Fade Away – Olympia

16th June 2006

I was awoken at 6:30am by my early morning wake up call, no matter how many times that had happens on this trip, I was never prepared for it. I procrastinated about getting up for a while before packing my stuff up and putting my suitcase at the door and going to breakfast. I put my two Greek pots in my carryon bag and took that with me. I sat down to breakfast with an older couple who were very nice and were especially interested in why I had chosen to travel alone.

We got back on the bus and proceeded to drive to Olympia. Again, we walked up to the temple complex, I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was rather disappointed that the site was almost a complete ruin, and even that was roped off. I think again, it was Egypt, everything had been so big and complete and accessible compared to things in Greece. The most intact parts of this site were the beautiful floor mosaics, which I was very surprised to find were intact. I realised that Greece is prone to earthquakes, and this is what probably destroyed the site. Antones sat us down under a nice tree for a talk and immediately I had a cat on my lap, who I patted until it was time to move on. There was another guide there who was very loud, and this seemed to be agitating Antones who compared to her was quite soft spoken. Before we knew what was happening Antones was yelling in Greek and making wild hand gestures at the other tour guide, of course we all found this very amusing.

We were taken to the very first Olympic stadium where the very first Olympic Games were held. Antones told us that they actually had the hammer throw from the 2004 Olympics here. We also saw the circular temple of Queen Olympias built by King Phillip of Macedon, whose purpose is almost completely unknown to us. After the site, we were admitted to the nearby museum, which houses the pedimental statues from the Temple of Zeus as well as many other famous statues. We had lunch at a nearby restaurant and then proceeded on to Delphi, where we were told half the people on the tour would leave and go back to Athens as they had only booked the three-day tour and not the off the beaten track tour, I was on.

The first Olympic Stadium

On our way to Delphi, we stopped off at a pretty little town called Patras, supposedly to see a church in which the head of St Andrew is kept. As soon as I got off the bus at this place, I fell in love with it, I couldn’t bear the thought of going into a church here and instead decided to wander away from the group and explore in the short time I was given. I climbed over a set of train tracks in order to get to the sea, the most beautiful patch of ocean I have ever seen. The area I had picked was deserted and as I sat down on a bench, on a path, which at night would have been lit by pretty little lamp posts, I thought to myself, I could spend the rest of my life here and be happy. The huge rocky mountains that rose from the beautiful crystal blue ocean seemed to be joined to it in a strange but peaceful way. I sat by the rocky shore completely at peace in the cool breeze and lost myself. I sat and thought to myself, there are people in Australia, who will never know that beautiful little places like this one even exist and people throughout the world, who would never experience what I was feeling at this very moment, and I felt very lucky. We got back on the bus and drove over the apparently famous Patras bridge which cost the bus €50 to cross and when we got to the other side, we all got out and took pictures and got back on.

We continued on our drive to Delphi, which was a very long way, we got to another Amalia hotel this time called “Xenia” Amalia, the Greek word for guest friend, I again put my stuff in my double room and went off exploring the modern town.

The modern town of Delphi is built halfway up a mountain and is therefore very hilly. I set off with some of the other people from the group in the hope of finding an internet café, which I did. I sat there for a while and updated my online journal and sent Mum and Dad an email letting them know how I was getting along. I then decided to go buy some postcards. I went into a small shop which oddly enough was run by an American woman, who tried desperately to try to convince me that she was Greek and had just picked up the accent by talking to American tourists, which she assured me were in abundance.

I took my postcards to a ledge which overlooked a spectacular view of the mountains of Delphi and sat with my feet dangling over the edge and wrote. After I had finished writing, I sat there admiring the view and pondering the amazing sense of freedom I now felt. In this place, I felt that I could get lost and no one anywhere in the world would ever know me again. I posted my cards and then went for a poke around in a few shops, which for the most part sold jewellery and knock off ancient Greek vases. I then decided to walk the long-deserted way around the town back to the hotel, stopping often to admire the scenery. I reached the beginning of the loop and came to the sign for the entrance to the town Delphi – The Naval of the Earth. I walked the long, narrow, winding road back up to the hotel just in time for dinner, where I talked again to some of my tour mates, before going back to my room, tonight I needed sleep, the sanctuary of Delphi is tomorrow.

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