2018/01/21 – Greece – The Original Olympic Games till now

Sunday 21st January

Raining quite heavily today so decided to take a short trip to a fully serviced campsite.

Our campsite for tonight: Camping Aginara Beach, Glifa/Ilias

Top class place right on a beautiful secluded beach and at this time of year only €13 for the night including electricity and great high speed internet (a rarity). Only one other caravan here in a huge place that takes more than a couple of hundred. It has its own small grocery store, a taverna and a beach bar (none of which are open now – sadly). Would be a real rocking place in the warmer months.

Our view at Aginara Beach

Enjoyed the use of the internet today as we were running short on our monthly Telstra quota. With rain pelting on the rooftop and winds rocking Ziggy this was thankfully the best place to be.

Monday 22nd January

Woke up to a little sun today for the first time so took advantage of this and did the pile of clothes washing early and hung out to hopefully dry a little before we headed off. Took a long shower and welcomed the opportunity to use the hairdryer for the first time in months.

Had a blonde moment and hooked up the dryer to a plug and switched her on. Plugged the 2000 watt dryer into the 300 watt inverter power board by mistake and realised my mistake when the dryer immediately came to a grinding halt.

Should have known better from our boating and caravan days and kicked myself hard – the excitement of using the hair dryer took over common sense. Cooked the inverter we thought, so headed off soon to try to find a place that could help.

Our campsite for tonight: Parking Marina, Katakolo

Arrived here where the Marina is also a Port for incoming cruise ships. They dock here and are taken to Ancient Olympia which is around 30kms from here.

Our view at Katakolo

Sadly no marine shops with 12 volt electronic gear here, so my driver (who had been just absolutely great about my mistake) set about looking for hopefully only a blown a fuse and not cooked the inverter. After spending an hour wrapped around the two front seats on the floor, in the most awkward position ( the 2 x 110 AH leisure batteries are under the front seats), he located six fuses (just for the batteries only) and found one blown. Saved my bacon and for the first time today, I could smile.

A lovely old lady (about my age 😂) walked past and stopped for a chat. She welcomed us to Greece and wished us a happy holiday (how wonderful). Later that afternoon, we received a knock on our door and a gentlemen did exactly the same, welcomed us and said he owned a hotel in the town and had some home grown olive oil and other goodies for us if we wanted to come up. We gratefully declined and thought how special these people were.

Went for a walk about town which reminded us of the cruise ship ports we had experienced in Alaska. All colourful restaurants and souvenir shops mostly, eager to take the tourist dollar,

Settled in for a quiet night with magnificent views across the harbour and Marina and to the islands in the distance.

Tuesday 23rd January

Happy now that the inverter was fine, we moved on early to visit Ancient Olympia, the site of the very first Olympic Games.

The 30 km trip took us to the town of Archaia Olympia where for a cost of €6, we visited the Museum of Olympia which displays sculptural decorations, many statues (including Hermes) from the temple of Zeus, pottery, jewellery, tools and helmets.

Excellent Museum at Ancient Olympia

From there we visited the Archaeological site of Ancient Olympia which covered acres including the entrance to the Olympic stadium and the stadium itself, the temple of Hera, altar of Zeus, baths and pools to name just a few.

One of the many exhibits in the Museum in Ancient Olympia

So unreal to think how they were able to build these without the technology and equipment we have today.

Some of the artefacts on display were dated back to around 4000 B.C.

The entrance to the original Olympic Stadium

The city was destroyed by an earthquake in the 6th century A.D.

The original Olympic Stadium

From there we wanted to visit the Temple of Apollo Epikourios which was another two hours inland from where we were.

We took the scenic drive from Krestena to Andritsaina which took us up and down so many mountains and valleys where the views were more spectacular than one can ever imagine – felt like being on top of the world so many times during this trip which took us up, down and around and back up again so many mountains. 2 hours and approx 50 kms later, we were on top of Mount Kotylin and at the front gates of the Temple only to find the gates closed and chained with a huge lock.

The Temple of Apollo Epikourios

The Temple is shrouded in canvas covers on all sides to protect one of the most important and imposing Temples in Greece. This was built in 420-400BC. We could only see the canvas covers from the roadside and dejectedly left to head back down to the coast.

Only 200 meters and around the next corner, we came across what looked like the back end of the hill the Temple was on. We parked Ziggy and set off up and past some old buildings where we found a large fence which was not padlocked. Through the fence, we followed a path and soon we were at the bottom of the Temple. One of the sides of the canvas was open, so we ventured in and took photos before heading out of there as fast as we could and so happy that our trip was not wasted. Maybe we should have checked if the Temple was open before we headed up.

The trip back was a nightmare as we followed something like a goat track for klm after klm. We passed through many small villages built on the sides of hills and so many times we came within an inch or two of becoming part of the village walls – they werevso narrow. At one stage, we followed a shepherd and his flock of a couple of hundred or so sheep down a hill for several klms. I am sure there was a better way back but there was no turning around available anywhere.

We arrived at the coast just as it was getting dark and had no place picked to sleep for the night.

Our campsite for tonight: Kalo Nero – on the beach N37.297747 E21.695154

The sunset was magic and finding the beachfront here was a blessing in disguise. One of the most magic places we have stayed in. We were right on the beach again with only a few houses and a restaurant and taverna nearby. We sat for only a few minutes enjoying the sunset and listening to the small waves lapping up on the beach in front of us – then it was dark.

Our overnight site at Kalo Nero

The driver and navigator were exhausted from the last part of the day and the trip back to the coast but Olympia and the Temple of Apollo were amazing.