, Dad on the floor on a Thermarest mat. We all slept long and deep ... and when we staggered onto the deck, we were looking at the ruggedness of Greece and the bridge connecting the Peloponnese to the mainland. We were in Greek waters!!
Not so surprisingly, the routine unfolded as we knew it would: find someone who looks like he/she knows what is going on, ask for directions to the rental car (Hands like I'm driving, "Vroom! Vroom!" with as little spittle as possible.)and we have our vehicle. Unfortunately, the one we had reserved had several liters of olive oil spilled in the back and it was oozing up as we placed our packs inside. No problem, a new bit of flooring was found and we were on our way. In thirty degree heat, the smell might get to be a bit much, but it's hard to care any more. We are in Greece!!
They have an interesting way of driving on the highway. The shoulder is a lane and one is expected to use it. Passing happens at all times and three vehicles side by side on a two lane road is not unusual. Speed limits are not generally followed. One just goes.
We drove for about an hour and found a campground. A camper van pulled in to disturb our solitude, the beach stretched as far as the eye could see, a restaurant served the MOST DELICIOUS Greek dishes and the sun shone. At the end of the day, the solar panels provided us with hot showers ....
Our second day, we drove up to Ancient Olympia ... the tour buses had largely gone and we had the sprawling site to ourselves. It's easy to describe the place. Dry with pines and cypress and some olive trees, the ground is dusty with southern BC type of groundcover. The foundations remain and some columns have been restored. With a map and some imagination, the games are about to begin.
And that's what is impossible to get across without the voice and hand gestures to help. THIS IS ANCIENT OLYMPIA, for crying out loud!! IT IS SO AWESOME!! At one area, we find where the athletes scraped themselves and applied the oil; over there, the shot put took place (as it did for the 2004 Olympics, on the original site); the temple of ZEUS was where Nick is standing and it would have towered above him; and then we ran the 120 meters on the track, with the start and finish lines still visible. Sigh ... Ancient Olympia ....
Afterwards, it was time to eat at our favourite restaurant on the beach and then watch the sun slide into the Adriatic Sea.
We stayed for three nights. Yesterday was sand castle building and reading and journal entries and guidebook reading and a bit of a run ... and a fruitless search for a good cup of tea ....
... and so we are at today, the 19th, in an internet cafe in Sparta, on our way to the eastern Peloponnese for a couple of days.
Life is, indeed, good.