Friday, October 23, 2009

Olympia and Pylos

Thanksgiving weekend (or at least Thanksgiving for Canadians) everyone as a group headed to the mainland Peloponnese area to go to Olympia and Pylos for some school planned tourism activities. Flickr set!

I am a dorkface and left my camera behind when we went to the Olympia sanctuary site and museum, which is disappointing because it was lovely. Overall the space was bigger, less crowded and shadier than the Acropolis, and the variety of buildings was also really interesting. It’s also where they light the Olympic flame before it starts to travel to the Olympic city – I believe they lit the flame for Vancouver the weekend after we were there. I seem to have continuing coincidences with the Olympic Games. I was born in Calgary in 1988, the last year the Olympics were held in Canada, and I’m attending university in the city hosting the 2010 Olympic Games. Not to mention, you know, actually standing on the site of the first Olympic Games less than six months before the next games themselves.

The range of flora out here still floors me: the Peloponnese is where Kalamata is and everywhere there are groves of olive trees. It’s very surreal to be walking around in mid-October with orange trees, apple trees, pomegranate trees, and ripe olives hanging from every branch. Almonds and dates as well.

We stayed overnight in Pylos on Saturday, where there were apparently no less than three weddings taking place. It seems like the Greek Orthodox way to celebrate getting hitched is to have the entire wedding party drive around the town square for an hour leaning on their horns the entire time. In other words, “Ow, my ears!” The church in the town is one of the prettiest I’ve seen in Greece so far – the roof is this glossy pearlescent grey that just shone in the dusk light.

Near Pylos is the Methoni castle and Nestor’s palace. Methoni is the younger site, but is absolutely massive and fascinating. It’s been occupied since the 500s BC by, variously, Spartans, Venetians, and Ottoman Turks. It’s hard to tell from the outside but the grounds of the castle are remarkably sprawling with Turkish baths and walls and towers still standing all over the place, with nothing between North Africa and you but a few hundred kilometres.

Oh, Greece, why you gotta be like this? All turquoise water and ancient ruins. I just don’t know what to do with myself while I’m around you.

Nestor’s Palace was interesting in an archaeological way opposed the whole “walking on history” style of Methoni. Nestor is a character in the Iliad but Greeks are always eager to attribute places and objects to people from the epics. The above picture is actually of a preserved – wait for it - bathtub in a room of the palace. A large portion of the clay tablet archives were preserved (ie, baked into permanence) when the palace was attacked and burned by invaders. One of the tablets purportedly reads (in Linear B) “The watchers are watching the water – someone is coming (up the coast)”. Ooo, creepy.

An update about the trip to Sparta will come as soon as I’ve finished uploading the pictures , which should be in the next day or two.


  1. your pictures are made of win. delightful!

    I got your postcard!! I've been checking me mailbox every day like a pathetic loser, and so far yours is the only letter I've received, and I totally wasn't expecting it! thanks, dear! What time are you coming home? Would I have time to send you a letter?

    And make haste; I want to hear about Sparta! :)