Search the Community
Showing results for tags 'olympia'.
Found 3 results
As the strike had prevented us from seeing the ruins at Olympia yesterday, we decided to visit them this morning before setting off for Delphi. When we arrived at the site today, we were relieved to find that the ticket booth was open and we were finally able to get through the gates The ruins at Olympia are spread over quite a large site, so although there were already several coachloads of people being led around in tours, we were able to plan our route strategically to avoid them as much as possible. One of the complaints I've read from people reviewing Olympia online, is that it's just a pile of rocks and so it's difficult to know what you are looking at. The area was struck by two serious earthquakes in the sixth century, which is why everything is so badly ruined. The criticisms are a bit unfair, because there are lots of helpful info boards dotted around the site to show you what you are looking at. These are the remains of the gymnasion, described on the info board above. One of the most impressive buildings here in ancient times would have been the temple of Zeus. The one pillar which you can see standing in the photo was reconstructed by archaeologists to celebrate the 2004 Olympic games being held in Athens. The best-preserved building on the site is the Temple of Hera, originally built in 590 BC. The flame for the modern-day Olympic Games is lit in front of this temple, and then transported via torch to wherever the games are taking place. The tour groups were starting to catch up with us, so we had to move on! When we managed to get away from people, the ruins were quite peaceful Every so often we found some stones with Greek inscriptions on them. We were gradually making our way towards the archway in the left of this photo. This is the archway which leads into the Olympic stadium. It wasn't possible to avoid all the tour groups here! Once you get through the arch, you are in the stadium where the Olympic running races used to take place. The stone blocks at this end are to mark the place where all the athletes were supposed to start. The track was 200 metres long. We walked to the end and there were some nice views of the surrounding countryside. Then it was back through the archway to see some of the things which we'd missed when trying to avoid the tour groups. These were the remains of a temple called the Philippeion... ...and this was the palaestra. This is where the athletes would have practised sports such as wrestling and boxing. It's probably possible to spend a lot longer at Olympia, but I think we succeeded in getting a good flavour of it Then we had to head back to the apartment, collect our things and set off towards our final destination for this holiday: Delphi. The first part of the route wasn't terribly exciting, as we drove north on a fast road towards the town of Patras. We were getting quite hungry, so stopped off at a small village just short of Patras to try and find some lunch. The restaurant we found wasn't quite as close to the sea as yesterday... ...but there were still some beautiful views After lunch it was time to leave the Peloponnese behind and drive back to the mainland of Greece. Shortly after Patras, we crossed the Rio-Antirrio bridge, which spans the sea here. The bridge is 1.8 miles long and really impressive to drive across, although it is a toll bridge and I was slightly less impressed when I found out that it cost €13.30 for a normal car 😮 Once on the other side, the drive became more interesting as we followed a narrower road along the coast. There were some really fantastic views We could see the mountains of the Peloponnese on the other side of the water... ...and passed a picturesque little town with a huge church. Eventually we arrived in Delphi and checked into our hotel. A hotel room seems a bit small after the spacious apartments we've had, but this one is good value at around £55 per night (including breakfast). The best thing about the room is the view from the balcony! It's a bit cloudy today so the photo isn't perfect, but we can see all the way down the river gorge to the sea. It's absolutely incredible We're definitely looking forward to exploring more of Delphi tomorrow - assuming that there isn't another unexpected museum strike!!
Today was the day we planned to see the site at Ancient Olympia, where the original Olympic games were held every four years from 776 BC to 393 AD. The archaeological site is not far away from our apartment, so we set off for a short walk through the village towards it straight after breakfast. There are lots of Olympic-related things in the village, including this museum of the Olympic games at the bottom of our street (which looks like it may have seen better days!). It didn't take long for us to get to the site and find the ticket office. There were a few people standing in front of it, I assumed buying tickets, so we stood behind them. As they moved away, however, we realised that they had actually been reading a notice which was stuck on the front of the ticket booth. This is what it said: Oh dear A strike was not on my list of possible things which could go wrong! We walked towards the site anyway, to see how much we could see without a ticket, but everything is behind high fences so this was the closest that we were going to get. How frustrating!! We wandered around Olympia a bit more, but there isn't a lot to see here when the main attractions are closed. We found a small botanical garden to stroll through, but that was all. Luckily we had the car, so we weren't stranded in Olympia all day with nothing to do! We went back to the apartment to consult our Peloponnese guidebook and decided to drive around one of the southern fingers of the peninsula: Messinia. The area around Olympia is comparatively flat, but as we progressed further south the landscape became more mountainous again. We passed through small towns like Kyparissia (above), which had a ruined castle on the top of a hill, and Filiatra which, for reasons which are completely unclear, is home to what appears to be a replica of the Eiffel Tower!! We were driving towards a seaside village called Gialova, which the guidebook had said was really pretty. Sure enough, once we arrived we found that it was There was a nice promenade alongside the sea... ...and a beach which looked quite sandy. There were some beautiful views out to sea. We chose a restaurant right by the water's edge I had a spaghetti bolognese, while Tim decided to be adventurous and try some Greek food. We've got no idea what this was called, but it consisted of meatballs, mashed potatoes and cheese, all baked in the oven. Not far from Gialova is the larger town of Pilos. As we began to descend down towards it, we had some great views of the coast. When we arrived, we managed to find free parking down by the harbour and went for a stroll around. It was a colourful little town, stretching up the hillside. From the main square we had a view up towards the town's church tower. I wasn't expecting us to see much of the sea on this holiday, so it was an unexpected bonus to be here Before too long, we were driving off up into the mountains again. Every so often we got glimpses of the sea on the horizon. Our ultimate destination was a town called Koroni, which the guidebook had said was one of the prettiest in the region. The steep narrow streets were a bit challenging to navigate and park, but Tim managed it A series of steps led down towards the sea. We followed more small streets towards one of the town's churches. This was the church of St Dimitrios. Eventually we made it down to the seafront. From here we could see up to the town's second church, on the top of the hill. We didn't feel energetic enough to climb up there, so we enjoyed more views of the sea instead As we walked around the harbour we got a good view of Koroni castle, which was once a Venetian fortress. It was a really pretty location It was late afternoon by this point, so time for us to think about driving back to Olympia. We'd travelled much further than we thought, so we had nearly 100 miles to cover before we got back to the apartment. All in all it was a fun day and really nice to be able to spend some time by the sea, even if it wasn't quite what we had planned for today!
