Day six of the cruise took us to the mainland of Greece and a little “fishing” village called Katakolon. I put “fishing” in quotes because I’m not sure that anybody in Katakolon fishes anymore. We walked off the cruise ship and up the main street, and there was nothing but souvenir shops and cafes. It seems that the cruise ship industry has altered the economy of this town. I’m sure nobody’s complaining, though. I bought a couple of postcards and a gift for my brother and sister-in-law. Mary bought some earrings. I can’t remember if my dad bought anything.
Away from the shopping area there was a small beach, on which we saw this sign – Don’t use that sampoo:
At mid-day, we descended to Deck 7 to meet for our first ship-bought shore excursion of the cruise. I would like to take this opportunity to say that my life as a tour guide in Alaska lo these past three summers would have been MUCH easier had Princess handled Alaska shore excursions the way they do in the Mediterranean. Those of us who were on this excursion had to wait in the Wheelhouse Bar on ship, and were instructed to do so until all of our party was present. Then we filed out of the Wheelhouse Bar (where stickers were placed on us which indicated our tour AND our bus number) into the Princess Theater (also on Deck 7), where we were seated according to the tour we were on. Then we were dismissed one by one once our buses were ready, and we walked directly off the ship and onto buses. We were on our way within 10 minutes of getting on the bus. Probably closer to 5. No bus-loading drama, no “We’re waiting for people” who are actually on another bus, no people getting too hot or too cold as they wait on the bus for 30 minutes.
Our shore excursion went to Ancient Olympia, which is the main reason why cruise ships stop here these days. It is a 30-minute bus drive through lovely Greek countryside to the ancient site. Our tour guide, Maria, told us all we needed to know and more about Olympia and the area, including the fact that wildfires in Greece last summer got close to the ruins, but did no damage to the site.
When we got there, she took our group all around the site and explained the ruins to us. The most interesting part of the tour was her telling us that for the first several years of the modern Olympic Games, they did not light the torch at the ancient Olympic site and do a torch relay. The first time they started doing that: the 1936 Berlin Games. It was Hitler’s idea.
Here are a few pictures taken at the site:
Our tour guide. We gave her a nice tip, as all cruise ship passengers are supposed to do for their guides:
Ruins of the Temple of Zeus. These are columns that have fallen over. In this temple was a huge statue of Zeus, which was one of the seven ancient wonders of the world:
Hera’s Altar, where they light the Olympic flame every four years (starting in 1936):
The three of us standing on the ruins of the temple of Hera:
In the evening, we had dinner at Da Vinci’s (pretty much the same as Michelangelo’s, but on a different deck). Unlike most other nights, we shared a table with other people: Gary and Carolyn from Southern California and Brian and Maureen from near Manchester, England. Brian and Maureen had been on a Princess Cruise to Alaska, and had really enjoyed it. Made me proud.