The Sahara and Us Morocco 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ancient Mythology in Greece

Iraqi students and us

Our next place to visit was the ancient Greek mythology site of Delphi, the site of Apollo and Athena Gods. They were supposed to be twins, male and female. Not ever having much interest in this I was a bit disinterested until we followed a tour guide at the museum site of Apollo who was doing a tour for English speaking Iraqi high school kids from Kurdistan. She really juiced it up to where I learned a lot. The museum has many really interesting artifacts and the site was interesting as well.
Temple of Apollo Story
Treasury at Apollos Temple

View from the Temple

All the stones having writing for what happened, if you can't read click on the image for larger version

Probably what we enjoyed just as much was Delphi as a mountain town in view of the Mediterranean. The hotel Sandra had selected was very good and reasonable and we asked and got a room with a view of the mountain valley that Apollo’s site is part of.
Then we went out for supper to a recommended taverna (Gargantua) and had great lamb, Greek salad and vegetables. 

On the way we travelled thru Nafpaktos on the canal
The Quality is exceptional
Next onto Olympia which is a very small town but the site of ancient Olympia and the Olympics. We took a museum tour here first since many of the important artefacts found on the site are housed in this space and it offers the best explanation for what was found, where and when. It was extremely hot here as well, so we took the tour early in the day to avoid the mid day heat which is in the high 30’s.

Artifact array

Close up in Array
Entrance to Athletic Field

So you think you're fast eh?
Ancient Church
Altar where Torch is Lit for every Games

So as many of you probably know the Olympics were an ancient athletic games held by the Greeks before Christ until about 376 AD. To understand this better, remember that the Greeks used this as a training ground for their soldiers and the games a way of determining their readiness. So it really was sort of like a military base with an athletic focus. Even Nero, the hated Roman emperor who raped and pillaged Greece had a place built there to live in while attending the Games. Theodosius I who had conquered the Roman empire in the late 300’s AD, ended the Games in 393 AD since he feared they could be used to train soldiers to defeat his army. They weren’t put back in place until the late 19th century. Much of the archaeological  work corresponds with the restart of the Games.

From Olympia to Kardamili

Kardamili is a small town ‘find’ of Rick Steve’s and we met some people from Perth Ontario who were on a Rick Steve’s tour. Kardamili is located about 50 km south of Kalamata (where the olives come from). It is on the Mani peninsula of the Peloponnese. It is a small village with quintessential Greek characteristics and a very nice setting for its old town. Where some of Greece’s’ towns have no character Kardamili really stands apart and it was so laid back, with a great pebble beach, and hot, very hot that we ended up deciding to stay extra time here. The water is warm, and we actually spent much of our time either in the water or at least sitting or lying in the water at the beach end so stay cool enough. And the water is so clear here it is amazing. Our meals have also been so, with Roast chicken in rosemary and lemon sauce, to grilled filet of fish, to Moussaka all at restaurants that overlook the Med. Absolutely magic.

Come in the Water's fine
It's so hot you'd lie in the water to stay cool while suntanning

Tale of Two Ladies         Olympia and Stella

Irida's Shop at Night
What makes Kardamili the best though are the people. When we arrived we had 2 places listed as good hotels, it was just that they were up out of the town a ways so everything would be a hike up a hill back. We stopped on a little side street and began to look for a specific hotel, then spoke with Irida who is a young 30-35 ish Greek woman who with her boyfriend run a small jewellery and clothing store, Sandra actually selected and bought a necklace there for our anniversary. It is beautiful.

Back to the story, Irida pointed out Olympia’s place and we walked over to it. Olympia was on the 2nd floor balcony hanging out some laundry and in the common high toned Greek voice said “Hello, looking for room?”. We said yes, she showed us a room and we said for 1 night even though we knew we’d stay more so we agreed on 35E. The place was good, the outside courtyard was fantastic and we made our lunch out there and had our breakfast the next morning and bought fruit and vegetables at a market just houses away from there. That next morning we were going to head to the beach and just wanted to confirm we’d be staying another day, and she got this grave sorrow filled look on her face and said ‘Sorry.. Complete.. No room.’ Then she said ‘Wait I call friend’. When she came back she said her friend didn’t answer phone but for us to wait in the courtyard. She then scurried off… and this is a big woman so scurrying is a feat.

About 15 mins.  passes and she comes back and says her friend Stella has room, and she agreed to 40 E a night… no more.. (obviously indicating she negotiated for us) So we walked back to Stella’s place with her and looked at the room which had a balcony and kitchenette and was a bit bigger. We agreed on the room and went back to get our belongings. When we arrived back Stella had a plate of biscotti’s out and Greek coffee and melon, which was fantastic. Later she would bring us a plate of cherries, and late a 2nd day in the afternoon we’d wake up from a nap after going to the beach to find a plate of watermelon perched on the ledge of our balcony. And the watermelon is so good and in season it keeps showing up as an after supper refreshment at all the restaurants. She had also brought out a photo copy map of the area and was telling us about everything to see. She would point to the moto say “Moto drive, look, look, fantastico” and make the motion of a person doing the breast stroke as if to see better.. Between these two ladies and Irdia we really enjoyed Kardamili for its people as much as its great town location, weather and beach.

The Demetrios on the Beach varying stories as to how it got there
When we finally pulled ourselves away and headed south toward Monemvasia it was not a long drive so we decided that we’d wear our bathing suits and if we found a great place for a dip when it got hot we’d do just that. Just outside Glythion this happened where we stopped at a viewpoint to look at the ship Demetrios which went ashore there many years ago and noticed a beautiful stretch of sandy beach. So we drove down and swam and sunbathed for over an hour before having some fresh fruit for lunch and heading on to Monemvasia, a Gibraltor like fortress separated off from the peninsula in 376 AD by an earthquake.


Orestis said...

It's KALAMBAKA not KALAMBAKOS. The second would suit Mexico more than Greece :)

Thanks a lot for your nice comments about my homeland - kisses and wishes from Pesaro!

The Smith's V Strom Adventures said...

Actually it was Nafpaktos I was referring to on the coast near the Patra bridge. I'll make an edit change.