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Ticket to the Olympia MuseumKatakolon

October 30, 1996

Morning Exercises

I spent the morning before our arrival in Katakolon investigating the gym on the ship.  Already I felt heavy from the amount of food that was available.   They sure know how to feed you on these ships!

We arrived in Katakolon around noon, where I joined a tour heading for the ruins of Olympia.  The ruins proved to be one of the most fascinating sites in the whole trip.

Olympian Ruins

Greek monument showing the crimes of citizensOlympia is where the (yes, THE) Olympic Torch is lit. Olympia used to be a place of temples, shrines, etc. where the ancient Greeks would come to worship and to participate in the Olympic games.  It is also the site of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: a gold and ivory statue of Zeus. I saw one other site of an Ancient Wonder: in Rhodes

Our guide described the various ruins for us.  To one side was the Temple of Hera, dated to the end of the 7th century B.C.  Collapsed columns and a large platform were all that remained of the Temple of Zeus.  There were some raise stones that looked like gravestones: however, instead of listing the deeds of that person, they apparently were lists of crimes committed!

Behind the temples, a large bare plain marked where a stadium once existed.  To one side a small stone altar to Demeter Chamyne.  Chamyne was the name given to the priestess of Demeter (a harvest and fertility goddess), who was the only married woman allowed to view the games.  For the most part, the Olympic Games were barred to married women.  However, there were special running contests for virginal women.

Scenes from OlympiaOn the other side was a stone platform where the judges were seated, watching the games (and presumably Demeter Chamyne, as well).  Our guide asked if anyone wanted to run the length of the stadium: only I and one other obliged.  We were rewarded with sprigs from an olive tree!

After exploring the ruins, we went to the museum and spent a little time there.  Many of the facades and other delicate artwork (that couldn't be left out in the open) were stored there.  Most were incomplete, unfortunately: ravaged by the passage of time (and one or two souvenir-seeking individuals, I'm sure).

Speaking of souvenirs, there were many shops in the little nearby town were you could pick up all kinds of stuff: I got a small metal Greek helmet (which was to give me some trouble on my flight home, but that's a story for later...)

The ruins at Olympia were just amazing: This place is a definite must on a tour of the Greek islands.

Song and Dance

Dinner that evening was formal attire, and we would meet the Captain as we entered the dining room.  The "meeting" was nothing more than a quick handshake, and it seemed to be rather rushed.  A bit disappointing, but understandable given the number of people on board!

After dinner, I decided to check out the show in the Colosseo Theatre.   I quite enjoyed it, as I recall: a fairly decent magic act, followed by a pair of vocalists singing in several different languages.  Not a bad end to the day!

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1997-2000 William Geoffrey Shotts. Last update: Saturday, November 02, 2002