Birthplace of the Olympics

Trip Start May 04, 2011
Trip End Feb 20, 2014

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Where I stayed
Hotel Kronio Olympia
Read my review - 5/5 stars
What I did
toured the ruins

Flag of Greece  , Peloponnese,
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

After 5 hrs of broken sleep, I woke up to my final day in Athens. The tour group gradually departed during the morning and I wanted to squeeze in the National Archaeological Museum before my journey to Olympia. But it seems that Greece doesn't believe in Monday mornings and all public buildings are closed until 1pm on Mondays (I’m starting to like this place!). The consolation prize was a walk thru the Athens markets. A small group of us checked out and headed down there for a wander. The others were complaining how hot it was (34C), but I was loving it. I admired my last view of the Acropolis and then back to the hotel for my taxi to the bus port. This time, Athens was a lot more safer feeling – maybe because it was a weekday and loads of people going about their business. Maybe I was too harsh criticising it before, however it does remind me a lot of the movie 'I am Legend’ with Will Smith where the planet is over-run by zombies and all the buildings r derelict. But still, I would never stay in Omonia again – we saw a guy pull his pants down and inject something into his upper thigh...all in full view of us watching from the hotel lobby; he then bowed to us once he was done!

So, I said my goodbyes to the tour group that remained. I met a good bunch of people and not sure if we’ll stay in touch, but facebook is a powerful tool for this and u just never know. Tour travelling is a funny thing – it binds u together tightly during the trip and then a sharp cut away when it’s all over. I told them all to look me up next time they were in Ghana! I’m glad I finally got to see Greece and the Islands - well worth it, especially Santorini. But my time in Greece was not over yet...

The tour guide had advised and helped me work out how to get a bus to Olympia (train track is under repair); I ‘m glad I had his help because I would’ve been very stuck otherwise. The station was incredibly complex and not much English. I have to admit that I was in a panic mode because missing this bus would delay my arrival until into the night. But, I fortunately got on and for the next 5 hrs I sat on a coach bus. I don’t mind these transits because it gives time for rest, reading and writing these blog entries! I had thought I was on a direct trip to Olympia, but then the bus terminated and I had no idea where I was! The towns do not have entry/welcome signs like we do at home, but after talking to the ticket operator I was kindly told "don’t worry" and that my bus would arrive in 10 mins. Strange because I thought I had my calm, cool and collected face on, but obviously it was my “holy crap, where the hell am I” face.

Olympia is a very sleepy town. These days it must just be day-trippers on coach bus that come here, because at 7pm when I finally arrived, the streets were near deserted and I felt sorry for the shop owners. My hotel was very central and the owner very helpful and generous (the best hospitality I’ve had and the room is only 45 euro/night inc breakfast & free internet!).

Day 2 in Olympia started early so I could get to the museum at the 830 opening and do the ruins all before my departing bus at 1pm. I was worried I wouldn’t have enough time to cover the 44 Ha, but it was quite easy to do it in this timeframe. An inspiring place to visit and humbling to think of the amount of history that has brought us to 2011. The ancient Olympics ran for over 1000 continuous yrs starting in 700 BC before being banned by the Roman Emperor. The site was largely destroyed by earthquakes in the 500’s and then raided for materials in the middle ages; I had expected the level of degradation so was not disappointed as some might be. I’m glad that I made the effort and travel to get here.

From Olympia, it was a 3 hr or so bus trip north to the Port of Patra where I caught the ferry to the south east Italian town of Bari. When planning this trip, I’d debated whether to take this travel option because it is a 15.5 hr overnight ferry trip at a cost of $400 for a cabin room. But it was one of my better decisions because I slept for 10 hrs of the trip – very comfortable room with shower etc. Perfect breather before commencing the Italian leg of my trip. Oh, but I was harassed by Greek immigration when boarding the ferry. They were plain clothed and took my passport. I thought they were wharf workers making comments about me being Australian; so I grabbed the passport back and then one of them pulled out his badge and they proceeded to search my luggage and be arseholes. I really despise customs & immigration with their power-tripping attitudes. There is no need to assume that every traveller is carrying drugs or illegal. Argh.
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