We had breakfast delivered to our room this morning. We enjoyed coffee, croissants, muffins, and yogurt while out on our patio. The weather was beautiful and it was great to relax out on our patio and leisurely have breakfast. We stopped at the library to check out the selection. Amy found the final book in the girl with the dragon tattoo series and checked it out (but never ended up having time to read it). We met with our excursion group at 12:45 pm. We boarded a bus which took us the 30 minute drive to Olympia. On the way our tour guide told us a bit about the vegetation and the history of the region and of the Olympic games. At the site, he explained the different areas, such as the training areas, the guest houses, the stadium, the house for the priests. And of course he told us again and again how far the male and female races were (176 meters or so vs. 160 something). We learned that Marathon is a nearby city which modern marathons are named after. There would be a race from Marathon to Olympia. It was pretty cool to see that they had a system of water transport to the different areas where the games took place. We saw the area where the Olympic torch is lit each year using concentrated sunlight and tinder, true to the original methods (it was pretty anti-climactic, just a stone altar). Apparently this was Goebbels’s idea (initiated for the 1936 Berlin Olympics) so next time you see the Olympic torch, remember that having an Olympic torch was a Nazi idea. Finally, we saw the monuments which had been erected to put the cheaters to shame. They named the cheater, his or her father, and the name of the city they came from.
Next, we walked to the nearby museum. We ditched our tour guide because he was going too slow and there was a lot to see in the museum. We were glad we did so because the plaques were very descriptive and interesting and we really felt like we got to see everything. A few things we saw: winged statue of the god Nike, partially painted marble figures, gladiator helmets, and marble reliefs. Apparently the carved marble figures that we associate with ancient Greece were brightly pained; its only the centuries of erosion that have worn the paint off. We learned that in Greece it is not allowed to take pictures of a person with the relics, because it is considered disrespectful. In the museum people were not only scolded but forced to delete the pictures they had taken with people in front of the relics. Taking pictures of the relies themselves was a-okay.
We were given some time to buy souvenirs before meeting back at the bus. One of the shops had samples of Kalamata olives, olive oil and baklava. It was very tasty!
Back at the boat we prepared for our first Gala evening. Jon didn’t remember how to tie a tie so he sat in front of the mirror for a half hour until he figured out how to do it. We headed to the show a little late on purpose because the man who did the introductory speech was pretty annoying (he said everything in 6 different languages too so it was incredibly drawn out – we would have preferred no introduction). The show was mostly singing and was a little boring. Dinner was great as always, the highlight of the evening.