Sunday, November 9, 2008

"I'll Meet you at the KFC"

This past Thursday was the international release of the new James Bond movie. Convinced by my friend Rony that this was going to be the best "movie I had seen in years." Apparently Greeks love James Bond. Anyway, Leslie and I meet up with Rony at the KFC because according to him "all Americans know where the KFC is." Gross on so many levels. The movie was surprisingly good. Interesting note: You bye your tickets for an specific seat in the theater. Hence, why Rony wanted to wait until the late showing so we could get "good seats." Also there was an intermission.

Got home at 2:30 AM and got up at 6:30 AM to make it on the bus for my trip to Olympia. Needless to say, I slept the whole bus ride. This trip was with my athletics class. We got to see 3 out of the 4 sites of the Panhellenic festivals. AKA: we got to see where the major athletic festivals were held. Our first stop of the day was the site of the Isthmian games (2nd in importance to Olympics).

The Isthmian site was small and not really well kept. We did get to see the ancient starting gates, extremely intricate system that is too complex to describe here. Need a picture for it all to make sense. Our next stop was Nemea, which is actually really well kept.

We got to see the area where the athletes got changed aka disrobed. All athletes competed naked in ancient times. There was also a special way that the penis was tied back to the body so it would interfere with competition. I will not go in to the whole explanation but if you would like further detail google "tying up the dog." After we went through the changing area we walked through the tunnel the athletes took to enter the stadium. This was my favorite part by far because you could still see the inscriptions that the athletes etched in to the walls with their javelins and so forth.

The stadium at Nemea is still used to this day to reenact the ancient Olympics every four years. So, there were still lines in the sand from earlier this summer when people came and "competed". Also, at Nemea were the bathing areas where the athletes used to go to cool down in the sweltering summer heat.

After a quick box lunch, we headed out on the bus to a small town called Lagadia. It is this little town that sits in the rolling hills of the Arcadia mountains. It was just this really picturesque fall town. I have not experienced fall in about 4 years so it was extra special for me.

Back to sleep for another 2 hours until we arrived in the town of Olympia. The town of Olympia was created for two reasons: tourists and archaeologists. There was not much to do in the town. A former Olympic torch runner, turned jewelry store owner invited us to sit and have tea with him. So, we sat and had tea as he asked us about living in the States. He loves the States, has been there 11 times. He wanted us to take a picture with him so we did that and then booked it to dinner. Oh yes and his mother was sitting in the jewelry store when we walked in and she told us he was drunk so not to pay any attention to him.

After dinner we caught Obama's press conference (beauty of staying in hotels is we got to watch tv aka CNN). Awoke the next morning to pouring down rain. Dressed in my rain coat, several layers, and scarf I trekked off with the rest of the group to the Olympia site.

We spent a good amount of time in the museum where most of the remaining statues now remain. When we got out to the site the rain had stopped and the sun tried to make its way through the clouds. In 6 hours on site we saw everything; the Palestria, the temple of Zeus, the stadium, the workshop, and nero's house.

Overall, the trip was interesting but I can only handle so many archaeological sites. I enjoy the time away from Athens and getting to see other parts of Greece but I am so much more interested in the culture and the people then what used to be. Hence, why the drunk jeweler is one of the defining moments of the trip.

Next week...Delphi.

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