Today it was time for us to say goodbye to Athens and set off on the next part of our adventure. The place we had hired a car from was in the centre of Athens, a little further on from Hadrian's Arch, so we had a bit of a walk to reach it first thing. We'd hired the car at the last minute and gone for the cheapest car on offer; a small Nissan Micra. The prices seemed ridiculously good value after Iceland; we paid £76 for five days, which is cheaper even than our car hire in the Azores! We picked up the car without any problems and Tim took plenty of photos of the bumps and scratches the car was already covered in! Then we were off, with the first part of the journey probably being the most nervewracking: driving out of Athens! As you can probably imagine, the standard of driving in Athens is rather chaotic, not helped by the numerous mopeds weaving in and out of the traffic, people walking across the street at random and vans simply stopping in the middle of a lane when there isn't anywhere else to park. Luckily, Tim had downloaded the maps of Greece to our Sat Nav before leaving home and so we were able to follow its directions without too many problems. I thought we might get stuck for ages in traffic jams, but it wasn't actually too bad and before long we were out of the busiest part of the city and driving off towards Corinth. I had expected us to be on a large motorway, for which I knew we would have to pay a small toll, but had forgotten that the Sat Nav was set to automatically avoid tolls. It therefore avoided the main road and led us down a series of much more scenic smaller roads along the coast. After an hour or so we reached the Corinth canal, which we had just got a glimpse off as we crossed it on the train to Corinth yesterday. Being in a car meant that this time we were able to stop to take photos There had been attempts to build a canal through the isthmus at Corinth since ancient times, but a combination of geological and financial problems meant that the canal wasn't successfully built until 1891. The high limestone walls of the canal are quite susceptible to landslides, however, and the canal itself isn't wide enough for most modern cargo ships, so today it mostly only used by tourist boats. After Corinth, our route took us through an increasingly mountainous countryside. I had expected Greece to quite dry and barren, so I was pleasantly surprised at how much greenery there was here. At one point we came across a herd of goats who were quite casually sitting in the middle of the road We also passed countless beautiful churches. I've got no idea why, but every now and again we also passed what looked like small shrines with models of churches by the side of the road. Our ultimate destination for the day was Olympia, but with the freedom the car gave us we wanted to take the opportunity to visit another town: Nafplio. Nafplio is a seaside town, and supposed to be one of the most beautiful in the Peloponnese. I'd read online that there was free parking down by the port, so we headed there. Luckily this information turned out to be true, as it looked like parking would be a nightmare otherwise! As we got out of the car, pretty much the first thing we saw was this castle in the middle of the sea. As we turned around towards the town, we then saw that it was in the shadow of this huge fortress on the mountain above. It reminded me a bit of the fortress in Kotor in Montenegro. We were quite hungry by this point, so decided to get lunch at one of the restaurants along the seafront. I was very excited to find pizza on the menu (first pizza I've seen in Greece!). Tim ordered a burger, and was surprised when it arrived and turned out to be two burgers! Unluckily, he also ended up with sweet potato fries rather than normal chips. After lunch we went for a stroll around Nafplio. It really is an extremely pretty town. There was a colourful main square... ...narrow little streets, full of flowers... ...and a big clock tower on the hill behind the town. It definitely felt like a place we could come back to and spend more time We still had a couple of hours of driving to do cross-country to Olympia though, so it was time to take a move. Our journey took us on slightly bigger roads this time, but still on winding routes through the mountains. At one point we came to an amazing village, perched on the mountainside. I've got no idea what it was called, but it was in an amazing location. Shortly after that we came to another viewpoint at a rather rocky part of the road. The view down into the valley from here was absolutely spectacular I didn't expect Greece to be this scenic! It didn't take us too long from here to get to Olympia. We are staying for two nights in an apartment which seems incredibly good value, at £52/night. As well as this kitchen/living/dining area (with random spare beds), we've got a separate bedroom and bathroom, plus a little outdoor terrace Tomorrow we're looking forward to visiting the archaeological site of Archea Olimpia, where the ancient Olympic games were held!