Friday, November 20, 2009

Olympia - Greece not Washington

I really liked Olympia. It's a small little town that I am pretty sure is mainly tourist focused - at least Ancient Olympia. Everyone is super friendly because of this and they want your business. I realize that sounds a bit jaded, but it's kind of true. Yes, people are nice and all that even when they don't want something from you, but I have not experienced any place like Olympia thus far on my trip. It's quaint and cute and definitely was worth the madness to get there.

I enjoyed the ancient sites of Olympia a lot as well. It is crazy to see so many ruins in one place (because of earthquakes mostly) but also know that so much history has happened there and continues to happen. They still light the Olympic torch for each of the Olympic Games at this site in Olympia and then carry the flame to whichever city around the world it is being held in. It's crazy to think about how many years this has been happening. As I walked through the different areas of the ancient site I couldn't help but think about all the Athletes that had been there before me and the training that they must have endured in the very places I was standing. It is a pretty cool place - again, not like any other site I've been to so far on my trip.

I only spent about 2 hours at the ancient site as I didn't leave my pension until about 10am and then was back in town around noon. I stopped in a store and bought a charm for my bracelet (an olive branch wreath) and some postcards to send. It was then only 12:30 and I had an hour and a half before my train arrived so I was able to relax in my room some before heading to the train station.

My Thursday trip to Athens was also quite the adventure. It seems that Greek travel just doesn't ever happen smoothly. I had to make two transfers on my trip. I would take the train from Olympia to Pyrgos, then Pyrgos to Kaito, then Kaito to Athens. Well Olympia to Pyrgos went smoothly. Then in Pyrgos I needed to get a seat assignment for the train. I waited in line (patiently) and got my ticket. Then I got stuck at the ticket booth because people were in line behind me and someone came running into the exit part of the booth and demanded a ticket for the train departing in two minutes. I was boxed in and things were a little hectic. It was weird.

I was sitting waiting for the train when I noticed my ticket only said Pyrgos to Patras, which was only about halfway to Kaito. So I had to go stand in line again (this time it was longer) to get the ticket re-issued. Apparently she didn't understand me when I said Kaito so I just said Athens and she got it.

When I got on the train, there was a girl in my seat and I had to ask them to move. It was fine, but just an awkward encounter. Then the train stopped in a town (not Kaito) and the conductor walked through saying something in Greek. Everyone got up and got off the train with their things. Everyone except me that is since I didn't know what was going on. A lady knocked on my window (outside of the train) and motioned for me to get off, so I did. The conductor was standing outside and saw my confused look and said "bus." He pointed to the front of the building where everyone was loading onto a bus. Apparently the railway in Greece is under construction, so there are parts where they have to bus the riders instead of using the train.

In Kaito I got on the train easily but it stopped one stop short of Athens and said that it was the last stop. I checked the time table and it was another hour before the next train was scheduled to arrive and it was already 8pm. So, with an hour to kill I walked to the front of the train station to see if I could find someone to verify that that was my only option (waiting). I discovered that I could take a bus into town. So I bought a ticket and got on a bus (I was told that ANY bus would get me to Athens). I neglected to clarify WHERE in Athens this "anywhere" that I would be going would be. So, after about 20 minutes on the bus I finally asked the driver if the bus stopped near a metro line. Apparently we had just passed one. So, I got off at the next stop and wandered around until I found a hotel whose receptionist guided me to the train station (only about a block away) and I was able to find the metro from there to get to my hostel.

Everything worked out, but it was definitely another Greek travel adventure.

Yesterday I came back to the hostel that I had stayed at previously in Athens (it was unavailable on Thursday night) and settled in. I chose to make yesterday a bit of a "down" day. I did my laundry and walked into town and bought some authentic Greek sandals (spending too much money probably) and bought groceries for the week. I will stay at this hostel until I leave for Paris on Wednesday.

Today I am headed to Corinth for the day. Tomorrow I will stay in Athens and visit the ancient sites (free on Sundays). Monday I need to see if any ancient sites are open. If they are I will go to Delphi for the day and if not then I will go to Delphi on Tuesday. There is another site that I want to go to as well (but I can never remember the name) but I am not sure if I will have time if things are closed on Monday. I will keep you all posted, of course!

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