Olympia, Greece

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Loutraki and were a bit sad to depart.  Our next place to stay was near Sparta.  Although Olympia was a bit out of our way, we did not share the map with the kids.

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Who knew McDonald’s doesn’t have the market cornered on restaurants with arches?  There was a tour bus parking at this gas station/restaurant.  From past experiences we have found the food where the high end tour buses stop is good.  This stop was at the midway of our trek to Olympia.  When Rachel spotted the arches again, the kids knew Olympia was out of our way.
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The tour bus people must have purchased most of the pre made sandwiches. We did have a pleasant snack with popcorn, baked potato chips, and 1.5 liter bottle of Coke.  The weather was perfect, probably about 70 with no apparent humidity.  Sarah tried to run out of the picture but alas her dad was quick with the camera this time.
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The sole column at the Temple of Zeus that was built in the 5th century BCE.
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I wanted to take a picture of Marcia next to the column for the Temple of Zeus.  They had rope across the wood steps to get up to floor of the Temple.  The wood steps had clearly been built for tourists. I jumped the rope, but was quickly told to get off. Hence the above photo was taken in a legal area to walk.  It reveals the actual diameter of the massive columns.
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Marcia in front of the Temple of Hera, wife of Zeus. Notice the doric capitals on columns.

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Entrance to the original Olympic Stadium.

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The flat green area to the right of the dirt path is spot of the original Olympic track.
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While we saw mostly Doric capitals, Philippeion was the exception with classic Ionic capitals.  It is the only the only structure at Olympia that was not dedicated to a god. It was built in the fourth century BCE, later than the others at Olympia.

Unfortunately we had to rush through Olympia.  We left Loutraki an hour later than the plan, and I had thought it would be about an hour from Olympia to Sparta. It was over two hours.  Much to my dismay we missed the theater at Olympia.  It was not in the same location as the stadium and temples.  Similar to Argos we would have had to drive to a separate location to find the theater.  We left sooner than we wanted and headed to our next apartment outside of Sparta.  We arrived 45 minutes late, but fortunately the woman  stayed to meet us and show us the mini villa.

Easter Sunday in Loutraki

When we awoke Easter morning, our neighbors were preparing their grills.  A Weber grill would not cut it in Greece.  Their grills are about five and a half feet long by two feet wide and include a motorized rotisserie. They use wood rather than briquettes. The Greek Easter is like Christmas in the United States.  See the previous post. Easter is an important holiday.  The kids are off school the week before Easter and the week after.  When I saw the grills I thought to myself, it would be great if they let us try a piece of lamb.

About 10 in the morning, Marcia said hello to neighbor to the right.  Marcia does not know a stranger. Soon I joined the discussion and after a few minutes, the neighbor, Mike, mentioned he would bring us a plate of lamb.  Marcia thought he said he would have us over to eat.  Marcia sliced oranges and cake to take over to them.  Later, our neighbor brought us a large plate of lamb and  homemade  tzatziki sauce.  After we ate some of it, Marcia decided to go ahead and drop off what we had planned to bring; a bottle of wine, cut oranges, and sliced pieces of cake.  As we approached, we were immediately welcomed to the celebration.

We met Mike’s wife, Desi, and her parents, and grandparents.  We were introduced to Desi’s younger sister and brother.  One week ago Desi gave birth to their first child, a daughter.  We interacted with the grandparents with the assistance of Mike and Desi who were great translators.  To say we felt welcome would be an understatement.  Although we had just eaten, they insisted on filling a plate for us.  They gave us two glasses of sweet wine that reminded me of Manischewitz. The lamb had the flavor of 6 or 7 hours of wood smoked cooking.  They loaded the plate for Marcia so I said we would share.  The had also cooked Greek sausage on the grill.  I had seen in the butcher’s case and had been tempted to buy it, but I wasn’t sure how to order just one.  Since the opportunity presented itself, I asked for a piece of the sausage.  It was longer than a hot dog and about the same thickness.  It was good but I was glad I did not order it at the butcher and end up with a kilo of it.

The interaction reminded me of an American Thanksgiving dinner,  but without a football game on the television.  It was just the family smiling and having a good time.  Mike is a sea captain who is responsible for one of the Greek ferries.  He is a super nice guy and has a charming wife, who is an apprentice sea captain.  They told us that on Easter Sunday everyone eats the big meal and then takes a nap.  Desi’s parents and grandparents retired to the house and Desi, Mike, Marcia and I continued to talk.  Mike talked about how challenging it is to bring a ferry into a harbor when the winds were high and there was little room for a error. He mentioned that every moment you have to think about your options and at critical times there is no room for mistakes.

Since others we meet during our travels often asked about the upcoming US election, I felt comfortable to bring up the question that some many had asked, Donald Trump.  Mike explained that five or six years ago the liberals were elected in Greece with the same sort of bravado talk.  Lots of big talk and as the Greeks have learned, it turned to be a disaster in that nothing changed.  On May 3, it will be interesting how the citizens of our great state of Indiana vote.

On our short walk back to our house, the neighbors across the way were still grilling. Marcia knew I did not have any pictures of lamb being grilled.  Marcia asked if we could take a picture.  I went inside and got the camera.

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The lamb on the far spit.  We were told it was intestines on the near spit, maybe homemade sausage?  Grilled pita is also being cooked.
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Unlike the lamb I saw in the grocery, this one came with its head.

Marshall was the name of the company that our neighbor worked for.  Since we arrived near the moment that the meal was ready, we were encouraged to join them upstairs in the garden area.

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There was lot of happiness with the grown kids and their friends.  In the background to the right is the house where we stayed.