After arriving at Hotel Pelops last night, I’d found the number for roadside assistance and rung to ask what I should do next. They told me that as I already had the spare on the car, they couldn’t help and that I would need to ring the rental company to repair or replace the damaged wheel. I rang the rental company, and the operator said, “I’m not supposed to tell you this, but if you can get it fixed yourself, it will cost you less, and it will be probably done more quickly.” The difficulty was that the company had an office in Patras on the north coast of the Peloponnesos, and another at Pylos, on the south-east coast, both some hours drive from Olympia.
I went downstairs and asked the landlord if he’d be able to recommend someone to fix the car. He said to leave the key with him at breakfast time, and he’d contact someone, and that I should go to dinner and relax. I went to Zeus restaurant nearby and enjoyed beef baked in the oven in a tangy tomato sauce – and a glass of wine!
Next morning, the landlord greeted me with, “Kalimera! Are you feeling better this morning?” “A little,” I replied and gave him the key. After breakfast, he told me that the mechanic had checked it and said it was fixable. “Already!” I said. “That’s great! Thank you so much!” I had been mostly concerned that the damage to the rim may not be able to be fixed. The landlord said that the mechanic had taken the car and would fix it today and return it. “Go and have a good day,” the landlord told me. Feeling the relief flooding through me, I thanked him again, and went upstairs to shower and change.
I came back down in about 40 minutes, and the landlord handed me the key. “It’s fixed,” he said. Again I said, “Already! That’s great! Thank you so much! Efcharisto!” It cost only twenty euro, and I was back to four normal wheels again. Hallelujah! The kindness of Greeks. And efficiency!
So off I went to the ancient site and museum of Olympia. The carpark was so crowded with tour buses coming and going that parking was impossible, so I drove back to the hotel, parked in the same spot, and ambled the ten minute walk back to the site. As the site was going to be crowded with tours, I began with the Museum of the Ancient Olympian Games, which I hadn’t visited before. It’s smaller than the archaeological museum, and provides fascinating insights.
Athletic competition in prehistory grew from the physical competition needed to survive, to hunt food and to avoid or defeat danger. In the Greek world, it became associated with religious rites, like funeral games, and local and Panhellenic religious festivals. Olympia seems to have been a religious sanctuary dedicated to Zeus from at least the 11th century BC with the games being instituted in the 8th century BC, in 776 and continuing to 393AD, a period of 1,169 years. They took place at the second full moon after the summer solstice, which coincides with our August. They were an occasion of peace and complete truce between the often warring Greek city-states, and competitors came from all over the Greek world. A lot of diplomacy and business also took place. Women didn’t compete, and except in rare individual cases, women weren’t allowed in to watch. If they were caught sneaking in they were thrown off a nearby mountain!
One of the things I find really interesting is that long-jumpers held stone weights. I think they held them out in front to give them more forward momentum.
The whole museum is dedicated to artefacts relating directly to ancient games, and they’ve been brought in from collections all over Greece and even the world. It’s a beautiful little museum, and well worth the time if you have it besides visiting the site and the archaeological museum. I then moved on to the archaeological museum, which has some wonderful exhibits, leaving the site to the quieter early evening.