Sea Cloud came alongside at the port of Katakolon, on the western shore of the Peloponnese, just after sunrise. After breakfast, our two coaches arrived to take us on a forty-minute ride through the countryside to beautiful Olympia, home of the ancient games and site sacred to the gods. The quality of the light was perfect and we arrived early enough to avoid the crowds. The sight of the ruins in the rich light, with a verdant backdrop of pine trees, made the site park-like and wonderful for photography. Ancient authors praised Olympia’s beauty, and even today those eloquent descriptions seemed to ring true. We visited the temples of Hera and Zeus, the votive temple of Philip II of Macedon, the Palestra, Phidias’ workshop (later converted to a Byzantine church), and of course, the famous stadium with its still extant starting lines (hysplex).
The most remarkable treasures were found in the museum, one of the best in Greece. There we all marveled at the sculptures from the pediments of the temple of Zeus, the famous Hermes and Infant Dionysus statue by Praxiteles (discovered in the nineteenth century in the temple of Hera), the Nike (victory) statue, and myriad other remarkable works of art. After returning to the ship, just as the large crowds had arrived, we sat for lunch as Captain John Svendsen used the sails to ease us off the dock at Katakolon and brought us out into the open, blue Ionian Sea.