Windy roads leading to olive groves; Road trip part 2

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September 20th 2010
Published: October 16th 2010
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Delphi - Thessaloniki

Road trip part two:

Day 6: Ancient Olympia - Kyparissia
Sept.12 Drove 59km

Greeks like to party late! We stayed at a cute little campground run by a super friendly older gentleman. Unfortunately it was right next to the Olympia music center/theatre where it just so happened that there was a Greek concert playing that night. We were up until 3am listening to some Greek man belting out his tunes with passion to wild applause from the crowd.

After an early morning and packing the tent up we set out to see Ancient Olympia where the Olympic games originated over 3000 years ago. The ruins were amazing, some still very well intact; the gymnasium where wrestlers, boxers and long jumpers practiced, a priests house, quarters for the officials and judges, a Temple of Zeus, a stadium and so much more! We also did the uber-touristy lap up and down the stadium which had very well preserved ground and what looked like the remains of a starting block for the runners.

There were a few museums in the area worth visiting; we only managed to get to 2 of them; the "Museum of the history of the Olympic games in antiquity" and the Archaeological museum of Olympia.

The first had some very well preserved statues of ancient Olympians as well as artefacts such as a discus from the throwing events, a bronzed ancient replica (maybe real?) of the olive branch wreath which was presented to the winner of the games, and armour from a sprint event. (They would dress up in battle gear and run races, the amount of armour decreased as years progressed until there was nothing left but the shorts and runners of today's modern sprints.) There was also two beautiful preserved tile floorings depicting a Nike (I'm not talking about the modern sports brand, Google 'Greek Nike'), and a mosaic of different athletes and musicians participating in events.

The second museum we visited (the archaeological museum) had relics from the area and the buildings on the grounds of ancient Olympia. We were most impressed with the size and detail of the statues and carvings and really enjoyed the statues from the temple of Zeus and the treasuries.

Interesting fact for those of you who are not up to date on your Olympic history past who won the most gold medals in 2008 or 2010, the games date back to the 11th century B.C where ancient Mycenaean’s held small regional festivals to worship Zeus. This started with the worship of the Great Goddess Rea, Zeus's mother, and grew from there to the magnificent two week spectacle we now witness every 4 years. And yes, the torch is still light in Olympia to this day from the power of the sun, our 'never-ending flame'.

After a good morning spent in Olympia we headed south for Kyparissia where we spent the night on a pretty beach.

Day 7: Kyparissia - Koroni
Sept.13 Drove 133km

Another day on the move. We left a bit later than normal and headed out in hopes of seeing some ruins called Nester's Palace, but of course we missed the turn off, got lost and wound up in some teeny gravel road in the middle of an olive grove. Whoops, but it was a pretty drive (Scott was convinced it was the main road, until we came upon the main road...). We wound up coming out where we wanted to be after visiting Nester's Palace and as we only had one hour until the sight closed we decided to skip it and instead headed for town of Koroni on the Mani peninsula in southern Peloponnese. We got there nice and early and managed a swim in the sea and some sun time by the pool. Oh the hard life.

Day 8: Koroni - Sparta via the Langada pass
Sept.14 Drove 109km

I think our excitement for getting up early and seizing the day is slowly subsiding. We had a late start and were slow to get packing and missed our chance to see the quaint little town of Koroni. (as if quaint towns are hard to come by in Greece). We drove up the coast to the port city of Kalamata and headed for the stunning 59km drive on the Langada pass towered Sparta. The scenery was breathtaking as we wound up through the mountains and were treated to stunning views of the gorges below.
Interesting fact about the Langada pass, ancient Spartans had a citizen's committee that would decided which newborn babies did not live up to their Spartan image, the failures would be tossed from the cliffs at the beginning of the Langada pass and left to die.
We came out of the pas with a view of the 12th century ruins of Mystras and went for a worthwhile visit of the fortified ruins. (Scott found an ancient toilet). We then found a campground for another one night stop over just outside of Sparta.

Day 9: Sparta - Korinthos
Sept.15 Drove 151km

We had a very short sight-seeing expedition around Sparta seeing only the horribly kept remains of the sanctuary of King Leonidas and a statue made in the 1960's.

After the thoroughly disappointing adventure into Sparta we took the main highway to Korinthos and got in much earlier than expected. We had time for a nice swim in the sea and enjoyed dinner at the campsite's restaurant (mmm saganaki) amidst a camper-van club of Dutch people.

Day 10: Acrokorinth and Ancient Korinthos
Sept.16 Drove 24km

Acrokorinth was perched atop a cliff looking down upon modern Corinth. It was a good hike around the site with some pretty amazing things to see. One of my favourite things here was there was a dig going on that we could stop and watch. There are many sites in Greece that look as if they are archaeological digs in process but you never see anyone there working so it was really cool to see people dusting away at the sight, they were very friendly as well, encouraging us to get closer! We also found lots of possible ancient relics just laying around such as a rusty old hook, many bones (quite large.. Leg bones?) and a price of pottery that still had paint remains on the inside. I was halfway to picking some of these things up and running them down to the people working on the dig when I realized I would probably look like some lunatic and just let them be.

We also paid a visit to ancient Corinth, in the middle of a small village just under Acrokorinth. The ruins mostly from the Roman occupation and were very well preserved although the site was a bit small. Tomorrow we head for the 'second capital' of Greece to see The Prodigy!!

Day 11: Korinthos - Thessaloniki
Sept.17 Drove 715km

We left Corinth at 11am thinking we would have plenty of time for our one planned stop at the Korinthos gulf before shooting for the north with hopes of arriving before it got too late. Of course things never go the way we plan. We took the old national road instead of the highway to cross the gulf so we could get out of the car for a bit of a wander around and stumbled upon a 'free viewing platform' put there by a bungee jumping shop. Apparently you can throw yourself off the bridge and into the canal, and for a mere €60 they will attach you to their bungee. Well why not I ask Scott? To which he replies "maybe one day....” well why not today I push?. It took a little more convincing on my part but before Scott knew it he was having his feet strapped into the bungee equipment and they were counting down from 5... And there wasn't a moment’s hesitation. I think he technically jumped before they got to 1 (and I say jumped, not fell, he practically dived down unlike the guy before who just sort of fell off the platform). After to exhilarating adrenaline rush we realized we'd only driven about 30km of the 700something that we needed to cover, and it was already 1:30.

We had a smooth drive until we hit the traffic going through Athens
a pillara pillara pillar

which slowed us down quite a bit, after leaving the city behind it was clear dull driving all the way north. We went through something like 16 tolls on the way (between €1 and €2.90 each time. Ouch)

We finally arrived around 9:30, we decided to camp outside the main city area, there was one site closer in but it had the airport as a next door neighbours so we thought we'd pass that up. Thessaloniki seemed like a big city as we drove around the outskirts on the highway although we have no immediate plans to venture in.

Day 12: PRODIGY!!!!!
Sept.18 Drove 53km

First of all, Dad's birthday! Happy Birthday Dad!!

Second, the concert was amazing. The stadium it was housed in was teeny tiny but they managed to pack people into every conceivable spot, including hallways leading to the main arena area. We had a fantastic time and managed to get right up front for some of the best songs!! Wooooo!!

Additional photos below
Photos: 33, Displayed: 28


Kristy sure is into the ruins...Kristy sure is into the ruins...
Kristy sure is into the ruins...

cheesey captions from Olympia

18th October 2010

coming soon
I love the view. I will be taking a trip there soon.You give me so much more to look forward to... Perth tourist guide
19th October 2010

Great photos!
Breath taking! Uttely stunning.

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