September 26, 2009 – Olympia

October 13, 2009

After a quiet breakfast (no middle school tour groups), we checked out and hit the town.  First, we went to the Museum of the Modern Olympics.  It is a sad little museum in great need of some attention.  The displays end in the early 1990s and many of the photographs are discolored from the sun.  The display focussing on the 1932 games mention Jesse Owns but not Hitler or the Nazi party.  Also, there was no mention of the hostage situation in 1972 – these things colored the events to such a degree it seems ridiculous to omit them.  I plan on looking into what school offer a degree in museum curatorship (or whatever the degree is called) and sending them a letter saying I know of a great potential final project for one of their students.

Despite its flaws, the museum did have some highlights.  A French man crucial to restarting the Olympics wanted his heart buried in Ancient Olympia.  The museum had the box in which it travelled.  They also had lots of medals and torches and a certificate, medal and laurels awarded during the 1900 Olympics.

Certificate, medal and laurels presented at the second modern Olympics, 1900.

Certificate, medal and laurels presented at the second modern Olympics, 1900.

After the museum, we visited the Ancient Olympia archaeological site.  One or two school groups were there – we enjoyed seeing the kids racing each other on the track.  The altar of Hestia where the Olympic flame starts for each of the modern games disappointed a bit – it was just a pile of rocks.  There were some impressive examples of columns knocked over by earthquakes.  They still lay exactly where they must have fallen thousands of years ago.  A light rain fell on us during our entire visit, so we kept it briefer than we may have otherwise.

N and I in Ancient Olympia

N and I in Ancient Olympia

We went back into town for some souvenir shopping and a quick lunch.  Then, we drove to Nafplion, a charming port town.  The drive took us through the mountains on some very twisty roads.  We passed two or three small villages literally built into the side of the mountain.  If we ever make it back to Greece, we would love to stay in one of the villages for a night or two.

We made it to Nafplion around four, found a room and set out to explore.  We wound up at a cafe in a plaza lined by 19th century buildings.  We ate an early dinner and watched kids playing a pick-up game of soccer using garbage cans as goal posts.  We ambled some more through the narrow streets before heading back to the hotel.

At the hotel, we shared a bottle of wine while sitting on the balcony.  We talked about the scenery – not-so-attractive buildings, a school and a running track down the street.  We also watched a woman do a really bad job parallel parking her car.  It looked all right in the end but it took her ten minutes to accomplish – no exaggeration.  It was better than watching television.

Speaking of television, we lucked out to find Fellowship of the Ring playing on a local station.  It was in English with Greek subtitles so we could understand it.  There was only one problem:  in Greece, they do not show commercials as often as in the States but they save them us so commercial breaks last 10-15 minutes.  When one is tired, this makes staying awake nearly impossible.  We only made it through two commercial breaks before succumbing to sleep.


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