From Sparta to Olympia

Olympia Travel Blog

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Sunday morning we woke up early for another big day of site seeing. We started out just down the block from our hotel at the tomb of Leonidas. This ‘tomb’ which today is the most unimpressive hunk of rock you ever saw was once in the form of an archaic temple with no columns. There was an inner room that held the body and an outer room used for making offerings. This is one of the few archeological remains in Sparta. After the tomb we went to the only other thing to see in Sparta – The Olive Museum.

We hoped back on the glorious air conditioned bus and drove up to Mystras, the medieval city near Sparta. We had visited this site in the first session as well. Once again we braved the slippery downhill hike, and of course I fell again. I somehow became separated from the group and got completely lost in the wilderness for a frustrating ten minutes before I finally found the trail again. I wasn’t the only one to get lost, but luckily everyone found their way back to the bus eventually.

On our way away from Sparta we stopped at the side of the road and Stavros told us to get out of the bus and climb up a particularly dangerous looking staircase. At the top was an entrance to a deep cave. This, Stavros told us, was the cave where the Spartans threw in their old people and weak children. For years it was just a local legend, but then archeologists went in and discovered thousands of skeletons, mostly of babies. I just think that anyone who idolizes the ‘heroes’ in the movie 300 should know that…

After visiting that uplifting site, we stopped for lunch. While traveling we usually don’t have many options of where to eat, so we just go wherever we can find. One guy in our class, we’ll call him ‘Josh’ didn’t like the restaurants we had been visiting. So this time he just decided that he would stay on the bus. He complained that he was ‘sick of being ripped off by Greek people.’ I was amused because he said his family was Greek. Stavros and our program assistant Aubrey tried to reason with ‘Josh’, telling him that staying on the bus for an hour in 100 degree heat with no air was a good way to die. ‘Josh’ didn’t care and refused to get off the bus. This made Giorgos, our bus driver very angry, and we overheard him refer to ‘Josh’ with a few bad Greek words that we recognized.

Well Josh didn’t die on the overheated bus, and we made it to Olympia by sunset. The Eurocup championship game was on, so all of the cafes were full of people and activity. Our hotel was really nice, you could tell that this was definitely a place that attracts a lot of tourists. We rested up for a very hot day at the archeological site.

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photo by: Fulla