Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011 – Katakalon, Greece – Mostly Sunny - 70s

Distance from Chania to Katakolon: 206 Nautical Miles

It’s a beautiful day to feel so old…

When I got back from breakfast, my door was all decorated with birthday stuff from the kids…how very nice.

 2011-11-08 Birthday Boy (Small) 2011-11-08 Birthday Boy 2 (Small)

We are in Katakalon, Greece, gateway to Ancient Olympia.

Katakalon from Pier (Small)

Katakalon from the pier

On Tour today: “Ancient Olympia and Archeological Museum”.  Ancient Olympia is thought to be the site of the very first Olympic Games held in 776 BC. Today, it the place where the Olympic torch is lit prior to its trip around the world ending up at the site of that year’s Olympic Games.

It is also the site of one of the Wonders of the Ancient World - “The Statue of Zeus at Olympia”.

Ready to go Katakalon (Small)

Ready to herd her flock

My guide is Thannos…he is a rumpled, academic, type of guide – as opposed to the spiffily dressed female guides we have had so far.  The ride to Ancient Olympia is not very long and soon we at the entrance to the archeological site. 

The Prytaneum – where the winners were awarded their honors (no medals – only a winning wreath)

Prytaneum (Small)

The Prytaneum

Ellen and her group are ahead of us (can you find her?)

Wheres Ellen (Small)

Where’s Ellen

The Gymnasium (2nd Century BC) (with original columns) and the Palaestra – the wrestling school are shown below.

Gymnasium (Small)


Palaestra (Small)


Olympia looking away from entrance (Small)

Olympia – looking down from the entrance

Corinthian Capitals (Small)

Corinthian Columns

The Phillippeion, a circular monument built by Philip of Macedonia (Alexander the Great’s Father), to honor himself and his accomplishments.  You can do that when you are king.

  Phillippeion (Small)

The Phillippeion

The Heraion, the Temple of Hera (Zeus’s eternally jealous and scheming wife), is a Doric structure from the 6th Century BC.  Women-only athletic competition (running) were held here.

Heraion Temple of Hera (Small)

Temple of Hera 2 (Small)

 Temple of Hera (Small)

Temple of Hera (top three pictures)

The Doric Temple of Zeus once held the Gold and Ivory Statue of Zeus, one of the Wonders of the Ancient World.  Only one of its 25 columns is standing – the rest are in a pile of rubble along side the temple. 

Temple of Zeus 1 (Small)

Temple of Zeus at Olympia

Hera’s Altar – near her temple – is the site where the Olympic Torch is kindled every Olympic Year.  The ceremony consists of several girls dressed as ancient Greeks and the lighting of the torch. 

Hera Altar (Small) 

Hera’s Altar

Ancient gates (Roman) lead to the Olympic Stadium.  The stadium has a seating capacity of 30,000.  It also still has marble starting blocks (which everyone had to try out), a reviewing stand, and an altar to the gods.

 Entrance to Stadium (Small)

Gate leading to the Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium mid 5th BC (Small) 

Olympic Stadium with marble starting blocks

Our next stop was the Archeological Museum.  The centerpiece of the museum is the statue of the Goddess of Victory, Nike.  There are only three statues of Nike left in the world and this is one.  Her face was smashed when the statue fell and is being reconstructed from its 10,000 shards.

Nike Godess of Victory (Small)

Nike (Small)

Nike (two views above)

A number of statues were taken from the temple of Zeus and Hera and are on display in the museum (below).

 Museum Statuary from Oympia (Small) 

Other interesting set of artifacts include a Persian Helmet (left, below) and a Greek Helmet (right) (4th Century BC).  The guide told us that they had recovered DNA from the Greek Helmet (for what purpose, I wonder?).

 Persian and Greek Helmet 4th BC (Small)

The Museum has a painting of what the Statue of Zeus might have looked liked (below).

Zeus Statue at Olympia (Small)

A statue of Hermes (messenger of the gods) and Dionysus (one of Zeus’ demigod sons) was recovered from the Temple of Hera and is on display here (below).

Hermes and Diionysis from the Temple of Hera (Small) 

We had some free time to spend in the village of Olympia.  A beer (not bad) got me free WiFi (which I passed on to a passenger).  Soon we were heading back.  It was a tiring but informative day.

Dinner tonight was in Prime C – the other Specialty Restaurant.  For some reason, we got another gratis dinner – maybe they knew it was my birthday.  We shared a table with two Canadian women and it was an OK time.  Dessert was pretty fancy (below).

Dessert at Prime C (Small)

Talk 2- “DNA Testing: Cold Cases Closed” – was scheduled for 8:00 PM in the Cabaret Lounge.  I had the biggest turnout yet – 20 attendees – even though I was up against another show upstairs in the Looking Glass Lounge.

A big and informative day in Katakalon.

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