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Day 15 - Sports!!!


After eating as much as we could off the hotels’s 30+ feet of buffet breakfast tables full of baked goods, homemade jams, and lots of things involving olives, cheese, eggs, and raisins, we tried to figure out how best to tackle Olympia. The guidebook said the site is busiest between 10 and 1, and, sure enough, when we got there at 11, there were no less than a dozen tour buses in the parking lot. So we did what our guidebook said to do first anyway: visit the small Museum of the Olympic Games in Antiquity. They had neat write-ups and displays about all the original sporting contests (discus throwing, long jumping with weights, armoured races, bull hurdling, somersaulting over swords …) was well as about the rituals (we saw scrapers to remove the olive oil and chalk from an athlete’s body) and rules (did you know that they throw women off mountains if they snuck in to the games?) There was one other person in the museum. We stayed about an hour. When we emerged, it was hotter, but all the buses were magically gone!

Thankfully, the sitehas a number of trees (for shade breaks), and it is so big that it absorbs quite a few people. It didn’t feel nearly as crowded as Delphi, and you could see big groups coming from a distance and head in a different direction. One nifty thing about this site is that you can truly experience it up close; with the exception of Zeus’ Temple, you can walk through everything rather than just around it. It allows a real feeling being there back then.

Triumph predictably beat David in their sprint at the stadium, so we took the required picture of Triumph under the triumphal arch (the krypti). We also determined that I (neither an athlete nor a male) would be the only one who could truly fit in the bathtubs in the Palaestra (where athletes trained and men gathered to chat). We walked in Hera’s temple, saw the hill where Zeus was born, and marvelled at the size of the toppled columns of Zeus’ Temple.

After a brief ice cream/beer break, it was off to the museum. The big draws here are the pediment statues from the Temple to Zeus, including the almost complete central statue of Apollo; the statue of Zeus and young Ganymede (and his chicken); and the statue of Hermes and baby Dionysus. However, we also like all the wee figurines, many of horses, that people left as offerings to Zeus (do you think he gives them to all his illegitimate children?). And there were SO MANY helmets! It was a very full afternoon.

Another swim and dinner at the hotel, then to bed in preparation for our longest road trip yet.

IMG_0152Location: Olympia - Hotel Europa