Day 13 - Olympia (Katakolon), Greece - July 24 - Happy Anniversary to Jim and me
We were getting tired of hassles, so last night we booked ourselves on a tour of Olympia since it was not straightforward to get to it on our own by train, bus or taxi. Sally had booked a winery tour for her and Pat which required almost no walking for Pat. Our tour was slow-paced, but enjoyable (we were ready for some slow pace). The boys really enjoyed racing on the ancient Olympic track, though I was sure they were going to get heat stroke in the sun and heat. One of the things our guide said was that fair play was highly prized and if they caught an athlete cheating, they would make him pay for a bronze statue of himself which would be placed along the route to the stadium where all the athletes would see their shame as they entered the stadium.
This was the site of another of the 7 wonders of the ancient world - the statue of Zeus in the temple there. The statue was 40 feet tall, and held a figure in his hand that was 9 feet tall. The structure of the statue was wood, overlaid with ivory for the skin, and gold for the clothing. The statue survived hundreds of years there before being carted off to Constantinople, then burned about 20 years later. The temple that housed the statue was impressive with its huge columns. Again, an earthquake toppled anything standing, so there was only a representative column placed there for perspective. The museum had a large collection of little (2") bronze horses that had been "sacrificed" to Zeus and found at the site. The site was not ever a town, but once every two years, the athletes would come about a month ahead of time, and the hills would fill with tents as the spectators came to watch the week-long games. The athletes and spectators were all male, and the athletes competed naked, supposedly because their gods were naked and the best man was somewhat of a demi-god. Their only prize was a laurel wreath and food and honor for their family for life. If they won 3 years in a row they got a statue of themselves. Women had their own games held elsewhere.
When we got back, the boys went back to the ship where they participated in a free-throw contest and Noah won a travel mug. Jim and I stayed at the port and caught a final Greek lunch in a café overlooking the harbor. I watched them cast off the lines today as we pulled off of the dock.
Sally and Pat's day was enjoyable too. The winery they went to was family-owned, and was full of a lot of antique equipment for grape and olive production. They had a nice greek salad for lunch with their wine. They brought a small bit of the leftover wine back for us to try. It was better than the local wine we had with lunch.
We've been watching the shows every night, and all my "free" time is spent working on sorting pictures and blogging - though it's pleasant enough to do that hanging out with others in a lounge while watching the islands or boats go by and drinking the cocktail of the day or a glass of wine. Life's good. The boat charges $25/hour to use the ship satellite internet, so I only bought a small package and used it up pretty quickly - most of my computer time is offline.
Jim and I have been randomly doing laundry in the sink every few days, but we wanted to get our clothes washed in a washer to get them a little cleaner (they don't have Laundromats onboard anymore). Alas, we were too late in the trip (they stopped taking new clothes at 9am this morning), so we enlisted the boys to help with their clothes as we had a mountain that we had been saving up. It was a good experience for them to see how dirty the clothes get and how colors bleed, and how to dry them in a towel so they will finish drying in a day, and how much work it is to do it, etc. - all new concepts for them .
Jim and I went to the special steak house restaurant for dinner tonight. They charge a premium, but we splurged because of it being our anniversary. I wasn't thrilled with the Thai soup, so the waiter brought me the (very yummy) French onion soup instead. I wasn't all that hungry to begin with, but the steak was HUGE. They kept asking if I liked it, but it was just too big for me to eat. It seemed such a waste, because it really was a good steak. I ate some of Jim's molten volcano (warm brownie-ish) desert, then they brought us out a cake with "Happy Birthday" on it (in honor of our anniversary). Well, at least they were celebrating. It was also the Dessert Extravaganza night for the late-night snack, but I was so full I couldn't eat any of the desserts. It was very festively decorated and looked yummy.
While we were walking around Olympia, Zach told me he wanted to sit next to me on the bus as he had something to "discuss". He told me that I should go to the "kid's corner" in the Lido café and get some spaghetti and meatballs and bring it to Jim as a "secret surprise". He'd been listening as I was telling someone the story of how Jim and my first date was when Jim made me spaghetti (no meatballs - just from a jar - but it's the thought that counts, right?) and invited me to dinner. My boy, Zach, the hopeless romantic (I had too much food today to get around to doing that, but I appreciated the thought).